Mother of Peace: Episode 12
Mother of Peace: And God Shall Wipe Away All Tears from Their Eyes
A Memoir by Hak Ja Han Moon
Chapter 2: I Came Into This World As The Only Begotten Daughter, pg 46-51
As was expected to happen sooner or later, World War II finally came to an end with Japan’s defeat. Korea enjoyed the liberation its people had long desired, but the North soon fell under communist rule. The communist oppression of religion knew no bounds. There are always people who betray others—even Jesus had a treacherous disciple. The Inside-the-Womb Church was not spared. One of its members accused the group of amassing wealth, and the communist police took Heo Ho-bin and many of her followers to Daedong Police Station in Pyongyang. Security agents interrogated Heo Ho-bin harshly and mocked her. “When is this ‘Jesus’ who is inside your womb going to come out?” Heo Ho-bin boldly answered, “He will come out in a few days!”
Though white-clad members of the church offered prayers every day in front of the prison gates, even after a year the prisoners had not been released. That was the time that Father Moon, who had been living in Seoul, journeyed to Pyongyang. It was in August of 1946 that he opened a meeting room in the Gyeongchang-ri district of the city and began witnessing. The police accused Father Moon of being a spy for South Korean President Syngman Rhee, and imprisoned him in the jail in which Heo Ho-bin and her followers were being held.
The sad fact is that the imprisoned members of the Inside-the-Womb Church failed to recognize that Father Moon was the returning Lord. During his imprisonment of a hundred days, he contacted Heo Ho-bin several times, but she refused to listen to him. Father Moon was eventually thrown out on the brink of death due to severe torture. Most members of the Inside-the-Womb Church died under the same torture. Those who survived scattered when the Korean War broke out in 1950, some remaining in the North, some fleeing to the South.
This history illustrates the fate of those who receive Heaven’s revelation and do not fulfill their responsibility. The sole purpose of those groups was to welcome the Lord at the Second Advent, and they knew this was their mission and declared it. For that purpose, this group, to which my mother belonged, had endured unbelievably difficult hardships, but they failed when their concept of the Lord blinded them to the reality of the Lord.
Participating wholeheartedly in such groups, my grandmother and mother lived with devout faith in order to receive the Lord. For long years, they sincerely believed the prophecy that “The only begotten Son, the savior of the world, will come to the land of Korea.” They offered single-minded devotion with unsurpassed zeal and purity. They never compromised with the world or stayed comfortably at home; they served God with heart and soul.
Participating in my grandmother and mother’s walk on the path of suffering to receive the Lord, I inherited the essence of their faith.
Because they made whatever sacrifice was needed on the path of God’s will, the only begotten Daughter, for whom Heavenly Parent had long waited and yet of whom the world was ignorant, was born on this earth in the third generation of their family. I was born into this intensely spiritual family in an intensely spiritual milieu, and grew up in constant rapport with God, who taught me the mission that was unknown to them: the mission of the Mother of the universe.
Worlds divide at the 38th parallel
“You came here to see your mother?” The guard asked this question as a formality; he knew why I was there, because I came every day.
“Yes, sir,” I would respond in my soft voice.
“Wait here,” he would say, in a fatherly tone. “I’ll call her for you.
Would you like a candy?”
In 1948, when the oppression of religions by North Korea’s Communist Party was at its height, my mother and grandmother were imprisoned for nearly two weeks for being members of the Inside-the-Womb Church. I was five years old at the time, and I would go to the prison to see my mother. The guards were nice to me because I was polite and well-behaved. Even those ruthless communists gave me fruit or candy when they saw me.
I cannot explain why the authorities released both of them, as the Party was increasing its suppression of religious activities. Perhaps it was out of their concern for me. The good result was that the imprisonment convinced my grandmother that to live a peaceful life, let alone a life of faith, they had to go to South Korea. Since Heo Ho-bin was still in prison, my mother was of two minds about it, but Grandmother persuaded her to go.
“If we stay here,” she reasoned, “we will die before we meet the Lord. Once we are in South Korea and have met up with Soon-jeong, the right way will appear.” The mention of her younger brother, my uncle Hong Soon-jeong, who was preparing to be a medical practitioner in the South, swayed my mother. She mounted a last protest as she gave in: “How can we go there with no destination? We don’t even have a place to stay.”
Grandmother took a deep breath and said firmly, “We still must go. God will protect us.”
My grandfather did not join us. Like many, he had received the revelation that Pyongyang was the “Palace of Eden,” and he was determined to remain there to guard it. Nonetheless, he encouraged his wife and daughter to leave for the South. Because her purpose in life was to meet the Lord at the Second Advent in Pyongyang, my mother had to pray for several days and nights before finally agreeing to go to South Korea, and she went on the condition that it would be temporary.
As good luck would have it, we received the news that uncle Soon-jeong had completed his studies in Japan and in Seoul, and had joined the South Korean Army. My uncle was an intellectual and a dapper young man. Moreover, he was very strong-minded. My grandmother missed her only son and wished very much to see him. In addition, she wanted to protect me, her granddaughter, at all costs. She wanted to prevent my being taken by the cruel communists and made to suffer at their hands. She was sincere when she told me repeatedly over the years, “You are God’s true Daughter.” Her mission in life was to protect me from the misfortunes of the world.
Along with most people in the North, my family believed that North Korea’s Communist Party would not last long. We expected that after a short stay in South Korea, we would see the downfall of the communists and be able to return home. As history shows, this dream was not to be realized. After we crossed the 38th parallel, we never considered returning to the North. Looking back, I believe that God worked through my grandmother’s affectionate heart for her son and granddaughter. When all is said and done, a mother’s parental heart reflects God’s motherly heart.
* * *
“It is dark now,” my mother whispered. “Let’s go.”
It was the autumn of 1948, and we left our home in the middle of the night, my mother carrying me on her back and my grandmother carrying a couple of bundles. It is quite a distance from Anju to the 38th parallel, 200 kilometers (125 miles) as the crow flies. We had to walk for days and days to cover that distance. And we took every step on that journey with anxiety, fearing for our lives. At night we slept in empty houses, and when the morning dew fell we would start again. Our shoes were flimsy and the roads were rough, and so our feet ached from the very start. What was hardest to endure was the hunger. We would knock on the doors of shabby cottages and give them something from our bundles in exchange for food, which was usually a cup of boiled barley and rice. Undergoing such hardships, we walked and walked endlessly southward.
The communists had plowed the fields and broken up the shoulders of roads to make such a journey even more difficult. Our feet sank into mud as we walked through the fields, and we shivered all over with cold. Still, we continued on, looking only at the starlight.
North Korean People’s Army soldiers were blocking the 38th parallel, and they easily captured my mother, grandmother, and me. They locked us up in a shed, together with other frightened people who had the same intention as we did. The soldiers were rough with the men, but they did not treat women and children harshly.
One day, one of the adults asked me to take food to the soldiers standing watch. Though my heart trembled inside, I forced a smile and handed the food to the soldiers. After I had done so several times, the soldiers’ hearts softened, and one night they set my family free. They instructed us to return to our hometown, and we walked out of their sight in that direction. And then, as we stood at the crossroads between life and death, night fell, and we waited, and Heaven sent a young man to guide us on the path of life. Under the cover of darkness, we followed him across the 38th parallel.
As we crossed, I was so happy that I said to Mother, “We don’t have to sing songs praising Kim Il Sung anymore, do we? I will sing a song from the southern part of Korea!” This too was God’s intervention, for on the South Korean side soldiers also were keeping a strict watch. I sang a few lines of the song with a joyous heart. At that moment, we heard a rustling in the bushes in front of us. We were surprised and stood frozen in place, fearful that we would be captured by North Korean soldiers once again. Soldiers emerged from the bushes—South Koreans. At the sight of them, we almost wilted in relief. Those South Korean soldiers told us that they had heard us as we approached and had been about to fire upon us. When they heard the voice of a child singing, they had lowered their weapons. They welcomed us and comforted us.
One soldier said, “It must have been difficult for you to make it all the way here with this beautiful young child. This isn’t much, but please take it.” We were so grateful to this soldier, whom God moved to give us money, enough to get us to Seoul.
Looking back, if I had not sung at that moment, those young soldiers probably would have mistaken us for North Korean soldiers and shot us dead. In this way, once again, God protected us. We arrived safely in South Korea after undergoing hardships such as these. Yet, in making that journey, we parted from my grandfather, whom we never saw again.