Mother of Peace: Episode 39
Mother of Peace: And God Shall Wipe Away All Tears from Their Eyes
A Memoir by Hak Ja Han Moon
Chapter 6: Creating the Road to One World, pg 187-192
Our meeting in the Kremlin and the overall conference created heavenly energy, and our movement’s fortunes in the Soviet Union began to advance. President Gorbachev’s confidence in my husband and me, and the Unification Church, increased by the day. It is amazing that, after that, the Soviet government would allow more than 3,000 Russian students and professors to travel to the United States for Divine Principle education. It was revolutionary.
The next year, a coup d’état took place in Moscow and instability ensued for a short time. President Gorbachev’s efforts for political reform and openness had stirred up a reaction among the communist elite. The president was placed under arrest at his residence on the Crimean Peninsula. The insurrection lasted for three days and failed. Inspired by the road to democracy that President Gorbachev had pioneered, the people, especially the young, arose in Moscow in his defense, with Russian President Boris Yeltsin taking the lead in organizing the resistance. Those protestors, surely among whom were many we had educated in America, were the driving force in bringing Gorbachev and Yeltsin together, dissolving the Soviet Union and ending the Cold War. President Gorbachev’s open-hearted reception of the prayer, “God bless you, Mr. President,” that my husband and I offered in his office surely brought him a stroke of heavenly fortune.
I must add that all this would never have happened were it not for the work of the “butterfly missionaries” of our movement from Europe. Called to this mission, they had departed from their own countries and entered the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe as underground representatives of True Parents. The fall of the Soviet Union was the climax of God’s invisible plan for which these faithful people had set conditions at the risk of their lives. Through a complex interweaving of events, each of them played a role in bringing about the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the shift toward democracy. Even today, they continue to pray and work for religious freedom and social progress in Russia on its path forward.
The year after our meeting with President Gorbachev, the Soviet Communist Party was disbanded and what I thought of as a frozen kingdom melted into the mists of history. During the 70 years since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, as communist governments took control of a third of the world’s population, the blood of hundreds of millions of people had been shed. At long last, the Soviet Union lowered its red flag, its atheistic worldview discredited. When the Soviet dictatorship declared its own demise, the communist assertion that progress takes place through class conflict, struggle and hatred, was revealed as totally false.
History will show that my husband and I were skating on very thin ice when we entered the Soviet Union to meet President Gorbachev, and that this meeting took place at exactly the right time. In declaring that the world’s only hope is a God-centered worldview, we played a decisive spiritual role, and the world’s political landscape was forever changed.
An enemy becomes a friend
In 1946, the year after the restoration of Korean independence, Father Moon was arrested while evangelizing in North Korea. The police accused him of being a spy for South Korean President Syngman Rhee and locked him in the Daedong Detention Center in Pyongyang. His captors severely tortured him and threw what they thought was his dead body out onto the snow. His followers found him and in grief began preparing his funeral. Of course, Father Moon did not die. He clung onto life and, with the help of their prayers and herbal medicines, astonishingly, he revived.
A year later, Father Moon was arrested again and incarcerated in Hungnam special labor camp under a regime of forced labor at the nearby Hungnam Nitrogen Fertilizer Factory. For two years and eight months, he suffered indescribable hardships. It was an environment in which most prisoners died of malnutrition and physical exhaustion within six months.
As this was taking place, my mother and maternal grandmother also were imprisoned by the communist police for our religious beliefs and practices. They were released after much hardship. I have already recounted our separation from the rest of our family, our escape in 1948 with the help of my uncle, and our arduous journey to the South.
Over the subsequent decades, the North Korea government continued to treat us as its enemies. My husband and I had been carrying out Victory Over Communism activities throughout the world, and we received information that North Korean leader Kim Il Sung wanted to assassinate us. Our members’ seven-day public fast and prayer across the street from the United Nations in 1974 publicized the plight of Japanese women held captive in North Korea. In June 1975 , shortly after the fall of Saigon, we held the World Rally for Korean Freedom, which brought over 1.2 million people to Yoido Plaza in Seoul to stand strong against communism.
With neither fear nor anger, my husband and I prayed ceaselessly for reconciliation between North and South Korea. We were not responsible for the division of the Korean Peninsula, but we took responsibility for its peaceful reunification. We have always felt that ending the conflict on the Korean Peninsula would turn the world toward peace. Hence, after returning from our meeting with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, we decided that we would have to meet Chairman Kim Il Sung of North Korea. We set a goal: by the end of 1991.
For more than 40 years, my husband and I had been unable to return to our hometowns. Through the 1980s, we taught our principles in every corner of the world, but we couldn’t go to North Korea, which is only an hour’s flight from Seoul. It was the same for all displaced Koreans who had ended up in the south after the Korean War. Nothing can alleviate the longing and anguish that results from the inability to visit one’s hometown, especially when it is so near. Nonetheless, the reason my husband and I wanted to go to North Korea was not to visit our hometowns and relatives, even though we missed them dearly. In fact, the experiences we had been through in the North would lead most people never to want to set foot there.
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The determination we made to go to North Korea seemed an impossible dream. North Korea would not even allow groups of journalists from the West to enter. But we continued our sincere prayers of forgiveness and reconciliation, and had our members reach out to North Korea in any way possible, believing that God could make a way out of no way. In answer to our prayers, in mid-November 1991, while in the United States, a courier brought us a sealed invitation. We opened it in private. Addressed to us personally, it stated that Chairman Kim Il Sung was inviting us to visit North Korea.
Without informing our staff of our ultimate destination, we packed our clothes and departed for our church workshop center in Hawaii. Our family and personal staff were curious. “It’s warm in Hawaii,” they said. “But you are packing winter clothes!”
Arriving in Hawaii, my husband and I lived at the workshop site and concentrated our minds in prayer. Before setting foot in North Korea, we had to resolve any painful feelings knotted up in our hearts. We had to forgive Kim Il Sung, whose regime had hurt the nation and world, not to mention our extended family and ourselves. If we had thought of him only as our enemy, we could not have forgiven him. Only in the position of his parents, only with the heart of his mother, could I forgive. To save her son sentenced to death, a mother will even seek to change the laws of her country. That is what the maternal heart is like. With that heart, I pledged to forgive my enemy. I did not pray for our safe return from North Korea.
Those were serious hours in which we offered endless prayers. Just as Joshua circled Jericho seven times, we went around the Big Island of Hawaii again and again, offering our sincerest commitment to Heaven. Only after we had dissolved all the buried pain did my husband and I inform those who needed to know that we were on our way to North Korea.
Those around us expressed the natural reactions. “You are going to the place that is controlled by your enemy. It’s extremely dangerous, completely different from going to Moscow. There is no Western or South Korean embassy there; no protection whatsoever. Whatever the letter said, there’s no way Kim Il Sung will allow you to enter, unless he’s planning to keep you there forever.”
Though spoken out of concern for our well-being, such words tempted us to dwell on our private feelings and fears. Yet we knew that we had to truly forgive North Korean leader Kim Il Sung and embrace him with unconditional love, no matter the risk. We identified with Jacob offering everything he had, going at the risk of his life to meet with his brother Esau, who intended to kill him. After enduring 21 years of indescribable hardships while maintaining sincere devotion to his brother who hated him, Jacob gained the heavenly wisdom necessary to win Esau’s heart. To change an enemy into a friend is truly impossible without the heart of a sincere parent.
A few days later, with our minds clear and hearts resolved in unity, my husband and I, with a small staff, flew to Beijing. As we were sitting in the airport waiting room in Beijing, a North Korean representative appeared and handed us an official invitation. The document carried Pyongyang’s official seal. On November 30, our group headed to North Korea on Choson Airline’s special aircraft, JS215, sent by Chairman Kim. For our benefit, it flew over my husband’s hometown, Chongju, before landing in Pyongyang.
As the plane passed over Pyong-an Province, where both my husband and I were born, we looked down on the Cheongcheon River, in which we both had played as children. I felt as if I could reach down and touch its blue ripples. Had that river been flowing peacefully during the sorrowful four-plus decades since our territory was recklessly torn apart?