Mother of Peace: Episode 44

Mother of Peace: And God Shall Wipe Away All Tears from Their Eyes
A Memoir by Hak Ja Han Moon
Chapter 7: Today’s Growing Pains Bring Tomorrow’s Sunshine, pg 213-220

In the United States, the waters off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts, are famous for tuna fishing. In the 1980s, for weeks on end, my husband and I would board the New Hope before dawn, go out into seas that even experienced sailors feared, and wrestle with tuna so huge they dwarfed the adults onboard. To catch a 1,000-pound tuna, I went far into the ocean, sometimes suffering all day long from the massive waves. Entrusting one’s body to the deep blue ocean and riding its waves is self-mortification like no other.

My husband and I took great pains to offer sincere devotions at such times. Having found the road to the salvation of humankind and world peace, we have endured a severe lifestyle. During those times of difficulty, the sea would reward me with a clarity of purpose and the heart to embrace others. It gave me the energy I needed to continue on. 

We often took young members with us to fish on the high seas in small Good-Go boats that my husband had a part in designing. We wanted to raise them to become leaders who could work anywhere. When we stayed in Kodiak, Alaska, young people from around the world came to receive our teaching. I did not lecture or preach to them. I only offered the advice, “Go out to sea. On the sea, you will discover what God wants to teach you.”

A typical fishing day began with young people rising in the small hours of the morning, donning knee-high rubber boots and sailing with us into the distant sea amid an icy wind. When we reached a point in the vast ocean with nothing but water in sight, we would begin the struggle to catch salmon or halibut. Halibut, a flatfish, live on their bellies deep on the ocean floor. I once hooked a halibut off Kodiak that weighed over 90 kilograms (200 pounds). Seeing such a large fish flapping wildly on the deck is unforgettable. It makes such a noise! The fish was so gigantic that if you held it upright, you could hide three women behind it.

When we got back to shore late that night, completely exhausted and as withered as green onion kimchi, I was still full of joy. On days like that, and even on days when I did not catch a single fish, I learned about perseverance, the laws of nature and overcoming the challenge of rough seas. I call this the Spirit of Alaska.

If young people want to think big, they should go out to sea. It’s easy to follow a set path on land, but not at sea. In just a few hours, a sea that had been like a calm lake can turn into a roller-coaster ride on ferocious waves. Young people who train themselves on top of these waves can achieve great dreams.

* * *

Besides Gloucester and Kodiak, we chose the Amazon and Paraguay Rivers of Latin America, Hawaii and Norfolk in the United States and Yeosu in Korea as the centers for the ocean providence. In addition to training young people, we invested in projects tied to the rivers and the oceans. One project in Uruguay was to create a high-protein powder from the abundant krill shrimp. When mixed with other nutritious foods, it can introduce valuable nutrients into people’s diets in times of food shortage.

At the beginning of the year 2000, we wanted to create something beautiful in Yeosu, a small city on the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula known for its clear waters. In Soho-dong outside the main city, we built the Ocean Resort Hotel, where people from around the world can experience the beauty of land and ocean. We envision Yeosu advancing Korea’s marine leisure industry. It can anchor an economic pipeline that connects to the continent. This in turn can support the development of a unified Korean Peninsula.

* * *

There is a Western saying: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” If you can fish, you will never go hungry. Africa has many rivers, lakes and oceans. Therefore, we need to teach its people how to fish and create fish farms. My husband and I have long been involved in projects like this.

The ocean is brilliant and pure. Our youth are also brilliant and pure. When the two meet, our future will change. Just as I have done, our youth should roll up their sleeves and bravely take on the ocean. The ocean is not only where one can cultivate a strong mind and body, but where we can create the future of humankind. It covers 70 percent of Earth’s surface. Buried in its depths lie undiscovered treasures. Whoever pioneers the ocean will lead the world.

Love for God, Love for People, and Love for One’s Nation

Born during the final years of the Japanese occupation of Korea, I grew up in an oppressed environment. After our country gained independence, oppression continued at the hands of the communist regime. And yet, my family steadfastly attended God, and at the risk of our lives, we traveled south into South Korea in search of freedom. When the Korean War broke out, I moved as a refugee from school to school, from Seoul to Daegu, Jeju, Chuncheon and back to Seoul. This imprinted upon me a great appreciation of education.

Despite the postwar chaos, I graduated from Seongjeong Girls’ Middle School in Seoul. I cannot forget that school, my alma mater and cradle of my life. The school you attend during your teenage years can be a significant influence on your future. When I visited the school 30 years after graduating, its name had changed to Sunjung, but some of my teachers were still there. They remembered me and, of course, I had not forgotten them. We were overjoyed to see one another and talked for a long time about those difficult days in the past.

This school is now affiliated with our Sunhak Educational Foundation. Applying our philosophy, it has become an exemplary educational institution. Our foundation includes three other specialized schools. Kyong Bok Elementary School, which opened in 1965, has a proud history and tradition. Sunjung Middle and High School produces competent young people by offering character education based on heart, in addition to excellent academics. These schools have international student bodies living and studying together with the aim of becoming global leaders. Another school, Sunjung International Tourism High School, prepares leaders for the hospitality industry. At that school, every year on National Teachers’ Day, we invite teachers who have defected from North Korea to attend our Teachers’ Day Event, in preparation for the day when the two Koreas will be reunited.

The first school we established independently was the Little Angels Arts School in 1974. As I have recounted, my husband and I went through many difficulties to form and finance the Little Angels of Korea in 1962, which we created to present Korea’s beautiful traditional culture to the world. Their training site in an abandoned warehouse evolved into the Little Angels Arts School in 1974 and is now the Sunhwa Arts Middle and High School. These schools have produced internationally renowned vocalists and ballerinas. When you leave the school through the main gate, you see a sign engraved with the words, “Gateway to the World.”

CheongShim International Academy, overlooking Cheongpyeong Lake, is another international middle and high school. We invested a great deal of time and effort into building this world-class preparatory school for global leaders. Starting with its first graduating class in 2009, graduates have entered leading universities, including top-ranking universities in Korea, the Ivy League in the United States and prestigious universities in Japan. The day is approaching when CheongShim graduates will play active roles on the world stage. When that day arrives, Korea will shine as a leader in the field of education.

Our network also includes other schools, from kindergartens to the postgraduate level, in Korea and on all six continents. In the United States, there are middle schools in Maryland, Connecticut and California, a high school in Connecticut, a theological seminary in New York, and a university that teaches Oriental medicine in Las Vegas, Nevada. In Asia and Africa, including Nepal, Myanmar, Mozambique and Rwanda, we have established schools according to the needs of the communities, including technical vocational schools. All our schools inspire their students to devote themselves to the world according to the founding philosophy of “Love for God, Love for People, and Love for One’s Nation.”

We must improve the results of education. Fully mature individuals do not emerge on their own, nor are they produced by obsessing over grades. We must guide young people to acquire knowledge and wisdom on the foundation of physical fitness and good character. We need to understand that God is the original substance of love and truth and the original form of character, and we need to live by following His will. To this end, beginning with the work of our International Education Foundation in Russia, I have overseen the development and dissemination of character education textbooks that will help cultivate morally sound teenagers and young adults throughout the world. To love people is to practice “living for the sake of others” and foster a spirit of harmony and public service. To love your nation means to cultivate your God-given talents, love your homeland and build God’s kingdom. We all are responsible to raise the next generation of truly good and talented men and women.


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