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'I was a Moonie cult leader' | World news | The Guardian
Much attention has focussed on the way that group members hand over the choice of a future life partner to Rev Moon, a self-proclaimed Messiah who believes that Jesus Christ has called upon him to carry out his unfinished work. However, the Rev Moon's son, who appears to be trying to modernise the organisation, says that choosing partners is under review.
For most of the weddings, the Rev Moon has personally chosen partners, sifting through photographs. But on this occasion he counted on introductions by parents and family members. Sometimes he meets the individual marriage partners and allocates brides and grooms himself. For the Rev Moon this kind of event is part of a grand plan. His method of pairing followers from different nations is part of a plan to encourage world peace.
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In South Korea, the Unification Church is a "chaebol" — or "conglomerate" — known as the Tongil group. Tongil, which means unification in Korean, operates just like the other chaebol, such as the industrial groups Hyundai or Samsung.
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The church's global interests include everything from fishing to ranching to the manufacture of arms and the operation of North Korea's only motor-vehicle plant, which assembles small sedans with parts made by Fiat. The church also owns newspapers, including the Washington Times and daily titles in Japan and Korea. One of the surprise appearances at the mass wedding was that of Park Geun-ryeung, the younger daughter of former South Korean president Park Chung-hee, who affirmed her marriage vows to Shin Dong-uk, a professor of cultural studies at Baekseok College.
Ms Shin told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper: "Although we did not convert to the Unification Church, when the idea was proposed by the church, we agreed because we wanted to get a blessing from the Rev. Moon Sun-myung, a global religious leader. Nonsense, he said. The mass wedding was partially about organising the succession issue for this most controversial of churches. Hyung-jin Moon is very young to be taking over, but his credentials are impressive.
He studied theology at Harvard University. For the couples who got married this week, the future involves a wait. Unification Church newlyweds are told to postpone their wedding night for 40 days after the ceremony, as an offering to God. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.
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