Sun Myung Moon’s Life In His Own Words

Part 16: Refugee Life

January 27, 1951 -- September 17, 1953

Father and Kim Won-pil with Clayton 0. Wadsworth, an American serviceman and the first Westerner to hear Father's teachings. Wadsworth later became a Christian minister in the U.S., but declined an invitation to attend a church seminar in the 1980s.

You can't possibly imagine how dirty my clothes became on the way from Pyongyang to Busan. I had recently been released from prison in North Korea, so my hair looked absurd. My silk pants had become jet black, and the silk outer part had deteriorated, so I wore them inside out with the dyed khaki liner on the outside. Turned inside out, they were just single-layered green pants. That was what I was wearing. I had been wearing the same silk jacket for two months, so it couldn't have looked any worse. It was soaked in oily grime to such an extent that when it rained the raindrops just rolled right off it. I looked like a beggar, and in that wretched guise I arrived in Busan.

I wore work shoes or sneakers until they no longer had soles. I had to beg for food; how could I possibly have money for shoes? I continued to wear the same pair even though dirt would wedge between my toes. During the time I was a refugee, I wore just the one outfit for a whole year.

Even though I was dressed in rags, I would think to myself that on a day in the future after our hopes are realized, millions of people would look at the rags I had worn. I thought to myself that I had taken a historic mission on my shoulders, so when my time came, and I was in the environment where my mission could be fulfilled in reality, people would make up a play to act out the scene I was seeing on that day, making me the lead actor in a real play. With that frame of mind, I would make my rounds, in rags but with dignity, begging for food with the heart of the leading historical figure. I did not think of myself as unfortunate. A single thought can cast new light on all sorts of forms and figures in the world.


When I met Kim Won-pil, he was a nineteen-year old boy' with a mop of hair. Four years later, he turned twenty-three. He did all kinds of odd jobs, including waiting on tables in a house where meals were served. I ate food he brought back for me, and I sometimes ate rice he had scraped of the bottom of a pan. I did not ask him to work just so I would have something to eat. What I'm telling you is that we experienced all kinds of things. It was a very dramatic time of deep emotions.

When it's cold, people all flock to sunny places. We would go someplace sunny and we'd say to people there, "You've had breakfast and lunch, haven't you? We haven't had breakfast yet, so please give us a bit of space and let us eat in peace." Then we'd sit in a circle in the sun and have our meal. It is fun to eat under such circumstances. There is a hidden philosophy there: everyone is my friend, and we share empathy.

I even acted like a beggar, a real beggar. I begged to get money for food, and no one could surpass me as a beggar. Only the quick-witted can do it well. I would look at a person, and if he didn't give me money, I might say, "Hey, is that all you are? Good things will happen if you support passersby like us." You could say I am the ancestor of fund raising!

The help of a hometown friend

There was only one street in Busan, and you could meet people from all the provinces of Korea on it. Since there was only one street, you could meet everyone if you walked back and forth on it for a week. After arriving in Busan, and being lonely, I walked to and fro along that road, and on one occasion I met a hometown friend. I cannot ever forget his name. I was far from my hometown, and I had come across a person who knew me on the street. Moreover, I remember he gave me ten thousand won.

I resolved that I would pay him back hundreds of times, even thousands of times more, when the time came. I had been harboring that thought in my head, when a few years later, his wife came to the Unification Church, and said, "At that time we helped you, so you should help us now." I was very offended. This wily woman just appeared in front of me. I had been praying and hoping to meet them so that I could repay in abundance the favor they'd done and even support their children. You cannot imagine how her behavior upset me.

I instructed someone to pay her back the ten thousand won at the highest likely annual interest and have her go on her way. She had shattered the standard I had praised for its goodness my whole life (to that point), the most enduring and stimulating memory of my life from my time as a refugee, and I could not have been more upset.

Labor on the pier

Arriving in Busan, we found it full of people; any hole or spot under an eave -- any place that could serve as a shelter -- was filled with people. What could we do? We worked during the night and slept during the day. I can still recall how we used to shiver at night, even as we stamped our feet. Even at such a time as that, I prayed, "Father, please don't worry about me. I will follow in Your footsteps with joy; the track of Your sorrowful lamentation I will follow with hope."

We slept from 10:00 to 2:00 during the day. Sitting still in a sunny spot and nestling down to sleep like a pheasant is quite comfortable. When you wake up and get dressed, the song about Kim Satgat [a famous wandering poet] automatically comes into your head. I am a man who loves nature. When I felt like it, I would stop to sleep in a field while walking across. it, or sit on a rock and doze. I often did things like that. Why? When I stood up after sitting somewhere, I could feel that what I'd been sitting on felt sorry to see me go. Even if it were just a rock, if I slept on it; it was not merely a rock but something more precious than my own home.

During the day, I would climb a mountain and find a place to sleep in the forest; I'd spend some time by myself. I enjoyed that. When I returned to work at night, I would cause a minor sensation. Everyone flocked to my side. I would tell an interesting story, and they would bring their food and share it with each other.

That's why, if you see a laborer sitting on the roadside in snow or sleet, in a wretched state, he or she should remind you of me and you should think, "Father did that kind of work too." You should know how often I spent the night under the eaves of a house.

A woman selling red bean porridge

When I came down South as a refugee, I worked at pier number four in Choryang, in Busanjin Borough. After getting off work I would go to the red bean porridge and rice-cake stalls. That still comes back to me. After work, I would receive my pay and it would be cold wherever I went, so I would go to a particular red bean porridge stall. When you come out of Choryang Station, you see many women working in stalls there. They would wrap their pots in tattered blankets so the porridge didn't get cold, and serve it from the pot.

I would just hold the pot in my arms. The woman never told me off for doing that. After I had talked to her for thirty minutes, she would offer me a bowl of porridge. After I had visited and talked with her for several days, she even entrusted me to take care of the money she had earned from selling the porridge. There are still times when I crave a bowl of that porridge. It was so delicious at that time, perhaps because we were all starving, but I believed it was the most delicious food in the world. I miss the face and the shape of the lady who sold it, whose thoughts were all about selling, even though she was stained with dirt. I still cannot forget how delicious the porridge served by her hands was.

Sometimes as a refugee, I used to sleep in a bomb shelter.

There were no houses to be found then. It seems only yesterday that I climbed to a mountain ridge and slept with a jacket covering me. The home of the woman who sold the porridge was a very small room, where she lived with her husband and her children. When you saw her children, you could not help pitying them because they were in the most pitiable of conditions. Yet she had something to be proud of, for she had a place to call home. After she had ladled the porridge into a bowl, she would give me what was left at the bottom of the pot, and it was delicious. What a memory that is!

Beginning to write the first Divine Principle (May 11, 1951)

With a few church members, I came south in 1951, walking the line between life and death. I wrote down the original Principle text. I remember writing it at the laborers' camp in Choryang [a district of Busan] in a room so small you could not lie down straight in it. You had to lie down diagonally, in a position something like an X, and still your feet touched the walls. It seems only yesterday that I lodged in that room, but a long time has passed.

During that time, I had to take care of all the problems that arise for a person wishing to live independently, such as financial problems, so I had to do all kinds of work. I had to act as the circumstances demanded, but I was more than equal to the tasks at hand. I had the capacity to adapt myself to the circumstances. Actually, I was not born like that; I trained myself. Unless one can train oneself to be an independent figure in any kind of environment, one can't possibly achieve such a great objective as those related to the providence.

In following this sacred life, this course of putting into practice the words I have spoken as a man, I have my own philosophy, calling for me to leave a record behind me and tread a unique, zigzagging path.

Refugees' joys and sorrows

Whenever I come to Busan, I always think of the Jagalchi Fish Market. When I was a refugee in a pathetic state, I used to wander around that area. What do you think was the wish of all the people who had come to Busan as refugees? Do you think there was even one person among them who did not want to return to his hometown?

Coming south where they had no roots and living among the South Koreans based here, the North Koreans (though they couldn't avoid being in a more difficult situation than others in South Korea) had to lay a foundation for their livelihood. That's refugee life. That is how they are supposed to make a start and settle down. I too came down as a refugee and lived as a refugee. The ups and downs of that process were truly miserable. How miserable was it? More miserable than the life of any laborer, or even any prisoner, in South Korea.

Refugees are in a position where they cannot return to their hometowns or introduce their hometowns to their children or grandchildren. How wretched is that? That is why the North Korean refugees have laid financial foundations in South Korea, because when they return to North Korea they hope to do so as victors and not as losers, with the dignity of successful people. Our North Korean brethren who have come to South Korea have endured all the hardships of living as refugees and look forward to the day they can return to their hometowns, upholding their reputations, bringing with them and transplanting to the North all the valuables they have dedicated their lives to accumulating.

Building the cardboard hut

I prepared for a new beginning by living alone in a hole in Beom-il District, Busan. It was a stony depression in the ground near a public cemetery. I lived there until I built a temporary home, the size of a hog pen. When I later went back and visited the area, the memory of building that house -- carrying loaded boxes on my back, carrying stones, shaping the mud -- was still fresh.

It was the worst house in Busan. The worst! I didn't have a decent shovel to build it with. No one would lend me a shovel. Refugees wouldn't lend shovels because they were selling such items for money. No one would lend me one even if they had one; instead they'd hide it in their kitchen. So, I had to do the work with a fireplace shovel. It was small and it was already broken and mangled. I built the house with tools like that.

I didn't have a pickax, either. So I leveled the ground with the fireplace shovel. Again, there was no machine available to make brick. So, I got ration boxes from the United States Army. I would tear off the edges, flatten and shape the box, then pile earth onto it; it could hold quite a lot of earth.

Was anyone willing to give us a piece of land? No. So I leveled a place on the slope of a hill. When it rained, water soaked through into the room. So, I next dug out a channel lined with stones for the water to run underneath, above which I put an under floor heating pipe. You could hear the sound of running water right under the floor. The water would flow under the simple heating system. The house gained notoriety. It was a shabby place made of mud and rocks. That's how I constructed that hut on that slope with a roof made of old boxes.

It was the most ramshackle of shacks. Inside, you could see a rock, since I had built the house against it. There was a small table and canvas for doing paintings on. Those were our treasures; there was nothing else. It was actually a miserable place.

However, even when I was sleeping inside the house, I was following the main path to becoming a more devoted son to God than anyone enjoying glory in any palace on earth. I wished to reach a stage of deep inner heart that no one could duplicate. Whether I stayed under a building's eaves or in the hut, I thought I must attend God there -- yet my efforts were still inadequate.

When winter came, life became more difficult and inconvenient; it rained, the wind blew and I caught a cold and sniffles from being in a cold room. What's more, I bore a huge responsibility, a hungry stomach and no proper clothing. It was a most difficult time. Still, one shouldn't be despondent, because it is the same trail that the great teachers have blazed. I have upheld God's will, so you should also continue on from the point of unity in heart.

At one time, I missed that one room so much. I longed for that one room, thinking that though it was crumbling like an old farm shack, I would live in that room, loving it more than anywhere else and treating it as if it were more valuable than a royal palace. By that, I mean that I hoped to offer my sincere, dedicated effort in the land God had chosen. I didn't want to do that in the satanic world's land. You will never know how much effort I exerted.

My appearance while living in the cardboard shack

I was wearing the same rags for four months because there was nowhere to wash them. I was the king of beggars, the quintessential beggar at that time. I didn't have extra clothes, so I turned my pants inside out again. I wore green U.S. military fatigues and Japanese shoes. Still, I told myself all of it was part of the indemnity providence. That is why I walked around wearing rags from America, Korea and Japan. How nice it was! I was not ashamed of myself for wearing clothes like that.

From outward appearances, I was a nobody at that time. I looked like a person of no importance at all. I was badly in need of a shave; my face was as darkly tanned as it could be, and my attire was a mixture of Eastern and Western, but that story has great power today.

Prayer at the Busan port

I went up a hill in Busan's Beom-il District, and prayed. I had many serious spiritual battles with Satan, grabbing him by the collar and slashing him in the belly. I fought, saying, "As long as you don't defeat me in this fight, the day will come when you'll kneel down." I began in this way.

In that most wretched situation, I shed blood, tears, sweat -- all of these. What was to be done at that critical point, in that miserable era where the nation's ideology had no direction to move? I pioneered that lonely road by myself with the heart that I was praying as a representative of the Korean people.

It seems only yesterday that I looked at all the ships that sailed into port, blowing out smoke as if to say, "Here, look at me!" I would pray, "A time will come when I too can make such a ship with my own hands and come into Busan port as a person returning home with honors."

As I would sit and look on, I would think to myself, "I will cross the great ocean, go to other countries and sow the seeds of the heart-to-heart relationships that I have long yearned for." I offered such a prayer as I gazed upon the Busan coastline.

God is really fond of fun, so at such times He would console me by telling me, "Look here. The world will become like this in the future," and He'd show me a vision of Heaven's great trading vessel carrying me at its stern and a great multitude of people cheering.

Do you know the holy ground at Beomnetgol in Busan? You need to know how I grieved bitterly in my heart on the rocks there. Do you know what kind of a prayer I offered to God at the time of the Korean War as I looked at Busan port filled with freight vessels carrying weapons? You need to understand that. Everything I prayed for has come to pass.

The Korean War was still going on. (The Armistice Agreement was signed in 1953.) In those days, fleets of ships delivering U.S. military ordnance filled the port. Every morning when I woke up, I made it a rule to count the ships. Usually, there were fifty; sometimes I counted more than a hundred. In this way, I could see how the war was developing. When I saw that the number of ships carrying ordnance increased, I thought the war was becoming more serious; when the number decreased, I thought there was a lull. This seems like yesterday to me.

Closeness in heart

Won-pil suggested he go out to make money, and I told him to do so. At that time, I was writing the first Principle text and being with a friend was precious. So, I never failed to walk with him for about a kilometer whenever he went out to work. About the time he was to come back at night, I would go out to meet him. The emotion of the meeting was beyond description. I mean, the quality of a person's heart is what matters. When you have heart, your yearning never stops; it never ends.

The time when I lived with Won-pil at Beomnetgol was good, so my impressions of that time are still in my mind. Mr. Kim is also in my mind. I was grateful to him for the days when out of loneliness and sorrow, as refugees, we would gaze at the moon together. Those impressions are indelible. At that time, he used to find coming home from work more exciting than visiting a sweetheart. Even though I asked him to rest at home, he wouldn't and instead he followed me around. If I sat on the toilet for thirty minutes, he would be knocking on the door. I often used to fall asleep on the toilet. We were so close that even when we left North Korea, he left his own mother and home to follow me, though I asked him to stay with his family.

Painting portraits for soldiers

The most miserable time was when I stayed in the house in Beomnetgol -- the small table, one person drawing portraits and me doing all the chores. It was a miserable situation.

We painted portraits for U.S. soldiers. Won-pil Kim knew how to paint. We made all the canvases from one sheet of cloth before we actually set out to paint. We made our own paste. We boiled it and plastered the sheet completely so the cloth would fit tight. Any hole would fill in only when the cloth was stretched tight.

The American soldiers we were dealing with were rotating out of Korea after having stayed for a year and a half or two and a half years. Busan was their last stop in Korea, and they needed something special to bring back home. They wanted portraits of their wives, and at four dollars, it was cheap.

How did we paint them quickly? In the beginning, we did just one or two. Because we were in desperate need of money, we needed twenty or even thirty a day. Usually, the men only stayed there for a week. Sometimes, we used to paint nearly thirty portraits. First, I smoothed out all the wrinkles in the canvas. Then, in the right size to fit the frame, Won-pil sketched in faint lines with a pencil.

Once there were lines, all you had to do to form a shape of a person was to draw along the lines, catching the line where the eyes should be, for example. That sped up our work. Won-pil drew the lip lines; then it was my job to paint it.

He drew the head nicely and I painted the hair color. I got the hang of it. In the beginning, I was just giving him some advice from behind. Later, having learned bit by bit, I did many parts including the clothes. Using this method, we made quite a bit of money; close to a hundred dollars a day. It was very good pay. We used the money we earned for witnessing and pioneering. We made money in that way, but I didn't use it for myself.

Carpentry work for the U.S. Army

I can make things like picture frames. While I was a refugee, I made a living as a carpenter for the U.S. Army for eight months. I didn't study carpentry, but a lot of experience is better than any theory. Laymen can catch up with professionals if they make three times as much effort. Professionals do it faster; I did it slowly, but paid careful attention.

Because I had watched people doing carpentry in the past, I learned the tasks visually. I worked at anything from the first day on. Once I went to the construction site, I understood quickly how things were done. Does one have to learn to do that? One can learn things through common sense

Earnestly waiting for members

At that time, I was yearning to find the people who would connect to God in Busan. I waited for them while investing my utmost sincere effort. Looking spiritually, I could see they were coming. In reality, however, they were not coming closer. I had to wait for the time to come. Once a crack appears in whatever is blocking the way, the road will open up. For this to happen there was a certain indemnity period. For example, there is a period of one's own individual indemnity and a period of indemnity for a community.

There was just the white paper door separating us. I could hear voices shouting, "Teacher! Teacher! Father! Father!" I could hear a great mass of people calling out to me. It felt as if they would flood in if I so much as made a small hole, but this thin paper was blocking them. The flood continued to draw nearer with each passing year. At such times, how much must God have been yearning to see His beloved sons and daughters? I would wake up in the morning and look at the distant mountains, and then see visions of people, a great throng of people coming in procession.

I would go up to the mountain and sit and wait until evening, forgetting even to have lunch. How long did I wait? I needed to experience the heart of God as he waited six thousand years for all the lost, fallen people. When the sun set, I would say, "Aren't they coming?" and in the morning I would wake up with the break of dawn, even before the cock crowed, and wonder, "Aren't they coming?" Thus, I would wait with a heart that never forgot.

How people joined

Because I wanted to share Heaven's sad history with them, when I came back to South Korea, I visited group of members who had ill feelings toward me and who had left me.

Once I visited a house where a mother and her two daughters winked at each other, saying scornfully, "Oh, we begged him not to go that way, but he did. Now he comes looking like a beggar." I went to their house, not because I missed their rice but because, under circumstances known to Heaven, we once shared a heavenly bond and cried together. Because that bond had been planted by Heaven, I hoped to bring a noble conclusion to the relationship. That's why I visited them.

There was also a friend whom I couldn't forget. He had established a company He was famous. I visited him in his house looking like the most wretched of beggars, not having washed my face or brushed my teeth for a week. I wanted to see how he would treat me. He betrayed me as well.

It is human nature to visit one's wife and children first, but I visited my friends first. It took me two years to find people connected to me -- from close friends to acquaintances and members who had followed me in North Korea. Grandma Seung-do, who is sitting here, knows about that. Only after I had found and met them all did I go home. This is how Heaven acts.

Those that remained are Won-pil, Grandma Ji Seung-do and Ok Se-hyun. People like Mr. Lee Gi-wan I had known already from the past when I was in the South. I started the church in the Beom-il District with these people.

In the beginning, everyone opposed me. Even so, I laid the foundation upon which I, coming from North Korea to South Korea and establishing indemnity conditions, was able to pay indemnity even on the global level.

When you bring the book (Divine Principle) with you to a village, you have to treat it as precious, perhaps to the extent that you seem to go too far. Imagine that there is only one copy of this book. How serious must I have been in taking care of the manuscript when it was only the first draft? Think about that. What would happen if it had disappeared and I had died?

It would have greatly affected the world. Have you thought about that?

When I originally distributed the first Principle text, who would have known then that it would become the word, the Principle, which would become spiritual food for the world and which everyone would admire?

When I started on the road of the will, first in Busan, I looked the same as other people. Even so, there was a big difference internally. Though my clothes were shabby and I was missing meals, my thinking was such that I stated loudly that I would win the world and establish the kingdom of heaven; I could do that.

In the beginning, at our place in Beomnetgol, Beom-il District, three people got together, witnessing and praying. When I met them and talked to them at that time, I didn't think that I was just praying for the three people. I thought that even though I was talking to these people at the time, I was, in fact, talking to several hundreds of millions of Christians and the whole human race.

There was a well in the village, and people who came there to draw water thought it strange that people in the house, who had been famous for not fighting, were making so much commotion in those days. Word got out that we, who were poorly dressed and living in a house from which terrifying specters were rumored to emerge, were saying preposterous things such as about winning over the world with one hand, turning heaven and earth upside down, and Korea unifying the world.

One day, people from a seminary came and said, "Throughout history, many people who were more excellent than you couldn't accomplish their dream of a unified world. Now, are you saying you are going to do that from here?" While talking with them, I also thought that we indeed looked pitiful.

Some professors from Ewha University came to our place and then word was out that the handsome man at the top of the mountain had gone crazy. I guess I was quite good-looking. There were even those who came to see me, saying to themselves, "They say some handsome man has gone crazy while practicing religious asceticism. That must be him!"

Left: Father's friend from his student days in Japan, Aum Duk-moon, the first person who joined in Busan.
Middle: On May 10, 1952, Mrs. Kang Hyun-shil, a Presbyterian Church missionary joined Father as the first full-time member.
Right: Mr. Lee Yo-han, who had been a Presbyterian Church minister, joined father in December 1952.
On the basis of these early members, the atmosphere of the church Father was leading became increasingly higher with the influx of new members. In early 1953, Father sent Mrs. Kang and Mr. Lee to the city of Daegu to set up a pioneer mission church there.

Hyun-shil Kang and others join

How much sympathy must God have felt toward the man who endured and worked like that with this dream in his heart?

So He summoned people to visit me -- "Go and look for Rev. Moon!" Recognizing this, I can say that God likes me. God sends people by instructing them in that way. People who endure difficulties in the here and now and maintain a dream for the future, living in the present time as if it's the future, become Heaven's people. We have to understand that they become the ones God remembers.

Kang Hyun-shil, was a lady evangelist with a tent church in Beom-il District. She heard people saying that there was a strange young man in the house by the stony depression. Upon hearing this, she came up to witness to me. I feel as if that first visit was just a short time ago.

When Kang Hyun-shil first visited Beomnetgol, I had a the feeling of longing for a lost child when she came up the hillside. The barrier [to people joining] was broken through by the power of the heart. That which had been clogged by the core of the Fall was burst open by Heaven's heart. Then people came in great numbers. We witnessed to members of the established churches.

Kang Hyun-shil joined our church at that time. I spoke with her about God's word and, thanks to God's help, she came to visit me every day. In the meantime, she left her church and decided to believe in what I was teaching. Heaven sent me congenial people one after another, and in this way I gathered members.

This is how those in the spirit world witness -- our feet get stuck, preventing us from going in the direction we were heading and causing us to go another way. We carried out witnessing in this way. This is part of our root.

Some things go beyond what is in the Bible. Our movement has continued until now by going in all sorts of miraculous directions. 

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