Four Years of Hope of Reformation and Harmony
Newsweek, Korean National Major Weekly Magazine, (February 22, 2016 issue)
translated by PR Department of Tongil Group
An Interview with Kyeung-Seuk Ryu, President of FFWPU Korea
The congregation of the Unification Church is still firm, even after the passing of Reverend Sun Myung Moon. We took the time to meet President Kyeung-Seuk Ryu, the first 2nd generation member that has taken on the position of the Korean President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, and to hear about the future of the Unification Church.
“Our goal is 2,100,000 families by the year of 2020.” This is the goal of the Korean President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Unification Church), Kyeung-Seuk Ryu made to set forth the first step towards becoming a ‘Religion of the People.’ There were many opinions about the future of the Unification Church after the passing of its founder Reverend Sun Myung Moon in September, 2012. Despite concerns from the outside, the Unification Church is steadily expanding its congregation centered on Dr. Hak Ja Han. In the center of this process is President Ryu, the first 2nd generation member to ever stand in the position of the Korean President of the Family Federation in October, 2013. From him we heard about the changes in the Unification Church after the passing of Reverend Moon. President Ryu is an expert of religions who earned his Masters in Religious Education at the Unification Theological Seminary in the U.S. and his doctoral degree at the Sun Moon University Graduate School of Theology. President Ryu laughed and said, “Over the three years since the passing of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, we have done our utmost to fulfill field-centered innovation centered on Dr. Han. I would say our score so far is eighty points.”
After taking office, you have been mentioning the innovation of the Unification Church. What changes have been made so far?
“Dr. Hak Ja Han had proclaimed ‘Vision 2020’ in the sense for us to do our best and bring diverse change before the year of 2020, which will also be the 100th Anniversary of the Birthday of Reverend Moon and Dr. Han. From the passing of Reverend Moon until the year of 2020, the first three years have been a period of stabilizing internal systems. The remaining four years shall become a period of externally leaping forward with the goal of ‘Four Years of Hope.’ After being appointed as the Korean President, I have endeavored to turn the internal systems of the Unification Church into field-centered work. Up until then, all matters were controlled by headquarters. But now I think that it is the time for the 24 regions (250 churches) in the field to become the center. After taking office, I have prepared region-centered foundations in various areas, such as the missionary work system, ministers, employees and volunteer work. During the Four Years of Hope, the region-centered systems are projected to bear very rich fruit.
What is the reason for changing the systems from headquarters-centered to region-centered?
During the Four Years of Hope, each region will do their best to fulfill their goal of maturing into a religion of the people. Only when the region becomes the center can an effective missionary work system be prepared for that area. The region itself looks at the characteristics of its area and sets a missionary work goal. They establish a systematic strategy in order to practice religion in everyday life. After taking office, my grades are at 80 points. I am just sorry that I am not at 100 points.
How many believers does the church have?
On a worldwide basis, we currently have around three million members, and 300,000 of them are Korean believers. Our goal is 2,100,000 families. That would be about ten million people.
You are currently claiming a system centered on field work. How do you fund your headquarters?
We are creating education roadmaps for levels from kindergarten and elementary on up to university in order to train future leaders. Recently, we installed a Future Training Institute within our Korean branch. We have prepared a system that certifies the outstanding programs we have developed in the field in order to strengthen the capabilities of leaders and even strengthened the online media mission work. The Internet broadcasting show called ‘True Love TV’ that we have been preparing since 2014 officially aired last year. It is broadcasted daily from 9 AM to 3 PM and from 6 PM to midnight. The show is composed of stories and news about Reverend Moon, concerts and other special programs.
How do you intend on solving the religious prejudice against the Unification Church?
I think that the prejudice towards us has eased very much compared to the past. Many of our believers participate in local government festivals. If you go to other regions, you will not likely encounter prejudice toward the Unification Church. However, in terms of religious doctrine there are some differences that exist, so the longstanding conflict with Christianity still remains. This is not a problem that can be solved immediately. We cannot give up on our doctrine. A third party must mediate this part. Even with such difficulties, we are going to do our utmost to mature into a religion of the people. We will actively take interest in social and national agendas, and use all of our capabilities to become a more widely practiced mainstream religion. Our next step is to grow into a religion that is loved and respected by the people.
Last August, Dr. Hak Ja Han proclaimed that she was to strive in unification movements in commemoration of the 3rd anniversary of the passing of Reverend Sun Myung Moon. What does this include?
“Reverend Moon emphasized the peace vision of ‘Let us connect the world of peace.’ In the ‘2015 Peace Road Project’ held last year, 300,000 people from 121 countries in the world participated. This was possible as all world leaders empathized with the theme, ‘The unification on the Korean Peninsula shall lead to World Peace.’ Last August, the ‘Unification Preparation Citizen Assembly’ began, and up to today, 35,000 people have been participating. Last year on the 17th of November the ‘2015 Peace Unification Practice Citizen Festival’ took place, with the Minister of Unification Yong-Pyo Hong and the Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Unification Preparation Committee attending the event.
The Unification Church has played the mediator in improving relations between the North and the South Korea. A good example is the operating of the Pyong Hwa Motors and Botong River Hotel established in North Korea. In 2012, the management rights to Pyong Hwa Motors that had been collaborated with North Korea for 12 years, as well as the Botong River Hotel that was taken over in 1991, was transferred to North Korea. CEO Sang-Kwon Park, who had operated the Peace Korea, is currently remaining as an Honorable Chairman of the Board and advising the business. The Unification Church and North Korea are still in a friendly relationship. Even when tensions arise between North and South Korea, Honorable Chairman of Board Park is one of a very few figures that can freely come and go between North and South Korea. This is one of the reasons the Unification Church is striving to fulfill peace and unification between the two Koreas. In 2012, when Reverend Moon passed away, Kim Jong-Un invited Dr. Han through a telegram. President Ryu said, ‘Dr. Han answered that she would visit at a more suitable period,’ and revealed, ‘We expect her to visit before the year 2020.’”
Are you to continue to act as the mediator between the North and the South Korea?
“With the relations between the North and South Korea in such an unstable predicament, we are the only ones that can play the mediator role as a private organization.”
When is Dr. Hak Ja Han going to visit North Korea?
“We believe it will happen before the year 2020, and the wind of unification shall blow fiercely until then. Reverend Moon expressed this in similar words when he was with us. The Unification Church shall put forth much effort into achieving unification on the Korean Peninsula.”
At the ‘2015 Peace Unification Practice Citizen Festival’ held on the 17th of November last year, Dr. Han spoke of the ‘Installment of the 5th Secretariat of the UN Project.’ We would like to hear what that is about.
“The UN Secretariats perform the overall administrative work of the UN. They are in New York, USA (1st Secretariat), Geneva, Switzerland (2nd Secretariat), Vienna, Austria (3rd Secretariat) and Nairobi, Kenya (4th Secretariat). As it stands now, there is no secretariat of the UN on the Asian continent. For this reason, we decided to develop the movements toward installing the 5th Secretariat of the UN on the Korean Peninsula. The 5th Secretariat of the UN will handle pressing global issues such as nuclear disarmament, world peace, religious conciliation and women issues. It is being insisted that it will be constructed at the Demilitarized Zone on Gyeonggi-do, considering the area’s distinct geopolitical characteristics and the relations between North and South Korea.”
The installment of the 5th Secretariat of the UN is very interesting. How much has it progressed?
“Since the end of last year, Dr. Han has taken an interest and proceeded with the project. The promotion activities for the construction business of the DMZ World Peace Park and the Secretariat of the UN are to take place on a nongovernmental dimension. Next year, by pushing ahead with the policy proposal election, we shall put our plans into action. From February 12-16, as part of one of events of the Birthday Celebration of Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han and the 3rd Anniversary of Foundation Day, the International Leadership Conference is to be held at the Jamsil Lotte World Hotel in Seoul. 180 active congressmen, 40 journalists and many religious leaders from all over the world are to participate at the event. During this time, the issue of installing a Secretariat of the UN in Korea is to also be discussed.”
We are curious about the recent state of Dr. Hak Ja Han’s life.
“After the passing of Reverend Moon, the ‘three-year mourning’ proceeded with utmost sincerity. A while ago, as the first nominees of the Sunhak Peace Prize, President Anote Tong of Kiribati, an island nation in the South Pacific and Dr. Modadugu Gupta from India, who developed a fish farming technology as an alternative to the global food crisis, were presented with awards. They were honored for their contributions toward resolving the conflicts brought about by climate change and food shortage. Last year, on the 17th of November, through the ‘2015 Peace Unification Practice Citizen Festival,’ a message wishing for North and South unification and world peace was delivered. And at the beginning of this year, through the ‘2015 Wonmo Pyeongae Foundation Scholarship Certificate Presentation Ceremony,’ scholarships totaling up to ten billion won were granted to 2,000 talented individuals from 68 countries around the world that would later lead our future generations.
Every move of the Unification Church is being payed attention to after the passing of its founder, Reverend Moon. There was widespread concern that the congregation would falter. But after Reverend Moon’s passing, Dr. Han has been demonstrating very strong leadership, and has become the driving force in expanding the congregation of the Unification Church.
Which roles are International President Sun Jin Moon and Korean President Kyeung-Seuk Ryu taking on?
International President Moon handles everything with the missionary work groups around the world. Through the International Headquarters, a mission work strategy has been established, and mission work activities in each country are supported accordingly. After appointing International President Moon to her position, Dr. Han has refrained from foreign activities and instead has concentrated on devotional prayer. I am taking on one of the thirteen continental headquarters, as the Korean President. Korea is the homeland of our faith, where our founder was born. For the Family Federation, Korea is the most important country. For its church leadership, groups and systems are well-equipped, many mission countries set Korea as a model and establish their strategies accordingly.
What is the reason for the Unification Church not falling apart after the passing of Reverend Moon?
“Within the Family Federation, death is called the ‘Seonghwa.’ When Reverend Moon had his Seonghwa, the members of the Family Federation were in a period of mourning. Dr. Han embraced the brothers and sisters of the Family Federation that were in sorrow and raised them up. She gave them hope with ‘Vision 2020,’ insisting on an ‘unending march,’ and promising to completely achieve the goals of the heavens before the year 2020, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Reverend Moon. While Reverend Moon was a prophet-like leader, Dr. Han is leading the Family Federation with harmony and balance. Unity centered on Dr. Han has been fulfilled, causing no internal conflicts.”
Many events are to take place in February within the Unification Church.
The Family Federation named this period the ‘Four Years of Hope,’ the four years before 2020, which will mark the 100th Anniversary of the Birthday of Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Many various events are being planned in commemoration of the Birthday of Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han and the 3rd Anniversary of Foundation Day. As some of the major events the ‘Birthday’ of Reverend Moon and Dr. Han, the 2016 Heavenly Blessing, the Scholarship Certificate Presentation Ceremony by the Wonmo Pyeongae Foundation, the International Leadership Conference (ILC), and the agreement to found the International Parliamentarian’s Peace Association are to be held.
What is your vision and plans for the year 2016 as the Korean President?
The era where missionary work was conducted on the foundation of church authority and doctrines has now passed. The world must look at the culture of religious communities and the lives of its members. The Korean headquarters of the Family Federation is the homeland of the heart where Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han were born. Korea, the homeland of faith and heart, has been divided for the last 70 years. Even at this moment, North and South Korea are engulfed with tension and conflict. We are to do our utmost to fulfill our mission of realizing unification on the Korean peninsula, as well as world peace.
– After the passing of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the Korean President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, Kyeung-Seuk Ryu, has been concentrating on field work innovation, centering on Dr. Hak Ja Han.
– Dr. Hak Ja Han is taking a commemorative photo with guests that attended the World Summit 2013.