From Schoolmate to Disciple – Part 2

There were some people who met Father very early on in life, and whose insights are therefore precious for us to glean now, as they write from their unique perspective and add details we have not known before. One of the earliest disciples of Father’s was at first more a friend than a follower. Aum Duk-moon was born in Seoul on March 10, 1919. He met Father at the Waseda Technical High School in Tokyo in 1941. Both were in their early twenties. This account is drawn from two separate interviews with Mr. Aum.

By Aum Duk-moon


Part 2 (Click to read Part 1)


My view of Father gradually changes    

The first time I heard Father speak about Principle, I thought his explanation was similar to that given by the established Christian churches, and I accepted it because I respected Father. But he would talk all night long, and his interpretations were different. They were quite extraordinary. For example, what he said about the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden added new insights to what is written in the Bible. The motivation and purpose were different.

Father would talk at length, late into the night, about such things as life in Hungnam Prison. He was a leader even when he was in that fearsome place. As a leader, he enlightened others and he prepared himself to fight it out.

Gradually, as I listened more to Father, I no longer joked with him or called out to him, “Hey, Moon,” as I would to my regular friends. Although I was young, still I had gained a certain position and was a successful architect. However, I began to recognize that Father was an unusual person, and I started to have dreams and revelations about him. The dreams showed me how unique and special he was.

Father hadn’t said one word about such things while we were studying together in Japan. At that time, I didn’t have that respect for him, because he never said a word about religious belief or the church. So it came as quite a shock to me when, after not saying even a word about it, he had become completely different.

After graduating from college, I had been working in a large corporation. We were still under Japanese rule. The name of the company was Kashima. I was an employee in the construction department, and he came to work under the electrical department. That’s how we first met again. At the time I was in Gangseon in South Pyongan Province [now North Korea], which is situated between Pyongyang and Jinnampo. I went to Gangseon and he stayed in Seoul.

That was the time Father was taken by the Japanese police. I heard that he suffered severely. At that time, it was very easy for anyone to be taken like that. It happened all the time; Many of those who worked to put things to right were taken.

So [later when we met again in Busan] my wife and I decided to call Father “Seonsaeng-nim” (Teacher). I told Father, “You are not my friend-you are a saint, a philosopher, a hero. Therefore, I am going to call you Teacher.”

Father answered, “If you think that way, you can call me as you like.”

From the 1943 graduation album of the Waseda Technical High School, where Mr. Aum first met Father. Father is at back in the middle. The school had five departments; Mr. Aum was in Construction, while Father was in Electrical Engineering.

Attending the as-yet unknown Messiah

I gave Father my silver spoon and chopsticks, and I used my wife’s utensils. I gave Father the best of everything I had. As I lived together with Father, I often saw his uniqueness. Once my wife fell down the stairs and lost consciousness. Father picked her up and placed her on the floor and started to pray. Because she was unconscious, I wanted to take her to the hospital, but Father prayed very strongly and his face was so intense that, witnessing this prayer, I deeply felt that Father was not a usual person. I stayed beside him, and my wife regained consciousness without the aid of medicine. Father was silent.

This was the first thing that happened to us after we started calling him Teacher. Living with Father transformed our lives. I felt that Father was very close to God and had some special connection with Him. If we had had a tape recorder then, I would have recorded everything for history.

At that time, Father’s only disciples in Busan were Mr. Won Pil Kim and an older lady, Mrs. Ok [Ok Se-hyun, who had also joined Father in Pyongyang]. Mr. Kim was just 23 or 24 years old, and he seemed very young to me. In those days, we had no book explaining the Principle, and we did not know its exact contents. We learned by asking Father questions and listening to his answers.

I felt I had a mission to help Father. I couldn’t leave Father to do the work alone; somebody had to protect him, and Mr. Kim was too young. Also, I was a professor and I had a good position on the board of directors of the association of architects, as well as many friends (with whom I used to go drinking). So I called my friends together and tried to tell them what Father had shared with me. However, they didn’t understand so well, and I began to feel that Father had some wonderful ability to convince people; an ability that I lacked. Also, I was unable to give a good, logical explanation of the Principle, so my friends couldn’t understand me. They thought that I must have lost my reason and began to criticize me.


Thrown into hardship   

Furthermore, my landlady was a very unpleasant woman; she seemed to me like the witch in the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, with a harsh voice and an unkind character. This landlady disliked Father, so she asked me to tell him to leave. Upon thinking it over, she realized that I might not want to tell him the message, since he was my friend, so she said she herself would ask him to leave. However, every available room in Pusan was occupied by refugees. All houses were filled, and people were sleeping in the doroways and every possible place. So Father ended up remaining with us.

On Sunday, Mr. Kim and Mrs. Ok came over to our place for Sunday service, the first Sunday service held in Busan. Those present were Father, Mr. Won Pil Kim, Mrs. Ok, my wife and I.

The landlady also disliked Mr. Kim. Because of his job in the restaurant, he had to wear rubber shoes; but since he had no socks, his feet were always wet. When he took off his shoes, he left wet footprints wherever he walked. Although my wife cleaned and dried the floor behind him whenever he came to visit us, the landlady still hated him.

The landlord’s sixtieth birthday was coming up, and they wanted to hold a big celebration for him, using the second floor rooms where we were staying. So the landlady asked us to clear away all our belongings and stack them along one side. Finally, she asked us all to move out. We had no choice but to leave—Father, my wife and I, and our two children (who were just two and three years old). We had nowhere to go.

Finally we found a house in which we could rent two rooms. So in one room, my wife and our two children stayed, and in the other room, Father and I stayed. Later, Mr. Kim came and joined Father and me in the second room. Within one week, however, persecution came anew, and we had to leave. I had to change my job. I would go out witnessing, but no one paid heed. Internally, I felt great peace and happiness, even though other people thought I was crazy.

My wife had beautiful clothes, which she sold to buy rice, and that was how we survived. When we moved to another house, our new landlord said it was strange for a wife to live with her children, apart from her husband, so he made us move out. I received so much persecution from outside that I sent my wife and children off to Masan [a town along the coast, about 30 miles west of Busan]. I gave them my name card, because I was well known, and told them to look for a place there to live.

That left us three men living together. Then the landlord asked me what kind of man I was to let my beautiful wife go away! The three of us would often stay up all night talking, and eventually the landlord made us move out of there as well.

After this, I slept in a car owned by an acquaintance of mine who was president of a company, and Father and Mr. Kim stayed in a very cheap dormitory for homeless workers. Theirs was a very dirty place, and the workers made a lot of noise when they came back drunk at night.

A refugee camp and scenes of life in Busan during the Korean War

Part 3 will be posted next week.

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