Spartan Days and Miracles in Busan – Part 1

By Rev. Won Pil Kim

Soon after the North Korean invasion of South Korea in late June 1950, the North Korean army occupied most of South Korea and pressed down on a small perimeter surrounding the southern cities of Daegu and Busan, which the Republic of Korea forces and some US troops that had been sent from Japan defended with all their strength. General Douglas McArthur’s landing at Incheon against all odds ended up splitting the troop supply lines from the North, and then the allied forces pushed the North Korean army back up the peninsula. Just far up enough that Father could get out of the Hungnam special labor camp before the Chinese army entered the war and its tide turned again.

We have already covered Father’s journey to Pyongyang to look for his followers, and then on down to Busan, earlier in this series of early days testimonies. Father, Won Pil Kim and one other made their way through war-torn Korea—a journey that took almost two months during the bitter winter of 1950-51.

Busan was a city swollen with refugees from the war, but perhaps a place of comparative freedom and hope compared to most other parts of the peninsula at that time. This is where Father began our movement in South Korea.

This account of Father’s life and activities in Busan from 1951 to 1953 is compiled primarily from tapes of several talks on Father’s life given by Rev. Kim to the first 120-day training session at the World Mission Center in 1981, supplemented by excerpts from his testimony given at Belevedere on October 14, 1979, and his book Father’s Course and our Life of Faith. Occasional portions in parentheses come from History Committee chief Mr. Kwang Yol Yoo’s historical articles in the December 21, 1974 New Hope News and January 1976 issue of the Korean monthly Tongil Segye. These events took place almost a decade before True Parents’ Holy Wedding.

Father and I were among the last refugees to escape from Pyongyang and come to Busan. We reached Busan on January 27, 1951, arriving at the Cho-ryung train station. When we arrived, it was already dark outside, and we had to stay overnight at the train station.

Now Busan is a major industrial center of Korea, but at that time its industry was not so highly developed. Most other refugees arrived in Busan after about ten days or two weeks of travel, but our journey, beginning on December 4, 1950, had taken almost two months.

After arriving in Busan, Father started looking for the friends he had made in Pyongyang or Seoul. One night we spent in the house of one of the students in a Sunday school class which Father had taught in Seoul. Many Korean families at that time had just one room, in which many people lived together. If Father had gone alone to visit a friend, it would have been rather easy for them to invite him to stay with them, but I was always with him, so it was not easy for two people to be invited to spend the night. Therefore, I went out to get work and find a room to stay, because an able-bodied man could not just linger at someone’s house. I found work as a waiter in a restaurant and got a place to live nearby.

Finding places to stay

Father began to look for a friend who could connect with him by faith. Then he met one former schoolmate of his student days in Japan, Mr. Duk Moon Aum. Mr. Aum invited Father to stay with him. (Father had left Pyongyang wearing white clothes, but by the time he reached Busan, his clothes were almost black with soil and grease.)

Right away, Father began speaking with Mr. Aum about the ideal world. Though Mr. Aum’s family was Buddhist and Mr. Aum himself an earnest Buddhist and loyal to his parents, one night Jesus’ sister appeared to Mr. Aum in a dream. Mr. Aum didn’t know anything about Jesus or his family situation, but this woman, who said she was Jesus’ younger sister, told him that because of mistakes made by Mary, Jesus had great resentment towards his mother. The problem was how to liberate this resentment. She told Mr. Aum about a safe which when it was opened held another safe, inside which was still another safe, etc.; until the final safe could be reached and unlocked, there was no way Jesus’ resentment could be healed. She said that only one person had a key to the innermost safe, and that was Teacher Moon. Not knowing anything about Christianity, Mr. Aum did not understand the meaning of that dream, so he recounted it to Father. Then Father told him about Principle.

Father and Mr. Aum had been friends in Japan, but after Mr. Aum began receiving messages from heaven and listening to Principle, he changed his attitude and began treating and attending Father as a teacher, not just a friend. He became convinced that he should follow Father once and for all. (Father lived with Mr. Aum and his family for about a week and later stayed at a hostel.)

Later, Father met the Mr. Kim who had become his first disciple in prison. He was the one who had asked Father about the advisability of being transferred to a branch prison, and Father had replied that if anything were to happen, he should try to escape. The day the communists began to kill the prisoners, Mr. Kim was able to run away while they were being taken to the execution site. Later he was able to flee to the South, coming to Busan and finding work there. He had recently gotten married, but since he and his wife were refugees, there was no big wedding, only a simple token ceremony. As soon as he met Father again, he took Father into his home. The newlyweds had a little furniture and a few utensils in their one small room, but they welcomed Father and invited him to stay with them for two weeks.

At that time, I was separated from Father. I was doing my job and Father was doing his. But Father was concerned about me, and whenever he had a guest or friend, he would come to visit me in the restaurant and introduce me to him, telling me how that person had become a member and what they had done together in the past. This comforted me very much. While I was working in the restaurant, Father sometimes brought Mr. Aum and Mr. Kim there to visit me. Father continuously shared the truth with them. To see Mr. Aum and hear his background really encouraged me and gave me hope. By this simple act, I had much hope and felt as though I now had a large family.

Whenever Father came to visit me, he never mentioned anything to me about his personal situation; he always wore a big smile and spoke to me so warmly, treating me so affectionately. (In April) Father had no place to stay, so he would go to the harbor to work on the docks. That winter, the nights were very cold, so Father sometimes worked all night instead of sleeping; during the day, when the sun was shining, it was warm enough for Father to sleep under the porch of some house. He had no blanket; he just slept in the clothes he was wearing. Sometimes he had to work all day and all night as well. (After working all night, Father would often go to the hills and pray or meditate all day, praying for the salvation of the world.)

When we look at Father, we have to see beyond his external appearance and look for his background and the process he had to go through in order to come before us. When he came to visit me at work, he never said anything about how he was working day and night and how he had nothing to eat.

When Father brought someone with him to the restaurant, I would go to my boss and tell him that my respected teacher had come with a guest and ask if I could offer them dinner. So the owner would give me permission to serve them food. The first time Father came, the restaurant opened a private inner room for him and set up a table where he could eat by himself. I brought him rice and other dishes. Wanting to give Father a lot to eat, I pressed a lot of rice into the bowl and piled even more on top of it, but Father ate it almost instantly. I brought another bowl of rice, but soon discovered that it too was empty. Only in that way did I realize that Father was going through hungry times. So I resolved that from then on, every time I met Father I would have some food prepared for him. Still, in front of me, Father never said he wanted to eat or never requested a certain kind of food. This is still Father’s attitude.

Continued next week…

2 Responses

  1. Curtis Walker says:

    Doing my best to picture what it must have been like for True Father and Rev. Won Pil Kim, as they sought food and lodging during those painful, Spartan days. Father’s course was even more difficult than that of my own ancestors, the enslaved people of Black African descent who took to the Underground Railroad as an escape route, providing passage from slavery into freedom.

    This loosely connected structure of routes, safe houses, and individuals often provided some measures of support to fugitive, fleeing, on-the-run slaves. For these people, travelling at night was preferable, as the “risk of capture was too high during the daylight hours, and finding hiding places to eat and to rest was essential. Nourishment could be attained through pilfering foodstuffs from nearby farms and plantations.” [] Why did the Lord of the Second Advent have to go a course akin to the miserable path endured by escaping slaves? How profoundly unspeakable were the failures of those who were chosen to recognize and to welcome Him, yet tragically failed to do so?

  2. Joel B. Amangan says:

    I appreciated so much the opportunity to discover more of Rev Won Pil Kim’s experience with
    True Father on the early times.

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