Spartan Days and Miracles in Busan – Part 2
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 Belvedere 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. This installment begins in May 1951, from when Father and Mr. Kim lived in a boarding house for four months.
Part 2 (Click Here to read Part 1)
At that time, Busan was the only city in Korea which was not occupied by the military. Many, many refugees had congregated there, and living space was scarce. If you had a room to yourself or with friends, you were considered very lucky. For a time, Father and I shared a room that was barely big enough for two or three people to sleep in side by side, and even then, it was impossible to stretch out full length. Often Mr. Aum came to be with us and would spend the night. He was unable to lie down completely, but would just rest leaning against the wall.
How to attend Father
Regardless of how many responsibilities and difficulties and suffering Father goes through, he never expresses them in front of us. He always maintains a constant attitude and seeks to comfort us. Thus, we have to intuit Father’s situation. Even though he may not express his needs, we have to try to understand them and prepare to meet them. This is the kind of attitude of attendance that Father hopes we will develop.
Even God never reveals His difficulties or weak points to Father, but Father knows God’s situation and suffering very well, without needing to be told. Therefore, Father has always devoted himself to comforting God. So while we are passing through difficulties or suffering, when our children or our brothers or sisters intuit them and try to comfort us, our hearts are deeply moved and tears come to our eyes. Likewise, Heavenly Father will also be moved to tears when we understand His situation and try to bring comfort to Him. Father knows God’s situation and has always comforted and encouraged Heavenly Father; therefore, Heavenly Father must have cried so many times because of our True Father.
After seeing Father eat so ravenously, I have always tried to feel his internal situation, even though he never talked about it. Even without asking Father, I try to serve him according to the situation I feel he is in.
Before our escape from North Korea, I had looked upon Father as a kind of super being. I didn’t think he felt hunger or pain; I considered him such a special person that I assumed he was immune to hunger or pain or other human feelings. I suppose you used to think about Jesus in a similar way.
One day, during our journey from the North, I told Father, “I didn’t realize you had the same feelings as ordinary people. If I had been one of Jesus’ followers two thousand years ago, I might have felt the same about him, and if he were hungry I might not have offered him any food to eat. I would have supposed he never needed food, and maybe because of me he would have died of starvation.”
We are apt to think that people in a high or noble position are special and don’t feel hunger as we do. Leaders, compared to members, are in a higher position. But if both leaders and members fast for three days, do only the members feel hunger and the leaders not?
Consider another example: the difference in content between a child saying, ”I’m hungry,” and the parents saying, “I’m hungry.” When children are hungry, they voice their pangs, without considering whether their parents or other people are also hungry. When the child complains of hunger, the father or mother will first feed him, and after the child is satisfied, the parents will eat. Thus, when parents say they are hungry, that means they must be hungrier than their child.
How can you distinguish between people who are on the individual level from those on the national or worldwide level? Somebody on the individual level considers others just as individuals, but someone on the national level cannot regard another person as only one individual, but as a representative of the nation. So when someone on the national level looks at a beggar, he sees not just one beggar but a symbol of national deprivation. In a similar way, when someone on the worldwide level looks at an individual, he sees him as a representative of the world; if he sees a sick person, for instance, he reflects on the illness of the people of the world. In other words, he sees the world situation embodied in one person, whom he regards as a representative of the world. Anyone who can see from this point of view can truly be called a worldwide-level person.
How Father built his house
Father made plans to build a house on the hillside of Beomnaetgol (in the BeomiI-dong district of Busan), where he used to go for prayer and meditation. Therefore, whenever he went climbing he would collect stones, large and small, for the house. On Sundays, when I had a day off, I would help him collect these materials.
Not only did we collect stones, but also we brought soil from different hills in the area. The proposed site for Father’s house was very rough and uneven, so earth was needed to level the foundation. About 200-300 meters away, we dug out dirt and carried it in sacks over our shoulders to the site. I would dig and Father would carry the soil, and then we would switch around, and I would carry while Father dug. When it was Father’s turn to carry, he would go and return very quickly, but when it was my turn, I would walk more slowly and take a rest after emptying the bag. Still, Father never asked me why I took so long; he just concentrated on digging more ground. Of course, he must have become tired too, but he never showed it, and his unceasing activity stimulated me very much.
The place where Father planned to build his house was near a cemetery. Except for one house a small distance away, there were no neighbors, because people said that many years ago a white tiger had appeared there, and thus they regarded the place as somewhat dangerous.
It was during the 1951 summer rainy season when Father began to build the house. The first and second try, he did not succeed, but on the third attempt, he finished the house. Actually, it was nothing more than a shack. The roof was made of cardboard, and when it rained it would leak. On a clear night, we could see the stars through the holes overhead.
Near Father’s house was an old spring, which Father dug out and enlarged in order to make a good well. The people who lived in the village at the foot of the hill heard about the well with good spring water and the two young men who lived in a shack beside it, so when they came up the hill to draw water, they were very curious about us; they observed that we were sincere, and the rumor spread that these two young men were good.
A refugee family lived in the only other house nearby. Father used to play with their little boy and let him stay in the house with him. Father would feed the child and tell him many interesting stories, so the boy really loved Father. Then when he returned home, he would tell his parents wonderful things about Father, giving his family a good impression of Father. The boy’s father was a Buddhist and unaware of many aspects of Christianity. He really enjoyed drinking, so as a token of gratitude for Father’s kindness towards his son, one day the neighbor brought Father a bottle of alcoholic beverage as a present. Father used to cook for himself, so the little boy’s mother would sometimes come over and help Father prepare meals. So we and the neighbors became very close.
The rice available in those days was not high quality; it contained many small stones and needed to be washed with care many times over. The rice you can buy now is free of stones, but that kind was not available then. Although housewives washed their rice many times over, sometimes they would miss some small stones; but when Father washed the rice, not a single stone remained. Therefore, even experienced housewives could learn from Father. Also, how well rice is cooked depends upon the amount of water used and the control of the temperature, and Father was an expert at this as well. Usually when you put a large pot of rice on the fire, the bottom gets cooked well, the middle medium well, and the top underdone. Now there are electric rice cookers, so you don’t need to think of these details.
I am telling you this because Father said that wherever he goes, he can adjust himself to those circumstances; if he goes to a coal mine, for instance, he can become an excellent miner, if he goes to a farm, an expert farmer.
Continued next week…