Moon, 92, recently came down with a cold and pneumonia, which worsened. He had been lying unconscious for over two weeks.
Last week, Moon was transported to a rural hospital that he owned in Gapyeong County, an hour outside of the South Korean capital city of Seoul, after family members realized that his chances of recovery were slim. Moon’s body now lies in state and a funeral has been scheduled for September 15th. He will be buried on site at the retreat that houses the hospital.
As previously reported, Moon is known as being the founder of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, which is also called the Unification “Church” for short. He began the organization in 1954 after claiming that he was a “messiah” and that Jesus told him at age 15 that he must complete His “unfinished work.”
Moon said that because Jesus did not marry during His lifetime, he failed to make humans “perfect children.” Therefore, He has become known for officiating mass weddings, which have at times involved more than 2,000 people. Moon’s organization has received criticism for matchmaking couples, and at first, those to be wed would not be allowed to meet until the day of the mass wedding. Officials outline that the goals of the organization are to display “trans-religious, trans-national and trans-racial love.”
Moon himself had 14 children through his second wife Hak Ja Han, who is referred to by followers as the “True Mother.” Most of their offspring live in the United States. He divorced his first wife, Sun Kil Choi, in 1953. They had one child, a son, together.
The cult leader first arrived in the United States in the early 1970’s to support the then embattled President Richard Nixon, who was under scrutiny for his participation in the Watergate scandal. Moon traveled the country during this time, delivering speeches and officiating mass weddings.
He also owned a number of well-known American businesses, such as The Washington Times newspaper, United Peace International, the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan and Kahr Arms, a pistol manufacturer in New York and Massachusetts. Additionally, Moon owned Pyeonghwa Motors, the sole automotive manufacturing plant in North Korea, as well as a number of Sushi restaurants around the world.
At one point, Moon took back ownership of The Washington Times from his son, stating, “The Washington Times has to take responsibility for people going to Hell in America.”
Reports indicate that there may be feuding among Moon’s children as to how their inheritance will be split following his death. His youngest son, Hyung Jin Moon, is said to be his successor.
“Sun Myung Moon, revered by millions as the Messiah and True Parent, who was born in Korea but lived more than 40 years in America … has ascended,” said Joshua Carter, vice president of Unification Church USA, on Sunday.
While the organization claims to have millions of followers around the world, called Moonies, experts estimate actual numbers as being no more than 100,000.