The Dark Side of Rev. Sun Myung Moon
Part 10, Moon’s Dark Shadow
By Robert Parry
October 1, 1998
Rev. Sun Myung Moon's ex-daughter-in-law, who fled Moon's
drug-addicted son in 1995, writes in a new book that Moon has supported
his religious-political-business empire with vast sums of cash, much of
it laundered into the United States illegally. In a personal memoir entitled
In the Shadow of the Moons, the ex-daughter-in-law, Nansook
Hong, recounts her nightmarish 14-year marriage to Rev. Moon's
son, Hyo Jin Moon, who was once considered the heir apparent
within Rev. Moon's South Korea-based Unification Church.
While the book is primarily a story about an abusive husband
and a hypocritical religious leader, it adds first-person evidence that
Rev. Moon has flouted U.S. currency laws through a long-running conspiracy
to smuggle cash into the United States or to lie to customs agents about
where the cash is going.
According to Nansook Hong, much of the money went into family
safes to be doled out later to fund Moon's American businesses, his political
operations and his family's luxuries.
Nansook Hong described one incident in 1992 when she personally
participated in smuggling cash past U.S. Customs at the instructions of
Rev. Moon's wife, Hak Ja Han Moon. Hong recounted numerous
other cases in which the Moons received cash from church members who brought
money from overseas and delivered it in bags.
U.S. currency laws require that cash amounts above $10,000
be declared at Customs when the money enters or leaves the country. It is
also illegal to conspire with couriers to bring in lesser amounts when the
total exceeds the $10,000 figure, a process called "smurfing."
In the Shadow of the Moons raises anew the question
of whether Moon's money-laundering -- from mysterious sources in both Asia
and South America -- has made him a conduit for illicit foreign money influencing
the U.S. government and American politics.
Moon's spokesmen have denied that he launders drug money
or moves money from other criminal enterprises. They attribute his wealth
to donations and business profits, but have refused to open Moon's records
for public inspection.
For decades, Moon has lavished huge sums on right-wing media
and friendly politicians. He spends an estimated $100 million a year to
keep afloat the conservative Washington Times newspaper,
a flagship of the American Right and a journalistic base for many conservative
pundits who appear regularly on national TV political shows.
The Washington Times and its correspondents have been especially
aggressive in seeking President Clinton’s impeachment. After release
of Kenneth Starr's report to Congress, a Times editorial demanded of Clinton:
"Go, you despicable man, go and be gone." [Sept. 12, 1998]
The Washington Times, however, has ignored Nansook Hong's
startling allegations about sexual misconduct and legal deceptions involving
the newspaper's founder and funder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
Though The Washington Times dubs itself "America's Newspaper,"
Moon has declared in speeches to his followers that his goal is "the
natural subjugation" of the United States and its people under his
For Americans who resist and try to maintain their individuality,
he has vowed that they will be "digested." [For details on
Moon's movement, see iF Magazine, Sept.-Oct. 1997.]
Millions more pour through Moon front groups with innocuous-sounding
names, such as the Women's Federation for World Peace and
the American Freedom Coalition, indirectly benefitting
other leading conservatives, including the Rev. Jerry Falwell
and Iran-contra figure Oliver L. North.
The key to Moon's power has always been his rivers of subterranean
cash from sources that have never been clearly identified. Nansook Hong's
book sheds some light on the mystery although she was never in a position
to examine Moon's financial records.
Hong did, however, see how the operation worked and supplies
first-hand evidence that could justify a fuller criminal investigation.
"The Unification Church was a cash operation,"
Nansook Hong wrote. "I watched Japanese church leaders arrive at regular
intervals at East Garden [the Moon compound north of New York City] with
paper bags full of money, which the Reverend Moon would either pocket or
distribute to the heads of various church-owned business enterprises at
his breakfast table.
"The Japanese had no trouble bringing the cash into
the United States; they would tell customs agents that they were in America
to gamble at Atlantic City. In addition, many businesses run by the church
were cash operations, including several Japanese restaurants in New York
City. I saw deliveries of cash from church headquarters that went directly
into the wall safe in Mrs. Moon's closet."
Mrs. Moon pressed her daughter-in-law into one cash-smuggling
incident after a trip to Japan in 1992. Mrs. Moon had received "stacks
of money" and divvied it up among her entourage for the return trip
through Seattle, Hong wrote.
"I was given $20,000 in two packs of crisp new bills,"
Hong remembered. "I hid them beneath the tray in my makeup case. ...
I knew that smuggling was illegal, but I believed the followers of Sun Myung
Moon answered to higher laws."
Inside the United States, Moon's business enterprises
helped launder the cash, making it untraceable and enabling the Moons to
evade tax laws.
Hong wrote that in 1993, Hyo Jin Moon received a $400,000
cash "donation" from Japanese members visiting the Manhattan Center,
a Moon-owned recording studio. Hyo Jin Moon "never reported the gift
on his tax return or paid a dime of taxes on the money," his ex-wife
In 1994, Rev. Moon sent Hyo Jin $1 million in cash, Hong
wrote. Hyo Jin delivered $600,000 to the Manhattan Center in a Bloomingdale's
shopping bag and "skimmed off" $400,000 for himself. Former Manhattan
Center officials have confirmed independently that the $600,000 was laundered
through other Moon business enterprises. [For more details, see iF Magazine,
Nansook Hong wrote that Moon "demonstrated contempt
for U.S. law every time he accepted a paper bag full of untraceable, undeclared
cash collected from true believers."
Since Moon's early forays into the United States, there have
been questions about his sources of money and possible tax violations. In
the 1970s, he recruited -- some critics say "brainwashed" -- thousands
of young Americans and made them drive from city to city selling flowers
and cheap toys.
But a congressional investigation in 1978 also uncovered
evidence that Moon was acting as a South Korean intelligence agent seeking
to penetrate U.S. institutions and that Moon was using his foreign followers
to smuggle cash into the United States. Moon's cash transactions prompted
a federal tax case against him in the early 1980s. [See iF Magazine, May-June
The new Reagan administration tried unsuccessfully to halt
the tax case. Federal prosecutors in New York prevailed over the Justice
Department and won a conviction against Moon in 1982.
Moon denounced his 18-month prison sentence as religious
persecution and rallied civil rights groups, including leaders of the American
Civil Liberties Union, to his defense.
Jeremiah S. Gutman, president of the New York Civil Liberties
Union, called the prosecution "an indefensible intrusion in private
religious affairs." Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, declared that "injustice
rather than justice has been served."
Inside Moon's organization, however, the routine violation of U.S. tax laws
was viewed as a way of life.
"There was no question inside the church that the Reverend
Moon used his religious tax exemption as a tool for financial gain in the
business world," Nansook Hong wrote.
"No matter what the lawyers said in court, no one internally
disputed that the Reverend Moon comingled church and business funds. No
one had any problem with it.
"How often had I heard church advisers discuss funnelling
church funds into his business enterprises and political causes because
his religious, business, and political goals are the same: world dominance
for the Unification Church. It was U.S. tax laws that were wrong, not Sun
Myung Moon. Man's law was secondary to the Messiah's mission."
But Moon’s conviction broadened his appeal within religious
circles and among civil libertarians -- "a public relations coup,"
noted Nansook Hong. "Overnight he went from being a despised cult leader
to being the symbol of religious persecution. Well-meaning civil libertarians
made Sun Myung Moon a martyr to their cause. They, too, were being duped."
Beyond "being duped," however, some of those who
rallied to Moon's banner of religious persecution later would profit off
their sympathy for the theocrat. Black civil rights leaders, such as Ralph
Abernathy, would receive huge speaking fees; Rev. Jerry Falwell would see
Moon's millions flowing into allied non-profits; and Gutman would become
a leading attorney for Moon's apparatus.
Nansook Hong was the daughter of two early Moon disciples
and grew up in South Korea with a child-like acceptance of Moon's divinity.
According to Moon's theology, he is a perfect True Father and his True Family
also is the embodiment of human perfection, a goal that is held out for
other followers whose marriages and sexual activities are prescribed by
At 15, Nansook Hong was selected by Moon to marry his 19-year-old
son, Hyo Jin, the oldest boy from Moon's second marriage which has produced
13 children. Even then, Hyo Jin was recognized within the church as one
of the True Family's many spoiled brats who were waited on, hand and foot,
by docile American members. "The True Family treated the staff like
indentured servants," Hong wrote. "They were ordered around by
even the smallest of the Moons: 'Bring me this.' 'Get me that.' 'Pick up
my clothes.' 'Make my bed.'"
By the time of his marriage, Hyo Jin already was notorious
for womanizing and abusing drugs, according to ex-members of the Unification
Church whom I have interviewed.
His marriage in 1982 did not alter his ways, according to
Nansook Hong's account. Hyo Jin took other lovers, binged on cocaine and
spent hours alone watching pornography.
Nansook Hong also discovered that the other members of the
True Family lived decadent life styles in marked contrast to the modest
lives of church members. Promiscuity was rampant, extravagant shopping trips
the norm, and violations of church scriptures were common.
When Hyo Jin took Nansook to Las Vegas on their honeymoon,
she encountered the Rev. and Mrs. Moon gambling despite the church's strict
prohibition against the practice.
Even as Moon poured hundreds of millions of dollars into
the American Right and ingratiated himself with President Reagan, Moon's
religious pronouncements grew increasingly bizarre. When one of his teenage
sons, Heung Jin, died in a car crash in 1983, Moon declared the Heung Jin
had supplanted Jesus as the King of Heaven.
In 1984, Moon arranged a strange ceremony in which he married
his dead son's spirit to Hoon Sook Pak, the daughter of longtime Moon lieutenant
Bo Hi Pak, then the publisher of The Washington Times. Moon's theology required
the wedding because he believed only married individuals could enter the
Kingdom of Heaven.
Even Jesus needed Rev. Moon's help in this way. "In
what must stand as his ultimate act of arrogance, Sun Myung Moon actually
had matched Jesus to an elderly Korean woman," Nansook Hong wrote.
"Jesus himself needed the intervention of the Reverend Moon to move
through those gates" of heaven.
In late 1985, impressed by his expanding political influence,
Moon conducted a secret ceremony in which Moon "actually crowned himself
and Hak Ja Han Moon as Emperor and Empress of the Universe," Nansook
Hong wrote. "In his gold crown and elaborate robes, Sun Myung Moon
looked ... like a modern-day Charlemagne."
Two years later, Moon became convinced that Heung Jin's spirit
had returned in the body of a Zimbabwean church member. So, Moon ordered
his followers to make confessions before this so-called "black Heung
The Zimbabwean administered severe beatings to perceived
sinners, including Bo Hi Pak who was hospitalized with head injuries and
soon was replaced as Washington Times publisher.
"Sun Myung Moon seemed to take pleasure in the reports
that filtered back to East Garden of the beatings being administered by
the Black Heung Jin," Nansook Hong wrote. "He would laugh raucously
if someone out of favor had been dealt an especially hard blow."
Though Nansook Hong bore Hyo Jin Moon four children, the
marriage continued to deteriorate. Hong wrote that Hyo Jin continued philandering
and abusing drugs, returning home some nights to beat and sexually humiliate
her. After one beating, she stated that he licked her blood off his hand
and declared, "Tastes good."
All the while, Hong wrote, Rev. and Mrs. Moon blamed her
for failing to satisfy their son. As the family relationships unraveled,
Hong also learned that Rev. Moon frequently violated the church's prohibitions
against extramarital affairs, with one affair in the United States producing
an illegitimate son.
Hong asked Mrs. Moon about this information. "She was
both furious and tearful," Hong wrote. "No one knows the pain
of a straying husband like True Mother, she assured me. I was stunned. We
had all heard rumors for years about Sun Myung Moon's affairs and the children
he sired out of wedlock, but here was True Mother confirming the truth of
Though marital fidelity is one of the most sacred principles
of the Unification Church, Mrs. Moon justified her husband's philandering
because of his status as the Messiah. "What Father did was in God's
plan," Mrs. Moon explained to her daughter-in-law. Later, Hong reported,
she was summoned to see Rev. Moon. He admitted his infidelity with other
women but termed those sexual relations "providential."
With Hong's religious faith crushed and her marriage in shambles,
she finally decided to flee Moon's compound in Irvington, N.Y. With the
help of a South African church member, Nansook Hong and her four children
slipped away from East Garden in the dark of night.
She moved with her children to Lexington, Mass., where her
brother lived. She filed for divorce and obtained a restraining order against
"My eyes focused on the American flag," she wrote.
"I thanked God that I was in America. That flag was protecting me,
a Korean girl who had come to this country illegally, who was not yet a
citizen. Of all Sun Myung Moon's sins, I thought, his attacks on America
were the most vile. He was rich and powerful; I was neither, but we were
equal before that flag."
Nansook Hong's flight infuriated the Moons who struck back
with legal maneuvers and other strategies to contain the damage. Hyo Jin
also entered drug treatment facilities to demonstrate a commitment to change,
but failed drug tests after his discharge.
When Hyo Jin violated a court order for support payments,
he was surprised to be jailed when he showed up in Massachusetts. Moon's
high-priced legal team sprung him, however, by filing a bankruptcy petition
on Hyo Jin's behalf. The lawyers claimed that Hyo Jin might enjoy a luxurious
lifestyle but had no independent access to money.
Meanwhile, Rev. Moon was growing increasingly angry with
the United States. In speeches to his followers, he termed America "Satan's
harvest" and denounced American women as a "line of prostitutes."
He shifted his base of operation to Uruguay, although he retained his permanent
U.S. residency status (or "green card") which protected him from
investigations as a possible foreign agent of influence.
Despite Moon's anti-Americanism, former President Bush flew
to Argentina in 1996 for the launch of Moon's South American newspaper,
called Tiempos del Mundo. Bush hailed Moon as "the man with the vision"
whose Washington Times "brings sanity to Washington, D.C." The
ex-president collected a large speaking fee which he and Moon's aides have
refused to disclose.
In December 1997, Nansook Hong was granted a divorce from
Hyo Jin Moon. On Sept. 17, in a segment on CBS-TV’s "60 Minutes,"
one of Moon's estranged daughters, Un Jin Moon, broke her long public silence
about the dysfunctional "True Family." Un Jin Moon backed up Nansook
Hong's account and called her "very honest."
But in Washington, Moon's mysterious riches continue to cover
the vast red ink at The Washington Times and to fund other powerful institutions
of the American Right. His newspaper is on the street every day denouncing
President Clinton's morality and demanding that the Republicans push for
There is little attention in the nation's capital to how
Rev. Moon's affords all this.
Robert Parry is a veteran investigative reporter, who broke
many of the Iran-contra stories in the 1980s for The Associated Press and
Newsweek. Robert Parry's latest book is Secrecy & Privilege: Rise
of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. It can be purchased at
It's also available at
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