The Dark Side of Rev. Sun Myung Moon
Part 5, Generation Next
By Robert Parry
September 8, 1997
In August 1995, a thin dark-haired Asian woman furtively led
her five children in an escape from an elegant mansion on an 18-acre estate
overlooking the Hudson River north of New York City. Fearful of her tyrannical
husband, the woman was abandoning a life as a modern-day princess who had
"wanted for nothing," a pampered existence with docile American
servants tending to her every need.
But her husband's violent behavior, made worse by a cocaine
addiction and strange sexual habits, finally drove the woman to flight.
She took her children from Irvington, N.Y., to Massachusetts and hid out
The woman's story bubbled briefly to the surface weeks later
when she filed for a divorce in Middlesex Probate Court in Massachusetts.
But the case still received little attention, even though it held the key
to unlocking secrets of a troubling international scandal involving power,
money and sex.
The woman was Nansook Moon, described by
friends as resembling a Korean Faye Dunaway. Nansook also was the daughter-in-law
of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. At 15, Nansook was picked by
Moon to be the bride of Hyo Jin Moon, the eldest son from
Moon's current marriage. Then 19, Hyo Jin was considered Moon's heir apparent
-- the future overseer of the church's vast business empire and its secret
network of political connections.
On one level, the Nansook case challenged Moon's peculiar
theology which makes him the all-wise messiah and his immediate family the
embodiment of human perfection. Moon has his followers call him True Father
and his wife True Mother. Their 13 offspring are the children of the True
Yet, inside the church, the Moon children have gained a reputation
as spoiled rich kids, buying whatever they want and waited upon by worshipful
American church members. When one daughter wanted to ride in Olympic equestrian
events, Moon built a horse-riding facility in Deer Park, N.Y., for $10 million.
When Hyo Jin fancied himself a heavy-metal rock musician, Moon snapped up
New York City's Manhattan Center, an old opera house with a recording studio.
But more important to American politics is how the Nansook
case strikes at the hypocrisy of "pro-family" conservatives who
have accepted Moon's financial largesse and tolerated Moon's expanding political
influence. The Nansook case peels away Moon's bought-and-paid-for respectability
and implicates his organization in a wide variety of financial irregularities,
In a sworn affidavit, Nansook described how she and other
members of Moon's family lived the royal life inside the Irvington, N.Y.,
compound. But the price for that life of luxury was tolerating Hyo Jin's
"From very early in our marriage, Hyo Jin has abused
drugs and alcohol and is an addict as a result," Nansook wrote. "He
has a ritual of secreting himself in the master bedroom, sometimes for hours,
sometimes for days, drinking alcohol, using cocaine and watching pornographic
films. ... When he emerges he is more angry and more volatile."
Nansook described a pattern of abuse which included Hyo Jin
beating her in 1994 when she disrupted one of his cocaine parties. "He
punched me in the nose and blood came rushing out," Nansook wrote.
"He then smeared my blood on his hand, licked his hand and said, 'It
tastes good. This is fun'." At the time, she was seven months pregnant.
On another occasion, she said he forced her to stand naked
in front of him for hours because "I needed to be humiliated."
Meanwhile, Nansook complained that her in-laws did little to confront Hyo
Jin. "Although Hyo Jin's family knew of his addictions and his abuse
of me and the children, I received very little emotional or physical support
from them," Nansook wrote. "I was constantly at the mercy of Hyo
Jin's erratic and cruel behavior."
Cash in the Box
To finance his personal and business activities, Hyo Jin received hundreds
of thousands of dollars in unaccounted cash, Nansook asserted. "On
one occasion, I saw Hyo Jin bring home a box about 24 inches wide, 12 inches
tall and six inches deep," she wrote in her affidavit. "He stated
that he had received it from his father. He opened it. ... It was filled
with $100 bills stacked in bunches of $10,000 each for a total of $1 million
in cash! He took this money and gave $600,000 to the Manhattan Center, a
church recording studio that he ostensibly runs. He kept the remaining $400,000
for himself. ... Within six months he had spent it all on himself, buying
cocaine and alcohol, entertaining his friends every night, and giving expensive
gifts to other women."
Another time, a Filipino church member gave Hyo Jin $270,000
in cash, according to Nansook. She added that Hyo Jin also ordered the Manhattan
Center to cover his credit-card bills which often exceeded $5,000 a month
and that he instructed employees to buy drugs for him with the company's
After fleeing with the children, Nansook said she feared that
Hyo Jin would "hunt me down and kill me." To protect her, Associate
Justice Edward M. Ginsburg barred Hyo Jin from approaching Nansook and the
children. Taking into account Hyo Jin's jet-set lifestyle, Ginsburg also
ordered Hyo Jin to pay $8,500 a month in support payments and $65,000 for
Nansook's legal fees.
Ginsburg ruled that Hyo Jin "had access to cash in any
amount requested on demand" from "commingled" church and
personal money. Ginsburg noted, too, that Hyo Jin received $84,000 a year
from a family trust and earned a regular salary from the Manhattan Center.
On July 17, 1996, when Hyo Jin failed to pay Nansook's legal
fees, he was held in contempt of court and jailed in Massachusetts. To free
Hyo Jin, the Unification Church's vaunted legal team sprang into action.
The lawyers developed a strategy that portrayed Hyo Jin as a man of no means.
They filed a bankruptcy petition on his behalf in federal court in Westchester
As part of those filings, Hyo Jin's lawyers submitted evidence
that on Aug. 5, 1996, three weeks after his jailing, Hyo Jin was severed
from the Swiss-based True Family Trust. The lawyers also submitted a document
showing that as of Aug. 9, Hyo Jin had lost his $60,000-a-year job at Manhattan
Center Studios "due to certain medical problems."
Nansook's lawyers denounced the bankruptcy maneuver as a devious
scheme to spare Hyo Jin from his financial obligations. To corroborate Nansook's
statements about Hyo Jin's access to nearly unlimited money, her lawyers
secured testimony from a former Manhattan Center official and Unification
Church member, Maria Madelene Pretorious.
At a court hearing, Pretorious testified that in December
of 1993 or January of 1994, Hyo Jin Moon returned from a trip to Korea "with
$600,000 in cash which he had received from his father. ... Myself along
with three or four other members that worked at Manhattan Center saw the
cash in bags, shopping bags."
On another occasion, Hyo Jin's parents gave him $20,000 to
buy a boat, Pretorious recalled. There was a time, too, when Hyo Jin dipped
into Manhattan Center funds to give $30,000 in cash to one of his sisters.
The center also gave Hyo Jin cash several times a week to cover personal
expenses, ranging from bar tabs to a Jaguar automobile, Pretorious said.
But Hyo Jin Moon won the legal round anyway. A judge ruled
that the federal bankruptcy claim, no matter how dubious, overrode the Massachusetts
contempt finding. Hyo Jin was released from jail. (After that, the Moon
family stepped up negotiations with Nansook to prevent more embarrassing
disclosures. In July, those talks took on new urgency when the federal bankruptcy
order releasing Hyo Jin was reversed on appeal.)
As those legal battles were playing out, I met with Pretorious at a suburban
Boston restaurant. A law school graduate from South Africa, the 34-year-old
full-faced brunette said she was recruited by the Unification Church through
the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles -- a Moon student
front group known as CARP -- in San Francisco in 1986-87.
In 1992, she went to work at the Manhattan Center. "Hyo
Jin's desire to become a rock star did not fit with Reverend Moon's concept
of what his eldest son should be doing," Pretorious told me. But younger
church members sympathized with the rebellious son. "We wanted to help
Hyo Jin to attain his own position in the church," she said. "With
the Manhattan Center, he found a niche."
But Hyo Jin Moon was explosive. "If he becomes displeased
with you, the verbal attack is very harsh, very rash, it comes out of nowhere,"
Pretorious explained. Those reactions were even worse when he was abusing
cocaine, which he insisted to his friends had a medicinal value in relieving
physical pain from a past car accident. "He just had this whole convoluted
story about him having to take it because of his back," Pretorious
said. "It helped him relax."
In fall 1994, Pretorious said Hyo Jin tried to lure several
of his subordinates at the Manhattan Center into his cocaine lifestyle.
She recalled him driving three of them in his black Mercedes into Harlem
where he double-parked and ran into a building to buy cocaine. "We
were sitting there and the first thing I thought was a black Mercedes in
Harlem, I thought, 'hello,'" Pretorious said.
When Hyo Jin climbed back into the car, he began offering
samples to his guests. "'Have you ever tried cocaine?' and [I said]
'like, no, I've never tried it,'" Pretorious said. "So from Harlem
driving back to New York, he was trying to convince me to take the cocaine.
Eventually, he said, 'Don't you want to try it once. Aren't you curious?'
That's the wrong thing to say to me, because I think I'm in control of my
life. So I say I'll try it once. ... It's the first time. I'm not sure how
it's supposed to affect me. ... After a while he says, 'How you feeling?'
and I'm going, 'Well, I'm not like feeling anything.'"
A Kareoke Experience
Hyo Jin's fondness for hard partying sometimes annoyed Pretorious and the
others who had work to do at Manhattan Center. "Nobody enjoys this
because the next day you have to deal with clients," Pretorious said.
But Hyo Jin's near-god-like status in the church made Pretorious and the
others nervous about rejecting his invitations.
She described one night when Hyo Jin wanted his staff to take
him to a Kareoke bar in Queens. "Back at the New Yorker Hotel [another
church property], he picked up a reluctance in me to participate,"
Pretorious said. "He offered me cocaine, and I said, 'no, thank you.'
I felt good" about resisting.
At first, Hyo Jin seemed to accept the rebuff. With an imperious
gesture, he declared, "I give you permission to bitch." Despite
her reservations, Pretorious then joined the Kareoke outing.
"He'd been drinking a lot," she recalled. "He
got quieter and quieter. [Then] he started heaving, swearing, using really
abusive language. 'You fucking bitch! How dare you challenge me!' ... He
took an ashtray and threw it at me. It didn't hit me, but hit the wall behind
me. He kept lunging at me across the cocktail table. That was the first
time that I feared for him and feared that he was going to hurt me."
During fall 1994, with Nansook pregnant again with their fifth
child, Hyo Jin began an affair with an American church member who had been
"blessed" or married to a Korean, Pretorious said. "I could
see that he [Hyo Jin] was out of control," Pretorious added. "I
realized that I couldn't stay at Manhattan Center."
In Pretorious's view, Hyo Jin was always torn between his
responsibility to the church and his lust for personal pleasure. "Hyo
Jin loved the life of hedonism," Pretorious said. "He loved the
women, taking drugs -- particularly cocaine -- and watching pornography."
His predicament was made worse when he learned, apparently
from a family member in 1992, that the long-denied accounts of Rev. Moon's
sexual rites with early female initiates were true, Pretorious said. "When
Hyo Jin found out about his father's 'purification' rituals, that took a
lot out of wind out of his sails," she said. "A lot of the situation
that Hyo Jin is in is very much because of who his father is. ... The whole
messiah thing. He [Rev. Moon] basically was subject to delusions of grandeur."
A Mysterious Half-Brother
In late 1994, during conversations in Hyo Jin's suite at the New Yorker
Hotel, "he confided a lot of things to me," Pretorious continued.
Hyo Jin had discovered, too, that Rev. Moon had fathered a child out of
wedlock in the early 1970s. Moon arranged for the child to be raised by
his longtime lieutenant Bo Hi Pak, Pretorious said. The boy -- now a young
man -- had confronted Hyo Jin, seeking recognition as Hyo Jin's half-brother.
Pretorious said she later corroborated the story with other church members.
"Here's a guy who struggles with a weakness for women
and finds out that his father screws around," Pretorious said. "This
is even after he [Rev. Moon] has been married to the present Mrs. Moon."
Pretorious found the new revelations about Rev. Moon also upsetting because
of the central place that the marriage "blessing" plays in Unification
Church theology, as a way to purify mankind.
"They want people to look at their family and see it
as ... a family that represents certain moral and ethical standards,"
Pretorious continued. "My faith was based, I feel, on a deceptiveness."
Pretorious was disturbed, too, by the way cash, brought to
the United States by Asian members, would circulate through the Moon business
empire as a way to launder it. The money would then go to support the Moon
family's lavish life style or be diverted to other church projects. At the
center of the financial operation, Pretorious said, was One-Up Corp., a
Delaware-registered holding company that owned Manhattan Center and other
Moon enterprises including New World Communications, the parent company
of The Washington Times.
"Once that cash is at the Manhattan Center, it has to
be accounted for," Pretorious said. "The way that's done is to
launder the cash. Manhattan Center gives cash to a business called Happy
World which owns restaurants. ... Happy World needs to pay illegal aliens.
... Happy World pays some back to the Manhattan Center for 'services rendered.'
The rest goes to One-Up and then comes back to Manhattan Center as an investment."
Hyo Jin Moon did not respond to interview requests sent through
his divorce lawyer and the church. Church officials also were unwilling
to discuss Hyo Jin's case. But Hyo Jin was forced to produce documents and
discuss his financial predicament in the bankruptcy proceedings.
'Guns & Music'
In a bankruptcy deposition on Nov. 15, 1996, Hyo Jin came across to the
lawyers as alternately confused and petulant. "All I like was guns
and music," he volunteered at one point. "I'm a boring person."
(In the bankruptcy, Hyo Jin sold a collection of 51 guns, mostly of recent
manufacture. The collection was valued at about $36,000, plus nearly $3,000
worth of ammunition.)
As for his CARP presidency, from 1982-87, Hyo Jin explained
haltingly, "I guess you could say all my life I've been -- I guess
I've been -- groomed toward becoming a youth -- a leader, of some sort,
by my parents. ... I like to call myself a figurehead. And that's what I
-- my function was primarily to give speeches."
His position in the church, however, did give him access to
money. In 1989, he said he used church donations to buy a Mercedes 560SEL
for his parents. In 1992, he bought a Mercedes 500 to replace the earlier
model. He then "had the luxury of using" the older Mercedes himself
until he lost his license in 1992 after a driving-while-intoxicated conviction.
Over the years, he also bought motorcycles and a boat.
Hyo Jin described himself as the chief executive officer of
the Manhattan Center. "I was given the position by my parents,"
he testified. Hyo Jin confirmed, too, that he had received hundreds of thousands
of dollars in cash at the Manhattan Center that was not reported as taxable
"[In] 1993, I received some cash, yes," he said.
"At that time around 300, 500 Japanese members were touring America
and they stopped by to see the progress that was happening at Manhattan
Center, because it was well known within the inner ... church community
that I was doing a project, a cultural project. And they came and I presented
a slide show, and they were inspired by that prospect and actual achievement
at that time, so they gave donations. ... It was given to me. It was a donation
"Did you report that gift to the taxing authorities?"
a lawyer asked.
"It was [a] gift," Hyo Jin responded. "I asked
[Rob Schwartz, the center's treasurer] whether I should. He said I didn't
have to. You have to ask him." When pressed for clarification about
this tax advice, his lawyer counseled Hyo Jin not to answer. "I'm taking
that advice," Hyo Jin announced. "My lawyer's advice not to answer
Hyo Jin also confirmed that he received cash from Madelene
Pretorious "on a few occasions" in late 1994.
"And for how much did you ask?" a lawyer asked.
"I don't remember," Hyo Jin answered. "You
could ask her."
When asked what he had done with the cash, Hyo Jin responded, "I partied
it." Pressed about whether another Manhattan Center employee had made
purchases for him, Hyo Jin snapped, "Maybe I asked him to buy me a
coffin, yes, maybe I did. ... I used to party with him. I asked him to buy
popcorn for me when I go to a movie."
Hyo Jin said that in November 1994, he took a leave from the
Manhattan Center to undergo treatment for "my addiction problem."
He checked into the Betty Ford Center.
"Who paid for it?" a lawyer asked.
"I have no idea," he responded. "Somebody did."
Hyo Jin also recalled a stay in the Henry Hazelton addiction
center in West Palm Beach, Fla. "I got kicked out," he said. "I
was there for three weeks, I got kicked out ... because I wasn't cooperating."
At another point in the deposition, Hyo Jin insisted he had
not read his own bankruptcy petition. The petition had listed the Manhattan
Center as an unsecured creditor to which he owed $60,000, but Hyo Jin said
he did not know about the purported debt. "I'm not sure who I owe to,
but I know I owe money to a lot of people," he said.
Though Hyo Jin was supposedly terminated from the True Family
Trust in August 1996, he testified in November that "my wife gets all
of the money that comes to the trust fund, that comes to the trust that
I'm supposed to receive. ... I'm giving every cent and more, I mean if I
have more, to my wife. ..."
"Are you receiving any distributions from your trust
indenture, the True Family Trust?"
"I thought I did. I thought I did."
"Right now you do?"
"I guess so. I don't know. I'm not sure. ... I don't
know what I'm talking about."
Even before his divorce and bankruptcy, Hyo Jin had been stumbling
into legal mishaps. In December 1995, for instance, White Plains, N.Y.,
police summoned Hyo Jin and other convicted drunk drivers who had lost their
licenses to meet with new probation officers. After the meeting, two dozen
of the violators, including Hyo Jin, were secretly videotaped as they drove
away in their cars. Hyo Jin was arrested for driving without a valid license.
But Hyo Jin was not the only Moon child to rebel. Accustomed
to getting their own way, some of the children have resisted Moon's insistence
on selecting their spouses, as he does for all church members. One daughter
reportedly ran off with a boyfriend to live in Greenwich Village. Another
daughter has moved to rural Virginia to pursue her dream to be an equestrian.
Ex-church members with first-hand knowledge say drug use and promiscuity
have been common among the True Family.
An Exodus of Loyalists
Troubling to the Unification Church, too, is the fact that longtime senior
members -- disturbed by this behavior -- have been exiting. Dennis and Doris
Orme, who were among Moon's earliest Western followers, have left and are
considering legal action to secure pensions, according to friends and legal
sources. Ron Paquette, who spent two decades in the church and worked closely
with Hyo Jin at the Manhattan Center, has quit, too.
Paquette declined to be interviewed for this article, but
faxed a brief statement saying: "The events which have transpired since
my departure, in particular with respect to Rev. Moon's own family, have
greatly saddened me. ... I have found ... that my deepest fears and suspicions
were actually correct -- that those who held themselves up as the highest
were, in fact, neither honest about their lives nor capable of living the
standard of love and compassion they so readily demanded."
Commenting on Moon's family problems and other cracks in the
leadership, another close church associate sighed, "The inner empire
The new evidence of money-laundering and diverting corporate
funds for personal use, however, could lead to more serious complications
with the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies. Evidence of
Asian cash pouring into the United States from abroad also could revive
long-standing suspicions that the church itself is a front for foreign influence
In a series of interviews, other church-connected figures
corroborated claims by Nansook Moon and Pretorious that money arrives from
overseas to sustain the Moon organization. John Stacey, a former CARP leader
in the Pacific Northwest, said the current fund-raising operations inside
the United States barely cover the costs of local offices, with little or
nothing going to the big-ticket items, such as The Washington Times. Stacey
added that the church-connected U.S. businesses are mostly money losers.
"These failing businesses create the image of making
money ... to cover his back," Stacey said of Rev. Moon. "I think
the majority of the money is coming from an outside source."
(Stacey, who knew Hyo Jin through CARP, also called Moon's
son a tyrant. "Hyo Jin would scream at and reprimand the members,"
Stacey recalled. But almost worse, Stacey added, was that members would
be forced to listen to tapes of Hyo Jin's music while their "mobile
fund-raising teams" traveled in vans from town to town. "He's
a miserable musician," Stacey said. "His music stinks.")
Another member who recently quit a senior position in the
church confirmed that virtually none of Moon's American operations makes
money. Instead, this source, who declined to be identified by name, said
hundreds of thousands of dollars are carried into the United States by visiting
church members. The cash is then laundered through domestic businesses.
Another close church associate, who also requested anonymity
out of fear of reprisals, said cash arriving from Japan was used in one
major construction project to pay "illegal" laborers from Asia
and South America. "They [the church leaders] were always waiting for
our money to come in from Japan," this source said. "When the
economy in Japan crashed, a lot of our money came from South America, mainly
But even as Moon's inner circle undergoes strains and questions
are raised about his mystery money, his temporal power continues to grow
in the United States and elsewhere. Every year, he locks more and more politicians,
ministers, journalists and academics into his orbit. Without doubt, the
gravitational pull is the money arriving from abroad in seemingly limitless
Particularly among conservatives in Washington, Moon's money
seems to have bought him freedom from the normal laws of political physics.
He appears immune from the scrutiny that would follow an influential international
figure with a significant presence in the nation's capital. Strangest of
all, Moon's immunity applies even when the scandal is about power, money
and sex. ~
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
All information posted on this web site is
the opinion of the author and is provided for educational purposes only.
It is not to be construed as medical advice. Only a licensed medical doctor
can legally offer medical advice in the United States. Consult the healer
of your choice for medical care and advice.