Battle for the Americas

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 14, 2013 - Pages 71-106

Note: This article is taken from the author's forthcoming History of the Cheon Il Guk Era.

The first decade of the twenty-first century was a transitional period in Unification movement history. Prior to these years, and even through mid-decade, the movement was solidly unified under Rev. Moon’s direction. However, by the decade’s end, the movement’s unity and focus began to break down. This was mainly due to disagreements and conflicts within Rev. Moon’s family, particularly among four next-generation Moon siblings who assumed leadership responsibilities. What began as markedly different visions of the movement’s future escalated into rival agendas, competition for their parents’ and member support, distrust, mutual sniping, and strained relationships. In late 2008, Hyun Jin Moon, the eldest brother, concluded that his two younger brothers, Kook Jin Moon and Hyung Jin Moon, who were in charge of International Headquarters in Korea, had usurped Rev. Moon’s authority and engineered his sister In Jin Moon’s appointment as chairperson of the Unification movement in America, an appointment that threatened his leadership role.

Much of this was still below the surface and not part of the consciousness of most members. There may have been a sense of dissonance, but civility for the most part was maintained and open conflict held in check. In this respect, the mid-years years of the decade through 2008 were a bridge between the relatively stable era which preceded it and virtual warfare which erupted afterwards. The initial venues for open conflict and battles for control of the Unification Church and movement were the Americas, North and South. In early 2009, Hyun Jin attempted to dislodge his sister and takeover the HSA-UWC (Unification Church) Board of Directors in the United States. He was unsuccessful but fared better with the Unification Church International (UCI), a Washington, D.C. corpora¬tion which controlled major movement assets including The Washington Times. Over the course of 2009, he was able to eliminate opponents and attain a board majority. A similar dynamic played out in South America in 2010. There, Hyun Jin’s supporters removed the church’s South America Continental Director bodily from the pulpit of the Sao Paolo, Brazil headquarters church, sparking a movement-wide uproar. Conflict also erupted over efforts to transfer ownership of the church’s vast South American land holdings to several UCI-related business entities. The battle for the Americas surfaced issues that spilled over into the international movement and had ramifications for the church’s future.


North America

The battle for control of the Unification Church and movement in the United States went forward on two fronts. The first was a contest for control of the church. As noted, Hyun Jin believed that his two younger brothers, in charge of International headquarters, had usurped Rev. Moon’s authority and engineered his sister’s appointment as chairperson of the Unification movement in America. This posed an immediate threat to his leadership role. According to him,

Father… said from 2005 that I have the responsibility to lead the entire American movement and he actually expanded it to the American Hemisphere. In 2007, he… told all the American leaders to absolutely follow my direction, absolutely align with me, and had made numerous public pronouncement and declarations to that effect.[1]

It was difficult to reconcile Hyun Jin’s position on his brothers usurping authority with specific actions Rev. Moon took previously, notably his appointment of Hyung Jin as International President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU, i.e. the Unification Church) and President of FFWPU-Korea. He also gave his “blessing” to Hyung Jin and his wife, Yeon Ah, stating, “They will become the pillars of our house in the future” and “inheritors who can attend to everything on behalf of True Parents.”[2] In early 2009, Rev. Moon made known his intention of including Hyung Jin and Yeon Ah in a coronation event and did so in three separate coronations, one in Korea on January 15 and two on January 31, the first in Korea and the second in New York. This was possible given the time difference between the two cities. Hyung Jin and Yeon Ah wore the royal robes and the crowns Rev. and Mrs. Moon had worn on previous occasions.

Having been widely regarded as Rev. Moon’s presumptive successor, Hyun Jin struggled to accept these events. He absented himself from the January 15 coronation and attended the January 31 ceremony in New York, also the occasion of Rev. Moon’s birthday, only after a three-hour discussion with his father.[3] The latter ceremony was avowedly public, conducted within the context of movement-sponsored “World Summit on Peace” and attended by numerous dignitaries. Afterwards, Hyun Jin’s supporters denied that Hyung Jin’s participation in the coronation ceremonies meant that he was “granted special authority.”[4] Others in his camp complained that Mrs. Moon favored Kook Jin and Hyung Jin. Some hinted darkly that Rev. Moon was being controlled by Korean leaders or that he was in some way incapacitated, even senile.

Hyun Jin was on more solid ground in challenging his sister In Jin’s authority as “chairperson” of the American Unification movement. It was true that Rev. Moon earlier established a tripartite division with Hyung Jin responsible for Korea, Kook Jin for Japan, and Hyun Jin for America. There also were irregularities with respect to In Jin’s appointment. Christopher (Pyung Hwa) Kim, the Continental Director of North America, reported that Rev. Moon sent In Jin to America as “a pastor or church leader… not… as Chairperson of the American church” and that she should be “under Hyun Jin Nim’s supervision.” As noted, Hyun Jin claimed to have obtained direct clarification from Rev. Moon that the direction of North and South America was “under his supervision” and that he “was definitely responsible for all United States activities.”[5] It was on these grounds that Hyun Jin undertook a concerted effort to take control of the American church.

Attempted Takeover of the HSA-UWC Board

Hyun Jin’s style was blunt and often confrontational. However, several factors combined to make his approach in seeking to wrest the church away from his sister more heavy-handed than usual. For one thing, having been passed over for international church leadership in favor of his youngest brother, he had been under psychological pressure for months. During the second half of 2008, he subjected himself to a frenetic schedule, literally living out of airplanes, as he conducted some twenty Global Peace Festivals (GPFs) on four continents. These were large-scale, three day events that included conferences of several hundred VIPs, many of whom were flown in and feted in hotels; service projects; and concluding festivals held in public venues, often stadiums in smaller countries, that featured local headliner entertainment, greetings of local dignitaries and a keynote address delivered by Hyun Jin. Hyun Jin claimed that the GPFs would expand the church as a “global peace movement” and “bring the culture of the international marriage blessing into the mainstream on the worldwide level.”[6] He doubtless had reason to think that this would win him credibility and appreciation. However, his reward was to endure repeated coronations of his youngest brother.

Prior to the January 31, 2009 coronation, Rev. Moon asked Hyun Jin to conduct a “World Peace Tour” over three months beginning February 25. This conflicted with his GPF schedule, but Hyun Jin agreed to comply. At the same time, he realized that his absence from the United States during the latter half of 2008 allowed his sister to consolidate her hold on the American church. He knew that she would solidify her position further during his three month tour. Therefore, he determined to rectify the situation before his late February departure.

Circumstances external to the church added to his sense of urgency. The main problem was in Japan where the church’s aggressive fundraising tactics had led to police raids on Japanese Unification Churches, including the headquarters church, confiscation of records, and arrests of members. The situation worsened in early 2009, and in mid-February Rev. Moon sent Kook Jin to Japan, re-emphasizing that Hyung Jin had responsibility for Korea, Kook Jin for Japan, and Hyun Jin for the Americas. Hyun Jin understood that the crackdown in Japan was “an explicit campaign… to go after our movement’s economic base.” Hyun Jin believed fallout from Japan “will definitely carry over to Korea.” He claimed that the new administration of Lim Myung Bak[7] “came in… with an explicit mandate or mission… backed by the Korean Christians to actually destroy our movement.” As he saw it, the movement in Japan and Korea was already or going to be “under siege.”[8]

The implications of this were two-fold. First, it meant that America was effectively the last bastion of the movement. As Hyun Jin put it,

[E]ven if Korea or Japan crumbles… if America can stand strong we can get those foundations back easily. The fact of the matter is, the reverse is not true. If Korea somehow stands, Japan somehow stands, and America falls, we cannot get the international foundation back. So matter how you juxtapose it, how you slice it, the US will be the key to fulfilling everything that Father expected.[9]

From Hyun Jin’s perspective, this raised the stakes considerably with respect to leadership of the American movement.

The second implication was financial. The Japanese Unification Church was the economic juggernaut of the Unification movement. Its financial contributions were the reason the movement could launch multiple business and media enterprises, building projects, global speaking tours, and upscale conferences, often simultaneously. Reduced revenues would put these undertakings at risk and spark heightened competition over available resources. This was already apparent in disagreements over Hyun Jin’s Global Peace Festivals. Hyun Jin claimed that in 2008 GPFs had “generated about 20 million plus in terms of in-kind donations and financial contributions, outside our UC base.”[10] Hyung Jin and especially Kook Jin disputed this. They considered the GPFs to be a financial drain and waste of resources which would be better utilized by investing them into church development.

All of these factors played into the controversy that erupted in late February and early March 2009. Hyun Jin determined that he needed to gain control of the HSA-UWC (USA) Board of Directors. In his mind, the battle lines were drawn with no hope of compromise. Therefore, he resolved to take immediate action. On Saturday, February 21, he directed Christopher Kim to call a meeting of all business and church leaders at the New Yorker Hotel for the following Monday, February 23. At the meeting, he praised “the tremen¬dous work my sister In Jin has been doing in terms of relating with the members.” He also took “full responsibility” for confusion over leadership, admitting, “I should have been more abreast on what was going on here in America.” At the same time, he was unbending in his claim to authority. As he put it, “There is only one leader… [and] one direction for our American movement.” He criticized the July 29, 2008 memo sent by the FFWPU International, “signed by the International President,” his younger brother, Hyung Jin, which appointed his sister Chairperson of the Unification Movement in America, and stated,

I know that these types of communication are taken seriously here in our American movement, but let me tell you, I am Father’s son.  When you had adopted sons or daughters, meaning leaders, who ran our movement, you needed to have these types of channels to be able to get to what Father has directed towards our movement.  I can go directly to Father and ask him myself and get clarification from him…

From now on, I am going to make it a policy within our movement here in America: all directions, in terms of Father’s directives, does [sic] not come from outside our American movement but comes through the proper vertical channel of myself as the Chairperson and leader of the American movement and through the Continental Directors that were appointed directly by Father.[11]

He then announced several assignment changes, discussed Rev. Moon’s legacy, and emphasized “alignment to the Will of God.[12]

It was one thing to assert his authority over the American movement. It was another to take legal control of the church. HSA-UWC was a corporate entity, and In Jin Moon had been elected Chair by the Board of Directors on September 4, 2008. Hyun Jin was aware of this and demanded that HSA convene a board meeting “to restore the original board” that had been in place prior to her appointment.[13] In this, he met significant resistance. HSA America President Michael Jenkins reported that Hyun Jin wished to make changes to the board of directors, but that it had been confirmed “through several channels” from Rev. Moon that “his desire was that there should be no changes.” According to Jenkins,

Hyun Jin Nim expressed to several of us gathered… that this was just a twist of Father's direction by misguided leaders. He indicated that though Father may have said something like this, it wasn't what Father really wanted, he was just given the wrong information and therefore the wrong direction came out… Hyun Jin Nim said he would discuss the changes with Father later and that he had Father's full support. He told us we should just go ahead and make the changes.[14]

Hyun Jin succeeded in forcing an HSA-UWC board meeting on February 26, 2009. However, the day before, word came that Rev. Moon was calling the principals in the debate—Hyun Jin Moon, In Jin Moon, Christopher Kim and Michael Jenkins—and their spouses to Korea for a meeting with him on February 27. Jenkins reported, “The scheduled board meeting could have easily been canceled and reconvened at another time after we had received Father's direct guidance. Nonetheless, Hyun Jin Nim demanded that the board meeting go forward and that the changes he requested be made.”[15] In the end, the meeting was convened, but Hyun Jin was unable to muster enough support to override a motion by his sister In Jin, as Board Chair, to terminate the meeting, losing by a vote of 6-5.

Neither Hyun Jin nor In Jin nor his younger brothers distinguished themselves in the struggle for control of the HSA board. Hyun Jin clearly overplayed his hand, adopting an ad hoc last minute offensive. He refused to concede any common ground and engaged in unnecessarily provocative actions by forcing the HSA board meeting and disregarding memos from International Headquarters. There were legitimate questions regarding his sister’s appointment and the church board’s composition. However, Hyun Jin was not entirely forthcoming or even truthful about his intentions. He claimed that he only wanted to “restore” the board that had existed previously. However, according to Jenkins, “the official notice for the meeting called for voting individuals onto the board who would be new to the board. This was not a restoration.”[16]

On the other hand, his siblings were also less than exemplary. They denounced Hyun Jin for seeking to change the board without Rev. Moon’s “express permission.” Yet, within a week of her August 14, 2008 inauguration as Chairperson of the American movement, In Jin requested resignations from eight of the then ten-member board, including the chair Christopher Kim, the North American Continental Director. She replaced them with six new board members of her choice and had herself appointed chair. When the changes were reported to Rev. Moon, he demanded reinstatement of the original board. However, at the September 4, 2008 board meeting, at which Kook Jin played a major role despite being a non-board member, only five of the eight original board members were reinstated, four of In Jin’s appointees, including herself, were kept on the board, and In Jin was confirmed as board chair. Shortly afterward, FFWPU International Headquarters issued a memo under Hyung Jin’s seal announcing, “the appointment and dismissal of executives of the FFWPU Board of Directors in each region and mission nation must receive approval from the International President.”[17] There was no mention in the memo of Rev. Moon’s oversight of boards in mission nations.  In addition, neither Hyung Jin nor Kook Jin did anything then or later to correct Rev. Moon’s mistaken understanding that Hyun Jin, not In Jin and Kook Jin Moon, were responsible for prior unauthorized changes to the HSA-USA board.[18]


The HSA-UWC USA board vote did not conclude the battle for the Americas. If anything, it was its opening volley. Rev. Moon, himself, raised the stakes considerably over the course of the following week. He met with the principals in the HSA-USA board struggle at 6 p.m. on February 27 at Pine Ridge, a golf resort owned by the movement near Sokcho, a city on Korea’s eastern seaboard. According to Jenkins, “Father was very serious about the five board members who voted to allow the meeting to continue and… deeply concerned about Hyun Jin’s involvement.” He also stated,

It was very clear when we sat before Father after we arrived that the direction “not to make any changes” was in fact his very own direction as our founder and spiritual leader… not based on reports or others’ analysis.[19]

Rev. Moon immediately requested that the board members who sided with Hyun Jin be notified that they should resign not only from the board but from all public positions. He later rescinded that request “because they came forward and united with him by resigning.” However, he asked all HSA-USA board members to come to Pine Ridge and participate in an “Original Divine Principle” workshop.

Hyun Jin’s situation was more complicated, particularly since relations between he and his younger brothers had reached the breaking point. The initial four hour session on February 27 included an Original Divine Principle lecture delivered by Rev. Jeong Ok Eu, and Rev. Moon advised his sons to resolve their conflict. However, an altercation broke out afterwards in a nearby room. Hyun Jin called his younger brothers there and suggested they adjourn to an outside location for discussion so their voices, if loud, would not disturb anyone. He reportedly touched Kook Jin’s shoulder, and Kook Jin knocked his hand away, saying, “Don’t touch my body.” This precipitated a shoving match, much shouting, and security was called. Hyun Jin was either escorted out of the building or broke away and left on his own. On the way to a waiting car, he reportedly punched one of his sister’s assistants and either pushed or hit Michael Jenkins.[20]

This incident, as disturbing as it was, resulted in the most comprehensive and detailed statement to date as to the movement’s authority structure and roles of the next generation Moon siblings who had assumed public responsibilities. The statement was presented as a “Spirit World Message” received by Mrs. Hyo Nam Kim, leader of a charismatic ministry at the movement’s Cheong Pyeong Lake Heaven and Earth Training Center since 1995. It was read publicly on March 8, 2009 before a gathering of some 350 members at Pine Ridge. Hyun Jin also was in attendance. He came from the World Peace Tour’s stop in Taiwan in response to Rev. Moon’s “urgent call” that he return to Sokcho. His younger brothers also were in attendance.

The statement, read by Dr. Chang Shik Yang, president of FFWPU-Korea, began by stating, “All the True Children of True Family must stand in the absolute object position before True Parents.“ It continued,

From now on, Heaven’s commands will be given in the order of God, True Father, True Mother, True Children, Blessed Family, all humanity. Therefore, the tradition must be established for True Children to come before True Father through True Mother and for all Blessed Families to come before True Parents through True Family.[21]

There was nothing especially controversial in this. The report further stated, “the value of all True Children are equal.” However, it quickly touched on sensitive matters by declaring,

Of the 14 sons and daughters, the youngest son of 7 brothers, Hyung Jin Nim, was chosen and established as the center of all the True Children… the center of all Providential organizations … successor of True Parents… [and] Abel of Abels amongst all the True Children of the True Family…

All True Children of the True Family beyond age and position must receive True Parents’ decision as a Heavenly mandate. From here forth, when main public events are to be held, True Children are to consult with Hyung Jin Nim and must follow the tradition to go before True Parents through Hyung Jin Nim.[22]

Though more explicit, this also was nothing that had not been declared previously.

In fact, the statement affirmed Hyun Jin’s scope of authority in generous terms. It stated he will be in charge of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) worldwide. This was the umbrella organization in charge of movement non-profits dedicated to peace work. It also described him as “the Chairman of America [who] will oversee the businesses of North and South America, businesses affiliated with UCI such as The Washington Times, UPI, True World, and the various providential organizations.” It asserted that he “is to pursue even more aggressively his responsibilities from before over Youth Federation and the Global Peace Festival, investing more to complete the mission to establish Cheon Il Guk.” While noting, “In Jin Nim is to take overall responsibility for America’s Family Federation as the Chook Sa Jang (head pastor)” to which she was first appointed, the statement declared she “is to regularly report the situation of America’s Family Federation activities to Hyun Jin Nim who is America’s Chairman and to Hyung Jin Nim.” The message clearly stated In Jin “as the CEO of Family Federation” was “under the direction of America’s Chairman Hyun Jin Nim.”[23]

Under the circumstances, Hyun Jin appeared to get all that he was struggling for, maybe more. His status as head of UPF worldwide and UCI in the Americas was confirmed. He was charged with pursuing Global Peace Festivals (GPFs) “even more aggressively,” something that his brothers couldn’t have welcomed. Finally, he was acknowledged to be America’s Chairperson over In Jin.

Admittedly, there were a couple of irritants. For example, Hyung Jin and Kook Jin, as holders of U.S. citizenship, were to be added to the HSA-USA board in addition to Hyun Jin. Also, Kook Jin was given “auditing authority” over all for-profit and not-for-profit organizations throughout the world.” Yet, the message came across as an even-handed application of Rev. Moon’s previously stated general directions to the ongoing operation of the Unification movement.

For this reason, it was surprising that Hyun Jin reacted so vehemently when he was invited to respond following the public reading of the message. In fact, he ignored the message’s content and focused of the “firing” of HSA-USA board members who had supported him, saying it was something that he “cannot bear.” He then left the room, saying to Rev. Moon, “You need to cut my neck if you want to fire them.” This was unacceptable behavior, and Hyun Jin was asked to return and apologize which he did. When asked to sing, he reportedly was “overwhelmed with tears and could not sing.” Mrs. Moon sang a song in his stead.[24] At this point, Rev. Moon “asked Hyun Jin Nim to stop all public activities for one year and to stay by his side during that time.”[25] Rev. Moon reportedly told him, “Research my teachings. Come to me. I’ll be your friend.”[26] Hyun Jin subsequently dropped out of the World Peace Tour and cancelled a major GPF event scheduled for Indonesia in May. However, he did not stay with Rev. Moon and did not resign from any of his public positions.

The Sokcho episode was decisive in opening up a fissure in the Unification movement. Hyun Jin crossed a Rubicon of sorts in disobeying Rev. Moon’s direction to cease public activities and stay with him. In particular, he refused to abandon plans for a Global Peace Convention, scheduled to be held in the Philippines from December 10-14, 2009. Some of Hyun Jin’s supporters justified his position by attacking the “Spirit World Message” delivered at Sokcho as fraudulent, prepared by self-interested church leaders under Hyo Nam Kim’s name to “persuade” Rev. Moon. They also contended that leaders continued building the case against Hyun Jin as having attempted a coup d’etat at HSA-UWC.[27] There likely was more than a little truth to their claims. However, Hyun Jin did as much or more than anyone else to undermine his position by failing to control his emotions.

In early September 2009, Rev. Moon instructed In Jin and Hyung Jin to conduct a four-city U.S. “National Unity Tour” for members in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York. The purpose, as one leader expressed it, was “to let all of our families know clearly what the hierarchy of our movement is (centering on True Parents) and to ask our members to pray for all the leadership in our movement to unite with True Parents.” Neither In Jin not Hyung Jin mentioned Hyun Jin by name. However, Hyung Jin emphasized “the centrality of True Parents… that there will be no new True Parents.” This was likely a reference to Hyun Jin’s real or perceived efforts to supplant Rev. Moon’s authority. He also called on members to “particularly pray for those who are having difficulty uniting with True Parents at this time. It's causing a lot of concern for them.”[28] The “National Unity Tour” was an unprecedented acknowledge¬ment of disunity within the Unification movement. At the same time, there was hope that an open rupture could be avoided. Though problematic, circumstances to this point had not reached the point of a decisive break.

Hyun Jin also hoped to avoid a split. He wrote letters to Rev. Moon and arrangements were made for a meeting in Las Vegas on September 10, 2009. Hyun Jin saw this as a great opportunity and went to Canada for two weeks in order to prepare. Unfortunately, the meeting was a disaster. In the morning, Hyun Jin was greeted by Rev. Ki Hun Kim, the new North American Continental Director who replaced Christopher Kim, and asked to sign a statement that he will follow all of Rev. Moon’s directions. Hyun Jin refused, saying that he will first tell his father all he had to say. Afterwards, others came to him, saying strongly that he must sign. It is not clear whether or not he signed the statement. In any case, Hyun Jin was kept waiting most of the day. Ki Hun Kim finally advised him to go to Rev. Moon’s quarters on his own. Rev. Moon reportedly was not happy and sent for Mrs. Moon. An argument ensued and Hyun Jin excused himself, saying he would come back later. According to one of Hyun Jin’s associates, Rev. Moon held him back, insisting that he promise to leave all work, rest three years, and study. Hyun Jin agreed and departed, reportedly in order to not break the relationship. However, he returned to the Moon family compound at East Garden, Irvington, New York and moved his family out.[29]

Hyun Jin severed the Global Peace Festival’s organizational link with the Family Federation and with the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) on November 4, 2009. As noted, UPF was the umbrella organization for Unification movement non-profit organizations dedicated to world peace and the conduit for funding of Hyun Jin’s GPFs. Announcing the break. Hyun Jin wrote,

I remain as committed as ever to UPF’s original ideals and to my Father’s peace messages, and the vision of building one family under God.

For this reason, I remain committed and will devote my heart and soul to developing the Global Peace Festival series in 2010 and the Global Peace Convention in Manila this December. These programs will not go forward as projects of UPF, and will have no formal or legal association with FFWPU. Rather, a separate GPF foundation is being established for this purpose.[30]

Significantly, Hyun Jin maintained that UPF had been guided by the “vision” of his Father, not by his direct governing authority. He believed Rev. Moon’s governing authority had been usurped by his younger brothers.

Hyun Jin’s break from UPF/FFWPU and his establishment of an independent Global Peace Festival Foundation (GPFF) had significant ramifications for the Unification movement. Members loyal to or in the employ of Hyun Jin continued their association. Others were confused, particularly since Rev. Moon reportedly “gave the direction not to involve in Global Peace Conferences and not follow Hyun Jin Nim.”[31] On March 24, 2010, FFWPU International Headquarters issued an official memo that declared, “True Parents strongly disapprove of the corporate registration of GPF… and have stated that our church and providential organizations, and their members, should not take part in or be involved in its activities.”[32] UPF issued a “Clarification of the Relationship between UPF and the programs of GPFF” on September 9, 2010. It noted GPFF leadership was reaching out to many UPF contacts and stated,

We do not recommend participation in the activities of GPFF. The continuing efforts of the GPFF leadership to carry forward with a program that claims UPF’s Founder as its inspiration and guiding light, while ignoring that same Founder's direct wishes, is misguided and misleading.

We respectfully ask UPF volunteers and Ambassadors for Peace who are invited to participate in activities and programs of GPFF to give serious consideration to these concerns.[33]

These memos clarified but did not defuse the situation. The fight to win or maintain the loyalty of members and movement supporters had begun.

Hyun Jin’s decision to proceed independently of FFWPU and UPF also had significant financial implications. He claimed that ninety percent of the $4 million plus cost of the Philippines GPF had been borne by “program partners” and that GPF had introduced a new model of “resource generation.”[34] Still, Hyun Jin required significant and immediate funding to continue his global peace work. Previously, he had called for the creation, under his direction, of “a global economic engine… with the explicit purpose of financially supporting UPF,” GPF’s primary sponsor.[35] Having separated from UPF, its resources were no longer available. This precipitated a confrontation over movement assets that Hyun Jin still controlled.

Struggle for Control of UCI

Hyun Jin was more successful in taking over the Unification Church International (UCI) than he was in taking over HSA-UWC. UCI was a non-profit, charitable corporation set up in the District of Columbia, USA in 1977 to support Unification Church activities worldwide. Shortly after its founding, UCI organized One Up Enterprises as a holding company for its for-profit subsidiaries. Companies under One Up were intended to provide dividends to UCI in support of its mission. In reality, the Unification Church of Japan (UCJ) donated “hundreds of millions of dollars” over the next several decades to establish and maintain media, maritime, real estate, transportation and other enterprises under UCI and One Up in the United States and elsewhere. In addition, UCJ donated millions of dollars “to be held in trust and to be used to fund Unification Church activities.”[36] These funds also supported the Universal Peace Federation (UPF).

Hyun Jin became a board member and then chairman of UCI in 2006. This afforded him significantly more leverage than he had with HSA-UWC. As relations deteriorated with his younger brothers and eventually his parents, Hyun Jin took action to solidify his control of UCI. He succeeded in having two business associates, Michael Sommers and Richard Perea, elected directors at a UCI board meeting on January 9, 2009. He also obtained the resignations of two directors who were placed on the board previously with the approval of Rev. Moon. That gave him majority control of the five-member board. He subsequently resisted efforts by the church to add two new board members recommended by Rev. Moon during the summer of 2009.[37] Instead, Hyun Jin and his two board allies voted Peter Kim and Douglas Joo, the remaining two directors “loyal to Reverend Moon and the Family Federation,” off the UCI board on August 2. Hyun Jin later added his brother-in-law, Jin Man Kwak , and another close associate, Young Jun Kim, as directors, making his takeover of UCI complete.

Hyun Jin’s control of UCI was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it put him in charge of major movement assets in the United States, South America, and Korea. On the other hand, many of the assets had high maintenance costs or were still largely dependent on financial subsidies from the Unification Church of Japan. The most prominent example was The Washington Times. As the flagship enterprise of News World Communications, itself a UCI subsidiary, the Times reportedly had been a favorite of the Reagan White House during the 1980s and remained influential during the Bush Senior, Clinton and Bush Junior administrations. Prior to his aborted takeover of the HSA board, Hyun Jin emphasized the importance of the movement’s “media foundation,” particularly The Washington Times. He cited “inroads” the movement “had made in Washington and the Conservative movement” and went so far as to state,

If we lose The Washington Times and our media foundation, the game is over… So whatever shortfalls that might arise, we need to somehow figure out within the larger foundation of our American movement, how to support this base, because if we lose the Times when we are being attacked in Japan and Korea, then basically the wolves come into the chicken coop. As long as we have the Times, that is our Rock of Gibraltar.[38]

From 2006-2009, Hyun Jin benefitted from church subsidies to The Washington Times totaling upwards of $35 million USD a year. Now that he had effected what the church regarded as a hostile takeover, that funding was at risk.

In fact, the church ceased funding The Washington Times in 2009. There was disagreement as to when this occurred. In an “Open Letter on the Washington Times,” UCI stated, “the Unification Church, led by Kook Jin (Justin) Moon, which manages and controls all the donations from Japan, has stopped financial support for The Washington Times and its affiliate, United Press International, in direct defiance of the wishes of the founder.” It claimed Kook Jin had done so “unilaterally” from July 2009.[39] Kook Jin and twenty-five church leaders fired back in “Open Letter in response to UCI’s letter of July 16.” They asserted,

Enough funds were made available in August 2009 for UCI to support The Times operations for several months. However, contrary to expectations, most of those funds were not used for The Times operations. When objections were raised, UCI said it needed to set aside money for shut-down costs. These actions by UCI caused a loss of trust with investors and supporters, who discontinued further funding.[40]

Regardless of when or by what authority the church cut off funding, two points were clear. First, the circulation of the open letters meant the dispute had become a matter of open controversy within the church. Second, The Washington Times now faced “overwhelming financial difficulties.” The cessation of funding resulted in slashed budgets, an exodus of personnel, and pressure to sell or close the paper.

Problems at The Washington Times quickly spilled beyond the confines of the church and became a matter of public knowledge. The New York Times reported, “The paper’s troubles seem to be the result of a Moon family feud… as a result of the family infighting, the money stream that had sustained the paper since its founding has ceased.”[41] There were reports of The Washington Times being “a totally rudderless ship” with bills unpaid, including building exterminator bills. In a comment picked up by numerous media outlets, one reporter commented, “There was a three-foot long black snake in the main conference room the other day.”[42] In short, infighting at The Washington Times had become not only a matter of public knowledge but also a matter of public embarrassment. The Washington Post, reported,

The Times… was once one of the nation's most prominent platforms for conservative writers and politicians but is now one of the most endangered newspapers in a troubled industry. Since 2008, Times circulation has tumbled from 87,000 daily copies to about 40,000; its sports and metro sections were shuttered; its three top executives were fired; and more than half the newsroom was laid off.[43]

Given these circumstances, both UCI and the church were looking for a way out.

A solution of sorts was reached on November 1, 2010 when UCI sold The Washington Times to TWT Holdings, a company owned by HSA-UWC, for $1. TWT Holdings also agreed to assume the paper’s legal and financial obligations.[44] On the face of it, this benefitted both parties. The church reacquired The Washington Times and UCI was relieved of an unsustainable financial burden. However, the deal did nothing to reconcile Hyun Jin and his supporters with the church. In fact, the breech widened.

Douglas Joo, having been previously voted off the UCI board, was terminated in late 2009 from his positions of Chairman and President of Times Aerospace International LLC (TAI), Washington Times Aviation USA LLC (WTA USA), and Times Aerospace Korea LLC (TAK), all UCI subsidiaries. However, either before being informed of his termination (as Joo claimed) or afterwards (as UCI claimed), Joo transferred $21 million USD from Washington Times Aviation accounts to the church’s Mission Foundation in Korea. UCI demanded the monies be returned and stated its intention of instituting a civil lawsuit and criminal prosecution. Because Mrs. Moon was the head of the Mission Foundation, when Washington Times Aviation filed an Order of Attachment to freeze the funds pending resolution of the dispute, she was listed as a “debtor defendant.” This led to emotional accusations in the church of Hyun Jin suing his mother, a charge later repeated in the Korean press.[45] The church also charged that a Washington Times Aviation charter jet, previously available for use by Rev. and Mrs. Moon, would no longer be dispatched without payment for services.[46]

Hyun Jin was removed “for cause” from the board of HSA-UWC USA on February 5, 2010. UCI subsequently amended its Articles of Incorporation, changing the name of the corporation from “Unification Church International” to “UCI” and deleting “all references to the Corporation’s purpose of supporting Unification Churches worldwide.”[47] At this point, both the church and UCI began active campaigns to sway movement opinion. Tongil Foundation, headed by Kook Jin Moon, circulated “An Abbreviated Chronology of Recent Events” which highlighted his elder brother’s “unprecedented” breeches of Unification Church tradition.[48] This was preceded and followed by a flurry of personal and official “open letters” which explained motives, aired grievances, and generally accused one or the other side of bad faith and ethical shortcomings.

The rhetoric ratcheted up to a new level of intensity when church representatives conducted a series of anti-UCI meetings throughout the U.S. The centerpiece of the meetings was a PowerPoint titled, “The Current Situation: Chung Hwan Kwak & Hyun Jin’s Positions in Light of the Principle.” It claimed that Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, Hyun Jin’s father-in-law and a longtime church leader, was “in the position of Lucifer, had betrayed True Parents, and was controlling Hyun Jin Nim who was “in the position of fallen Adam.” It called upon members “to speak out” and “to stand on the front line” in protecting True Parents. “Each of us,” it stated, “must decide whether we follow God and True Parents or Rev. Kwak.”[49]

Representatives from Hyun Jin’s side denied that the “explanation” of the situation had come from Rev. Moon since there was no record of any such characterization of Rev. Kwak or Hyun Jin in any of his speeches. They also argued that Hyun Jin was “not the kind of person who would ‘follow’ Rev. Kwak.”[50] Hyun Jin later characterized the assertion that he was being manipulated by Rev. Kwak or his family as “absurd” and “so blatantly ridiculous that I am shocked that anyone would accept and believe such nonsense.” He proceeded to characterize his opponents as “amoral political operatives” and meetings to stop him as “character assassination tours."[51]

The controversy between UCI and the church escalated in quantifiable terms when UCI began selling off movement assets, ostensibly to support GPF and other activities. Having sold The Washington Times and rid itself of the paper’s debt, UCI sold a major Washington, D.C. property on Massachusetts Avenue near the Capitol for $113 million USD in December 2010. It had been owned by the Washington Television Center LLC, a UCI subsidiary. The following March, UCI sold a property in McLean, Virginia owned by News World Communications for $855,000 USD and in May 2011, it sold the 417-room Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, Virginia for an undisclosed sum. The Sheraton was an important venue for Unification-sponsored events.

The sale of movement assets pushed church leadership to take stronger steps. Hyung Jin Moon, in his capacity as International President of FFWPU, wrote a letter to Hyun Jin which he directed him “to refrain from diverting the assets of Unification Church International to your own projects and recognize that those assets are held in trust for the Unification Church.” He itemized actions taken by UCI “not approved by True Parents” and demanded that the UCI board of directors, including Hyun Jin as chair, resign.[52] Not surprisingly, Hyung Jin’s letter went unanswered.

At this point, it became apparent that the movement was not able to resolve its internal dispute and external intervention was necessary. The church resisted litigation but on May 11, 2011, it filed a complaint against Hyun Jin and current members of the UCI Board in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Civil Division. The complaint accused them of usurping UCI and its assets and contended UCI was a “providential organization” under the authority of Rev. Moon. It acknow¬ledged, “The written Bylaws of UCI are silent regarding the nomination of corporate Directors” but stated,

[F]from the Corporation’s establishment in 1977 through 2008, Reverend Sun Myung Moon as the spiritual leader of the Unification Church… designated all individuals to serve of the Board of Directors, and all individuals so designated by Reverend Moon during this period were duly elected Directors of the Corporation. The long and continuous usage of this uniform practice has been understood and accepted by the Directors over 31 years as a binding convention regarding the method by which Directors of the Corporation are to be nominated.[53]

The complaint went on to allege,

Reverend Sun Myung Moon's decision to designate Sean [Hyung Jin] Moon as leader of the Unification Church disappointed Preston [Hyun Jin] Moon, who had expected that he would succeed Reverend Moon as the spiritual leader and head of the Unification Church. Upon being advised of Sean Moon's appointment to lead the Church, Preston Moon resolved not to take direction from his brother Sean Moon in matters relating to UCI, despite his younger brother’s position as International President of the Family Federation.

Thereafter, Preston Moon, aided and abetted by the other Individual Defendants, undertook a series of unauthorized actions to wrest control of UCI from the Unification Church.[54]

Hyun Jin, it claimed, “orchestrated an illegal takeover by removing board members “loyal to the Unification Church,” by amending the UCI’s Articles of Incorporation “to remove all references to the Unification Church,” and by “actively diverting and dissipating the assets of UCI for unauthorized purposes.” The complaint also alleged that Hyun Jin “engaged in improper self-dealing designed to enrich him and entities he owns.”[55] It requested that he be “immediately suspended and permanently removed… as a Director;” that his “hand-picked directors” be removed; that amend¬ments to UCI’s Articles of Incorporation be rescinded; that previously removed board members be restored; that the current directors be enjoined from selling, encumbering or otherwise dissipating UCI; that they account for all funds expended; that the defendants be “surcharged in an amount to be determined” for the diversion of assets; and that they be responsible for punitive as well as actual damages.[56]

A maze of motions to dismiss the suit and eventually counterclaims filed by UCI against the church tied the matter up in court.[57] The legal proceedings were significant in sorting out the parties’ respective positions and surfacing information that otherwise may have remained buried. However, they did not deeply penetrate the consciousness of the movement as a whole. Most members were vaguely aware of litigation but would have been hard pressed to provide much in the way of details. In fact, well before FFWPU filed its complaint against UCI in 2011, the movement’s attention shifted from North to South America as a locus of conflict. There, in mid-2010, a drama unfolded along the lines of what had happened in the north.


South America

The battle for control of the Unification Church and movement in South America went forward on two fronts as it had in the north. There was a contest for control of the church, primarily in Brazil and Paraguay, and a contest for control of movement assets, mainly vast land holdings in the same two countries. The struggle emerged slightly later than in the United States but was more explosive. It also had a more pronounced impact on the worldwide movement, at least in the short term, due to online videos that went viral within the Unification community showing Hyun Jin’s takeover of a church pulpit as well his intimidating and physically abusive treatment of the Brazilian church leader and South American Continental Director. This resulted in Rev. Moon issuing a “special proclamation” which reaffirmed Hyun Jin’s younger brother Hyung Jin as his “representative and heir.”[58] Some within the movement viewed this as “a historic turning point,” seeing that “the central line for True Parents direction and authority” had been “clearly established through Rev. Hyung Jin Moon.”[59] In reality, it hardened the lines of division.


The situation in South America differed from United States in that Hyun Jin played a more central and important role. In the United States, he committed himself to the education of the movement’s second generation but had a relatively minor role in leading the church. When he did assume broader responsibilities, for UCI in 2006 and UPF in 2007, he still had limited influence on policies and certainly the day-to-day operations of the Unification Church. If anything, he was a critic of the church and its leadership. This was one reason why his effort to mobilize the U.S. and worldwide church in support of Global Peace Festivals beginning in 2008 met significant resistance. However, this was less true in South America. There, Hyun Jin, GPFs, and UCI solved major problems the church faced, notably with respect to its public image and efforts by private parties as well as state governments to expropriate its land holdings.

The church began purchasing properties in the Brazilian outback during the mid-1990s. In 1995, it established New Hope Farm outside the town of Jardim (pop. 21,000) in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sol. By 2000, its land holdings in the state were reported to be over 85 thousand hectares (210 thousand acres or some 328 square miles).[60] That same year the church purchased roughly 1.5 million acres of land (approximately the size of the U.S. state of Delaware) in Northern Paraguay, fronting the Paraguay River, near to its holdings in Brazil. The Paraguayan purchase included an entire 6,000-inhabitant town, Puerto Casado. These purchases were in line with Rev. Moon’s vision of “glory-filled days that await Latin America in the 21st century."[61] However, the church had a difficult time managing the properties. It announced plans for “economic reactivation,” including “the export of timber, and the construction of new river ports from which to transport their products to Asia.” These were largely pipe dreams. According to a later report,

Properties were neglected, financial and people resources were mismanaged, and some of the top management was even resorting to corruption and violence. As a result, the reputation of the Unification movement fell to its lowest point due to strained relations with the local people, the media, politicians and leaders of the country. There were squatters (poor and often homeless people) organized by leftist activists, who invaded and took over the land, factories, fish farms and houses designated for religious use. Many of the material assets were stolen. Remote parts of the property were continuously being illegally occupied and tied up in lawsuits by opportunists trying to claim them.[62]

The Paraguayan congress approved the expropriation 52,000 hectares (128,000 acres) of church land, including the town of Puerto Casado, in 2005. Victoria S.A, a firm run by the church, offered to donate 30,000 hectares to avoid the expropriation. Paraguayan courts reversed the congressional decision in 2007 but protests continued and a Japanese company official was kidnapped with three others for nineteen days until a $138,000 ransom was paid.[63]

The situation was as bad or worse in Brazil. The Brazilian government conducted a major investigation of alleged money laundering, tax evasion and abetting illegal immigration which included the seizure of bank records and a simultaneous raid the church by 70 state police and 35 revenue inspectors, public prosecutors and state officials in 15 cities.[64] In addition, the church’s massive land acquisitions sparked concern within government circles about regional security in an area of the country notorious for smuggling. Some 350 families occupied what was described as “unproductive land” and the church was prosecuted for violations of environmental laws. The church also had its “tax immune” status revoked twice and was “assessed excessive rural land property tax on the grounds of insufficient usage of rural land.”[65] However, the most serious problem was the church’s victimization at the hands of unethical or incompetent attorneys, including one who transferred more than half of the church’s land in Brazil to himself.

There was no disagreement from UCI or the church as to the crisis. There also was general agreement that Rev. Moon gave Hyun Jin authority over the Americas in 2006 with specific instructions to resolve the problems in Paraguay. In so doing, Hyun Jin initiated an approach that included managerial and educational-diplomatic components. As described by one of his associates,

Starting from late 2006, UCI and Dr. Moon initiated an aggressive and professional campaign aimed at stabilizing the downward spiraling situation. In short order, a team of experts and professionals was formed, and they were given the task of identifying the problems at hand, devising workable recommendations for a turnaround, and ultimately helping to implement those recommended plans.[66]

Through legal action and negotiations, Victoria S.A which represented Paraguayan church interests was able to recover its reforestation project and fish farms that had been illegally occupied, win support for a “private colonization” project which specified that any donated lands would remain under Victoria S.A. control, cover taxes and legal fees, and expand its business interests.

At the same time, Hyun Jin pursued an educational-diplomatic track. He articulated a “Vision for the Americas” at International leadership Conferences (ILCs) held in six Central and South American countries in April 2008. He subsequently led a five-day, 173 kilometer “International Cattle Drive for Peace and Unity” which brought together young men from prominent families, Unification leaders and local gauchos in the Paraguayan outback.

Most importantly, he launched the first of 17 Global Peace Festivals held during the second half of 2008 in Asuncion, Paraguay. Hyun Jin still had access to movement funding and spared no expense to insure the event’s success. The festival attracted an estimated 25,000 to Asuncion’s Club Olimpia Stadium and was held in conjunction with an International Leadership Seminar (ILS) that convened more than 250 international leaders from 80 nations—including eight former heads of state, 30 congressional leaders from South America, religious leaders, academics and youth leaders as well as more than half of the newly elected senators and deputies of the new Paraguayan government. The conference also included an audience with outgoing President Nicanor Duarte at the Presidential palace who wished participants “success in the Global Peace Festival.”[67] This was striking, since Duarte had previously supported the expropriation of movement land holdings.

Hyun Jin’s efforts in Paraguay were so successful that the movement’s Korean and Japanese leaders responsible for landholdings in Brazil requested his intervention. UCI later produced copies of their formal written requests to Rev. and Mrs. Moon for Hyun Jin’s assistance.[68] In Brazil, Hyun Jin replicated his approach in Paraguay. He “designated a team to evaluate and address the situation” and hired two of the top law firms in Brazil to “help solve the multiple and difficult problems.”[69] He also developed a close relationship with Bishop Manoel Ferreira, president of the nine-million-member Assemblies of God in Brazil, who organized and chaired a Global Peace Festival in Brasilia in December 2008. At that time, GPF conducted a special awards program and Hyun Jin spoke in the Brazilian National Assembly hall. UCI won a major victory when largest case involving almost half of the church’s rural properties, was decided in the church’s favor. According to UCI, the property values saved and recovered amounted to over $85 million (USD).[70]


All of this was very fine. Hyun Jin and UCI not only played a major role in rectifying issues the movement in South America was unable to resolve but also were widely appreciated for their efforts. One long time church missionary who spent 33 years in Latin America described Hyun Jin as “the most effective young leader I had ever seen” and commented, “Just about anyone is moved by Hyun-Jin Nim’s charm, charisma and unusual intelligence.”[71] As noted, major leaders in Brazil requested his intervention. However, there was at least one red flag from the standpoint of International Headquarters. A later “Chronology” published by Kook Jin Moon’s Tongil Foundation which circulated widely accused UCI of an “unauthorized transfer” of church lands to four for-profit entities controlled by UCI.[72] This also was confirmed by the Korean national messiah to Paraguay, who stated,

True Parents bought 680,000 hectares of land in Paraguay and half of it was in the church’s name and with zero funds we were not able to do anything with the land and negative forces were trying to grab our land, but… HJN started to handle the land and secure it, of course investing a lot of money… we signed this land over to HJN's companies.[73]

A UCI representative defended the transfer of land from the church’s name to “a new corporate structure” as a move that “cleans up the balance sheet and better protects the land from expropriations and illegal squatters, as well as to better position it to attract outside investment for development purposes.” He stated the new structure was “based on the best advice of leading lawyers and accountants in Paraguay and elsewhere and was duly reported and approved.”[74] This account contradicted the Tongil Foundation report which stated that Rev. and Mrs. Moon only “belatedly” learned of the unauthorized transfer.

In better times, this would have been written off as a simple misunderstanding. However, in the context of the purge of UCI board members in the United States and turmoil at The Washington Times, Tongil Foundation intervened. At the behest of Kook Jin Moon and the Unification Church Mission Foundation, a Costa Rican lawyer, Franscisco Saborio, visited Paraguay in May and July of 2009 to investigate. According to UCI representatives, Saborio not only undermined their position but sparked a riot in Puerto Casado, the town which lay within the landholding purchased by the church. There, a reportedly leftist organization with unsavory ties, Pro-Tierra, had been fighting with UCI over control of the town and surrounding lands. They were responsible for occupying, stripping, and destroying numerous church properties.[75] After much effort and the expenditure of significant resources, UCI claimed to have Pro-Tierra on the defensive, causing it to lose “much, if not most, of their support among the local townspeople.” However, Saborio flew to Puerto Casado and met with Pro-Tierra leaders. He reportedly told them of “internal struggles” within the Moon family and that Victoria S.A., under UCI management, “does not represent the real owners.” According to UCI, this undercut their work with Paraguayan political leaders, emboldened Pro-Tierra, and led to violence.[76]

Ironically, a civil disturbance occurred in Puerto Casado on the eve of an intended UCI triumph. As described by Victoria S.A. President Thomas Field,

A day before the violence in Puerto Casado, the only Pro-Tierra person occupying the directory [the house reserved for Rev. and Mrs. Moon] left voluntarily when he learned that our workers were planning to enter the property, as they had done shortly before with the reforested areas and the fish farm. Prior to this, we received assurances from many sources (in Puerto Casado and Asuncion) that there would be no resistance to us finally taking back what is legally and rightfully ours. In fact, we were so confident of this that up to the last minute we were planning a triumphant visit to the town by Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, together with Vice President Franco and a group of parliamentarians.[77]

Due to reported violence, Hyun Jin did not enter Puerto Casado. According to Field’s report, Pro-Tierra mobilized approximately 100 people from the town and another 200 indigenous people from surrounding areas. Hearing of this, UCI obtained a court order to protect its property and workers. Police formed a line between “Pro-Work” UCI supporters and Pro-Tierra. In the ensuing violence between Pro-Tierra and the police, “about fifteen people had to be treated at the local medical clinic” and sixteen Pro-Tierra representatives faced charges.[78]

The 2009 Puerto Casado disturbance was regrettable and led to mutual recriminations between UCI and International Church headquarters.[79] However, it paled in relation to events that unfolded in Brazil. There, UCI not only took over active management of land holdings but also control of the Brazilian church board. The sequence of events and motiva¬tions that led to Hyun Jin taking over the Brazilian Headquarters Church pulpit in Sao Paulo in late May 2010 was complex and subject to diverse interpretations. In some ways, it replicated and was driven by what had occurred in the United States. However, the most important development was a direct personal and public attack on Hyun Jin by the church’s continental director of South America.

Upset that Hyun Jin had continued holding and publicizing Global Peace Festivals in the face of Rev. Moon’s order to desist, Rev. Dong Mo Shin sent a lengthy letter in March 2010 to “all leaders and members” in Latin America. Titled “The Mask,” Shin contended that Hyun Jin “talks about the providence in innumerable plausible words” but “has rejected and ignored the words of Father right in front of him.” He proceeded to list instances of Hyun Jin’s disobedience in detail, saying, “It is truly insuf¬fer¬able. He advertizes as if he is following the words and will of Father absolutely. But no matter how plausible his embroidery may sound, it couldn’t be believed anymore.” Shin concluded that Hyun Jin was wearing a “mask of excuses and beautiful words.” However, he stated,

I hope and pray that the meeting will be arranged with the son, which I have requested innumerable times… I would like to meet him, even though he may say he could not meet someone like me who writes such words about him. Even if I am sworn at many times at the meeting, I would still like to meet him.[80]

Based upon what was to follow, Shin might have been more careful about what he wished for.

Hyun Jin’s later words and actions indicated that Shin’s letter had gotten under his skin. However, Rev. Shin’s efforts to nullify land transfers from the church to UCI-related entities were a more immediate concern. According to a Victoria S.A. Paraguay representative,

Since 2009, the sole focus of Rev. Shin, who is the Continental Director for 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, has been to impede the work of various profit and non-profit organiza-tions under Dr. Hyun Jin Moon in Brazil and Paraguay.[81]

Rev. Shin had difficulty making much headway in Paraguay, where the church received financial support from UCI on a monthly basis. He was more of a threat in Brazil, where he had the backing of the Brazilian church president, Simão Ferabolli. However, UCI had majority representation on the five member Brazilian FFWPU board, which consisted of two former Brazilian church presidents, both UCI supporters, and three North Americans, all employees of UCI-related enterprises. Therefore, Hyun Jin had significant leverage there as well.

Maurício Baldini, one of the former church presidents, received notice on May 20, 2010 that Hyun Jin would be coming to Brazil at the end of the month with the three North American board members and that the board council would have a meeting at national headquarters in Sao Paulo. A notice went out, and Baldini met with Dong Mo Shin and Simão Ferabolli “about the best way to receive Hyun Jin Nim.” Shin said he had a written document from Rev. Moon “prohibiting” Hyun Jin from entering the headquarters church and speaking to members. Alerted to the situation, International Headquarters sent another memo to Shin, Ferabolli, the Board of HSA-UWC Brazil, and Brazil leaders on May 27 which stated that no meeting could be held under the auspices of Hyun Jin Moon.

Baldini disputed the authenticity of the memo since it had “no signature or identification, only a stamp of World Mission Department.” Negotiations continued for several days, and in the end Baldini believed he had an agreement. It was that on Sunday, May 30, Rev. Shin would deliver a sermon lasting until 10:30 a.m. and then invite Hyun Jin to the stage where he would receive a bouquet of flowers and talk for about fifteen minutes. However, Rev. Shin’s position was that Hyun Jin would not enter or speak in the sanctuary but “have lunch on the 5th floor.”[82] These competing understandings and positions led to an explosion unprecedented in the church’s history.

Due to controversy aroused by Shin’s letter, curiosity on the part of some, the desire of others to see Hyun Jin, and efforts of UCI to mobilize supporters, a much larger than usual Sunday service congregation of 900-1,000 members gathered at the Sao Paulo headquarters sanctuary on Sunday, May 30, 2010. Prior to the service, neither side had been particularly forthright. Baldini and those who negotiated on behalf of Hyun Jin knew he would not confine himself to a fifteen minute greeting. On the other hand, Shin was guilty of double-speak in agreeing to have Hyun Jin speak but later clarifying that he meant the small sanctuary on the fifth floor, not the Sunday pulpit. These misunderstandings, intentional or otherwise, laid the foundation for the collision that followed.

Rev. Shin began the service at 9:00 a.m., and Hyun Jin, who arrived on a flight into Sao Paulo that morning, got to the headquarters church at 10:15. Greeted outside by young cheering members, he immediately went to a fifth floor hall which was prepared for him. There, he received greetings and spoke to CARP students who had assembled. At 10:35, five minutes after what was to have been the conclusion of Rev. Shin’s sermon, Hyun Jin sent an assistant to the main sanctuary with instructions to lead Holy Songs and prepare the spiritual atmosphere. However, Rev. Shin continued speaking.

Baldini later claimed, “Rev. Shin strategically extended his sermon in order to create all the turmoil that has occurred.”[83] On the other hand, Shin asserted that Hyun Jin came to the main sanctuary because “an extremely small number” listened to him on the fifth floor. According to Shin, “there were people gesturing for people to leave the main sanctuary during the service… but not many members left.”[84] In any case, Hyun Jin waited until approximately 11:00 a.m. and then proceeded to the main sanctuary. Prior to his entrance, supporters formed a double-line from the door inside the sanctuary. They broke into loud chants of “Hyun Jin Nim, Hyun Jin Nim” when he entered, and the entourage made its way to the podium.

Chaos ensued. There were approximately twenty security guards, some from the church side, some from the student group which had been mobilized and some from UCI. However, within minutes Hyun Jin’s supporters swamped the stage. Hyun Jin pushed Shin aside and took the microphone. There was shouting and security members surrounded Shin, attempting to persuade him to leave the stage. Hyun Jin yelled, “Take him out. Get him out of here now.” Shin resisted and dropped to the floor. He later wrote,

I didn’t allow myself to be removed from the podium and in the end fell over. My shoe came off and I was dragged away. I could do nothing about this… A doctor came and gave me medicine for high blood pressure, but it was nothing. The wife of the church president passed out and was taken to the hospital.[85]

Gradually order was restored. Hyun Jin ushered people off the stage, led the congregation in a bow to photos of Rev. and Mrs. Moon which were on chairs near the podium, and spoke for some ninety minutes, interspersing his remarks with readings from one of Rev. Moon’s “Peace Messages.”

Hyun Jin covered themes that characterized many of his speeches. He denied that his father’s “providential mission for which he came to this world” was to establish the Unification Church or that “the reason I was born in my family was to join the church of my father!” Nonetheless, he was incredulous that he was being denied access to the sanctuary. As he put it,

To think that a son of True Parents cannot speak before you, what kind of travesty is that? Do you think Father approves of that? Father's name is being used… Strange things are happening in our movement, things that I never saw in my life.[86]

In the course of his remarks, he called Rev. Shin as a rogue, idiot and snake. He said, “I pray for those who are acting so stupidly, because they have no idea they are playing with fire.” He also staked out his position on the struggle with his brothers, saying,

You know that in the Korean tradition a younger brother is irrelevant, right?… If a younger sibling in the family is irrelevant, the older brother has the right to put him in place…

Do you think that I was born yesterday? I did not show up on the stage suddenly, like other members of my family. Will I allow this? I am the eldest son of True Parents on earth… clearly I am not a newcomer. I was responsible for virtually all [the] movement in the last ten years… The time has come when I as an older brother must lead our movement properly.[87]

Hyun Jin concluded his remarks by inviting all present to a Hoon Dok Hae (“gathering for reading and discussion”) devotional session the next morning.

That session was equally, if not more damaging than the previous day’s Sunday service. The roles were now reversed, and Hyun Jin prohibited Rev. Shin from entering the fifth floor hall where the service was conducted. Shin again argued and resisted but was confined to a couch in the hallway outside until called in. According to church president Simao Ferabolli, who was there:

Most of the time, he [Hyun Jin] came to where I was sitting to challenge me very strongly. He asked me to answer a question or looked at my eyes. The questions were always about whether he’s a disobedient son or not, or if I was barring him from coming to Brazil…

Basically every time he came to where I was sitting, he was somehow hitting me… or kicking me with his shoes, or both simultaneously. During three hours, I was under constant attack from him. For four times I was kicked on the chest, once in the back and on the knee numerous times, Also, he hit me strongly on my forehead with his fingers.

In the first one and half hours, I was alone, then he asked for Rev. Shin to come and Rev. Shin sat beside me. Then, I and Rev. Shin, both of us at that time were receiving the blows from Hyun Jin Nim. Normally, the blows were received by both of us, but I think that Rev. Shin has received more than I at that time.[88]

Ferabolli testified, “I felt a lot of fear, a nightmare, a terror for three hours—as if it was the longest hours I ever had in my life.” He questioned “why there was so much heartache” in Hyun Jin, “so much bitterness, resentment or hatred in his heart” and wondered, “What will be the future of our movement from this time on?”[89]


The events of May 30-31, 2010 were a public relations disaster for UCI and Hyun Jin. Hyun Jin’s supporters blamed Rev. Shin for the episode, terming him “dishonest, manipulative and pathetic.” They claimed Hyun Jin delivered “an inspiring message” and that brothers and sisters received “much grace.”[90] However, it was impossible to counter online videos that went viral within the Unification community. These clearly showed the hostile takeover of the Sao Paulo headquarters pulpit as well as the bullying, slapping and kicking of Shin and Ferabolli. As a consequence, Shin’s reports of the incidents had more credibility. He claimed many in attendance during Hyun Jin’s Sunday speech “quietly lowered their heads and shed tears” and only half of the congregation remained at the end. Nevertheless, he expressed his determination “to embrace and love even the Latin American members who yelled and cursed at me, calling me the Devil’s continental director” and to “offer more devotion for Hyun Jin Nim.”[91]

Hyun Jin reportedly appointed new leaders to run the Brazilian church. However, this was never implemented. He and his party departed for Paraguay on June 1, 2010. The next day, FFWPU International Headquarters issued a memo to movement leaders worldwide which described “the sorrowful and tragic incident,” stated that “violence is intolerable,” noted that members in Brazil who viewed the May 30 service by live webcast were “shocked,” and reiterated “instructions that Hyun-Jin Nim may not give a lecture or sermon at an official event or at the church without the explicit approval of True Parents.”[92] Dismissals of those who supported Hyun Jin’s actions followed.

Then on June 5, Rev. Moon personally wrote and signed a “special proclamation,” which declared,

There is only one set of True Parents… The command center of cosmic peace and unity is the absolute and unique command center. Its representative and heir is Hyung Jin Moon. Anybody else [who claims such a position] would be a heretic and one who brings things to destruction.[93]

The text was written on two sides, and on the back Rev. Moon wrote, “I recognize only the official memos from the World Mission Headquarters of Tongilgyo of Heaven and Earth, World-Unification Church.” The second part of the proclamation came at Mrs. Moon’s urging since, as she put it, “some ignorant members say that the official memos from the Mission Headquarters are… fake.”[94] In any case, the proclamation and its composition, which was videotaped in the Moon’s private quarters, was intended to be an unequivocal statement of support for the church’s existing structure and line of authority.

Dong Mo Shin’s strong resistance, his urgent reports, the video tapes that circulated throughout the church, International Headquarters’ strong response and Rev Moon’s proclamation reinforced the church’s position but drove a further wedge between it and Hyun Jin. In Paraguay, where he and his party travelled after Brazil, Hyun Jin cancelled an intended visit to the headquarters church and held meetings with business associates and members in a local hotel. The following week, Rev. Moon sent his daughter In Jin and a delegation of North American leaders to Sao Paulo. They were followed by Hyung Jin three weeks later. Their mission was to comfort Brazilian members and stabilize the church. Both spoke at filled-to-capacity Sunday services in the same headquarters church that Hyun Jin and his supporters had occupied. Both showed the videotape of Rev. Moon signing the June 5 proclamation, and both worked to support the continental director and national leader.

In Jin and Hyung Jin’s visits secured church control of the Brazilian movement. In Jin obtained apologies from the two former Brazilian presidents who supported Hyun Jin, and on June 12, a general assembly of the Brazilian church reaffirmed the leadership of the current president, Simão Ferabolli. This was significant because Ferabolli’s removal was a key UCI’s objective. In fact, UCI originally called the general assembly which was the highest decision-making body in the Brazilian church. The sixty-four leaders who gathered on June 12 voted unanimously to retain Ferabolli and to reassemble on June 26 to amend the association bylaws which had allowed UCI to gain control of the church board.[95] At the second general assembly meeting, 110 leaders voted unanimously to remove the five association board members, three of whom were North American employees of UCI, amend the articles of association in accordance with the direction of our international headquarters and elect new board members.[96] The Brazilian national assembly thereby signaled its alignment with the international church.

UCI conceded defeat in Brazil, ironically after receiving notice that it had prevailed in an arbitration case which and preserved approximately half of FFWPU’s Brazilian land holdings which had been stolen by a former church lawyer. A UCI report stated,

UCI has been providing professional comprehensive measures and countermeasures to solve these problems and has been consistently implementing them in phases… However, it is ironic that at the time we won a historic victory in the recovery of more than half of the properties of the Association, a massive worldwide accusation being made against Hyun Jin Nim and against UCI using the incident… of the alleged “hostile takeover.” Now that the Rev. Shin Dong Mo and the International Headquarters of the Unification Church have… officially banned… UCI… through legal measures, we only hope that they can protect and maintain true legacy of the Father in Brazil in a responsible manner. We wish them well.[97]

Another UCI report stated, “Hopefully the church will recognize the work of Hyun Jin Nim or at least send an official memo thanking us.”[98] There is no evidence that any expression of thanks, official or otherwise, was forthcoming.

The situation in Paraguay was different. There, the church was tiny, dependent upon UCI financial support, and had already signed over vast tracts of land to UCI-related businesses. Dong Mo Shin had been attempting to wrest the land away from UCI without success. As part of a “goodwill tour” to Latin America in late August 2010, In Jin Moon attempted to regain the land but also met resistance. She arrived in Asuncion with Dong Mo Shin and the Costa Rican lawyer Francisco Saborio. According to Paraguayan supporters of Hyun Jin, they attempted to replicate the pattern that worked in Brazil. That is, after two days of being “very nice,” they called for a general assembly of members to revoke the transference of lands to companies managed by Hyun Jin. However, in Paraguay, a number of members either worked for or otherwise supported Hyun Jin and the companies. As a result, “a big group of members” were opposed to signing such a resolution and “left the room or did not attend.” The church reportedly brought in “guests and relatives by bus” from other provinces and there were questions as to “how many of the people present were actually church members.” Others reportedly “complained that they felt they were forced to sign under duress.”[99] Eventually, as in the United States, the dispute over Paraguayan assets ended up in court.

The battle for the Americas was finally indecisive. The church retained the loyalty of the vast majority of members. However, UCI controlled a vast amount of movement assets. More significantly, neither side had convinced the other as to the validity of their positions. As a consequence, the church and movement were locked in conflict. Most members considered this an unnecessary and unwanted distraction as well as a drain on movement energy and resources. Nevertheless, because UCI controlled major assets in Korea and supported Global Peace Festivals internationally, particularly in the developing world, the battle soon extended beyond the Americas to envelop the global church.



[1] Hyun Jin Moon, “Hyun Jin Nim with US Leadership,” New Yorker Hotel, February 23, 2009, transcript of speech.

[2] Sun Myung Moon, “Become an Inheritor–—Inauguration of Hyung Jin Moon as Inter-national President of FFWPU.”

[3] Interview with Kyoung Hyo Kim, March 19, 2010. They met in Las Vegas on January 25, 2009.

[4] “Facts behind the Change of Leaders of the Unification Church in the United States, and Hyun Jin Moon’s Removal From His Public Positions.”

[5] Ibid.

[6] Hyun Jin Moon, “Activities and Future Directions,” Today’s World 28:8 (August 2007): 10-13.

[7] Lim Myung Bak, the tenth president of South Korea, assumed office in February 2008.

[8] Hyun Jin Moon, “Hyun Jin Nim with US Leadership,” New Yorker Hotel, February 23, 2009.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] “Facts behind the Change of Leaders of the Unification Church in the United States, and Hyun Jin Moon’s Removal From His Public Positions.”

[14] Michael Jenkins, “Reflections on our Current Course and the Turning Point that Occurred in Brazil,” July 1, 2010. Jenkins-09/Jenkins-100701.htm

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] FFWPU International Headquarters, “Appointment and Dismissal of Executives on the FFWPU Board of Directors in Each Mission Nation,” September 30, 2008.

[18] This is alleged in “Facts behind the Change of Leaders.” This document claims that when on September 14, 2008, when Hyun Jin sought clarification about changes to the American board on August 21, 2009 and September 4, 2009, “Father scolded Hyun Jin im because he thought the changes to the board were made by Hyun Jin Nim. He demanded the board be restored to its original composition.”

[19] Jenkins, “Reflections on our Current Course.”

[20] Interview with Kyoung Hyo Kim, March 19, 2010.

[21] “Hoon Mo Nim Report,” unpublished manuscript.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] “Facts behind the Change of Leaders.”

[25] Jenkins, “Reflections on Our Current Course.”

[26] Interview with Kyoung Hyo Kim, March 19, 2010.

[27] See “Facts behind the Change of Leaders.”

[28] Hyung Jin Moon, “Unity, Faith, Pride,” transcript of speech to Unificationists in the Washington, D.C. area, September 4, 2009.

[29] Interview with Kyoung Hyo Kim, March 19, 2010.

[30] Hyun Jin Moon, “Letter from the Co-Chair of the UPF Presiding Council,” November 4, 2009.

[31] Edgar T. Tanate, “True Father's Direction—Global Peace Conference Manila 2009.” December 17, 2009.

[32] FFWPU International Headquarters, “Establishing and Engaging in Activities of GPF (or GPFF, GPC, GPA),” March 24, 2010. HyungJinMoon-100324.htm.

[33] Thomas G. Walsh and Taj Hamad, “Clarification of the Relationship between UPF and the Programs of GPFF,” September 9, 2010.

[34] Hyun Jin Moon, “Hyun Jin Nim with US Leadership.”

[35] Hyun Jin Moon, “Report to Parents,” March 23, 2008.

[36] Family Federation for World Peace and Unification v. Hyun Jin Moon, Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Civil Division, Action Number 0003721-11, May 11, 2011, p. 13.

[37] They were Sun Jin Moon, one of Rev. Moon’s daughters, and Ki Hun Kim a longtime church leader. See Family Federation for World Peace and Unification v. Hyun Jin Moon, p. 13.

[38] Hyun Jin Moon, “Hyun Jin Nim with US Leadership.”

[39] “UCI Letter on the Washington Times,” July 16, 2010.

[40] “Open Letter in Response to UCI’s letter of July 16, 2010,” July 22, 2010.

[41] Ashley Parker, “With Tumult at the Top, Washington Times Faces Uncertainty,” New York Times, November 30, 2009.

[42] Ian Shapira, “Unification Church will put Washington Times up for sale,” Washington Post, May 1, 2010.

[43] Ian Shapira, “Washington Times struggles amid divisions of family, ideology, politics,” Washington Post, September 6, 2010. Available at: file://localhost/E:/Succession/Wash%20Times/Washington%20Times%20struggles%20amid%20divisions%20of%20family,%20ideology,%20finances%20-%20Dong%20Moo%20Joo%20-%20Ian%20Shapira.mht.

[44] Ian Shapira, “Moon and fired executives buy Washington Times for $1,” Washington Post, November 3, 2010.

[45] See Richard Perea, “Washington Times Aviation USA LLC (WTA) is shocked and dismayed at threats.” April 9, 2010.; and “Third son of Unification Church founder Moon files lawsuit against his mother,” Yonhap News Agency, May 2, 2011.

[46] Tongil Group, “An Abbreviated Chronology of Recent Events.” June 17, 2010.

[47] Family Federation for World Peace and Unification v. Hyun Jin Moon, p. 23.

[48] Tongil Group, “An Abbreviated Chronology.”

[49] Joshua Cotter, “The Current Situation: Chung Hwan Kwak & Hyun Jin’s Positions in Light of the Principle,” PowerPoint.

[50] Those who love True Parents, “Important Update on the Tour That Proclaims Rev. Kwak as ‘Satan’ and Hyun Jin Nim as ‘fallen Adam’.”

[51] Hyun Jin Moon, “Letter to the Worldwide Unification Community,” November 26, 2011.

[52] Hyung Jin Moon, “Letter from Hyung Jin Moon to Hyun Jin Moon.” April 8, 2011.

[53] Family Federation for World Peace and Unification v. Hyun Jin Moon, p. 12.

[54] Ibid., p. 16.

[55] The complaint alleged three specific violations: 1) That Hyun Jin “caused True World Group LLC (“TWG”), an indirect subsidiary of UCI, to purchase property located at 24 Link Drive, Rockleigh, New Jersey (hereinafter “the Rockleigh Building”) from UV Sales, Inc. (“UV Sales”), an entity wholly owned by United Vision Group, Inc. (“UVG”), which in turn is wholly owned and controlled by Preston Moon himself. Under the terms of the sale, TWG agreed to pay $5.9 million to UV Sales for the Rockleigh Building. The fair market value of the Rockleigh Building at the time of the sale was less than the $5.9 million purchase price, and the sale served no legitimate business purpose for TWG or UCI”; 2) That he “caused UCI to lend two million dollars to UVG”; and 3) That he “caused One Up Enterprises (“One Up”), a direct subsidiary of UCI, to enter into a consulting agreement with UVG Strategic Consulting LLC (“UVGSC”), an entity wholly owned by UVG. One Up agreed to pay $120,000 per month to UVGSC. One Up made these payments to UVGSC despite the fact that the consulting agreement served no legitimate business purpose for One Up or UCI.” See Family Federation for World Peace and Unification v. Hyun Jin Moon, p. 15.

[56] Family Federation for World Peace and Unification v. Hyun Jin Moon, pp. 28-29, 36-38.

[57] See District of Columbia Courts Court Cases Online. “Search for: 2011 CA 003721.” Available at:

[58] Sun Myung Moon, “June 5th Declaration: The Authority of the True Parents of Mankind from Now Will Be Represented by the Youngest Son,” June 5, 2010.

[59] Jenkins, “Reflections on Our Current Course.”

[60] John Waggoner, “Unification Church under Siege in Brazil,” WND Weekly, May 14, 2002.

[61] Sun Myung Moon, “True World Peace,” August 23, 1995.

[62] Allan Cadano, “Paraguay Providence—In Jin Nim in Paraguay,” August 27, 2010.

[63] “Paraguayans Block Road, Demand Land Donated by Moonies,” Latin American Herald Tribune.; Hirokasu Ota, “Hirokasu Ota’s Testimony on His Kidnapping in Paraguay,” December 9, 2007.

[64] Waggoner, “Unification Church under Siege in Brazil.”

[65] UCI, “Solving the Legal Situation in Brazil,” July 13, 2010.

[66] Cadano, “Paraguay Providence.”

[67] Michael Balcomb, “Asunción Commits to One Family under God,” July 3, 2008.

[68] UCI, “Solving the Legal Situation in Brazil.”

[69] Ibid.

[70] UCI, “UCI Victory in Brazil,” July 9, 2010.

[71] Nancy Hanna, “A True Leader Brings Hope to the Hemisphere,” Today’s World 29:4 (May 2008): 17.

[72] Tongil Group, “An Abbreviated Chronology.”

[73] Unknown

[74] Lorenzo Pessoa, “Paraguay: Understanding the issue of Giving Land Away.”

[75] There are a number of before and after photos of destruction in Pessoa, “Paraguay.”

[76] Pessoa, “Paraguay.”

[77] Field’s report is included in Pessoa, “Paraguay.”

[78] Pessoa, “Paraguay.”

[79] See especially Kyoung Hyo Kim, “Comprehensive Report of the Situation in Puerto Casado, Paraguay,” September 15, 2009.

[80] Dong Mo Shin, “The Mask: Thoughts about the Hyun Jin Moon’s Kenya Unification Church International Report,” March 10, 2010.

[81] Pessoa, “Paraguay.”

[82] Mauricio Baldini, “Report from Brazil on recent events regarding Hyun Jin Nim,” June 5, 2010.

[83] Ibid.

[84] Dong Mo Shin, “Urgent Report on the May 30 Incident in Brazil.”

[85] Dong Mo Shin, “Continental Director’s Report on Hyun Jin Moon’s Activities in Brazil,” May 30, 2010.

[86] Hyun Jin Moon, “Strange Things Are Happening in Our Movement.” May 30, 2010.

[87] Ibid.

[88] Neudir Simao Ferabolli, “Reflection on Hoon Dok Hae with Hyun Jin Nim in Brazil,” June 1, 2010.

[89] Ibid.

[90] See Thomas Field, “Account of May 30 Event with Hyun Jin Nim in Brazil,” June 11, 2010.; and In Dong Kim, “Report on Dr. Hyun Jin Moon’s visit to Brazil and what happened during the Sunday service on May 30, 2010,” June 5, 2010.

[91] Shin, “Urgent Report.”

[92] FFWPU International Headquarters, “True Parents’ special instructions regarding the right to give sermons or speeches at churches or official events/meetings anywhere in the world,” June 2, 2010.

[93] Moon, “June 5th Declaration.”

[94] Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han Moon, “June 5 Proclamation with Translation Added,” June 5, 2010.

[95] Dong Mo Shin, “Report on the Brazil Sao Paulo Church Headquarters General Assembly,” June 12, 2010.

[96] “Rev. Hyung Jin Moon's Visit to Brazil, June 26-28, 2010,” July 1, 2010.

[97] UCI, “Report on the AFUPM ICU in Brazil (Part 2),” July 12, 2010.

[98] UCI, “UCI Victory in Brazil.”

[99] Jimmy Dueck, Felipe Paredes, Rosanne Schiefelbein de Paredes and Veronica Dueck de Blanco, “Report from four Paraguayan supporters of Hyun Jin Moon on the visit of In Jin Moon,” August 25, 2010.