Unification Church in South Korea

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From left to right: Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and the Koran.

Out walking the other day, I passed a curious statute that I had to return to with my camera. What it turned out to be was part of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, better known as its name prior to 1994 when Rev. Sun Myung Moon consolidated his several organizations, Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity  or the Unification Church. Many non-Unificationists (as they prefer to be called) may know them best as “Moonies” though this is viewed as a derogatory term by adherents.

The founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon was born in 1920 in what is now North Korea. Moon was raised a Presybeterian, but according to Moon, on Easter when he was 15, Jesus appeared to him commissioning him to complete the work that Jesus had started. In the 1950s, after being excommunicated from the Presbetyerian Church for his unorthodox beliefs, Moon founded his church which today boasts several hundred thousand adherents around the world.

Interestingly, Moon has had quite a bit of trouble with the law both in South Korea and the United States where he spent 13 months in prison for tax evasion.

The Unification Church views the apostle Paul as the founder of Christianity, who codified the teachings of Jesus into a formal religion. Hell is accepted as being present on Earth now, but in time will become Heaven on Earth. They also view Communism as an expression of Satan and link it with Cain, while viewing Democracy as the expression of God and link it with Abel.

They also believe that Eve had a sexual affair with Lucifer which caused the spiritual fall of humankind. Before she was married to Adam, she also had premarital sexual relations with him, causing the physical fall of humankind. Their marriage produced an imperfect family allowing Satan to have control of the world.

The remedy to this problem was for Jesus (the 2nd “Adam”) to form the perfect marriage to redeem humankind, but he was crucified before he could complete his mission. His spiritual resurrection did secure spiritual salvation for humankind, but because Jesus wasn’t able to complete his mission, physical salvation is not possible in this lifetime. Therefore, a third “Adam” is needed to provide complete salvation for humankind. According to the Resurrection Church, this 3rd Adam was born in Korea between 1917 and 1930 and his appearance will be recognized as the 2nd coming of Christ. This 3rd Adam will marry, producing the perfect family, enabling complete salvation for those who choose it.  Many Unificationists had viewed Rev. Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han (his 2nd) as this perfect family, the “true spiritual parents of humankind” but he died in 2012, having appointed his youngest son,  Hyung Jin Moon, his successor in 2008.

The Unification Church is known for their mass weddings. Many times, the couples do not know who they will marry until a month before the ceremony, sometimes not meeting them until that day. They can, however, not participate in the wedding without shame. The newlyweds do not consumate their marriage for 40 days, representing the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. The church emphasizes the importance of the family and encourages times of family study and devotion.

Exact membership numbers are hard to determine but are said to be in the hundreds of thousands worldwide, with about 5,000 in the U.S. It appears that membership in South Korea is not significant enough to appear anywhere but in the “others” column of religious adherents.

Here are some pictures I took of Cheon Bok Gung Church of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Seoul:

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Cheon Bok Gung Church Seoul
The announcement board outside of the Cheon Bok Gung Church in Seoul
Cheon Bok Gung Church
This view of the church building shows the symbol of the Unification Church designed by Sun Myung Moon the elements of which have these meanings: “The center circle symbolizes God, truth, life, and light, the four elements that reach out or radiate from this origin to the whole cosmos in 12 directions. The number 12 represents the 12 types of human character and that truth (the Principle) is able to spread out in 12 ways (such as in the 12 tribes and 12 disciples). According to Moon, the structure of the heavenly kingdom is also patterned after this system of 12. The outer circle represents the harmony of giving and receiving action, the principle of the cosmos. The square represents the four position foundation. The symbol is used on Blessing Ceremony rings, jewelry, on churches and in publications.” (RF site)
Cheon Bok Gung Church
This is the view that caught my eye on my walk…I thought that looked like Jesus on the right…

 

Cheon Bok Gung Church
As you walk in the main entrance, your eyes are drawn to a round room in the center surrounded by blocks and pillars.

Cheon Bok Gung Church

Cheon Bok Gung Church
To the right is a small cafe.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
To the left and behind are a number of personalized tiles.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
By the information desk at the entrance is a schedule of the services offered.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
The round room in the center is the “Jeongseong Room.” According to the sign in front of it, this room is an area for offering prayer and jeongseong in silence. Before entering, pray-ers are to remove their shoes and be careful not to fall into the water, which doesn’t have a cover.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
On the left side of the Jeongseong Room is a picture of Buddha.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
On the right side of the Jeongseong Room is a picture of Jesus.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
The Cheon Bok Gung Church is housed in a large building with space for worship, prayer. lectures, conferences and education.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
On an outside door of the building is a saying which found nearly anywhere might be a good one: “There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved…forever.”

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A brochure with the order of worship for the Cheon Bok Gung Church

 

 

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All photos were taken by the author. Information for this post was gathered from the following sites:

Religious Tolerance website, “The Unification Church…”

Religion Facts website, “Unification Church”

Family Federation for World Peace and Unification-USA

The Unification Church, “Rev. and Mrs. Moon”

Wikipedia, “Unification Church”

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Camp Humphreys, Korea

As a chaplain, when I visit a new post, the first things I like to visit are the chapels, followed by chaplain’s offices and work areas, then memorials and cemeteries, finally historical points of interest…that is, of course, after I visit my chaplains or accomplish the mission I’m there for. I state that first, to explain why the majority of pictures I’m going to share in this post are of those things.

Humphreys-CW2-Humphreys Memorial Plaque-croppedCamp Humphreys or United States Army Garrison (USAG) Humphreys, is a U.S. Army post near Pyeongtaek, beside Anjeong-ri. Humphreys is about 55 miles Southwest of Seoul (at least an hour and a half drive depending on traffic). What is now Camp Humphreys began as Pyeongteak Airfield in 1919 by the Japanese during their occupation of Korea. The Air Force rebuilt it during the Korean War and renamed it K-6, then in 1962 it was renamed Camp Humphreys in honor of CW2 Benjamin K. Humphreys of the 6th Transporation Company (Light Helicopter). Humphreys was killed in a helicopter accident on 13 November 1961 near Osan-Ni, Kyung-Gi Do, Korea. Camp Humphreys is home to Desiderio Army Airfield, said to be the busiest Army airfield in Asia.

Camp Humphreys is rapidly growing since it has been chosen as the new home for most of the nearly 30,000 U.S. Army troops in South Korea to include the headquarters of United States Forces Korea (USFK). By the time the move is complete, Camp Humphreys will spread over 3500 acres.

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Chapels

When building is complete, there will be a total of four chapels on Camp Humphreys. Here is a look at what’s been built so far and what is coming:

Camp Humphreys Main Post Chapel
Artist’s conception of the mid-size chapel being built in the Main Post area of Camp Humphreys. It is scheduled to be complete by December 2016 and will be called Freedom Family Life Chapel.

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Camp Humphreys Troop Chapel
When construction is complete there will be two of these troop chapels on Camp Humphreys. This one is expected to be named Pacific Victors Chapel, the other Indian Head Chapel.
Camp Humphreys Troop Chapel
Inside of one of the Troop Chapels on Camp Humphreys

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Camp Humphreys Chapel
This is what will be the main chapel on post when complete in August 2016. It’s located across the street from the Elementary School and is expected to be named Four Chaplains Memorial Chapel.

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Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park sits on a hill and covers about 42,900 square meters. It includes several picnic pavilions, a disc golf course, the USAG Humphreys Memorial Park and trails and walkways through a wooded area. Beacon Hill is also a protected area, having “potential buried cultural resources” from after the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). According to the sign on the hill:

The Beacon Hill area shall be preserved due to the presence of buried cultural resources. Several artifacts, such as a piece of bluish-gray celadon and a piece of white celadon, were detected at the ground surface. Also, many historical graves were scattered throughout an area 42,900 square meters (m2). Other cultural resources may be buried within the area that have so far [not] been unearthed. Developing the area should be minimized as much as possible…

Camp Humphreys Beacon Hill Park
The picnic pavilions in Beacon Hill Park were built in 1989 by 22nd KSC CO.
Camp Humphreys Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park has a nice wooded area.
USAG Humphreys Memorial Park
Located in Beacon Hill Part is the USAG Humphreys Memorial Park.

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Various Buildings

Even with over 3500 acres, space is at a premium as they build sufficient infrastructure and headquarters for the influx of troops and family members to Camp Humphreys. Many areas resemble the cities of Korea with high rise buildings and large above and below ground parking garages. Here are a few pictures of some of the buildings being built or already occupied on Camp Humphreys.

Camp Humphreys Family Housing
One of the family housing complexes. This is a cluster of three semi-high rises with underground parking.

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Camp Humphreys Barracks
Some of the semi-high rise barracks buildings
Camp Humphreys High Rise Barracks
A few more of the semi-high rise barracks buildings
Camp Humphreys Super Gym
The new Fitness Center, locally known as the “Super Gym.”
Camp Humphreys Picnic Pavilions
Picnic Pavilions outside of the Super Gym.

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BDE HQ Building
This building complex will be my new BDE HQ once completed. The taller building is for the BDE, the smaller one in front will be home to two of the BNs.

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Camp Humphreys HQ
Another one of the HQ buildings being built on Camp Humphreys…there’s a whole row of them!

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Camp Humphreys HQ
Another HQ on “Headquarters Row”

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Morning Calm Conference Center
In the distance is the Morning Calm Conference Center. Beside it is being built a large expansion of Humphreys Lodge.

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Army Aviation

As mentioned above, Desiderio Army Airfield is the busiest Army airfield in Asia. Here are a few unclassified pictures of Army aircraft.

Camp Humphreys
A couple of Kiowa Warriors
Camp Humphreys Chinooks
A group of Chinook helicopters parked on the airfield
Camp Humphreys Army Aviation
One of the fixed-wing planes operated by one of my BNs.
Camp Humphreys Army Aviation
A Kiowa Warrior taking off from the airfield.
Camp Humphreys Cobra
A mounted attack helicopter in front of a BN of the 2nd CAB.
Camp Humphreys helicopter
Another helicopter mounted in front of BN HQs of the 2nd CAB.

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Here’s a video produced by USAG Humphreys which shows much of Camp Humphreys from the air:

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There is still a lot of building taking place on Camp Humphreys, as well as in Pyeongtaek, which will provide more for Soldiers and families to do and make life both comfortable and enjoyable. Additionally, a fast-train line is being added to Pyeongtaek which will make travel to Seoul a lot quicker, providing even better access to more of what Korea has to offer.

It will be interesting to see Camp Humphreys in a few years when the transformation is complete.

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BDE UMT Hail & Farewell

An Army tradition that nearly every officer and NCO is familiar with is the “Hail & Farewell.” Hail & Farewells”  are informal gatherings, often at a restaurant, where Soldiers new to the unit are hailed and Soldiers departing the unit are farewelled. Along with food, Hail and Farewells often include games of sorts or other fun activities. Units usually do them regularly, spaced to ensure everyone is hailed and/or farewelled as they come or before they go.

At most posts, installation Unit Ministry Teams (UMT) also have regular Hail & Farewells for Chaplains and Chaplain Assistants (and their families). Occasionally, brigade UMTs also have Hail & Farewells, though they’re needed less often.

My brigade has two chaplains, a KATUSA and myself preparing to leave so we had a BDE UMT Hail & Farewell. We wanted to include the families, but didn’t want it to be a stressful time for the parents, so reserved a picnic pavillion by the “Super Gym” at Camp Humphreys. Here are some pictures of our time together:

BDE Hail and Farewell
As the BDE chaplain, I took the opportunity to share my appreciation to the chaplains, chaplain assistants and family members for all they do.
Eric is one of the chaplains leaving. I gave as a farewell gift a mounted Beomjong, since a big part of what we did together as a BDE UMT was visit the Hwaseong Fortress, which features prominently one of these bells.
Eric is one of the chaplains leaving. I gave as a farewell gift a mounted Beomjong, since a big part of what we did together as a BDE UMT was visit the Hwaseong Fortress, which features prominently one of these bells. There was a plaque on it with his name, dates of service to the BDE and a message of appreciation.
BDE Hail and Farewell
I also gave a bell with plaque to Maya, who is also leaving soon.
BDE Hail and Farewell
The whole crew, though since Brian isn’t leaving soon, he didn’t get a bell!
BDE Hail and Farewell
On the left is a bell like the one I gave my chaplains. On the right is the one they gave me. The small pink spoon tied to the left column is from Baskin Robbins. They did that because my custom on our Suwon trips was to get a Strawberry Blast.
Chaplain Corps Crest
I also gave a vintage Chaplain Corps crest to each of my chaplains.
BDE Hail and Farewell
Brian and Amiee brought smoked brisket they prepared themselves. Delicious!
BDE Hail and Farewell
Each family brought something good, which was tough for those who are leaving, with few dishes and dwindling foodstuffs!
BDE Hail and Farewell
Brian and Chris were ready with a tune!
BDE Hail and Farewell
Here’s the BDE Unit Ministry Team, chaplains, chaplain assistants and KATUSAs (though my KATUSA is missing).
BDE Hail and Farewell
Here we all are, families and all (though my family is back in the States).

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Congregation Picnic & Worship Service

One of the responsibilities of any chaplain is to contribute to the religious support mission of the garrison on which he/she serves. While in Korea I had the opportunity to pastor the Yongsan Traditional Protestant Congregation at Memorial Chapel, which is coming to a close after over 25 years due to the transformation of U.S. forces to Camp Humphreys in order to return the area now occupied by USAG Yongsan to the Republic of Korea.

One of the traditions of this congregation that took place annually for many of those 25 years was taking the worship service to a park with a cook-out and picnic following. Today was the day for this annual picnic. We had over 40 in attendance, which represented most of the congregation. There was a threat of rain, but it held off until we were through so we only dealt with the wind that kept us holding our papers tightly.

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service picnic
Congregation and choir worshiping in the park

The choir joined in the hymns and sang the anthem as well as they do in the chapel. When I first arrived in the service, I was amazed at the quality of the music for such a small congregation. Here’s a short video of the chorus of today’s anthem:

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Congregation Picnic Worship
Richard reads the Scripture.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Congregation Picnic Worship Service
The keyboard was not the same as the grand piano in the chapel, but it did the trick.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Congregation Picnic Worship
Me preaching from Acts 2 (It was Pentecost Sunday).
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Congregation Picnic Worship
The meat, buns, condiments, etc. were purchased from congregation funds. The other dishes were brought by congregation members. Many of the dishes were brought in wrapped in gold cloth. Some seemed to have something embroidered on them. Maybe a traditional way of carrying in side dishes?
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Congregation Picnic Worship
Kalbi marinated short ribs, sausages, hamburgers, and many American and Korean side dishes made for a great lunch.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Congregation Picnic Worship
Some of the men of the congregation cooking the meat.

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A Look at Suwon (수원)

Suwon is one of the Korean cities that I have visited most. It is the capital of Gyeonggi-do, which is South Korea’s most populous province. Suwon is located about 30 kilometers south of Seoul, South Korea’s capital, and has a population of over 1 million. Traditionally it was known as “The City of Filial Piety” and is home to the Hwaseong Fortress.

Hwaseong Fortress
One of the gates of Hwaseong Fortress

Hwaseong Fortress was built as part of a planned city constructed by King Jeongjo, the 22nd monarch of the Joseon Dynasty. It served as the southern gate of the capital city of Seoul during the Joseon Dynasty. Located in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, the area of Hwaseong Fortress served as a strategic site for military security as well as key site for commerce.

Today, Hwaseong Fortress is surrounded by many roads both small and large, in addition to the Gyeonggi Provincial Government Building, giving all the opportunity to view the scenic juxtaposition of old and modern architecture. For a quick and convenient way to visit a variety of attractions during your stay in Suwon, take a ride on the Suwon City Tour, operated by the city Government. Accompanied by guides who are proficient in English and Japanese, you’ll be able to ride in comfort as you discover some of the most celebrated treasures of the city.1

But there is much more to Suwon besides the fortress, including the Haenggung Palaces. Here are a few pictures of my walks around Suwon:

 Hwaseong Haenggung Palace
Main entrance to the Hwaseong Haenggung Palace
 Hwaseong Haenggung Palace
A view of the Seo Jandae (command post) on the hill over Hwaseong Haenggung Palace.
Hwaseong Haenggung Palace tree
This Zelkova tree in front of the Hwaseong Palace was designated a Protected Tree in 1982. It is said to be 350 years old and represents the meaning that the prime minister and two other ministers greet a benignant person under this tree so as to be engaged in right politics.
Hwaseong Haenggung Palace
A warrior demonstration in front of the Hwaseong Haenggung Palace

Suwon
One of the busy side-streets of Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

 

Suwon
An American collectibles shop in Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon
There’s a toy museum on the 2nd floor.

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon
A small traditional village museum
Suwon
A small traditional village museum
Suwon
A small traditional village museum
Suwon
A local artist who I bought some hand-painted magnets from
Suwon
One of the Buddhist temples on the weekend of Buddha’s birthday (thus, the paper lanterns).

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon
The swastika was used before the Nazis adopted it. Here, it’s used as a symbol for Buddhism.
Suwon
In Buddhism, people eat a meal with their ancestors, rather in the “presence” of ancestors. This is a statue in Suwon where I noticed a man eating his lunch.

Suwon

Suwon
Notice the heads still on the chickens. Yum.

Suwon

Suwon

 

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1 http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_4_10_13.jsp

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VTC

Video Teleconferencing (VTC) is how meetings take place when the attendees aren’t located in the same town. In the case of my command, the units are spread all over the world so in addition to holding meetings via VTC, they’re also spread all over the clock. For the meetings to take place during normal business hours where the headquarters is, they have to take place either very early or very late in some parts of the world where we dial in from.

We had one of those VTCs tonight. For it to take place at 0700 where the command is (they did come in a bit early) it had to take place at 2000 here in Korea. That’s not too late, but when you figure on a two-hour meeting, it begins to get late.

20160512_195456
Here’s a picture of the VTC screen before I was connected to the VTC. That’s me, what those on the other end would see.

Complicating the distance and time are the occasional technical problems which occur from time to time, which happened tonight. I was pulled into the VTC about 35 minutes late and my battalions down at Camp Humphreys didn’t get pulled in at all so I and my battalion chaplains connected telephonically, even though they weren’t on the VTC. Since they weren’t on the VTC, I texted them a picture and they sent me back this one, clearly excited to be there (or excited they were excluded from the VTC!):

VTC
My three battalion chaplains and one of the chaplain assistants at Camp Humphreys

Of course, I had to send one back:

VTC
Me in our VTC/Conference Room

So even with the VTC complications, we still had a good time -from a distance- while benefiting from hearing from our higher-headquarters chaplain team. Hopefully the next VTC will have fewer technical difficulties…or maybe it’s the technical difficulties that make them more fun!

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Food Critic Korea: Mr. Kebab

I recently reviewed a Turkish restaurant in Pyeongtaek, Nazar Kebab. Today I went with a couple of chaplain friends to a Turkish place in Itaewon, Mr. Kebab. It’s just a few blocks up the main road in Itaewon, on the right. On the way there, we passed 3 or 4 other Turkish restaurants that looked good, but we continued on to Mr. Kebab. It’s a small restaurant, with enough seats for about 25, though when we were there, there was plenty of room.

Mr. Kebab Itaewon

Outside of the restaurant is a Turkish Ice Cream stand, similar to the one I got ice cream from on Sunday, and wrote about in my post about Yeon Deung Hoe. I didn’t get ice cream today, though I was tempted with the baklava, but I passed on it too (for now). They also had chocolate baklava, which doesn’t appeal to me, but I’m sure my wife would have chosen it.

Mr. Kebab Itaewon

I ordered the Turkish Lamb Kebab on tortilla bread. It came with the roasted lamb, lettuce, tomato, onion and the special sauce (don’t think McDonald’s).  I’ve got to say, I didn’t think I’d find a better one than what I get at Nazar Kebab in Pyeongtaek but Mr. Kebab came through. I think it may be that there was more sauce on this one, which gave it a bit more flavor without loosing the taste of the lamb.

Mr. Kebab Itaewon

The menu includes a number of items that look really good. You can choose from fish, chicken or lamb options; choices of breads (tortilla, baguette), rice, falafels with many different combinations. For sides, you can order potato fries, onion rings or cheese sticks. For desert, you can choose baklava, as I already mentioned, but also Turkish Delight (which I’ll go back for after my weigh-in in a couple of weeks!), Turkish Ice Cream or yogurt. There’s also the normal selection of drinks, teas and coffees.

Mr. Kebab Itaewon
It was a great lunch with Sean and Jorge, two chaplain friends. Notice the Turkish-style tiles on the wall.

As it turns out, Mr. Kebab has two locations in Itaewon and apparently is affiliated with Kervan Turkish Restaurant (which seems to be more “upscale” than Mr. Kebab), with 3 locations; Kervan Bakery and Dessert Bar and Sultan Turkish Kebab House which looks to have a different variety of Turkish dishes than Mr. Kebab.

Mr. Kebab Itaewon

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