October 11, 2000
Rev. Moon, North Korea & the Bushes
Moon's Right-Hand Man
Contacted in Seoul, South Korea, Bo Hi Pak, a former publisher of The Washington Times, denied that payments were made to individual North Korean leaders and called “absolutely untrue” the DIA's description of the $3 million land sale benefiting Kim Jong Il.
But Bo Hi Pak acknowledged that Moon met with North Korean officials and negotiated business deals with them in the early 1990s. Pak said the North Korean business investments were structured through South Korean entities.
“Rev. Moon is not doing this in his own name,” said Pak.
Pak said he went to North Korea in 1994, after Kim Il Sung’s death, only to express “condolences” to Kim Jong Il on behalf of Moon and his wife. Pak denied that another purpose of the trip was to pass money to Kim Jong Il or to his associates.
Asked about the seeming contradiction between Moon's avowed anti-communism and his friendship with leaders of a communist state, Pak said, “This is time for reconciliation. We're not looking at ideological differences. We are trying to help them out” with food and other humanitarian needs.
Samsung officials said they could find no information in their files about the alleged $3 million payment.
North Korean officials clearly valued their relationship with Moon. In February of this year, on Moon's 80th birthday, Kim Jong Il sent Moon a gift of rare wild ginseng, an aromatic root used medicinally, Reuters reported.
Because of the long-term U.S. embargo against North Korea – eased only within the past several months – Moon’s alleged payments to the communist leaders raise potential legal issues for Moon, a South Korean citizen who is a U.S. permanent resident alien.
“Nobody in the United States was supposed to be providing funding to anybody in North Korea, period, under the Treasury (Department's) sanction regime,” said Jonathan Winer, former deputy assistant secretary of state handling international crime.
The U.S. embargo of North Korea dates back to the Korean War. With a few exceptions for humanitarian goods, the embargo barred trade and financial dealings between North Korea and “all U.S. citizens and permanent residents wherever they are located, … and all branches, subsidiaries and controlled affiliates of U.S. organizations throughout the world.”
Moon became a permanent resident of the United States in 1973, according to Justice Department records. Bo Hi Pak said Moon has kept his “green card” status. Though often in South Korea and South America, Moon maintains a residence near Tarrytown, north of New York City, and controls dozens of affiliated U.S. companies.
Direct payments to foreign leaders in connection with business deals also could prompt questions about possible violations of the U.S. Corrupt Practices Act, a prohibition against overseas bribery.
Moon's followers regard him as the second Messiah and grant him broad power over their lives, even letting him pick their spouses. Critics, including ex-Unification Church members, have accused Moon of brainwashing young recruits and living extravagantly while his followers have little.
Around the world, Moon's business relationships long have been cloaked in secrecy. His sources of money have been mysteries, too, although witnesses – including his former daughter-in-law – have come forward in recent years and alleged widespread money-laundering within the organization.
Moon “demonstrated contempt for U.S. law every time he accepted a paper bag full of untraceable, undeclared cash collected from true believers” who carried the money in from overseas, wrote his ex-daughter-in-law, Nansook Hong, in her 1998 book, In the Shadows of the Moons.
Since Moon stepped onto the international stage in the 1970s, he has used his fortune to build political alliances and to finance media, academic and political institutions.
In 1978, Moon was identified by the congressional “Koreagate” investigation as an operative of the South Korean CIA and part of an influence-buying scheme aimed at the U.S. government. Moon denied the charges.
Though Moon later was convicted on federal tax evasion charges, his political influence continued to grow when he founded The Washington Times in 1982. The unabashedly conservative newspaper won favor with presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush by backing their policies and hammering their opponents.
In 1988, when Bush was trailing early in the presidential race, the Times spread a baseless rumor that the Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis had undergone psychiatric treatment. The Moon-affiliated American Freedom Coalition also distributed millions of pro-Bush flyers.
Bush personally expressed his gratitude. When Wesley Pruden was appointed The Washington Times’ editor-in-chief in 1991, Bush invited Pruden to a private White House lunch “just to tell you how valuable the Times has become in Washington, where we read it every day.” [WT, May 17, 1992].