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