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Korean 'messiah' leaves behind religious and business empire (+video)

The Rev. Moon Sun-myung founded the Unification Church, The Washington Times, and a motor vehicle line in North Korea. 

Officials say the religious leader who founded the Unification Church and built it into a multibillion-dollar business empire has died in South Korea.
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The Rev. Moon Sun-myung, who called himself the “messiah” and founded a global religious movement as well as far-flung business interests, died Monday at his Unification Church complex east of South Korea's capital, Seoul, surrounded by family members and well-wishers.

Famed globally for his cult following of “Moonies” dedicated to worshiping him as a savior of mankind, the Rev. Moon came to be known for presiding with his wife over mass weddings of couples whom he had united on the basis of photographs and brief life stories. He also built up a global commercial empire, founding The Washington Times 30 years ago along with newspapers in Seoul and Tokyo and numerous other enterprises in fields ranging from publishing to tourism to fishing.

A political rightist and a religious zealot who claimed to have been ordained by God to minister to the world, Moon defied simplistic analysis and type-casting. Despite his conservatism, he passionately espoused relations with North Korea. Obsessed with his self-image, he attracted followers with calls for tolerance embracing all people.

Moon leaves behind a struggling and divided religious and business empire with tentacles spreading from Korea to Japan, the United States, South America, and Europe. The question now is whether the empire can overcome divisions among sons and daughters and regain the strength of its glory days in the 1960s and '70s as a religious and commercial force.

A prolific man

Moon’s wife, Hak Ja-han, whom he married 10 years after fleeing captivity in North Korea in the Korean War and walking 300 miles to the South Korean port of Pusan, was at his side along with many of their sons, daughters, and grandchildren when he passed away at the age of 92.


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