A Friendly Biography About an Extraordinary Man Michael Breen's Sun Myung Moon: The Early Years, 1920-53

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 2, 1998 - Pages 35-48

The publication of Michael Breen's Sun Myung Moon: The Early Years, 1920-53 is something of an event within the evolving tradition of Unification historiography.[1] This is the case for three reasons. First, Unificationists are, if anything, a people who take their history seriously. Rev. Moon continually treats divine providence and its historical applications in his speeches and sermons, which now number more than two hundred volumes.[2] Wolli Kangron (1966), variously translated into English as Divine Principle (1973) and Exposition of the Divine Principle (1996) and which serves as Unificationism's chief theological text, also focuses to a large extent upon historical matters, devoting more than half of its content to a comprehensive survey of salvation history.[3] Members, likewise, are encouraged to see themselves as being responsible for "all the unaccomplished missions of past prophets and saints who were called in their time to carry the cross of restoration."[4] In this respect, a providentially-ordered historical consciousness is integral to the identity of most Unificationists.

A second and more compelling reason why Breen's book is an event is because it departs from this prevailing tradition. Within the context of Unification historiography and spirituality, events, personalities, circumstances, ideas and even chance or odd occurrences have substance, meaning and significance to the extent that they serve providential ends. Breen diverges from this tradition because he considers Rev. Moon's life in purely human terms. Put differently, he suggests that Rev. Moon's life story is of interest and compelling in its own right, regardless of whether one accepts the underlying theological premises or providential interpretations.

A third reason why the publication of Breen's book is something of an event stems from the church's seemingly cordial response to it. This raises the larger question of whether Breen's rather bold departure marks a transition in Unification historiography and spirituality. To be sure, Breen published the book independently and nowhere identifies himself as a Unificationist, thereby avoiding what might be expected of an in-house work and writer. Nevertheless, the cooperation he was able to garner from church members, including numerous principals in the account, as well as the general receptivity, or at least lack of criticism, which the volume has thus far received from the church (it is distributed by HSA Publications, the major publishing organ of the Unification Church in America, and advertised in Unification News, an official newspaper), may signal a readiness to tackle the oftentimes competing pulls of faith and history.

The volume itself is best understood as a foundational work. Obviously, it is foundational for any subsequent volumes Breen might write in taking his account forward. However, it is more broadly foundational in being the first serious biographical study of Sun Myung Moon. Most church accounts of Rev. Moon's life are constructed as 'gospels,' often rich in detail and insight but intended finally to edify or convert. On the other hand, external accounts tend to be exposes intended to vilify. Breen attempts to stake out a middle ground between edification and vilification and does so more effectively than any other biography to date. More than that, he breaks new ground in reconstructing the social, cultural and religious milieu surrounding Rev. Moon during his formative years.

These factors alone are enough to establish the volume as an important work. Nevertheless, as a foundational study and one with implications for Unification historiography, it is important to subject this book, and the pattern it establishes, to scrutiny and evaluation. This would include questions as to the work's methodology and content. Methodological questions relate to the nature of the study as biography, Breen's overall approach and orientation, and his sources. Content questions include consideration of the consistency of the work, both in outline and specific detail, with existing accounts of Rev. Moon's life, new or fresh information and departures, and the unanswered or unresolved problems that remain. However, beyond questions of method and content, the reader finally must assess the portrait that emerges. Does one know Sun Myung Moon better or more intimately for having read the book? Does the young Sun Myung Moon "live" in its pages? In the following two sections, I will describe how Breen handles questions of methodology and content. In the concluding section, I will offer an assessment.


1. Methodology

Biography is an ambiguous literary form and includes several different types. Breen himself refers to the common distinction between authorized and unauthorized biographies, noting that his "is unauthorized work." (10) He did not seek any input from his subject directly, he tells us, due to stories circulating among Unificationists of Rev. Moon's displeasure with previous efforts to depict him.[5] Another common distinction is between scholarly and popular biographies. Breen incorporates scholarly elements and a significant amount of research but acknowledges linguistic limitations and states that the "full story of this period... remain(s) to be written." (10) He simply expresses the hope that his work sheds "at least partial light on the formative and least known part of his [Rev. Moon's] life." (10-11) In other words, he makes no claim that his research is exhaustive or finally definitive.

Nevertheless, Breen approaches his subject, at least in part, as a professional historian might. That is, he attempts to confront the past on its own terms. He does not seek to impose meaning from without or occupy a privileged vantage point. He rather seeks to immerse himself in the period, bringing it to life as it was experienced. This diverges from the tendency in most church accounts to project present understandings or theological presuppositions about Rev. Moon into the past, according immense significance to what may have been obscure and unnoticed details at the time.[6]

Breen, however, claims his book is "the work of a journalist."[7] To him, this primarily means the sustained quest to be factual and objective. He, thereby, presents details "with a minimum of comment," and expresses hope that his work will "help readers in making their own assessment." (11) At the same time, having striven "to avoid hagiography," Breen contends that he is "not required to remain neutral" and, in a memorable turn of phrase, conceives his book "as a friendly biography about an extraordinary man." (11) In true journalistic fashion, Breen bases the information in the book "mainly on interviews… conducted over several years."(10) Those interviewed include "Moon's family members, fellow prisoners, and early followers, some of whom are still with him and some who later opposed him." (10) All of his sources, he tells us, were "primary" and he "took no account of commentators who did not have first-hand experience." (10) He also expresses skepticism about written Unificationist sources, most of which, he contends, were published "for the purpose of uplifting or converting audiences" and "are suspect as history." (10)

Breen, of course, recognizes that primary sources "present their own set of problems" including "dishonesty" as well as tendencies to "exaggerate their importance," to "minimize incidents which placed them or their family members in a poor light" (10), and to forget details. When sources differed, Breen judged their "relative credibility" (10) or explained their differences in endnotes. He also includes an appendix of more than one hundred Korean names which appear in the text, indicating their relationship to Rev. Moon. This is immensely helpful in sorting through identical surnames. There are, for example, twenty-four Kims, twenty-one Moons, twelve Lees, ten Paks and numerous other persons with the same last name who figure in the narrative.[8] When sources were unavailable, Breen relied on "previously published information." (10) On occasion, he exercises a kind of fictive license in reconstructing thought processes and even conversations on the basis of his sources' recollections.[9]


2. Content

Unificationist accounts of Rev. Moon's life tend to organize themselves around decisive moments and major turning points. With reference to the period covered in Breen's biography, three frequently emphasized benchmarks are Rev. Moon's birth in 1920, his "Easter" revelation of 1935 (sometimes reported as having occurred in 1936[10]), and the beginning of his public ministry following the end of World War II on August 15, 1945. Breen does not deviate from this outline but tends to downplay or qualify the significance of decisive moments. For example, in discussing Rev. Moon's birth and childhood, Breen repeats many of the stories familiar to most Unificationists but does not treat them as radical in-breakings of the Divine or signs that set him apart from his immediate village environment or attest to his future world-level significance.[11] Instead, he lays greater stress on the youthful Sun Myung Moon as a "stereotypical Pyongan Province character" and his life as being "that of the typical, poor farming family." (23) Similarly, while Breen acknowledges that the young Rev. Moon's life was "forever changed" following his pledge to take up the resurrected Christ's work, he departs from the church's "standard explanation" of a one-time divine commission and heroic religious path by suggesting that Rev. Moon's sense of mission developed over a lengthy period of time and included questioning.[12] Finally, in the period of flux immediately following World War II, Breen notes that Rev. Moon sought out Christians and "people in high positions" but asserts that there is little to suggest that this constituted a decisive starting point for a global public ministry or differed markedly from his previous activities.[13]

Thus, while not departing from the overall design of previous accounts, Breen lays far greater stress on the continuities rather than on the discontinuities between Rev. Moon and his immediate environment. In so doing, he brings fresh information to the surface. However, this is not uniformly the case. For example, there is nothing particularly new in his treatment of Rev. Moon's childhood, education, ancestry or hometown, all of which already have been well-mined. Perhaps the only real departure is Breen's identification of South Hill (or Namsan), a small rise a half mile from his home, as the site of Rev. Moon's early encounter with Jesus rather than the more majestic Mt. Myodu which overshadowed it and which is so identified in official accounts.[14]

Breen's treatment of Rev. Moon's time in Japan (1941-43) also is for the most part unremarkable. Limiting himself entirely to Korean sources, Breen appears to have made no attempt to establish contact with the Tokyo civic official, Mitsuhashi Kozo, or his family at whose home Rev. Moon boarded while a student at the technical high school affiliated with Waseda University. As a consequence, little is added to our knowledge of this interlude other than Breen's assertion that Rev. Moon traveled under the Japanese name, Emoto Ryumei, and that his two closest friends among the Korean students were both communists.[15]

If Breen's treatment of Rev. Moon's hometown and time in Japan are undistinguished, his reconstruction of the religious milieu and churches with which Rev. Moon associated during two separate interludes in Seoul more than compensates. The first of these interludes, between 1938-41, followed the young Sun Myung Moon's decision to enroll in the electrical engineering department of the Kyongsong Institute of Commerce and Industry in the district of Heuksok-dong, on the south bank of the Han River. The second, between 1943-46, followed Rev. Moon's return from Japan when he married, took employment and settled again in the same area. What is so compelling about Breen's account is the way in which it counters and fills out existing descriptions of Rev. Moon's religious path.

The conventional image of Rev. Moon during his student days, especially in Seoul, is that of one utterly absorbed in tearful identification with the sufferings of Jesus and by extension, the suffering land of Korea. Solitary all-night prayer vigils, missed vacations and visits to beggar quarters are some of the outward manifestations of his lonely quest. Rather than attempting to deconstruct this image, Breen effectively enlarges it and adds an important communal dimension by charting Rev. Moon's trajectory from his roots in the Presbyterian denomination to services at a Pentecostal church in Heuksok-dong, to a more substantial involvement with the Myongsudae Worship Hall, a branch of the newly-formed Jesus Church.[16] As the first denomination started by Koreans, the Worship Hall's emotional services which earned it the nickname of "The Crying Church" were compatible with Rev. Moon's understanding of the suffering heart of Jesus at that time.

Rev. Moon's second sojourn in Seoul is marked by his association with Kim Baek-moon’s Israel Jesus Church.[17] Kim's group was an offshoot of the Jesus Church and several spiritualist groups which reflected revived national sentiment, emphasizing Korea's role in God's providence. Unificationist accounts claim Kim Baek-moon was to play a "John the Baptist" role, connecting Rev. Moon to Korean Christianity, but are generally sketchy as to details. Breen is more specific, noting that Kim's Seoul congregation, though small, "around fifty people," nevertheless, "comprised many intellectuals and other influential figures" including the wife of the owner of the Chosun Ilbo, Korea's main daily paper, and the wife of Lee Bom-sok "who in 1948 was to become Korea's first prime minister." (68) Breen also notes that Kim received "continuous revelations concerning Korea's apparent role as the new chosen country," (69) a point which Rev. Moon would develop in his teaching.[18]

Breen adopts a moderately revisionist stance in discussing Rev. Moon's break from Kim's group and departure north to Pyongyang in June 1946. Unificationist tradition, emphasizing the decisiveness of the break once Kim Baek-moon could not respond, recounts that Rev. Moon received a sudden revelation while out buying rice for his wife and newly-born son that "he should immediately go to North Korea." Breen questions the suddenness of the call and suggests that Rev. Moon "may have wanted to go to North Korea anyway." (70) He also conveys a different picture of the departure, asserting that on June 5, 1946, Rev. Moon joined Kim Baek-moon and several of his followers who were traveling to Pyongyang for a revival meeting. Thus, rather than a lone figure going north against the flow of thousands fleeing south from the solidifying communist regime, Breen contends that Rev. Moon joined Kim's party at Munsan where they took a train to Kaesong, "sneaked across the border to the next station and caught the train for Pyongyang."[19]

Breen's account of Rev. Moon's activity in Pyongyang, then a dynamic center of Korean Christianity, his arrests and torture by communist authorities, his encounter in prison with the "In-the-Belly Church," which had highly specific messianic expectations, and his trial and his sentencing, does not depart in any significant way from existing sources. However, Breen's chapter on Rev. Moon's time at the Heungnam "Death Camp" (1948-50) adds significant detail and is an important contribution. Drawing on interviews with eight camp survivors, only one or two of whom ever became followers, Breen manages to corroborate Unificationist accounts while deconstructing some of their more excessive claims. For example, he notes, "Of the labor camps in north Korea at the time, Aoji Coal Mine in North Hamgyong Province," not Heungnam, "was considered the most severe." (90) He also contends that of Rev. Moon's twelve "disciples" in prison, only two "understood [him]... to any extent" and that the rest could be defined as such only in a broad, symbolic way. (102, 179-80) Breen points out as well that prisoners were allowed four gallon tubs of rice powder by which they supplemented the meager prison diet. (104)

Breen's account of Rev. Moon's release from Heungnam is of note as, in his words, it differs from the "standard version taught to Unificationists." (181) According to the standard version, "South Korean troops liberated the camp, just before Moon was scheduled to be called out for execution." (181) Breen recounts a different scenario according to which guards attempted to march prisoners in groups of twenty north to Aoji Prison Camp. However, realizing that their prisoners' weakened state would make this impossible, the chief guard of Rev. Moon's contingent elected to release them outside Hamheung, northwest of Heungnam, after securing promises from the prisoners to come back once the war was over and finish their sentences! (111-112)

Following his liberation on October 14, 1950, Rev. Moon returned to Pyongyang, a ten-day walk, and attempted to recontact followers, many of whom had deserted him or were missing. Just before Chinese communist forces took Pyongyang, he fled south with two followers, one of whom had a broken leg, and joined the refugee trail, making his way by a torturous circuit to Pusan at the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. Breen's account does not differ materially from existing sources except that he tends to reduce the superhuman quality of Rev. Moon's exertions. In an often-cited episode, one account maintains that Rev. Moon carried his broken-legged companion (symbolizing broken humanity) on his back two-and-one-half miles across an ocean inlet at low tide to an island in the vain hope of catching a ferry south. Breen treats the incident more matter-of-factly, setting the distance at a "few hundred yards." (130) Although Breen notes several instances of Rev. Moon's spiritual insight and even clairvoyance, he avoids casting any of them in messianic terms. For him, simply avoiding advancing North Korean and Chinese forces, South Korean vigilante-style village patrols, and American warplanes that attacked presumed infiltrators among columns of refugees was miracle enough.

Breen's concluding chapter, which recounts Rev. Moon's new beginning in refugee-swollen Pusan (1951-53), brings together a number of strands in the narrative and serves as a recapitulation of much that had gone before. There, Rev. Moon again meets family members from his home village, acquaintances from his student days in Seoul and Tokyo, disciples from his aborted mission to Pyongyang, and at least one fellow prisoner from Heungnam. Some of them follow and became part of the nucleus that would become the Unification Church. Others continue to reject him. Undoubtedly, Rev. Moon's most painful and problematic reunion was with his wife and then six-year-old son, with whom he had been separated and out of contact since 1946. Here, Breen is more forthcoming about the alienation, acrimonious encounters and saltiness of language than would be the norm in most Church accounts. The irony, of course, is that Rev. Moon's group was coalescing just as his marriage was breaking apart.

Here, just prior to the formal establishment of the Unification Church, Breen ends his narrative. As previously noted, he makes no claim that his account is the "full story" of the period, and at several junctures he raises questions that his research has left unanswered. Some of these, such as whether Rev. Moon's early Confucian (so-dang) education lasted four or seven years, are minor, factual, and mostly covered in footnotes. Other questions are more interpretive and have a substantial bearing upon how we understand Rev. Moon's early years. Breen, for example, is unsure why Rev. Moon decided to marry in November 1943 and unclear how it connected to "the next stage of his spiritual path." (62) He also raises a number of unsatisfactorily answered questions about the relationship and ultimate split with Kim Baek-moon, abbot of the Israel Sudowon and Rev. Moon's putative link to Korean Christianity. Breen states,

What we do not know is how seriously Kim acknowledged Moon's 'wisdom.' Did he see Moon as a gifted student—clever, but inferior to himself? Or did he not even see Moon as a student?… On the other hand, was Kim perhaps too consumed by his own spiritual search to recognize the spirituality in Moon, which had impressed the other members of the group? Or did he indeed recognize it, and feel threatened by it? Or, in the end, was there just a predictable split between two inspired men? (70)

Even more fundamental are unanswered questions as to Rev. Moon's self-understanding, or what might be termed his 'inner history.' Breen notes that his narrative "was not written with a conscious view to making Moon's spirituality more accessible to his followers." (11) Thus, while he raises questions about Rev. Moon's encounter with Jesus and his sense of public mission, he scarcely touches the question of Rev. Moon's messianic consciousness.[20]


3. Assessment

Breen's study deserves recognition as a serious biographical effort that seeks to establish a middle ground between hagiographic inside accounts and external attacks. It also makes several positive contributions to our understanding of the formative influences in Rev. Moon's early life. Nevertheless, the book finally fails to satisfy. It fails first because the middle ground it seeks to establish does not address the fundamental concerns of either those who regard Rev. Moon as the embodiment of their faith or those who regard him as a menace to society. It fails second because the formative influences and circumstances it describes do not illuminate the young Sun Myung Moon's soul or even the less immediately accessible portions of his personality. I will seek to substantiate these assessments in this section and to explain why Breen's volume is not as successful as it otherwise might have been.

In his Preface, Breen acknowledges that "many non-Unificationist readers have serious and genuinely-held concerns about the impact of Moon's teachings." (11) Yet he makes little if any effort to address their concerns. Rather, after a token summary of Rev. Moon's several arrests and assorted other problems, he announces,

[T]here are two Sun-myung Moons, the widely-known disturber of society, and the man who does not want to hurt God's feelings. This book is about the lesser known man. And it should be, for if religious leaders are remembered, it is for their faith, their convictions and how those were expressed in their life and in the lives of their followers, not for the people they upset. (9)

Although possessing a certain rhetorical flair, this passage essentially dismisses widely-held public perceptions and those holding them. It also elevates religious leaders, Rev. Moon included, to a privileged and rarefied status whereby all that really matters is their or their followers' faith and convictions. Such an approach can only be regarded by those outside the Unificationist circle as one-sided and soft. It also makes for questionable history or biography. Thus, while Breen tones down the didacticism and some of the more extreme claims in Unification texts, he offers a semi-secularized, journalistic version of the same plot line. In this respect, his work transcends hagiography but not apologetics.

Breen's 'middle ground' has no more place for distinctive Unification teachings about Rev. Moon than it does for the allegations of critics. For while Breen is content to treat the young Sun Myung Moon as authentically "spiritual" or even "extraordinary," he stops short of any explicit acknowledgment of him as the Second Coming of Christ, which of course is the crux of the matter for Unificationists. More than that, he dismisses accounts that so depict Rev. Moon, terming them "suspect" as history. Thus, Breen gives as little credence to insider treatments which type Rev. Moon as the Lord of the Second Advent as he does to external attacks which depict him as a social menace. Breen maintains that his biography is not "neutral" but "friendly." However, any approach which isolates facts from faith or sets facts and faith in opposition can only be regarded by Unificationists as self-defeating. For most insiders, it would make little sense to gain credibility at the expense of losing transcendence.

Breen's failure to address the fundamental concerns of Rev. Moon's critics and followers is exceeded by his failure to probe very deeply into the young Sun Myung Moon's character. Biographies typically afford authors the opportunity to explore intricacies of personality, sometimes in minute detail. This is not the case in Breen's book. Instead, the narrative and setting take precedence. Although Breen did not have direct access to Rev. Moon, he had ample exposure to his contemporaries, to Rev. Moon's voluminous speeches (admittedly, much of them retrospective), a wide variety of church documents, and secular commentaries. Nevertheless, there is in Breen's account a conspicuous lack of interpretation, much less penetrating insight. Breen himself notes that he presented "details with a minimum of comment." (11) There is very little effort to penetrate beneath the surface, very little sense of development, complexity, points of tension or nuance—elements fundamental to living human experience. Thus, despite Breen's assertions about making "a spiritual man human," (11) the youthful Sun Myung Moon remains more persona than person. He is accessible only indirectly at best though the testimony of interviewees, some of whom stand out more distinctly than the book's central figure. Breen contends that "when the dust has settled, Sun-myung Moon will be remembered primarily for one lesson… that God has passion." (9) The irony here is that the Rev. Moon of his account is largely passionless.[21]

The main reason Breen cannot be more forthcoming about Rev. Moon is because he is not forthcoming about himself. Breen's persona is that of a journalist, and the reader is allowed not much further access. This is unfortunate, as Breen does not own up to the struggle in his own person between being a journalist and a believer. Had he done so, he would have been in a better position to explore ambiguities and tensions in his narrative. As it stands, he goes wholly over to the journalistic side. Even at that, there are some surprising suppressions of fact. For example, Breen does not let on, either in his text or footnotes, that Park Chong-hwa, his chief informant for Rev. Moon's "Death Camp" experience, return to Pyongyang, and journey south, was a highly questionable source, having drifted on and out of the church on numerous occasions and having penned a scurrilous account of Rev. Moon's early ministry in 1993.[22]

Apart from being more explicit about his and his sources’ motivations, Breen would need to demonstrate a significantly greater command of church literature, which is rapidly proliferating, for his biography to be even provisionally definitive. Beyond that, diaries, journals, and letters which are as yet inaccessible will provide the grist for much future historical reflection. Nevertheless, Sun Myung Moon: The Early Years, 1920-53 is an important contribution. Breen's exhaustive field work and interviews provide independent corroboration of many details in Rev. Moon's early life and thereby lend a stamp of authenticity to events which otherwise might be questioned. The book also turns up some useful leads for others to pursue.[23] Finally, Breen's boldness in conceiving the project and perseverance in bringing it to completion deserve commendation and imitation. It is to be hoped that he carries his account forward.


[1]. To some extent, Breen's biography has become overshadowed by the publication of Nansook Hong's, In the Shadow of the Moons: My Life in Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Family (New York: Little, Brown, 1998). Hong's volume is an expose by the divorced wife of Rev. Moon's eldest son. Although it has garnered a degree of publicity, Breen's study is of more long-term significance for Unification historiography. For a general discussion of historiographical themes in Unification thought, see my "Writing History and Making History: Practical Applications of Unification Thought's Theory of History" in Theodore T. Shimmyo and David A. Carlson, eds., Explorations in Unificationism (New York: HSA-UWC, 1997), pp. 171-81.

[2]. The complete set is available only in Korean. Work has begun on an English translation. Individual speeches published under the series title, "Reverend Moon Speaks" are available through HSA Publications, 4 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036.

[3]. Exposition of the Divine Principle (New York: HSA-UWC, 1996) devotes more than half of its text (236 out of 411 pages) to the history of "the providence of restoration."

[4]. Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. 187.

[5]. These stories included reports "that Moon had once taken a hammer to a statuette made of him by a follower, and declined to cooperate with a request by a Japanese follower to do a biography." (10)

[6]. This, of course, is a common practice in religion. The New Testament and writings of the early Christian apologists afford good examples of mining Jewish prophecy and tradition for proofs of Christ's divinity. One can see the same tendency in Islam as well as in numerous restorationist movements.

[7]. Front piece and cover material from Breen's book describe him as a consultant and writer who first went to Korea as a correspondent in 1982, covering north and south Korea at different times for The Washington Times and The Guardian. He was president of the Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club for three years.

[8]. Breen reports that there are 275 Korean family names and 3,349 clans. All of the 400,000 or so Moons in South Korea belong to the same clan (162 n. 2).

[9]. These reconstructions are distracting for the most part, more creative writing than solid reporting. See p. 179 n. 24.

[10]. The problem here stems from the Korean method of counting age. In contrast to the Western pattern, a Korean child is considered to be one-year old at birth. Some commentators who did not understand this, but knowing that Rev. Moon claimed to have had his encounter with Jesus when he was sixteen, concluded that his Easter revelation occurred in 1936, sixteen years after his birth in 1920. Breen reports that "On May 17, 1935 ... Jesus appeared to him" (31). See also Breen's discussion of that date in relation to Easter. (166 nn. 9-10)

[11]. Some Unificationist accounts mention golden birds and mandarin ducks which came to a tree in front of Rev. Moon's parents' house three years before his birth (see "Father's Course" for 21 day seminars, CARP, n.d., 1). Breen notes the same incident but questions whether it was a real bird or a "phenomenon" which Rev. Moon's aunt "saw." (19) The CARP account also mentions "revelations" through dreams which several of Rev. Moon's relatives received concerning his birth. Breen recounts a fortune teller's prediction that 'a great man' would be born in the Moon clan but states that the seven Moon households in Rev. Moon's village, "which were in a permanent baby boom, did not know which pregnant mother was being referred to and did not argue the point." (19) Some accounts connect Rev. Moon's birth to aspects of Korean history, especially the March 1, 1919 Independence Movement which is understood to have set the condition for Rev. Moon to be conceived. Breen notes Rev. Moon's unyielding will as a child and recounts the prophetic utterance of his uncle who remarked, "That boy will either become a king or a terrible traitor," (23) a comment also recounted in other narratives.

[12]. Breen cites Lee Yo-han, director of the church seminary in Korea and a longtime follower, on this point. (166 n. 10)

[13]. See pp. 64, 66, and 171-72 n. 13.

[14]. Breen cites Footprints of the Unification Movement, vol. 1, (Seoul: HSA-UWC International, 1996), p. 20 as the official source. (166 n. 8) Here, Breen expresses a minority view based on his interviews.

[15]. See pp. 48, 57. Takaaki Aikawa asserts in the Japanese Christian Quarterly (Spring 1975), p. 115, that Rev. Moon had the Japanese name of Tatsuaki Kawamoto.

[16]. Breen recounts the patriotic activities of Moon Yoon-kook, Rev. Moon's uncle and a Presbyterian minister who sold a good portion of the Moon family land to support Korea's government-in-exile during Japanese occupation. He also recounts the conversion of Rev. Moon's immediate family to Christianity, offers background information about the Jesus Church of the charismatic evangelist Lee Yong-do, and breaks new ground in covering Rev. Moon's religious involvements in Seoul. (20-22, 28-30, 41-46)

[17]. Kim Baek-moon 's group is more commonly known as the Israel Monastery. Kim maintained a church in Seoul and a retreat in the countryside north of the city. (67-70).

[18]. See especially Exposition of the Divine Principle, pp. 399-407.

[19]. See Breen's account of the variant versions on pp. 70-71 and p. 173 n. 31.

[20]. I discuss this question and category in "Rev. Moon's Messianic Consciousness." Paper delivered at the International Religious Federation for World Peace's Conference on Founders and Shapers of the World's Religions, Washington, D.C., November 1997.

[21]. Breen's Sun Myung Moon is nearly always controlled and serenely above the fray.

[22]. Park Chong-hwa's Six Marias was published in Japan. Some unpublished manuscript editions exist in English. Park alleged that Rev. Moon engaged in ritual sex practices during the early 1950s. Later, he stated that the allegations were untrue and that he had written the work in anger over being ignored by the church.

[23]. Breen, for example, suggests that minutes of Rev. Moon's trial in Pyongyang which resulted in his "Death Camp" sentence may be among the tons of documents seized by American forces and stored in boxes in the U.S. National Archives, "where they remain, largely unsorted." (176 n. 28)