“죽음이란 단어는 신성한 말입니다. 슬픔과 고통의 대명사가 아닙니다. […] 지상계의 삶을 꽃피우고 열매 맺어 알곡을 품고 환희와 승리의 세계로 들어가는 때가 영계 입문의 순간입니다. 기뻐해야 할 순간입니다. 마음껏 축하하고 전송해 주어야 할 때입니다. 슬픔의 눈물이 아닌 기쁨의 눈물을 흘리고, 흘려주어야 할 때입니다. 승화식이란 이처럼 성스럽고 숭고한 의식입니다. 하나님의 품으로 돌아가 모시고 영생을 즐기러 가는 첫걸음이기 때문입니다. 새색시가 시집가는 그 순간보다도 더 가슴 떨리고 흥분해야 할 때인 것입니다.” See CSG 13.4.13: 1445 with a slightly adjusted wording. All translations from Korean are mine.
The romanisation of Korean follows the McCune-Reischauer system. Names are written according to the East Asian custom: family name precedes personal name. The romanisation of Japanese follows the Modified Hepburn System. For the conventional emic rendering of Korean names, see the Glossary of Korean Names at the end of the paper.
Officially founded in 1954 in Seoul, the Unification Movement quickly rose to become a key new religious actor in East Asia and, subsequently, worldwide, with presently some 300,000 members involved in its religious core organisation, the Heavenly Parent’s Holy Community (Hanŭl Pumonim Sŏnghoe 하늘부모님성회). The change of name was proclaimed on 8 May 2020, by Mun’s widowed wife, Han Hak-cha한학자/韓鶴子 (b. 1943), who currently heads the Unification Movement. It replaces the designation Heavenly Parent Church (Hanŭl Pumonim Kyodan 하늘부모님교단), which was introduced only one month earlier on 1 April, 2020, as a replacement for Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU; Segye P’yŏnghwa T’ongil Kajŏng Yŏnhap 세계평화통일가정연합/世界平和統一家庭聯合; previously the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity—Segye Kidokkyo T’ongil Sillyŏng Hyŏphoe 세계기독교통일신령협회/世界基督敎統一神靈協會; HSAUWC).
Cheon Il Guk is an abbreviation for Kingdom of Cosmic Peace and Unity (ch’ŏnju p’yŏnghwa t’ongilguk 천주평화통일국/天宙平和統一國). The term was devised by Mun in 2001 and has a polyvalent usage in Unificationism.
Mun “disclosed” the archangel’s actual name to be “Nusiel,” a name almost exclusively used in the Korean Unificationist oeuvre as well as by a few Unificationist offshoots. In order to avoid confusion, “Nusiel” is usually given as “Lucifer” in Western Unificationist writings.
In English-language Unificationist writings, yŏnggye is conventionally rendered as “spirit world.”
Of course, there have been many other individuals, who were serving the Unificationist community as “experts” of the spiritual world well before, such as, notably, Mun and Han’s ob-gyn Kim Sin-uk 김신욱/金信旭 (1914–2004) and the early chief Unificationist theologian Kim Yŏng-un 김영운/金永雲 (1914–1989). Yet, they either did not publish or were less systematic and detailed in their accounts.
The writings of the influential Unificationist theologian Andrew Wilson (b. 1950) have been a further popularising momentum for Yi’s “insights” among Western members in particular. Notably, in Chapter 5 of his seminal True Family Values
authored alongside Joong Hyun Park (Pak Chung-hyŏn 박중현/朴重昡), Yi’s scheme of the spiritual world is briefly delineated (Pak and Wilson 2006, pp. 185–218
; also see Wilson 2003
). Regarding Yi’s descriptions, some Unificationist scholars argue that they are merely approximations, for the spiritual world is unfathomable to human cognition (Mun 2016, p. 293
From the mid-1980s, mediumism has become an increasingly vital element of Unificationism enjoying its heydays in the late 1990s and 2000s. A few years into the post-Mun era, with the ousting of the two chief Unificationist mediums—Kim Yŏng-sun 김영순/金英順and Kim Hyo-nam 김효남/金孝南 (b. 1952)—official mediumistic activities came largely to a halt. Kim Yŏng-sun channelled Yi Sang-hŏn in particular between 1997 and 2003. Kim Hyo-nam communicated the messages of Hong Sun-ae between 1995 and 2015.
Some spirits may dwell an additional time in the physical world out of ignorance of their earthly shell’s passing. It is these confused spirits who are ordinarily referred to as “ghosts.”
The following outline draws on the “canonical” Korean understanding. As I have shown elsewhere (Pokorny 2014
), Unification thought is a vast repository of ideas encompassing great individual diversity at the grassroots level. A re-appropriation of canonical ideas is especially noticeable among Western Unificationists.
Notably, in January 1971, the spirit of Jesus was blessed by True Parents to a female member, as were, among others, the spirits of Buddha, Confucius, and Muhammad in June 1998. Yet, their relocation to the Principled Realm is still denied. In late 2008, a mediumistically received message by the spirit of Mun and Han’s first son, Mun Hyo-jin 문효진/文孝進 “Stephen” (1962–2008), circulating among American members, claimed that Jesus was eventually able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven in Heaven. This message was not authenticated by the Unificationist leadership.
Presently, Unificationist “holy days” conventionally follow the lunar calendar. Until recent years, True God’s Day was held in accordance with the solar calendar.
“흥진군은 아들격 아벨인데 […] 사탄주관권을 탕감한 승리기반 위에 직접주관권과 하나된 자리에서 영계에 갔다는 거예요. 그렇기 때문에 타락 이후 천상세계에 간 아들로서 첫째로 비로소 완성한 자격을 갖추고 갔다는 조건을 지니고 있다는 것입니다. […] 그건 지금 영계에 가 있는 영인들앞에, 지금까지 예수 앞에도 그렇고, 모든 선한 성자들 앞에도 그렇고, 심정권을 중심삼고 누가 장자로 먼저 태어났느냐 하면 흥진이가 먼저 태어났다그 말이라구요. […] 사탄은 상속을 안 해주고 자기가 겁탈하는데, 장자권 흥진이는 지상에 가진 복을 전부 다 넘겨 준다 이거예요.”
To fix a soteriological desideratum, since—like Jesus—Mun Hŭng-jin himself could not erect the Four Position Foundation, a posthumous blessing was executed forty days after the samuje
삼우제/三虞祭 (i.e., a traditional Korean post-burial ritual commonly taking place on the third day after the interment) on February 20. Hŭng-jin was blessed with the daughter of the church elder Pak Po-hŭi, Mun Hun-suk 문훈숙/文薫淑 “Julia” (b. 1963), who, to this day, enjoys a special status in the Unification Movement. Accordingly, she became one of the thirteen members of the Cheon Il Guk Supreme Council in 2014, the supreme legislative organ of Unificationism in the age of Substantial Cheon Il Guk (Pokorny 2014, p. 142
; Pokorny and Zoehrer 2018, pp. 247–52
Starting only three weeks after his death, the first of several Unificationists worldwide—the British adherent Faith Jones (b. 1945)—asserted to have established mediumistic contact with Mun Hŭng-jin. The most notorious case occurred in 1987–1988, when a Zimbabwean member—Cleophas Kundiona—was for a short time authenticated by Mun as a bodily vessel for the spirit of Hŭng-jin. Nicknamed “Black Heung Jin” by the media, Kundiona conducted revivals in various countries but was eventually ousted due to his increasingly erratic and violent behaviour (see Beverley 2005, pp. 48–49
), involving the assault on Pak Po-hŭi who was hospitalised in serious condition.
“사랑의 메시아로서 영계의 문을 연 사람이라구요.”
Until 2010 according to the solar calendar, thereafter following the lunar calendar.
Internationally, Unificationists when not employing the Korean expression generally used the term “ascension.” This did not change after the rebranding in 2011.
Occasionally, the synonymous sŏnghwa yesik 성화예식/聖和禮式 is used in Korean.
Emically, the term is occasionally rendered as “heavenly harmony.”
This category includes important Unificationists, such as Hong Sun-ae.
This category is reserved for the children of True Parents as well as certain chief Unificationist dignitaries, such as Mun Hŭng-jin, Mun Yŏng-jin 문영진/文榮進 “Phillip” (1978–1999; Mun and Han’s sixth son), Mun Hyo-jin, and, more recently, Pak Po-hŭi and Yi Yo-han 이요한/李耀翰 (1916–2019), the latter being one of the earliest followers joining Mun (1952) even prior to the establishment of the HSAUWC and holding multiple offices during his career.
Specifically among Western Unificationists, the Seongwha Ceremony has been appropriated, among others, by discarding some decidedly “East Asian features,” such as the traditional washing and clothing of the dead body (yŏmsŭp 염습/殮襲), food sacrifice, the preparation of a myŏngjŏng 명정/銘旌 etc. (see below).
While cremation was discouraged (see, e.g., Kwak 1997, p. 133
) for decades (although it was frequently practiced, specifically in Japan), Han put an end to the official recommendation against it in 2013. In the case of cremations, the ceremonial procedure has to be adjusted accordingly.
Traditional Korean funerary and mourning customs largely evolved against a neo-Confucian backdrop. The contemporary practice chiefly draws on a “Confucian-Christian interplay” (see Park 2010
Traditionally, a wooden board with seven holes signifying the Big Dipper. For the Wonjeon Ceremony, Unificationists use a septempartite board (without holes).
Otherwise, the funeral hall might be relocated to one’s home, a funeral parlour, or a Unificationist premise.
In April 2016, for the age of Cheon Il Guk, Han consecrated the four traditional Unificationist sacred items—Holy Wine (sŏngju 성주/聖酒); Holy Salt (sŏngyŏm 성염/聖鹽); Holy Candle (sŏngch’o 성초); Holy Earth (sŏngt’o 성토/聖土). To signify this supreme benediction, “Cheon Il Guk” was added to their names.
The Cheon Il Guk timeline commenced on 1 January 2013 (according to the lunar calendar) as the first day of the first month of year 1.
For the Unificationist Blessing Ceremony, see Pokorny
Formerly (but still presently seen internationally), it was deemed a requirement that men wear a white boutonnière and women a red corsage. These days, participants sometimes wear small ribbons pinned to their chest inscribed with sŏnghwa. Moreover, in smaller scale settings, the dress code is, at times, matched with conventional funeral attire (e.g., dark suits and black ties for men and dark coloured clothes for women).
Literally meaning “one hundred million times ten thousand years,” the exclamation ŏngmanse serves Unificationists as a multi-purpose jubilant shout meant to signal utmost joy, love, gratitude, and determination.
The forty-day period is deemed particularly important because upon entering the spiritual world the spirit of the deceased is thought to spend up to forty days before s/he settles.
Most of the individuals culled for the 2010 events were affiliated with the United Nations (UN)-accredited Universal Peace Federation (UPF; Ch’ŏnju p’yŏnghwa yŏnhap 천주평화연합/天宙平和聯合), the Unification Movement’s flagship organisation in the diplomatic arena founded in 2005.
It was repeated in quick succession in the United States—on 1 April (Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington); 2 April (Manhattan Center in New York); 3 April (Paris Hotel in Las Vegas); and 9 April (Waikiki Beach Marriot Resort and Spa in Honolulu)—and, following South Korea, from May, without Mun and Han being in attendance, in a number of others countries worldwide. In the Las Vegas ceremony another individual was added, namely an alleged great local “peace worker”—Reiko Kawasaki—supposedly being a descendant of Tokugawa Ieyasu 徳川家康 (1543–1616).
According to Mun, it was Haig’s military intervention in Hŭngnam 흥남/興南 during the Korean War in late 1950, that allowed him to escape the Hŭngnam labour camp. Haig therefore saved his life so that Mun could carry on with his divinely assigned mission.
Following Mun’s passing, the label “Seonghwa Festival” (sŏnghwa ch’ukche 성화축제/聖和祝祭) is reserved for his anniversary-of-death celebrations.
Later, the Seunghwa Blessing was as well issued to the forty-six drowned crew members of the Ch’ŏnan.
“이처럼 귀한 영생으로의 문을 열어주기 위해, 본인은 지난 3월 18일 뉴욕의 UN본부에서 최근에 영면한 세계적 평화 지도자들에게 승화식을 베풀어 주었습니다.”
More recently taking also expression, for example, in the form of a specialised private Unificationist funeral parlour (see https://seongwhawon.com/home
), that is, Sŏnghwawŏn
성화원/聖和苑 (Seonghwa Garden), an undertaker business launched in 2016.
Prior to the introduction of specifically assigned burial areas, interments were conducted in ordinary burial sites/public cemeteries with the respective plots being consecrated (i.e., holy salted etc.). This, of course, applies to this day for burials not taking place in Wonjeons.
The land was donated to the Unification Movement in the 1960s. Interments at the P’aju Wonjeon—divided into four burial sections—are (upon permission) reserved for family members of Mun and Han (notably including Mun’s son, Mun Hŭi-jin 문희진/(文喜進 [1954–1969] who was born out of wedlock, and whose remains were disinterred and transferred to the P’aju Wonjeon); relatives; church elders; and important adherents of high social standing. Mun and Han’s gravesite is the Garden of the Original Homeland (ponhyangwŏn), which is adjacent to the Unification Movement’s chief sacred site, the Ch’ŏnjŏnggung 천정궁/天正宮 (Palace of Heavenly Righteousness) in Songsan 송산/松山 Village, Kyŏnggi Province.
Other major international Wonjeons include, among others, the Oze reien
尾瀬霊園 in Katashina 片品, Gunma Prefecture, established in 1983. This is the chief Japanese Wonjeon, which is also the venue of the annual All Japan Seonghwa Festival (Zen’nihon seiwa shukusai
全日本聖和祝祭) (see https://oze-reien.jp/
). And the National Wonjeon Shrine at the Fort Lincoln Funeral Home and Cemetery in Brentwood, Maryland, which formally opened in 2003 (see http://www.nationalwonjeon.com/