Heung Jin Moon

Heung Jin Moon

Heung Jin Moon (October 23, 1966 - January 2, 1984), also referred to by members of the Unification Church as Heung Jin Nim or Lord Heung Jin Nim, was the second son of Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han, the leaders of the Unification Church (later renamed Family Federation for World Peace and Unification). He is officially regarded to be the "king of the spirits" in heaven (ranking higher than Jesus), now conducting seminars in heaven for departed souls who led lives of religious or political significance.

Death at age 17

In December 1983, his car collided with a jacknifing tractor-trailer on an icy highway (State Route 9 in Hyde Park, New York). According to reports from his two passengers, Jin Bok Lee and Jin Gil Lee, he swerved to take the brunt of the impact on himself, saving their lives. After weeks in a coma, he died on January 2, 1984, a day regarded as his "ascension" into Heaven by Unificationists and observed as an annual church holiday: the "Day of the Victory of Love."

Posthumous marriage

Moon's death came before his planned arranged marriage to ballerina Julia Pak, daughter of Moon's then right hand man, Bo Hi Pak. According to the tenets of Unificationism, only married couples may enter the highest level of heaven. His parents conducted a posthumous marriage ceremony three months later, February 20, 1984.

Significance of Heung Jin Moon's death

Moon explained that his son's death was a great victory as it saved his own life; that his assassination by leftist terrorists was foiled on the same day as the accident, and his sacrificial act was merely representative of a similar, longstanding frame of mind, and that there was a karmic connection between the two events.


Posthumous, widespread channeling by ordinary members

After Moon's death, many ordinary Unification Church members in various countries around the world spoke to small groups of members, saying that the messages they were conveying were from Heung Jin Moon, being received by them spiritually (see Channelling (mediumistic)). Other members said they experienced automatic writing from him, or other kinds of spiritual communications from him. Typically these messages were ones of love and support.

Members' channeling replaced by official, continuous channel

A Zimbabwean member named Cleophas was then accepted as Moon's continuous channel, and became known as "the Black Heung Jin Nim." With Sun Myung Moon's approval he toured the world visiting Unification churches in a number of countries over several months, accompanied by church leaders and security guards. Those members who confessed to certain sins received beatings; Damian Anderson (still a current Unification Church member) reports seeing him "knock people's heads together, hit them viciously with a baseball bat, smack them around the head, punch them, and handcuff them with golden handcuffs." Moon's right hand man Bo Hi Pak received a beating that was potentially life-threatening and required hospitalization. Anderson was particularly upset that top church officials and their assistants prevented people by force from leaving. Eventually Cleophas was sent back to Africa. Anderson continues, "He left the country with the FBI and other authorities after him for his brutal crimes."


Moon taught that Heung Jin Moon's death had great significance, and that he had become the leader of heaven.

Longtime president of the Korean Unification Church Young Whi Kim wrote: "They all refer to Heung Jin Nim as the new Christ. They also call him the Youth-King of Heaven. He is the King of Heaven in the spirit world. Jesus is working with him and always accompanies him. Jesus himself says that Heung Jin Nim is the new Christ. He is the center of the spirit world now. This means he is in a higher position than Jesus."

Members reportedly started receiving messages from Moon, "channeling" his spirit by speaking his words to those on earth. According to one report (see Breen reference below): "Often it was unlikely people who ['channelled' him], even people who were not that spiritual. There was a sister in Britain called Faith Jones who gave guidance from him. A Dutch brother called Gerrit van Dorsten, who had been on the New York City Tribune also did." Andrea Higashibaba, then state leader of the Unification Church of Tennessee, wrote a lengthy article in Today's World magazine detailing her encounters (in spirit) with Heung Jin Moon, leading up to a "liberation ceremony" for deceased civil rights leader Martin Luther King. Soon many members around the world were "channeling Heung Jin Nim."

Zimbabwean as "continuous channel"

Nansook Hong, ex-wife of Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han's first son Hyo Jin Moon wrote a tell-all book, In the Shadow of the Moons: My Life in the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Family, in 1998 in which she summarizes the Black Heung Jin Nim episode:
In 1987 the Reverend Chung Hwan Kwak went to investigate reports that Heung Jin had taken over the body of a Zimbabwean man and was speaking through him. The Reverend Kwak returned to East Garden professing certainty that the possession [sic] was real. The African presented himself to the Reverend Kwak as the physical embodiment of Heung Jin's spirit. The Reverend Kwak had asked him what it was like to enter the spirit world. The Black Heung Jin said that upon entering the Kingdom of Heaven, he immediately became all knowing. Without even meeting the man who claimed to be possessed by the spirit of his dead child, Sun Myung Moon authorized the Black Heung Jin to travel the world, preaching and hearing the confessions of Unification Church members who had gone astray.
He went to Europe, to Korea, to Japan, everywhere administering beatings to those who had violated church teachings by using alcohol and drugs or engaging in premarital or extramarital sex. Reverend Moon was using the Black Heung Jin for his own ends, just as he had used the American civil liberties community before him. No one outside the True Family was immune from the beatings. The Black Heung Jin was a passing phenomenon in the Unification Church. Soon the mistresses he acquired were so numerous and the beatings he administered so severe that members began to complain. He beat Bo Hi Pak - a man in his sixties - so badly that he was hospitalized for a week in Georgetown Hospital.

Washington Post staff writer Michael Isikoff reported that "Later, Pak underwent surgery in South Korea to repair a blood vessel in his skull, according to Times executives."

Damian Anderson reports seeing him "knock people's heads together, hit them viciously with a baseball bat, smack them around the head, punch them, and handcuff them with golden handcuffs" and describes the "brute force applied to stop people leaving the event, or the building, and imprisoning protesters by force and with handcuffs in isolation." Anderson was particularly upset that top church officials and their assistants prevented people by force from leaving.

Hong continues:

Sun Myung Moon simply announced that Heung Jin's spirit had left the Zimbabwean's body and ascended into Heaven. The Zimbabwean was not quite so ready to get off the gravy train. At last sighting, he had established a breakaway cult in Africa with himself in the role of Messiah.

Larry Moffitt, a church media executive, wrote:

By January 1988, working at what one account described as "an incredible pace," Heung Jin Nim in his new form conducted four special three-day conferences in Africa, then successive conferences in Greece, Thailand, Columbia, Argentina, France, England, America and the Far East. ... Heung Jin Nim conducted three conferences in the U.S.: at the World Mission Center in Manhattan, at the Washington, D.C. church, and at a church workshop site in the San Francisco Bay Area. These were attended by approximately 800 members each. He also conducted a smaller session at the church’s seminary at Barrytown, New York and several more private sessions. Most importantly, he met Rev. and Mrs. Moon and appeared to gain their sanction. According to one description, he "ran over to Father and practically jumped into his arms, saying ‘Father! Father!’ Then he embraced Mother tightly, crying, ‘Mother! Mother!’ " At the beginning of the New York conference, Hyo Jin Nim Moon, Heung Jin Nim’s elder brother, spoke in tears, stating, "I have the most reason to be skeptical, but now I know it’s my brother. Please receive him." These conferences and the accompanying worldwide tour consummated the Heung Jin Nim revival but also terminated it. By summer 1988, Rev. Moon directed Heung Jin Nim’s embodiment to return to Africa, an order that he disobeyed. At this point, there was a consensus that Heung Jin Nim’s spirit had left the embodiment and an evil spirit had taken over.

The cult Cleophas started caused tremendous difficulty for church members throughout Southern Africa. Church property was sold without HQ permission and proceeds abused by breakaway church leaders. Marriages were broken up, adultery committed in the name of Heung Jin Nim, but after Rev. Moon had decertified Cleophas as a channel.


Several views of the phenomenon have emerged. Supporters of Cleophas maintain that his channeling was legitimate, at least at first, pointing to the endorsement by Rev. Moon. Some critics do not believe there ever was genuine channeling, and fault Rev. Moon for knowingly letting the violence continue over an extended period. Hong writes:

Sun Myung Moon seemed to take pleasure in the reports that filtered back to East Garden of the beatings being administered by the Black Heung Jin. He would laugh raucously if someone out of favor had been dealt an especially hard blow. No one outside the True Family was immune from the beatings. Leaders around the world tried to use their influence to be exempted from the Black Heung Jin's confessional. My own father appealed in vain to the Reverend Kwak to avoid having to attend such a session.

Church insiders say that the legitimacy of channeling by Cleophas must be seen in light of his actions. Cleophas's church leader, or "central figure," was Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, who supported the channeling, but reportedly ordered Cleophas to sleep regularly and eat heavy meals, in order to prevent its leading to possession. There is no evidence that he complied with this order.

Rev. Moon received regular reports about Cleophas's world tour, and as such the beatings tacitly authorized by him, but supporters claim he did not know of the extreme severity of some of the beatings, and, for example, looked shocked at the appearance of Bo Hi Pak. Some church leaders and church security staff helped enforce the locking of doors and the violent coercion of members at some sessions.

Doubts about the incarnation

Cleophas could not speak Korean, recognize people Heung Jin Moon knew on earth, or remember details of Heung Jin Moon's life. Explanations were provided at the time, which were apparently sufficient at the time for most members, but others were skeptical.

Church teaching explicitly rejects the doctrine of Reincarnation. A person who dies can conduct returning resurrection by cooperating with an earthly person, but "possessing" them has no value for spiritual growth, except to "punish" evil spirits by rejecting them.


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