Arts Desk

Why Are Area Koreans Incensed by a Children’s Dance Concert? (Hint: The Rev. Sun Myung Moon)


For the past month, the Fairfax, Va., office of the Chosun Ilbo, one of the three major Korean-language newspapers in the Washington area, has been flooded with angry phone calls. Readers have demanded to know why the paper is sponsoring a four-day concert at the Kennedy Center that begins tonight and features a Korean children’s dance company called the Little Angels. “Too many calls,” sighs reporter Hyun K. Park, who estimates receiving more than 50, adding that most of the callers are from the dozens of Korean churches that dot Northern Virginia’s Korean corridor, stretching from Annandale to Centreville.

It seems odd that a concert featuring kids performing Korean folk ballads should arouse such ire. And the Chosun Ilbo (actually, its parent company) isn’t exactly going out on a limb by sponsoring the event. Many of the South Korea’s largest conglomerates—Samsung, LG, and Lotte among them—are listed as supporters. Ads for the concert are in regular rotation on Korean cable channels KBS and MBC. The Little Angels press release features glowing endorsements from South Korean President Lee Myung Bak and several U.S. political figures, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and former President Bill Clinton.

Bob Selle, the public-affairs director for the Little Angels tour, says the concert is part of “a thank-you tour to express the gratitude of the Korean people to the 16 nations and their soldiers who fought in the Korean War. The Little Angels decided to arrange this tour under the inspiration of their founder, Reverend Moon.”

Ah. That would be the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial leader of the Unification Church, for which the Little Angels have served as cultural ambassadors since 1962. This would explain the angry calls, as well as how an otherwise obscure and ad hoc group called the Korean War 60th Anniversary Memorial Committee could afford to rent the Kennedy Center’s Opera House at a cost of $83,160 for the four nights.

The most vocal and tenacious leader of the protests has been the Rev. Jang Y. Lee, minister of the Virginia Korean Baptist Church in Fairfax Station. “Other ministers calmed down,” and stopped calling, says Chosun Ilbo reporter Sung Han Kim. “But not Pastor Lee.” Yet as with many in the tight-knit community, Rev. Lee is on friendly terms with the journalists he has been lambasting on the phone, and agreed to sit down for an interview at the offices of the Chosun Ilbo.

Swimming in a too-large tan suit with shoulder pads and sporting a thinning grey pompadour, the 59-year-old Lee could pass for a villain in a 1990s Korean gangster movie. But once he opens his mouth, he feels like more of an Asian Glenn Beck.

Rev. Lee sees communists everywhere. These include the last two presidents of South Korea, Roh Moo Hyun and Kim Dae Jung–the Nobel laureate known as “Korea’s Nelson Mandela” for being imprisoned and targeted for death by South Korea’s previous military regime. Before coming to the United States, Rev. Lee was, in fact, chief editor of the monthly magazine of South Korea’s Anti-Communist Association.  He now splits his time between his church and the American and Korean Friendship National Council, an organization he founded and on whose board Christian-right leader Pat Robertson sits.

So why is Lee upset by dancing 8-year-olds? “Because Moon is the Antichrist,”  he explains. Unification theology, which holds that the Korean peninsula is the holy land and the Rev. Moon is the second coming of Christ, is widely considered heretical by Christians like Lee.

But Lee’s second accusation against Moon is more surprising: that he’s a North Korean sympathizer. Originally from the North, Moon was jailed and tortured by that nation’s Communist regime before fleeing to the South. As his church grew from a single cardboard shed in a refugee camp in Pusan to Japan, the U.S., and other countries, so, too, did his fortunes, which he has used to bankroll conservative political activities worldwide. Moon took out full page newspaper ads defending Nixon at the height of the Watergate scandal, and in 1982 he founded the Washington Times, into which Moon reportedly dumped $2 billion without ever seeing a profit, before finally putting the paper up for sale last month.

Yet the Rev. Lee might have a point. Moon’s politics have softened in his old age, as he’s tried to position himself as a peacemaker between the two Koreas, still technically at war. In 1991, he made a homecoming pilgrimage to the North, meeting Communist former President Kim Il Sung and negotiating a hotel-investment deal that injected millions of dollars into the cash-strapped regime. The Kim dynasty has reciprocated, building a shrine at Moon’s birthplace in Jeongju. When Moon turned 80, Kim Jong Il sent him a birthday present of wild ginseng.

The Little Angels concert is billed as a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.  Sixty-year anniversaries are particularly important in Korean numerology, so the tribute in itself is not unwelcome. But the Rev. Lee’s and other Korean congregations consider a concert to be an inappropriate means of remembering a normally solemn occasion. Says Lee, “On Memorial Day, we pray to God. Very sad. But singing, dancing—no good.”

And coming on the heels of North Korea’s March sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, which killed 46 sailors, the timing of the concert is especially bad. Yet it’s unclear how far the controversy will extend. Asked whether he plans to hold demonstrations against the Unification Church or the Kennedy Center, the Rev. Lee is coy. “I have a short-term plan,” he says, smiling. “But I don’t want to tell you.”

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  • Julia Okamoto

    Doesn't Rev. Lee realize that Rev. Moon has done much to fight against communism. In the 80's he conducted seminars to educate people on the flaws in the communist doctrine. However he has reached out to Nth Korea in the spirit of hating the sin but loving the sinner which is what Jesus taught us.

    If he doesn't like the tribute to the veterans why does he not do something to honor them himself instead of blasting someone who is doing a great thing just ask the vets who participated.

  • mm

    "Peacemaker" my rear.

    That would now primarily be through his front organization, the Universal Peace Federation, which the Moon organization lies about its true purpose; at least until recently when Moon’s son stated that all front organizations created by Moon, like the UPF and the Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP) have one main purpose and that is to promote Sun Myung Moon as the messiah. That's true. All member's know this is the underlying purpose of everything they push/create including the Little Angel's tours.

    The UPF’s primary directive is to cajole the United Nations into letting the religious guide the world through it. This is one aspect of Moon’s "messianic" mission and in keeping with the 3rd finding of the congressional investigation of Korean influence on the US political system. Congress's final report is known as the "Fraser Report" after the committee chairman. That 3rd finding states Moon’s intent is to create a world theocracy under his organization’s guidance. Moon says there is no difference between himself and God. Moon = God. So when the UC says anything while referring to "God’s will," make no mistake, they mean Moon and his organization’s will.

    The claim that Moon is "anti-communist" – something our grossly uninformed-about-Moon media repeats often - is very misleading at best. In fact, Moon doesn’t care for “American-style democracy” either but that is rarely mentioned. He wants to replace democracy with his brand of theocracy called "Godism" where the world does as God(Read: Moon) wishes.

    The Little Angels were used by Moon a lot in the 70s to open doors for Moon’s influence. They were the ice breaker for Moon to meet and acquire one of his all important photos taken with Ike at his side.

    Search "Freedom of Mind Fraser Report" and you will find an extensive pdf of the Fraser committee's report. There you will find some information on the Little Angels. Though some plans were refined and organization's names changed, the Fraser Report is still an excellent template to outline Moon and his origination’s intentions and strategies.

    Based on the various groups willing to promote these events, Moon’s strategies have proven sound once again.

    I don't know if Moon is "the" anti Christ, but he is most certainly "anti" Christ no matter what his followers say. Moon teaches the Jesus failed in the mission He was sent by God to fulfil. Moon performed a ceremony marrying Jesus to living person so that Jesus could get into heaven. Yes, to Moon, Jesus can't tie His shoes without Moon's help. Moon married Muhammad to help him out also. Now they claim Jesus serves Moon's dead son in the "Spiritworld." Recently the head of the UC stated that Jesus, Muhammad and all of history's religion founders, all Saints and sages from the past, all bow down to Moon.

    Did anyone mention that the UC makes much of its money for its worldwide "projects" by swindling widows in Japan?

    search: "Spiritual Sales Japan"

  • mm

    Here are some excerpts from the Fraser congressional investigation's final report - this should not be just some Koreans incensed, all American should and would be if they were informed:

    Alan Tate Wood, a former UC member who had been president of the FLF [Moon political front], described to the subcommittee some of Moon's political ambitions and activities. He said that Moon, through the UC and its numerous front organizations, wanted to acquire enough influence in America to be able to "dictate policy on major issues, to influence legislation, and move into electoral politics." In the United States, the political goals of the UC and those of the KCIA "overlap so thoroughly as to display no difference at all." Wood also charged that Moon was violating U.S. laws by importing aliens to raise funds and that fundraising by UC members was often done under false pretenses.

    Another witness, Robert Roland, described his friendship with Pak Bo Hi when Pak was a military attache at the Korean Embassy in Washington in the early 1960s. According to Roland, Pak was then engaged in intelligence liaison work and was also proselytizing for Moon and the UC. Pak told Roland of his plans to use the KCFF and one of its projects, the Little Angels, to advance Moon's cause, as well as to help the Korean Government. ...

    Activities in cultural, academic, and other fields are ultimately designed to create political influence and temporal power. Cultural and educational projects are part of his organization's overall goal of controlling major institutions in the U.S. and other key nations and influencing political decisions and policies. In a January 1973 speech, Moon spoke of the necessity of establishing universities in seven key nations, including the U.S., and of organizing international conferences at which cultural groups like the Little Angels would perform." He made it clear that influencing professors, scientists, and economists would be followed by direct influencing of political figures ...

    "It is hoped that the future will allow sponsoring a Korean dancing group in various cities as a means of bringing the Divine Principles to more people and to thus further the unification of World Christianity." ...

    Robert Roland testified that Pak hoped the Little Angels would "create influence for their movement, and also for the Korean Government." A passage from the June 15, 1965, issue of the UC's New Age Frontiers described the Little Angels as "a group of Divine Principles children who perform traditional Korean dances." In later years, the Little Angels were officially sponsored by the Korean Government on world tours; also in later years, Moon's connection with the Little Angels and his increasing use of them to further his own purposes became more apparent.

  • curmudgeon grandissimo

    it's a good thing moon will be dead soon and that his incompetent children and the phony fascist zen priests from japan that spoiled and tutored them all these years will hurl the pieces of this abomination apart soon and in their greed and jealousy of each other shoow whatever membership is left how wrong they have been in giving thier allegianece and labor and faith to these gangsters and hucksters all these years.

    if ;you don't like moon, avoid mitsubishi too--they support whale-hunting and sun myung moon thru takahashi-kun nad the japan foundation.