As I was coming out of the Kremlin Palace after meeting President Gorbachev, I turned to Bo Hi Pak, who had accompanied me, and gave him a special instruction. WI need to meet President Kim II Sung before the end of 1991," I told him. "There's no time. The Soviet Union is going to end in the next year or two. Our country is the problem. Somehow, I need to meet President Kim and prevent war from happening on the Korean peninsula.''
I knew that when the Soviet Union collapsed, most other Communist regimes in the world would also fall. North Korea would find itself forced into a corner, and there was no telling what provocation it might commit. North Korea's obsession with nuclear weapons made the situation even more worrisome. To prevent a war with North Korea, we needed a channel to talk to them, but we had no such channel at that point. Some how, I needed to meet President Kim and receive his commitment not to strike first against South Korea.
The Korean peninsula is a scaled-down version of the world. If blood were shed on the Korean peninsula, it would be shed in the world. If there is reconciliation on the peninsula, there would be reconciliation in the world. If the peninsula were unified, this would bring the unification of the world. Beginning in the late 1980s, however, North Korea had been working hard to become a country possessing nuclear weapons. Western countries were saying that they would stage a first strike against North Korea, if necessary. If the situation continued to the extreme, there was no telling what desperate move North Korea might attempt I knew that I needed somehow to open a channel of communication with North Korea.
It was not an easy task. Bo Hi Pak communicated with North Korean vice premier Kim Dal Hyun, but North Korea's response was firmly in the negative.
"The people of North Korea know president Moon only as the ringleader of the international movement for victory over Communism," the vice premier said. "Why would we welcome the leader of a conservative anti-Communist group? A visit to North Korea by president Moon can absolutely not be permitted."
Bo Hi Pak did not give up.
"President Nixon of the United States was a strong anti-Communist," he reminded the North Korea official. "But he visited China, met President Mao Zedong, and opened diplomatic relations between the United States and China. It was China that profited from this. Until then, China had been branded an aggressor nation, but it is now rising as the central country on the world stage. For North Korea to have international credibility, it should establish a friendship with a worldwide anti-Communist such as president Moon."
Finally, President Kim invited my wife and me on November 30,1991. We were in Hawaii at the time, so we quickly flew to Beijing. While we were waiting in the VIP lounge of Beijing Airport, which the government of China had arranged for us to use, a representative of the North Korea government came and handed us the official invitation. The official stamp of the Pyongyang government was clearly visible on the document.
"The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea extends an invitation to Mr. Moon Sun Myung of the Unification Church, his wife and entourage to enter the Republic. Their safety is guaranteed during the period of their stay in the North."
It was signed "Kim Dal Hyun, Vice Premier, Cabinet of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. November 30,1991."
Our group boarded a special flight of Air Koryo (aircraft no. JS215) arranged for us by President Kim. A special flight from President Kim had never been arranged for any foreign head of state, so this was very exceptional and special treatment.
The aircraft flew over the Yellow Sea, up to Sin-eui-ju, over my hometown of Jungju, and on to Pyongyang. The special route had been charted to let me see my hometown. My heart began to pound as I looked down at my hometown, dyed red by the light of the setting sun, and I felt numb deep in my being. I wondered, "Can this really be my hometown," and I wanted to jump out right away and start running around the hills and the valleys.
At Pyongyang's Sunan Airport, family members that I had not seen for 48 years were there to greet me. My younger sisters, who used to be as beautiful as flowers had become grandmothers entering their senior years. They grasped my hands, creased their eyebrows and began to cry wildly. My older sister, now more than 70 years old, grabbed me by the shoulder and cried. I, however, did not cry.
"Please," I said, "don't do this. It's important for me to meet my family, but I came to do God's work. Please don't do this. Get a hold of yourselves."
Inside my heart, I was shedding tears like a waterfall. I was seeing my sisters for the first time in more than 40 years, but I could not embrace them and cry with them. I maintained control of my heart, and made my way to our place of lodging.
The next morning, as has been my custom throughout my life, I awoke early in the morning, and began to pray. If there was any surveillance apparatus in the guest house, my tearful prayer for the unification of the Korean peninsula would have been recorded In its entirety. That day, we toured the city of Pyongyang. The city was well fortified with the red slogans of juche ideology.
On the third day of our visit, we boarded an aircraft to tour Mt. Kumgang. Though it was the winter season, the Kuryong Falls had not frozen and still spouted a strong flow of water. After touring all the different areas of Mt Kumgang, we boarded a helicopter on our sixth day to be transported to my hometown. In my dreams I had felt such a strong yearning for my childhood home that I felt so though I could run to in one bound. And now, there it was, appearing before me. I could hardly believe my eyes. Was this real, or was I dreaming? For what seemed like the longest time, I could only stand there, like a statue, in front of my home. After several minutes, I stepped inside. It used to be in the shape of a square, with the main wing, guest wing, storehouse, and barn built around a central courtyard. Now, only the main wing remained. I went into the main room, where I had been born, a sat on the floor with my legs crossed. Memories of what it had been like in my childhood came back to me as clearly as if it were only yesterday. I opened the small door that led from the main room to the kitchen and looked out at the backyard. The chestnut tree I used to climb had been cut down and was gone. It seemed as though I could hear my mother calling to me sweetly. "Is my little tiny-eyes hungry?" The cotton cloth of her traditional dress passed quickly before my eyes.
I visited my parents' grave site and offered a bouquet of flowers. The last time I saw my mother was when she came to visit me in prison in Heungnam and cried out loud. Her grave was thinly covered by the snow that had fallen the night before. I brushed away the snow with the palm of my hand and gently caressed the grass that had grown over her grave. The rough touch of the grass reminded me of the roughness of my mother's skin on the back of her hand.