From daily The Independent in Britain:
Moon, ‘messiah’ who befriended presidents, dies
Monday 03 September 2012
A self-proclaimed messiah who befriended North Korean leaders and US presidents as his Unification Church became a worldwide religious movement has died.
The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, 92, died in hospital near his home in Gapyeong, north-east of Seoul, last night after being hospitalised with pneumonia.
Moon, who was jailed for spying and tax evasion, founded his religious movement in Seoul in 1954, after surviving the Korean War, and preached conservative, family-oriented values while advocating a multicultural religious world.
The church gained infamy in the 1970s and 1980s for holding mass weddings of thousands of followers, known as Moonies, and was accused of duping followers out of money and brainwashing children. Despite this, its popularity grew so much that its business empire included the Washington Times newspaper, hotels in the US and North Korea, a ski resort and a professional soccer team in South Korea, and a seafood distribution business.
Born in what is today North Korea, Moon said he was 16 when Jesus called on him to complete his unfinished work. …
Moon was jailed in North Korea in the late 1940s for allegedly spying for South Korea – a charge he disputed, but he rebuilt his relationship with North Korea in 1991 when he met the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung.
He said of Kim: “The two of us were able to communicate well about our shared hobbies of hunting and fishing.” …
He blamed his growing influence on America culture as the reason for his 13 months at a US federal prison in 1984-85 for tax evasion, and as he grew older he handed day-to-day control of his religious and business empire – ranging from hospitals and universities to a ballet troupe – to his children.
The church claims millions of members worldwide, although church defectors and other critics say the figure is no more than 100,000.
Moon is survived by his second wife and 10 children.