Jul 27, 1990


Peter Maass
Washington Post 
July 27, 1990

Jonathan Park's investment in the Nostalgia Network, a cable television channel, was incorrectly described yesterday as a controlling interest. Park owns 27.8 percent. The network also said its subscriber base has grown from 8.6 million households to 10.8 million since Park made his investment in May. (Published 7/28/90)

SEOUL -- The Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church has been spending $35 million a year to support its money-losing Washington Times newspaper and eventually plans to expand its burgeoning Washington video operations into a nationwide cable television system, according to the church's second-ranking official.

In a rare interview in his office in a church-run school here, Moon deputy Bo Hi Pak provided fresh details about the church's business affiliations -- ranging from a computer lab in Japan to a machine tool company in Germany to an Alaska fishing fleet -- that provide at least $100 million a year to support the church's activities.

And at a time when communist regimes are crumbling all around the globe, Pak said that the staunchly anti-communist Moon plans to move aggressively into China and the Soviet Union with business ventures aimed at winning both profits and religious converts for the Unification Church.

The foray into the communist world appears to be part of a broader strategy aimed at establishing a new footing for the Unification Church after Moon's tax-fraud conviction in the United States. Moon's two-year jail term, which ended in 1985, capped a tumultuous time in which his Unification Church became known as a right-wing cult accused of brainwashing some of its American members.

"They are seeking to become a mainline religion," said Spencer Palmer, a religion professor at Brigham Young University who has written about the Unification Church.

Pak is best known in the United States as the president of the Washington Times. As one of Moon's two chief political lieutenants, the former South Korean CIA official and military officer helps oversee the Unification movement's lobbying efforts on behalf of conservative causes in America and its economic projects around the world.

Pak said that the newspaper has lost about $250 million since its founding eight years ago, and he estimated that it continues to lose about $35 million a year. Nonetheless, he described the church and its component entities as "very glad to subsidize" the paper because it contributes to world peace, and he said it would not be sold or shuttered.

Another key U.S. holding is One Up Enterprises of McLean. Pak said the company owns a broad array of businesses: International Seafood, a fishing firm in Kodiak, Alaska; Atlantic Video, a production company based in Alexandria; and U.S. Property Development Corp., also of Alexandria, which recently added the 300,000 square feet MediaTech Plaza building in downtown Washington to its portfolio of real estate holdings in the area.

Atlantic and U.S. Property are both headed by Pak's son, Jonathan Park, who recently bought several small video production companies that provide footage of news events in Washington to U.S and foreign television stations, as well as a controlling interest in the Nostalgia Network, a national cable channel with 8.6 million subscribers in the United States. Eventually, Pak said, "we would like to have our own cable system," but he said the motivation was profit, not to use the electronic media as a propaganda tool.

In the area of culture, Pak is credited with bringing to Washington this fall the Universal Ballet Academy, a boarding school whose faculty is staffed by Soviets on work visas, according to Dossier magazine. While the Unification Church hopes to continue expanding its business operations in the United States, Pak said Moon's more recent focus has been toward making inroads in the communist countries where the hunger for capital and religion is particularly acute.

The church's new direction was laid down by Moon himself, who said in a speech in Moscow this spring, "I clearly envision a moral and economic renaissance for the Soviet Union that will dramatically affect the entire world. I will do all I can to encourage and support that renaissance."

A South Korean whose followers view him as fulfilling a messianic role, Moon was in the Soviet Union to address a conference cosponsored by his movement's World Media Association. While there he met for 30 minutes with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

As a result of Moon's meeting with Gorbachev, business officials and economists affiliated with the church are to visit Moscow to discuss potential joint ventures. Pak said Moon already will cosponsor a trip by about 20 American economists to lecture at Moscow State University about capitalism and is considering opening a computer-training school in Moscow.

Pak said "the Unification movement" is pouring $250 million into the sprawling Panda Motors Corp. factory in China and is seeking at least $1 billion more from outside investors to complete the plant and an industrial city in Huizhou, about 50 miles from Hong Kong.

The car factory, one of the largest foreign investments in China, is to start operations in two years and by 1995 reach an annual output of 300,000 cars for export, Pak said. Money for the project comes from church-affiliated businesses outside the United States and is being channeled through Panda's headquarters in Tysons Corner, Pak said.

The key revenue sources for the church's expansion, outside of One Up Enterprises in McLean, are believed by church members and other observers to come from businesses in Japan and West Germany. The main holding company in Japan is Happy World Inc., whose holdings include businesses with more than 100 different products or services, such as fishing, clothing and computers, said Pak. He said the most important firm it owns in terms of revenue is Tokyo-based Wacom, which Pak said was involved in computer research and manufacturing, and which produces computers sold under different Japanese brand names, such as Mitsubishi.

In West Germany, the main church-affiliated holding company is HWH Group, whose Wonder and Hansburg subsidiaries produce high-tech machinery, according to Pak.

The firms in Japan, West Germany and the United States are not owned by the church itself, Pak said, but by church members and officials, who contribute surplus funds to church-related projects. Pak said the flow of money to church headquarters in Seoul is at least $100 million annually and sometimes well in excess of that figure. The bulk of the funds comes from business profits and the balance from church membership dues. However, Pak said he could not provide a breakdown of sales and profits by business.

Those funds go to support an expensive worldwide operation for the Unification Church. In South Korea, the church and its affiliated firms employ about 13,000 people and have extensive land holdings, according to a government official with access to information about the church. The church holdings also include a high school with an enrollment of more than 3,500 students, a new college and, since 1989, a national newspaper called the Segye Ilbo, which has cost about $140 million to start up, according to a senior editor.

Pak refutes skeptics who believe the church is also laying the foundation for recruiting a wave of new members in nations breaking away from atheism. The theory is that the Unification Church views the relatively godless masses in communist and once-communist countries as ripe for conversion to a religion that made anti-communism one of its precepts.

But Pak said, "Our goal is not to win members in China. Our job is to help them by creating a model city, a model industry, so that they can come out of {their} socialistic system {and} more embrace a market system or economy."

Even so, the church has not lost its evangelical urge. Several church members have said the church has been operating a small network of underground missionaries in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and China.

In its fight against communism, one key battle that remains for the Unification Church is opening up North Korea to God and capitalism. Pak has tried but failed so far to visit one of the last places on earth where Stalinism reigns supreme, but he is continuing an effort to persuade North Korea "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung to permit church-affiliated groups to hold a media or leadership conference in Pyongyang next year.

When Moon gathered more than 50,000 of his followers at Seoul's Olympic stadium last May to celebrate his triumphant visit to Moscow, a slogan was flashed on the huge stadium scoreboard that seemed to sum up the state of things. "This time Mikhail Gorbachev," the slogan said. "Next time Kim Il Sung."

Staff writer Paul Farhi contributed to this report from Washington.