Part 2 Husband, Son, Disciple, Diplomat
During the time he was working closely with True Parents, Dr. Bo Hi Pak told the story of his life to Today’s World magazine. In this week’s installment, Dr. Pak says more about his family life, how he met our church, and how he came to the United States as both a diplomat and a missionary. Click to read Part 1
When the war ended, I married Ki-sook Eun. Just as I was brought up in a Confucian tradition which emphasized loyalty and piety, my wife also came from the same province and county as I. Similarly, her parents and family were of strong “Yang Ban” tradition. Her father was scholarly and briefly a government official. Her family had very strict ethics and tradition. We were matched by our own parents in accordance with our customs. Without even seeing each other, we were obedient to our parents, totally trusting their judgment. It wasn’t until the engagement was finalized several months later that we were introduced to each other for the first time. From that point on, we were exchanging letters—first getting to know each other, gradually developing mutual understanding and in the end growing in love. Our marriage ceremony was conducted six months after the engagement. This is a very traditional Korean way of getting married.
At the same time, I began intensive study of the English language in Korea, and eventually returned to Fort Benning for an advanced infantry officers’ course in communications. I did so well in my studies that I impressed the American officers. Now a captain, I was assigned as an interpreter to the staff of General William Matthews, who then served as Chief of the US Advisory Forces in South Korea.
But even in light of such a promising military career, I could not forget my promise to God, who had protected me from harm during the Korean War. I began attending churches of all denominations-and there were many represented in South Korea. But I could find no religious faith that made God seem as real and immediate to me as He had the day He saved my life.
While a 24-year-old captain, I was serving as an instructor at the Korean Military Infantry School at Kwang-ju when my mother died. I felt as if heaven crumbled and the sun darkened; there was no longer a purpose for living. I was so attached to my mother. She was not ill for a long period. She just simply collapsed one day from hard work, exertion and probably malnutrition. A brain hemorrhage had occurred. She died almost instantly with her final words being, “Do not call a doctor.” Knowing how poor she was, she did not want to burden the family even at her death. When I think of that kind of mother’s devotion even now it brings tears to my eyes; it is very difficult to suppress my deep sadness. My mother died in such a horrible condition, without taking even one medication. I really adore my mother’s devotion to the family. I feel guilty that I left mother in such a condition. It is very difficult to suppress my tears. I always say I have the greatest mother, who loved me more than the whole world, more than life itself.
Meeting the Church, Receiving the Blessing
Before I met Professor Young Oon Kim in 1957, I had been a Christian for five years. But I must confess that even after I converted to Christianity, my heart was still empty and my religious fervor was not ignited. There were so many questions in the Bible which no minister was able to answer for me, such as: What is the meaning of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? How could man’s eating of a fruit become a hereditary sin? Is Christ God or man? When would Christ return? And a thousand others.
One day in the cold month of February, Prof. Kim, working in the same military compound as I, wrote to me about a “new truth” which would answer all the questions that I had. She didn’t mention Father’s name; she didn’t even mention the Church’s name. She simply invited me to come one night to hear about this great truth. I was in such a thirsty condition for truth that I immediately accepted. I listened to the Divine Principle lectures for two nights. At that time, I didn’t even know that it was Divine Principle. But the important thing was that I learned more in two nights about the Bible than ever before and all my deeply held questions were answered. It was liberation and a joy. This was a powerful truth. I had absolutely no hesitation to say to Prof. Kim that, “I have found the truth. Please bring me to your leader. I want to become a teacher of this truth. I want to learn more.”
Dr. Young Oon Kim introduced me to Father two days later in a humble church where there were no chairs, and no stove in winter. But I was moved by the fervent devotion of the members. I automatically became a member without even questioning whether I should join or not. No such question ever came to me. I was only thankful to God that he had led me to the truth; my search was over. Now only the job was ahead of us. I thanked God a million times.
As soon as I realized I had found the truth, I told my wife that I was a member of the Unification Church. She replied, “Then I’m a member of the Unification Church, too. Wherever you go I will go.” We then began to study the Divine Principle together. From day one, my wife was an exemplary member. From that day in 1957 until now, my wife and I have been completely one; we have not had even one conflict over religion. Father said of my wife: “She can be more sensitive in the spiritual senses. She will be faster in understanding spiritual things than you.” My character emphasizes the intellectual or logical side, whereas hers is more on the intuitive side.
We were blessed as one of the 36 Couples, but on March 1, 1961. The main 36 Couples’ Blessing was held on May 16, 1961. The reason was that on that day, March 1, my wife and I were to leave for Washington DC to assume my duty as Military Attaché to the Korean Embassy. On the morning of our departure, Father and Mother gave us the Blessing, and then came with us to the airport to send us off. That was one of the greatest honors I have had during my life.
Serving in America
In 1961, I returned to America with the rank of Lt. Colonel to serve as the Assistant Military Attaché. Simultaneously, I wanted to serve as an emissary of our True Parents. I became the first missionary in the Eastern part of the United States while serving at the Embassy. So at night, I taught Divine Principle in the basement of my home, establishing the first Unification Church in our nation’s capital. As hard as my wife and I tried, there never seemed to be enough time to help our little congregation grow more quickly.
Three years later, in 1964, I retired from active military service. As much as I appreciated my duty to the Korean Army, I wanted to serve my Church full time, which was now starting to grow more rapidly. I had been trained in communications while I served in the military, and I was determined to use this knowledge to help True Parents.
The Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation (later, Korean Cultural Foundation) was only the first project into which I poured a lot of my creative energy. The Foundation brought Korea’s rich cultural heritage to the world through the Little Angels’ Folk Ballet. The Little Angels soon became world famous as cultural ambassadors of good will for Korea. They performed before the Queen of England, two American presidents and over 30 heads of state around the world. They appeared at the United Nations and at The Hague to raise money for UNICEF. The Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation also established Radio Free Asia which beamed news and hope to the people of North Korea and mainland China.
In 1965, True Parents came to America for the first time. During their three month stay, they made an arduous tour of all 50 states to establish at least one Holy Ground in each state. When they weren’t traveling, they stayed at our family’s home in Arlington, Virginia. That was again a very special time and honor.
In 1971, Father and Mother came to the United States permanently. I acted as Father’s interpreter in all official and private functions, travelling together all over the country. During that time on many occasions we would go to McDonald’s for a McDonald’s party. These are such pleasant memories.
When Father and our church were hounded by the American government, the Congress and the media, I felt it was my duty to defend True Parents, my brothers and sisters, and my faith:
“I do not know how or why God has put me in this position, but if this is my destiny, I will not shirk my responsibility. I will speak what I know to be true. Then let the world decide what it must do. Rev. Moon stands for principles which he knows to be more important than life itself. And he doesn’t stand alone. We stand with him. We will fight with our lives. And we don’t stand alone; men of principle are our allies. We will fight the injustices and abuses of power of this subcommittee. We will fight to protect the good name and honor of our religious leader. We will fight for the principle of religious freedom and for the honor of America in the courts and in the Congress. We will take our case to the American people if we have to. Even then, if the law and good will of our fellow men fail us, we will fight on until God Himself comes down from His throne in Heaven to vindicate us. My final plea to all the people of this chosen nation of America is this: Do not throw away this nation’s heritage or fail your God-given mission. It is a plea we must heed for the sake of our children and all future generations.” (taken from Truth Is My Sword)
Part 3 will be posted next week.