A recent mass wedding, organized by the Unification Church in South Korea saw approximately 4,000 couples from 64 countries exchanging vows in the Land of the Morning Calm.
The event, held at the church’s Cheong Shim Peace World Center in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province on Thursday, saw an additional 20,000 couples participate online from all over the world.
According to the Korea Times, the church arranged the marriages, typically cross-culturally, in accordance with the teachings of the church’s founder, Moon Sun-Myung, who believed that God does not see nationality nor skin color.
Moon’s widow and self-proclaimed messiah, Han Hak-Ja, officiated the mega-wedding, dubbed the “Blessing ceremony”.
The first ceremony of its kind was held in 1961 for 36 couples in Seoul, South Korea, just a year after the Moon’s own marriage to Han in 1960. The practice has gained much international attention, as the church often pairs couples who had only just met and barely knew each other.
One noteworthy Blessing ceremony took place in 1988, where Moon matched 6,516 Koreans and Japanese together in an effort to promote unity between the two countries. “I feel a little awkward,” said Lee Kyu Chul, a Korean computer programmer, when speaking of his marriage to his Japanese bride, Miura Kuniko. The two were unable to communicate, as neither shared a common language, but were committed to their religion and to their arranged union. “I knew from the beginning what I was getting into. I knew that it would be like this, and that’s okay. I’ll learn Japanese first and then teach her Korean.”
Founded in 1954, the Unification Church has its own scripture called the “Divine Principle or Exposition of the Divine Principle”, which teaches that the family of Moon and Han is the “True Family”. Members of the controversial church regard Moon as the Second Coming, and he and his wife as the “True Parents” of mankind. Church members generally address Rev. and Mrs. Moon as “Father” and “Mother” or “True Father” and “True Mother.”