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N. Korea expresses condolences to Unification Church founder family

The national flag of North Korea (Getty)

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- A North Korean organization sent a condolence telegram Saturday to the bereaved family of Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, ahead of the 10th anniversary of his death, a North Korean website reported.

    The message of sympathy sent by the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee indicates Pyongyang maintains good relations with the religious group, which had operated car production and hotel businesses in North Korea.

    Moon, who died in 2012, was a staunch anti-Communist who also founded the political group International Federation for Victory over Communism in South Korea and Japan in 1968.

    However, Moon, who was born in present-day North Korea, also approached the socialist country, saying he was endeavoring to reunify the Korean Peninsula. He visited the North in late November 1991 and held talks with then President Kim Il Sung.

    "Dr. Moon's efforts and achievements for national reconciliation and unity, national reunification and world peace, will be remembered for a long time to come," the North Korean group said in the telegram.

    According to Segye Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper belonging to the Unification Church group, Moon said before his death that he and President Kim "exchanged brotherly bonds."

    During the talks, Moon and Kim, the founder of North Korea, agreed to promote the search for families displaced by the 1950-1953 Korean War and to support the development of economic projects in North Korea by the Unification Church group.

    The group transferred the rights to operate the car production and hotel businesses to the North Korean side for free in 2012, according to the newspaper.

    Moon sent his aides to Pyongyang on a condolence mission shortly after Kim's death in 1994. Immediately after Moon's death on Sept. 3, 2012, Kim Jong Un, Kim's grandson and current leader of North Korea, sent a condolence telegram to Moon's bereaved family in South Korea and also presented a wreath at a condolence center set up in Pyongyang.

    Established in South Korea in 1954, the Unification Church is formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. It is now led by Moon's widow Hak Ja Han Moon.

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