Religious `relics` of a modern-day messiah in South Korea

A vintage Coca-Cola can, a pair of socks made from human hair, and an extremely large stuffed salmon.

AFP| Updated: Feb 18, 2016, 11:23 AM IST

Gapyeong: A vintage Coca-Cola can, a pair of socks made from human hair, and an extremely large stuffed salmon.

As exhibits of religious relics go, it`s an unusual collection, but then Sun Myung Moon, the late founder of the Unification Church was -- like him or loathe him -- an unusual man.
Revered by followers as a messiah but denounced by critics as a charlatan, Moon died of complications from pneumonia in 2012 at the age of 92, leaving behind a church noted for its mass weddings and diverse business interests.

The teachings of the Unification Church are based on the Bible but with new interpretations, and Moon saw his role as completing the unfulfilled mission of Jesus to restore humanity to a state of "sinless" purity.

His life and work are currently the focus of an exhibition at the church`s Cheon Jung Gung Museum -- an imposing, neo-classical, domed building, with a startling resemblance to the US Capitol, that sits nestled in a hillside at the church`s global headquarters in Gapyeong, South Korea.

Normally closed to the general public, the museum offered a restricted press tour earlier this week on the shared lunar calendar birthday of Moon and his widow, Hak Ja Han -- known to church members as True Father and True Mother.

The exhibition was a showcase of the couple`s "lifetime achievements", and contained what were described as numerous personal "relics," that underlined the cult of personality built up around the church`s founder over the years.Exhibits included a vintage Coca-Cola can that Moon had drunk from, shortly after his "Holy Wedding" to Han in 1960.

According to the exhibit label -- printed in Korean, Japanese and English and reading like a Biblical parable -- Moon had sipped from the can, then handed it to a follower, Kim Hwee-Ok, to finish off.

"When True Father was giving out this can he said: `This can must never be lost,` and added: `If it gets lost you will be called to account`," the label said.
"Accordingly, Kim Hwee-Ok kept it safely."

A nearby display case showed two empty fun-sized Snicker bar wrappers, carefully pressed along with a hand tissue -- the remnants of a snack Moon took during a lengthy prayer and study session in October 2007.