Unification Church founder Rev. Moon dies at 92

1:39 AM, Sep 3, 2012   |    comments
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Rev. Sun Myung Moon

GAPYEONG, South Korea -- Officials say the man who founded the Unification Church and built it into a multibillion-dollar business empire has died in South Korea.

Church officials say the Rev. Sun Myung Moon died Monday at a church-owned hospital near his home in Gapyeong County, northeast of Seoul, two weeks after being hospitalized with pneumonia. An official says Moon's wife and children were at his side. He was 92.

The church will hold a 13-day mourning period beginning Monday and start accepting mourners Thursday at a multipurpose gym at its nearby religious center. The church says the funeral will be held Sept. 15, and Moon will be buried at nearby Cheonseung Mountain, where his home is located,.

The patriarch and founder of the controversial Unification Church gained fame in the 1970s and 1980s for pairing up and marrying off thousands of followers at elaborate mass weddings. Critics accused the church of demanding cult-like devotion from its followers.

The church also built a business empire that included newspapers, schools, a ski resort and dozens of other ventures in several countries, including a peace institute, carmaker and hotel in North Korea.

(Associated Press)

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