Born: February 25, 1920 ; Died: September 3. 2012.
Sun Myung Moon, who has died aged 92, was a self-declared messiah and founder of the worldwide Unification Church. His death leaves millions of followers, often derided as Moonies, and a South Korean-based global empire of religious and business interests.
The controversial church leader believed he was chosen by Jesus Christ to continue the work of establishing an ideal world of peace and harmony. From 1961 until recently, he oversaw mass weddings at which thousands were matched with spouses they sometimes had just met and who, in some cases, did not even speak the same language.
But critics vilified his ministry as a heretical and dangerous cult, and questioned its murky finances and how it indoctrinates its followers.
Though its following has fallen in recent years, at its peak in the early 1990s it was believed to have as many as seven million adherents in 180 nations.
The day-to-day operation of the church is headed by the founder's son Hyung Jin, a Harvard-trained theologian who grew up in New York. Moon appointed his children to head the church and the Tongil Group that runs its various business interests.
Moon sought and eventually developed a good relationship with conservative American leaders such as former presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush senior.
Yet he also served 13 months at a US federal prison in the mid-1980s after a New York City jury convicted him of filing false tax returns. In later years the church adopted a lower profile in the United States, where Moon lived for more than 30 years, and focused on building up its businesses.
These include the Washington Times newspaper; the New Yorker Hotel, a midtown Manhattan art deco landmark; and a seafood distribution firm that supplies sushi to Japanese restaurants across the US. It also acquired a ski resort, a professional football team and other businesses in South Korea and also operates a foreign-owned luxury hotel in North Korea and jointly operates a fledgling North Korean car maker.
Born in 1920 in a rural part of what is today North Korea, Moon said he was 16 when Jesus Christ first appeared to him and told him to finish his work. He tried to preach in the North, was imprisoned there in the late 1940s for alleged spying for South Korea; he disputed the charge.When the Korean War broke out in 1950, he went to South Korea.
After divorcing his first wife, he married Hak Ja Han Moon in 1960. They have 10 surviving sons and daughters, according to the church.
In South Korea, Moon quickly drew young acolytes to his conservative, family-oriented value system and unusual interpretation of the Bible. He conducted his first mass wedding in Seoul in the early 1960s, and the "blessing ceremonies" grew in scale over the years. A 1982 wedding at New York's Madison Square Garden – the first outside South Korea – drew thousands of participants.
He led an active public life until recently, officiating with his wife at a mass wedding for 2500 people from around the world in March and in July leading a massive service of more than 15,000 followers.
Moon began building a relationship with North Korea in 1991, even meeting the country's founder, Kim Il Sung and when Kim died in 1994, Moon sent a condolence delegation to North Korea. The church also sent a delegation to pay its respects after the dictator's son, Kim Jong Il, died in December and was succeeded by his son Kim Jong Un.
Moon died of complications from pneumonia at a church retreat east of Seoul, where he was moved after being hospitalised in mid-August.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.