Father in Danbury — An Interview with Peter Kim
October 16, 1984
Mr. Peter Kim (Korean name: Hol Yol Kim) joined the Unification Church in 1965. For two-and-a-half years he was a pioneer and church leader. In 1968 he transferred to the cultural department in Seoul as a magazine editor under Mr. Kwang Yol Yoo. It was in March 1970 that True Mother called him and asked him if he would come and help take care of Hyo Jin Nim, who was then a first grader. Mr. Kim has stayed with the True Family ever since. He says:
Being with Father and Mother and True Family is truly a privilege and a unique experience… Sometimes it’s very difficult for me to judge situations from the True Parents’ point of view, because my knowledge and experience are so limited. Usually we can’t see beyond certain facts and realities. Many times Father’s and Mother’s desire and ideals involve something much deeper than the reality that appears on the surface.
Mr. Kim says that by now he has found a better way to deal with all the events that surround Father’s family.
Yet without prayer and concentration on his mission that understanding would not have developed.
In the following interview, Peter Kim shares his observations of Father in prison.
Question: You were asked to organize visitors who want to meet with Father at Danbury. Can you describe your task there in more detail?
As an individual and also as a member of Unification Church I feel greatly responsible for Father’s incarceration. I have rented a small condominium right there in Danbury, and my main function is to control the visitors — both official and unofficial. Sometimes unofficial visitors come without telling me at all. For example, a member from England came there without telling anybody. He tried to cause some problem in the prison.
When that kind of situation occurs the prison calls me up immediately, since they know I am there. I bring the visitors to my apartment and we talk. I help them to understand clearly what’s going on, what’s best for Father, and eventually they understand and go away.
Of course, official visitors — those who are on the visitor’s list — come, and I arrange appointments for them. I also coordinate for Mother and True Children to come whenever they want.
Question: Are you in contact with the prison authorities?
Yes, I deal with the prison authorities and officials a lot. But at the same time I feel I have another, internal, mission.
I go up there five days a week.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are non-visiting days. The visiting-room officers work on Saturday and Sunday because so many visitors can only come on week-ends, so the officers take off Tuesdays and Wednesdays instead. Five days a week I go up there and stay with Father from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm — the official visiting hours. Usually we stay through lunchtime, buy sandwiches from the vending machines, and share them together. Internally I consider it my mission to talk with those inmates who come out to the visiting room to meet their families and friends. The visiting room setup is just open like a restaurant, with chairs, desks and tables here and there. I’m concentrating on making friends with the people there because Father has to deal with them all the time.
I have been giving out Principle video tapes and Divine Principle books. In fact, one Divine Principle book was signed by Father for one inmate’s family.
Question: So you give books to the visitors?
Yes, to the visitors. Inmates can’t take any material into the prison. By doing this I can talk with their families and spend time with them. If Mother is talking with Father I spend my time that way. I talk with whoever is sitting around the room. I also find out more about what’s going on in the prison that way, because as a visitor I can only hear Father and can only see the visiting room. But when I talk with these people they can give me more interesting stories and information. They are Americans and they know what’s really going on among those inmates. Father may not be able to hear well because they are not going to talk in front of him openly. But most inmates know a lot of things because they talk together.
Question: Seeing Father in prison so often, what are your observations?
One basic thing I learned from many of the inmates is that Father has really humbled himself all the way to the bottom level. That’s the example he set there. Of course, the inmates each have different assignments. Father’s assignment as you know is setting up the tables, taking care of salt and pepper bottles and putting the napkins out and things like that. Father is very meticulous; he always cleans the table and whatever he does in his assignment is accurate and flawless. Also, he’s always on time and he does work hard, and by doing that he sets an example. As you may know, he said that when he serves these people by setting things on the tables he feels like he’s serving our members and all the people in the world. These prisoners represent the bottom level of mankind — criminals. Serving these criminals is a condition through which Father serves all humankind. That’s his determination.
Also he said that even though we have to pray in our life of faith, our members should work hard instead of investing a lot of time in prayer; since he’s in prison he will do the main portion of praying. He will pray as much as possible so that our members can spend more time accomplishing their missions.
Question: What was Father’s reaction toward the recent car accident in which two members died?
He received reports of the two members who died recently in that car accident in Florida and looked at the pictures of those members. [Michiko Koide and Eric Mahnken] Then he closed his eyes for maybe five minutes and was in really deep pain and agony. After that he prayed very hard. He just dropped everything. He said that because they were killed while on their missions they should be considered Unification Church martyrs. I just totally felt Father’s love and care at that moment. I have learned that point about Father, particularly through this period in prison — his sincere care and love for our members.
If Father knows somebody’s name or has some experience of living with him or her, he’s able to remember that person in depth and he can pray more about that person. He prays in general for all the members, but he particularly remembers those people he’s most concerned about. Father doesn’t want to remember somebody’s shortcomings or small mistakes; he always tries instead to remember a person’s good deeds or qualities. Whenever we talk about someone he immediately brings up their good points. Based on those good points he tries to characterize that person’s spiritual life, what way that person should go and which areas would be good for that person to develop.
Question: Does Father have much interaction with his fellow inmates?
I think all of our members know that Father is a good pool player and a good Ping-Pong player. He plays pool and ping-pang often in the prison. But he doesn’t talk a lot with the inmates. Father doesn’t want to talk with people about small things. Mr. Kamiyama is there and sometimes acts as Father’s spokesman.
Question: When Mother comes to visit, does Father talk with her all the time?
There is hardly any time for Mother to be alone with Father. Leaders like Col. Pak and Rev. Kwak come often. When there is time Father and Mother talk about their children a lot. During this time the children are gaining good experience because when they come and the leaders are not around, they occupy Father totally without any disturbance. Father gives them a lot of advice about how to deal with society, how important patience is when we deal with people, all kinds of internal guidance. Father’s trying to train the children to adjust more to the world, for the sake of the future.
Father is especially proud of Jeung Jin Nim. She comes to the prison and everybody loves her there because she’s such a bright, young, cute little girl. Jeung Jin Nim sits with Father and Mother, and sometimes she smiles and sings. That makes Father and Mother’s meetings more natural, like a family gathering, instead of Father’s meeting with people all the time with big piles of papers and newspapers and photo albums and all. When Jeung Jin Nim comes the atmosphere totally changes. She’s such a sweetie! The visiting room is very large. She goes around and shakes hands with people, even with the visiting-room officer. When Jeung Jin Nim goes to him and says, “I like you,” he can’t say anything, he just smiles. Officers usually don’t accept anything, even a cold drink, from the inmates or the people who come. But when Jeung Jin Nim brings some kind of soft drink like this they accept it because she is so sweet.
In the beginning, before the prison authorities and the inmates met Father, they had all kinds of imaginative ideas about what Father would be like — he must just sit down like a meditating guru 24 hours a day or something. But then when they actually met Father and started dealing with him they found that Father was really humble. He is a sportsman, reads books, talks and smiles — so by now they regard him as an excellent person, someone they respect.
There is one prison officer who works as the chef in the kitchen. This officer came to like Father and is supporting Father in many ways. One time Mr. Kamiyama and this man were talking about our Blessing and our marriages. The chef happens to be a single person even though he’s in his mid-30s and he said: “Reverend, you know I have to wait: Reverend Moon has to pick my bride.” He trusts Father completely. He says he doesn’t have any confidence in choosing his own bride. Of course, he doesn’t know Principle yet.
Question: We heard that Father and Mr. Kamiyama go to pray in the chapel early on Sunday mornings. Does anybody else pray with them?
Of course they pray there and do pledge service on Sundays. Quite a few inmates want to come to that service. Mr. Kamiyama told them, “Well, I appreciate that but we are speaking foreign tongues there, Japanese and Korean, so you won’t have the foggiest idea what’s going on. So don’t come at this time. Some other time you can attend, but not Sunday morning prayer services.” So that’s why they don’t come, but many expressed their desire to attend.
Also in the prison now there is a lot of debate and discussion going on over Bible scripture, especially between Catholics and Protestants, and Baptists and Methodists. People debate often there because they have a lot of free time. They read many books and sit around and talk about their faith and about the Bible.
One day Mr. Kamiyama and Father were sitting a little bit apart from the others. Mr. Kamiyama was reading Father’s speech to Father, as he often does. Father is the one who is reading his speeches the most at this time, I think. He’s reading his speeches at least a few hours a day. Anyway, Father and Mr. Kamiyama were sitting a little apart from this group. Father said to Mr. Kamiyama, “Go and debate with them. You know Bible stories, and you know the straight line that runs through the Bible stories, even though they are all branched out, so you go and talk with them.” Mr. Kamiyama went to them. He brought his Japanese Bible of course, and sat there. “May I join you?” They answered, “OK.”
They call Mr. Kamiyama “Kami,” not in a bad way, but as a pleasant joke. They call Father “Full Moon” and Mr. Kamiyama “Half Moon.” That’s another term they call him, but not to tease him or anything like that. Sometimes they call among themselves, “Half Moon is coming.” So Mr. Kamiyama said, “May I join you?” And they said “Okay Kami, come on.”
He listened to their arguments. Later on he came up with Principle point of view of how to interpret this particular Bible story and this biblical person’s mission. They all were shocked. “You? The Unification Church believes in the Bible?” They didn’t know Unification Church doctrine was based on the Bible. So Mr. Kamiyama realized we have to study the Bible more and deal more with ministers. He always carries a thick Bible and talks with people. In one particular debate they had, they were arguing between Catholics and Protestants. Then Mr. Kamiyama came in later and gave the Principle point of view, and both sides agreed that it is the best answer. So Mr. Kamiyama is really happy and eager to do that. He’s continuing every day.
Question: Is there a chance that Father comes out on weekends?
Possibilities for short furloughs do exist but Father hasn’t been at Danbury long enough yet to be eligible.
Question: How does Father look?
He looks really healthy. One thing I noticed is that he hasn’t been dyeing his hair. His hair is not totally gray, but a lot of gray streaks show. He looks basically very healthy. He’s a little bit slimmer now. One of the inmates said he will help Father to lose some weight. He, Father and Mr. Kamiyama have been jogging about two miles a day for many weeks. Mr. Kamiyama and Father don’t jog like young people, but they walk fast.
We must not forget our responsibility in this time in history and Father’s suffering. Remember Father is always concerned about our physical and spiritual well-being. Let’s do our best in fulfilling our mission while Father is praying for our success.