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'Moonies' founder Sun Myung Moon passes away aged 92

  • Sun Myung Moon, a self-styled messiah who transformed his Unification Church into a global religious movement, has died at the age of 92.

    Moon set up the Church, whose members are known as Moonies, in the 1950s in the South Korean capital of Seoul.

    Church officials said Moon died on Monday at a hospital near his home in Gapyeong, north east of Seoul.

    He had been admitted to the hospital two weeks ago suffering from pneumonia.

    The Church gained notoriety in the 1960s and 70s following allegations of brainwashing members, breaking up families and boosting Moon's wealth.

    He denied the claims but spent 11 months in jail after being convicted of tax evasion in 1982.

    Moon owned several lavish properties in the U.S., founded the Washington Times newspaper and also ran arms factories in South Korea.

    Moon was born in Pyongan province in what is now North Korea.

    He alleged that when he was praying at the age of 15, Jesus appeared to him and asked him to set up God's kingdom on Earth.

    Moon claimed he refused twice but accepted the request on the third occasion.

    He was thrown out of the Presbyterian Church and jailed and tortured by the Communists before he escaped to the South.