Reverend Sun Myung Moon, 89, married tens of thousands of couples in the Unification Church’s largest mass wedding in a decade.
More than 20,000 people gathered at Sun Moon University campus in Asan, south of Seoul, for the “blessing ceremony” on Wednesday while some 20,000 more joined simultaneous ceremonies in the U.S., Brazil, Australia and elsewhere.
Some were new couples in unions arranged by the church; others were renewing their wedding vows. The brides wore wedding dresses or their national dress; the men wore black suits with red ties, with white scarves around their necks.
The global ceremony is meant to mark key anniversaries in the leader’s life: his 90th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his marriage to Han Hak-ja, church officials said.
Critics say the weddings show the church operates like a cult, brainwashing adherents into turning their lives and salaries over to Moon. In the past, Moon routinely paired off couples, with many first meeting on their wedding day.
These days, arranged couples usually meet several times beforehand, church officials said. But they’re not expected to skip off to a honeymoon; couples are required to observe a 40-day waiting period before living together.