- The Washington Times - Monday, March 10, 2003

SEOUL, South Korea, March 10 (UPI) — The Unification Church on Monday launched a political party in South Korea on a platform of world peace and family values.

The church, founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, held a mass rally in Seoul in which more than 2,000 charter members of the party vowed to promote the twin goals along with the peaceful reunification of the divided Korean peninsula.

"Our party will kick off campaigns to promote values of freedom, equality, peace and happiness around the country and the rest of the world," said Chung Hwan Kwak, who was elected as the president of the Family Party for the Universal Peace and Unity.

"The party will tackle various issues facing the world community, such as challenge to global security and morality and ethics, environmental protection, and AIDS prevention," said Kwak, who is the chairman and chief executive officer of United Press International, which is owned by News World Communications Inc., a media company founded by Moon.

The 67-year-old party chief, who is the chairman of the University of Bridgeport, Conn., runs a number of non-profit and international charitable organizations, including the Inter-Religious and International Federation for World Peace and the Professors World Peace Academy, among others.

Kwak said his party would also launch a nationwide social education campaign to prepare for the peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula, which was split into the communist North and the capitalist South at the end of World War II.

"The Family Party will make efforts to pave the way for the peaceful unification of the peninsula by helping the two Koreas restore their common sense," he told a news conference after the founding ceremony of South Korea's 23rd political party at the Little Angels Performing Arts Center in eastern Seoul.

The Unification Church has played a role in promoting reconciliation between the two Koreas by launching business ventures with North Korea.

But Kwak said his new party would refrain from engaging in political activities for the time being in order to focus on spreading the social campaigns.

"We have no plan to field candidates for parliamentary elections slated for next year," he said.

South Korea's election watchdog said it had not received the party's application yet, but would allow it to be organized.

"We will recognize the party after it takes legal steps essential to organizing a political party," Kim Myong-soo, an official at the National Election Commission, told UPI.

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