Asia

Funeral held for 'Moonie' Church founder Sun Myung Moon

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTens of thousands gathered at the church's headquarters in South Korea

Tens of thousands of people have attended the funeral in South Korea of religious leader Sun Myung Moon.

The founder of the Unification Church died earlier this month, aged 92. On Saturday his red and gold coffin was carried into a vast arena filled with mourners near Seoul.

The church, which claims millions of members worldwide, became famous for its mass wedding ceremonies.

But it was also accused of brainwashing converts, often known as "Moonies".

An estimated 30,000 mourners - including thousands from overseas - attended the funeral at the Church's headquarters in the resort of Gapyeong north-east of the capital, Seoul.

Many sobbed quietly as an honour guard, accompanied by members of Moon's immediate family, carried the coffin through the stadium and placed it at the foot of huge portrait.

Image caption Moon's funeral has been held at the Church's vast complex in Gapyeong

Moon, who had been suffering from pneumonia, died on 3 September at a hospital in Gapyeong.

He was born in 1920 in Pyongyang province in what is now North Korea, and established the Church in refugee camps in 1954, saying he had been asked by Jesus to set up God's kingdom on Earth.

Moon denied allegations of brainwashing, but spent 11 months in jail in the US - where he moved to in the early 1970s - after being convicted of tax evasion in 1982.

The Unification Church has developed a global business empire, setting up newspapers, arms factories, universities and food distributors.

He returned to South Korea in 2006, leaving his religious and business empire in the hands of some of his 14 children.

He forged ties with North Korea, meeting founder Kim Il-sung in 1991 and sending a delegation to pay respects after the death of Kim Jong-il.

More on this story