First mass Moonie wedding since founder's death

The BBC's Alexandra Mackenzie: "Some couples had just met and did not speak the same language as their new wife or husband"

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Thousands of people have been married in South Korea in the first mass wedding organised by the Unification Church since the death of its founder.

Some 3,500 identically-dressed couples took part in the ceremony in Gapyeong, north-east of the capital, Seoul.

A further 24,000 followers - often known as "Moonies" - were also married in other countries via video link.

The ceremony was presided over by Hak Ja Han, the widow of Sun Myung Moon, who died in September.

An estimated 30,000 people attended the 92-year-old's funeral.

Four hundred of the Church's members who were married on Sunday chose to have their partners selected for them by Hak Ja Han, something her late husband also did.

"I was pretty nervous," Jin Davidson, a 21-year-old American, told the AFP news agency. "Then all of a sudden she popped up in front of me, and I said OK."

Mr Davidson, whose parents were paired off by Mr Moon, said he struggled to communicate with his Japanese bride, Kotona Shimizu, 21.

"I speak no Japanese at all, and she only speaks a little English, but we see it as an exciting challenge and proof of our faith," he added.

The mass weddings began in the early 1960s and over the years grew in size. In 1997, some 30,000 couples were married in Washington.

The Church has been accused of brainwashing its followers.

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