Man Hee Lee, Chairman of ShincheonjiChurch (its full name, Shincheonji, Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony), was one of the most talked-about people in 2020. While leading a church, he also serves as the chairman of HWPL (Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light). HWPL isa UN-affiliated peace NGO that made life-risking trips and struck a private-level peace agreement in Mindanao, Philippines, a region that suffered a bloody conflict that lasted four decades, killing 120,000 people. A Korean War veteran, Lee’s peace activities are noted to have inspired minds globally that “Peace and cessation or war can be done,” while underrated at home due to preconceived bias. This series covers records of peace activities that won international recognition for innovative strategy and the level of execution and recaptures Man Hee Lee’s path of peace.
<1>A View Inside the Peace Institute, the Birthplace of Peace
<2> Recapturing the Mindanao Peace Agreement
<3> The Answer to Peace, the 10 Articles and 38 Clauses of the DPCW
<4> ‘One for Peace’ The World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Office
<5> The Path of Peace becomes a Textbook
<6> HWPL World Peace Summit, a Global Peace Festival
<7> HWPL World Peace Tour Rounds 1-5
<8> HWPL World Peace Tour Rounds 6-10
<9> HWPL World Peace Tour Rounds 11-15
<10-1> HWPL World Peace Tour Rounds 16-17
<10-2> HWPL World Peace Tour Rounds 18-20
<11-1> HWPL World Peace Tour Rounds 21-25
<11-2> HWPL World Peace Tour Rounds 21-25
<12-1> HWPL World Peace Tour Rounds 26
<12-2> HWPL World Peace Tour Rounds 27-28
<13-1> HWPL World Peace Tour Rounds 29
<13-2> HWPL World Peace Tour Rounds 30-31
[Taebok Song for CheonjiIlbo] Seoul, Korea | In the recent trial of Man Hee Lee, the leader of Shincheonji Church, the Peace Institute was at the center of debate as a former Shincheonji member Kim alleged it was a newlywed’s abode.
After the stirring talks about the institute, CheonjiIlboreleases its records from inside the institute. Pictures were taken before the COVID-19 outbreak.
◆Home? Blueprint showstraining institute – frequented as a venue for peace events
Located in Goseong-ri, Cheongpyeong-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do, 5961㎡of land with a three-story concrete building with a rooftop story of 1465㎡sitting by a branch of Namhan river is the Peace Institute. It was designed and built as an education and training institute, a facility with accommodation and cooking facility, and was completed in 2014.
The building can accommodate 30 people at a time, and opening the indoor and outdoor space will host dining for 100 people. The first floor has the main hall that fits 120 people, a small shop, and rooms. The second floor holds rooms, a lounge, a dining area, and the third floor, more room for accommodation, meeting rooms, and a multipurpose hall.
According to a Mr. Shim, the person who was in charge of construction, the peace institute was designed to host guests for peace activities. Chairman Man Hee Lee, who had received orders from heaven to “achieve peace and the cessation of wars,” would invite guests from Korea and abroad to hold meetings on peace. The institute could serve as accommodation for guests who travel long distances. As a venue of 10 to 20 peace events every year, the institute frequently hosted guests from Korea and abroad.
Notably, around the HWPL World Peace Summit, it served as a place of harmony for peace leaders. HWPL (Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light, Chairman Man Hee Lee) is an NGO with special consultative status at the UN ECOSOC and registered as a UN DGC-associated NGO. (The UN DGC was formerly DPI.) During and after the HWPL World Peace Summit, an annual peace conference the NGO hosts since 2014, the peace institute would host visitors. At one of the peace events, one of the international dignitaries lovingly called the institute the Peace Palace, and it became the institute’s nickname which Lee also quotes.
◆Three stories filled with a celebrated track record of peace
One of the most noticeable features of the institute is the vast and international collection of peace awards from a number of countries and rare gifts presented by high-profile figures that fill the walls of the three-story building. It was not a scene predicted when the peace institute was established.
Left to the foyer of the main hall on the first floor is a hallway. The walls on both sides of the hallway are filled with picture frames. They are milestones of the path of Lee’s peace work. From 2012 when he turned 82 in Korean age to 89 last year, Lee went on 31 rounds of tours around the globe in 7 years. (The Korean age counts newborns as oneyear old, generally adding one year to a person’s age.) The blazing track record was an astounding itinerary crowded with meeting after meeting with heads of state, former presidents, chief justices, political leaders, civil society, religious leaders, youth NGOs, and women’s organizations. The profile of figures Lee met tells the visitor that “peace and cessation of war” that he advocates is not just ceremonial and is not taken lightly.
A showcase inside the main hall displays gifts from around the world given as a token of hope for peace. The gifts fill the showcase and flood onto the floor. A closer look at this seemingly arbitrary collection reveals quite rare items of high historical and cultural value in their own rights. It is said the collection includes a masterpiece.
You walk into the second floor, and a lounge room greets you. This lounge is a meeting space where Lee sits down with leaders who visit the institute. In one corner is a showcase tiled with awards and plaques of recognition for Lee’s activity for Peace and Cessation of War. Other items displayed in the room are gifts and souvenirs from around the world.
The third floor houses a meeting room and a hall for multiple uses. The showcase walls cannot hold all the awards and gifts and yields to the show area on the floor. Presented with countless peace awards in multiple countries, Lee once said, “The true reward for me is peace.”
Outside the building, the Declaration of Unification Monument and the HWPL Peace Monumentstand on the front lawn. After HWPL World Peace Summits, the lawn would host leaders who attended the summit and raved about the Korean art performances showed at the gatherings.
When a man nearing his 90s and a civilian set out to travel around the world to achieve the cessation of wars and global peace, no one believed in him. Now, with his initiatives for writing peace and cessation into the law and bringing harmony among religions, Lee has become a global figure joined by leaders who not only take him seriously but believe in Lee’s cause as the answer to peace. This peace activist from Korea turned minds around globally. People who used to believe Peace and Cessation of War is an impossible feat now say we can do it.
The Peace Institute in Gapyeong is the birthplace of the work for Peace and Cessation of War, where Chairman Man Hee Lee set out to work for international peace following orders from heaven. Guests who came from home and abroad to visit the facility are proof and witnesses of this birthplace of peace.