Moon was born in what is now North Korea. When he was a child, his family converted to Christianity. In 1947 he was convicted by the North Korean government of spying for South Korea and given a five-year sentence to the Hŭngnamlabor camp. In 1954, he founded the Unification Church in Seoul, South Korea based on conservative, family-oriented teachings from new interpretations of the Bible. In 1971, he moved to the United States and became well-known after giving a series of public speeches on his beliefs. In the 1982 case United States v. Sun Myung Moon he was found guilty of willfully filing false federal income tax returns and sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. His case generated protests from clergy and civil libertarians, who said that the trial was biased against him.
Following World War II, Korea was divided along the 38th parallel into two trusteeships: the United States and the Soviet Union. Pyongyang was the center of Christian activity in Korea until 1945. From the late forties 166 priests and other religious figures were killed or disappeared in concentration camps, including Francis Hong Yong-ho, bishop of Pyongyang and all monks of Tokwon abbey. In 1947 Moon was convicted by the North Korean government of spying for South Korea and given a five-year sentence to the Hŭngnamlabor camp. In 1950, during the Korean WarUnited Nations troops had raided Hŭngnam and the guards fled. Moon escaped and traveled to Busan, South Korea.