UK & World News
Moonies Marry In South Korean Mass Wedding
Some 3,500 identically-dressed couples from 70 countries have tied the knot in a so-called "Moonie" mass wedding in South Korea.
The couples were members of the Unification Church and many were of mixed nationality who had met just days earlier and did not speak the same language.
The wedding was the first since their "messiah" and controversial church founder Sun Myung Moon died five months ago aged 92, of complications from pneumonia.
The latest ceremony carried a special resonance, with Mr Moon's 70-year-old widow Hak Ja Han presiding for the first time without her husband.
It took place in a stadium at the church's global headquarters in Gapyeong, east of the capital Seoul, where Mr Moon's elaborate funeral was held on September 15.
Such mass weddings, including some held in giant sports stadiums, have long been a feature of the church and one that "Moonie" critics have suggested is evidence of cult leanings.
In recent years, matchmaking responsibilities have shifted towards parents.
But 400 of the latest church members to be married had chosen to be paired off a few days before at an "engagement ceremony" presided over by Mr Moon's widow.
"Yeah, I was pretty nervous," admitted Jin Davidson, a 21-year-old student from the United States, whose Australian father and Japanese mother were matched by Mr Moon.
"Then all of a sudden she popped up in front of me, and I said okay," Mr Davidson said of his Japanese bride-to-be, Kotona Shimizu, also 21.
"We struggle a little to communicate right now, as 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 said.
Nineteen-year-old Swedish-Italian Anna Misook, who married to Congolese-Brazilian bridegroom, said: "It feels very great. We get along very well.
"We met four days ago by True Mother's matching. And we are happy to be here and, yeah, looking forward to life together and yeah It's a good life, good, we're happy. We're really happy."
Lisa, from Trinidad and Tobago, first met her bridegroom, Hubert from Poland, on Skype after being put in contact by family and church friends.
Hubert visited her family in December and the couple decided to attend the event in South Korea to receive the blessing of "mother Moon".
"I've been waiting for him all my life," Lisa said. "Language isn't such an issue. We're connected by the church."