I love you Moon, says wife

SEOUL, Feb 15 - Sun-Myoung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, is more used to giving blessings for mass weddings conducted by his controversial movement than hearing public declarations of love from his wife.

But on Friday, at a rare appearance in his native Korea, Moon heard his wife, with whom he has had 14 children, make an equally rare statement of passion for the head of the so-called "Moonie" movement who will be 82 on Sunday.

Speaking at the start of a conference organised by the church, Hak Ja Han Moon said: "It is my joy to have the opportunity to introduce him to you this morning so that I may express my overwhelming love and gratitude to him in public for the first time."

She said Moon had often been "misunderstood" -- refering to government investigations in several countries -- and the family of 14 children and more than 20 grandchildren had suffered, never having the time for "a proper holiday."

"I have had to share my time with him on almost all occasions. We never even took one day for a honeymoon in the traditional sense. But I can honestly say that I have received greater love from my husband than any wife has ever known."

On Saturday Moon will preside over the mass wedding of 3,500 Korean and foreign couples in the Seoul Olympic gymnasium.

Moon normally lives in the United States and Brazil. According to a spokesman this is his first visit to South Korea since an earlier mass wedding two years ago.