After the negative publicity in 2002, Dae-Won (“Peter”) Chang, the Bonn UBF director, applied a very interesting tactic. At first, Bonn UBF seemed to have retracted themselves completely “out of the business.” The members were instructed to avoid attracting attention in public. However, in the beginning of 2004 suddenly Mr. Chang’s UBF emerged again from the cover, but using a completely new name and a completely new field of activity, where he increasingly actively searches the general, mainly Korean, public. The name of his new enterprise is “International Senfkorn Music Friends” or “International Senfkorn Music Festival,” abbreviated “ISMF.” As in his Bonn UBF, Mr. Chang is also in the ISMF the chief in command who is holding all strings in his hand, and meanwhile is not even shy to call himself their “president.” In the ISMF, it is officially no more about “campus mission” like in the UBF, but exclusively about music, child education and promotion of Korean culture and Korean values: a pretty radical change. What could be behind such a strange change of course?
For the following report, former members of the UBF have gathered some quite evident and some further possible motives, why Mr. Chang could be suddenly involved in this area. We refer here to the situation and our level of knowledge as of beginning of the year 2005.
Continuation of an old method of Samuel Lee
First of all it should be mentioned that the orchestra training is an old, proven and tested method, introduced by Samuel Lee in UBF in order to supervise, discipline and train primarily the teenagers and “second generation” in UBF, and in order to bind them closer to the group. The buzz phrase for this was “divine discipline”. In this regard, like in all others, the UBF orchestra in Chicago had been the big role model for all other UBF centers. At the international UBF conferences, it always came into operation very effectively as well. Here are some explanations by a former member of this UBF orchestra in Chicago:
“Yes, Samuel Lee indeed thought up the orchestra training method. Before there were many 2nd generation kids in Chicago, there was just a small orchestra consisting mainly of musicians. But with the 1990s boom in the ‘2nd gen’ population, Lee saw a need for some kind of training program. So, if a UBF child was taking up any kind of instrument, joining the orchestra was mandatory. A CBF (Children Bible fellowship) orchestra was also started to get ‘2nd gens’ started early.
An often stated purpose for the 2nd gen orchestra was to control what 2nd gens did on certain evenings of the week, so they wouldn’t ‘get in trouble.’ At its peak in the late 1990s, the orchestra training was indeed very time-consuming. There were 2-3 hour practices on Thursday night, Saturday night and Sunday morning in addition to playing during the Sunday services. The ‘core’ orchestra members would play for two Sunday services. The practices for the Christmas services were every night for at least two weeks. There was also the time spent for individual instrument lessons given by senior orchestra members.
A lot of the teenage 2ndgens saw the orchestra as social gatherings. I guess it was somewhat enjoyable for them. But some parents complained that they spent way too much time in the orchestra and that it was affecting their childrens’ academic performance. They saw little value in their children investing so much time in music, when music clearly was not their talent or future.
On the subject of mandatory participation, once you joined the orchestra it was very difficult to leave. If someone tried to quit, Samuel Lee would exert pressure on them directly or indirectly through their parents to bring the quitter back into the orchestra.
The actual orchestra practices themselves were the worst part, the worst torture. Samuel Lee would be there most of the time, micro-managing what the conductor did, giving ridiculous training purely for the sake of training, imposing what he wanted a music piece to sound like even though he couldn’t even express rationally what it was he wanted, proclaiming that he knew music so well ‘because he studied the Bible.’ We would sit there for hours playing the same thing over and over again because Lee made up imaginary things that he didn’t like about the performance. The children would groan at this, but he would not allow them to get up and take a break, not even a bathroom break.
All pieces performed were picked by Lee or approved by him. The orchestra leaders were so fearful of him that if he had not ordered a piece to be played by Saturday night before the next Sunday service, they would have us play several likely pieces that they guessed Lee might possibly approve. And even then, Lee would change his mind at the last minute, and we would have to have an emergency practice a few minutes before the Sunday service started. This was all part of the ‘training,’ of course.
At a whim, Lee would have us play the 1st movement of Beethoven’s 5th symphony. He had us play it at Jackie Lee’s husband’s funeral (!). The orchestra was completely his to do with as he pleased. That was the message.”
Of course, we do not want to run down the idea of children and teenagers performing music together, nor performing music in the realm of a church. It is certainly something very good in itself. Also, it certainly will not do harm to children if they learn some discipline and learn to concentrate on one thing for a certain time.
The main problem isn’t the UBF orchestra itself, but the combination of the orchestra with UBF and their religious ideas. You only get it in form of a double pack – music and UBF ideology, musical exercise and UBF obedience training. The orchestra has for UBF primarily the following five purposes:
First, the children shall be bound to UBF. The orchestra provides the children with a social framework and a circle of friends which is connected with UBF from the very beginning. It also gives them a feeling of importance, meaning, responsibility and recognition. This feeling of importance is strengthened by journeys abroad, where the members of the orchestra are always particularly served and paid court to by the other UBF centers. But all of this is coupled with UBF. Outside of UBF, they immediately lose their task, their recognition, their meaning of life, as well as their whole social surroundings. Because they constantly stay in the UBF framework, possibilities of comparison with the “world outside” are lacking, making it difficult for them to assess whether the behavior of the UBF leaders is “normal” or not. Also, by retracting into the field of classical music, an artificial world is created that has very little to with the world of their class mates, alienating the children from their friends.
Second, by the habituation to discipline and obedience within the scope of the orchestra training, the first stage is laid for the absolute obedience towards the “servants of God” in the sense of the “spiritual order” of the UBF. Under the pretext of musical exercise, every kind of obedience training and manipulation can then be easily justified.
Third, in every cult it is important to keep the members constantly occupied with something, so that they do not start thinking, informing themselves and receiving theological instruction, being involved or seeking for friends outside of the group.
Therefore, those who are not able to play an instrument have to take part in singing, “singspiration,” dancing or theatrical plays, even if no talent or interest exists in these things. The Germans always had to perform a “German dance” at the international UBF conferences, which in the imagination of Samuel Lee of course had to be a “Bavarian folk dance.” Then the German participants, none of who came from Bavaria, slipped in leather trousers and national folk costumes, painted their faces, and rehearsed their dance for weeks every evening before the conference “for the honor of God.” Later Samuel Lee had fun by denigrating them in his UBF newsletter as “barbarian dancers” and giving them “the first place from the bottom.” It was all about keeping the members occupied with activities where they did not have to think independently and critically, and at the same time humiliating them. Among these activities, the orchestra music is still the most demanding, but even here it is only about practicing and playing predetermined pieces of music. Creativity, spontaneity, improvisation and independent thinking are not promoted. Training people in UBF is always thought of being similar to the concept of training an animal.
To be able to play the 5th symphony of Beethoven is indeed nice, but unfortunately insufficient as a qualification for future “missionaries” and “shepherds,” and it does not help them become responsible adults in the future. But the purpose of the “divine training” is something different anyway.
Fourth, the orchestra serves to deprive the members of their individuality. As its worst enemy, UBF counts, besides the “ungodly humanism” also the “ungodly individualism.” The members have to conform to a uniform ideal. Individual talents and gifts are not considered, neither what concerns the different natural talents, nor what concerns the different spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible. In the orchestra, but also otherwise in UBF, this already starts with uniform clothing, i.e. male members have to wear suit and tie. Sneakers, long hair or beards are frowned upon.
Fifths, the orchestra serves to impress the new participants in UBF conferences, guests and externals. Music is particularly applicable to serve this purpose, since it can be very emotionally loaded. When you hear nice music, you can hardly imagine that something problematic could exist. There is a German saying: “Where people sing, you can settle down. Evil people have no songs.” Such a conscious or unconscious thought has certainly scattered existing doubts about UBF in many members and outsiders. But, unfortunately, this is a false conclusion. Even the Nazis took advantage of music, because it is a powerful instrument for manipulating people. Joseph Goebbels himself polished the melody of the notorious Nazi slogan “Command us, leader, we follow you.” But here, the problem is not that the UBF members are evil people. The problem is rather the leaders and, above all, the whole manipulative system of the UBF. The nice people and the music make it difficult to see and to admit this actually evident problem.
It may also be remarked that in the UBF orchestra the focus is not primarily on Christian music, for instance from Johann Sebastian Bach, and that also all kinds of contemporary Christian music don’t seem to play a great role, at least in the “hardcore” chapters like Chicago or Bonn. The supposed goal of the UBF, the “world mission,” actually has not much to do with the engagement in classical music in the UBF orchestra.
Back to Bonn UBF: It seems that Peter Chang has recognized the advantages of Samuel Lee’s orchestra trainings and develops his methods further and refines them, as Samuel Lee generally seems to be his great role model. By the way, in photos, Peter Chang looks confusingly similar to Samuel Lee, not only in size, appearance and stature, but also in his seat posture and pose.
But Mr. Chang has not only refined the methods and applied them more consequently, but he uses his Bonn UBF orchestra also for even purposes beyond those of Samuel Lee, particularly what concerns the last mentioned point, the achievement of a good reputation in the general public. It is not surprising that he gets back to this method just after the scandal about maltreatment and neglect of children was published in the newspapers, considering it as a means to compensate for his negative image in the general public with the cultural presentations of his orchestra. He deliberately utilizes the positive associations and impression on the concertgoers and sponsors that are inevitably evoked by the beautiful classical music, performed with virtuosity, the cute violin playing children some of which are still very young, the supposed charitable character of the concerts and the intercultural aspect of Koreans performing in Germany. Hardly anybody will suppose anything problematic behind these fascinating things.
In principle, the same ideas apply as in Samuel Lee’s UBF orchestra. The orchestra members and other ISMF co-workers are provided with a feeling of importance and meaning. This already starts with calling themselves an “international” orchestra, although it consists almost solely of Koreans and maybe a few Germans. Why isn’t it called a “Korean” or “Korean-German” orchestra? The reason is that everything shall look more magnificent, more bombastic and more pompous than it is in reality. This also applies to all other aspects of the orchestra, even though the musical talent and devotion of the members shall not be questioned at all.
But the members of the Bonn ISMF orchestra are made so dependent on this orchestra that they have no other place to go. The training demands even substantially more time and is more intensive than in Chicago, a fact that Mr. Chang will surely justify by saying that he wants to reach a “professional level.” However, the difference to a professional orchestra lies in the fact that the latter is just an orchestra, while the ISMF is inseparably amalgamated with UBF. The musical leader is at the same time the spiritual leader, and virtually the “representative of God on earth,” demanding absolute devotion and obedience from the members in every respect.
Unlike Bonn UBF, whose website has no longer been accessible for some years, the ISMF is searching publicity with a sumptuously designed web presence under the address www.ismf.org, registered under the name of Peter Chang. However, it stands out that this web page is written almost completely in Korean. Apparently Mr. Chang is primarily focusing on getting publicity among the Koreans in Europe. A third of these Koreans are living in Germany, approximately 30,000.
Furthermore it stands out that the connection with UBF and the fact that the ISMF members almost entirely consist of UBF members hasn’t been mentioned at all on the web page for a long time. Initially, the house in Bonn-Lengsdorf serving as UBF center and at the same time as residence of Peter Chang was given as address. Recently, this address was replaced with another address in Bonn-Lengsdorf. Only since January 2005, you can also find an organization chart on the web page that shows the leadership structure, with Peter Chang at the top and UBF listed covertly at a second to the last place as a “supporting organization.” Still, the fact that in reality the ISMF is virtually identical with Bonn UBF is shamefully hidden.
The aims of the ISMF are described on the page www.ismf.org/introduce/introduce.php as follows: “International Senfkorn Music Friends (ISMF) were founded in December 1998 in Germany through counseling and support of the Parents Initiative for Education and Support of the Korean 2nd Generation in Germany and the Institute for Korean Culture. Its aim is to allow the Korean 2nd generation, who are growing up in the time of postmodernism in Germany, in the USA and in the whole world, to awaken their musical talent and to support them further on. It also aims at forming an international network of friendships and cultural exchange so that they can mutually support each other in all areas of life.”
First, it is misleading here that the initiative for forming the ISMF has started out from an independent parents initiative or an independent Institute for Korean Culture. In reality, the initiative very obviously started out from Mr. Peter Chang himself who alone as the wire-drawer is indirectly standing behind these “initiatives” and “institutes.” It is also misleading that the religious background of the ISMF and its connection with UBF isn’t mentioned at all. The reference to “postmodernism” is a hidden indication that it isn’t about music alone, but about training the children towards obedience in the traditional Korean Confucianistic system of values.
The ISMF as a UBF Front Group
After some time, when their names have already made negative headlines in the general public, most cults operate using sub organizations which are more or less tightly connected with the actual cult, but are using a different name and engage in businesses, cultural or social activities that do not seem to have any recognizable connection with the actual cult and its goals. Such camouflage organizations are also known as “front groups.” They usually perform one or more of the following functions: First, generate income; second, recruit new followers; third, improve the group’s image in the community; fourth, provide employment and occupation for members so they can be more closely controlled.
Looking at the ISMF, this pattern of a cult front group is evident, and the four goals mentioned above are all evident in the ISMF as well. Thus it makes sense to see the ISMF as a front group of the Bonn UBF cult.
Within the UBF it is actually expected that members and leaders provide their free time fully and completely to the UBF and do not perform any “additional businesses.” Therefore, Peter Chang justifies his ISMF activities within the UBF by claiming that through these activities he can recruit more UBF members and improve UBF’s reputation in the public; and as long as he is successful in doing so, the top UBF leadership will not intervene.
This idea seems to work out quite well; the first concerts were well received by the audience. Of course it is clear to real musicians that they are amateurs. But ISMF actually introduces themselves as an amateur orchestra, and for amateurs they perform very virtuously, because they are forced to practice a lot and in a disciplined manner, and also because many of the members are musically very talented indeed. They also pay attention to make a good visual impression, by elegant clothing of the musicians, decoration and emphatic body-motion while playing. So, for the less-experienced audition, the ISMF concerts are probably quite impressive. ISMF is also very attractive for other music enthusiasts who want to join an orchestra on a high musical level in order to improve their skills and enjoy performing music with others, and apparently they already succeeded to at least temporarily win some musicians from outside as orchestra members who have nothing to do with the UBF. These people recruited from outside are also confronted with the whole “love bombing program” common for cults, like invitations for meals, attention, flattery etc. Musicians are particularly susceptible to recognition, and the possibility of being allowed to give concerts.
It is common for all front groups of cults that they outwardly seem to be engaged in things which everybody would be willing to support: Be it world peace, music, art, charity or support of conservative, commonly approved moral values. However, the real goals and the world view of the cult standing behind this are hidden.
Likewise, on the home page of the ISMF you won’t find a single word about world mission, campus mission, Bible studies and such things representing the main concerns of the UBF. Within the UBF, Peter Chang is introducing himself as a “missionary” and they say that everything is done “for the glory of God,” but God isn’t mentioned with a single word on the home page of the ISMF.
The proceeding of Peter Chang is strikingly similar to the methods of “Reverend” Sun Myung Moon, the leader of the Moon cult, who also comes from Korea. By using various front groups, Moon tries to gain recognition, new followers and political influence in America. Through one of these front groups, he recently even managed to organize a kind of “coronation ceremony” in a senate building in Washington, where he was crowned as the “Messiah.” The crown was handed over to him by an American senator, who beforehand was thoroughly deceived about the character of the event or possibly received some financial or other benefit from Moon in return (sadly, this isn’t a joke).
An example for a front group of the Moon cult that has a particularly striking similarity with the ISMF is the “Little Angels Korean Folk Ballet,” where Moon also relies on the fascination emanated by cute little children and music. The “New Age Orchestra” in San Francisco is another example of a musical front group operated by Moon.
It should be mentioned that UBF has already used front groups in the past when they had gained a particularly bad reputation at a certain university. For example, at the University of Chicago, the UBF group of Mark Yoon signed under the name “UofC Bible club” for years and did not mention UBF on their home page bible.uchicago.edu with a single word. Only recently, after complaints, they were forced by the university to disclose this connection. Camouflage and deception have a certain tradition in UBF.
Almost all members of the “Senfkorn orchestra” are UBF Koreans, mostly children of Bonn or Mainz UBF members. However, this connection with the UBF is shamefully hidden both on the web pages and in the articles which are skillfully launched in Korean newspapers by Peter Chang.
According to the announcement on the ISMF home page, a concert in the main auditorium of the Bonn RFW University was planned in February 2005, which happens to be the main mission field of the UBF Bonn. It isn’t known whether this concert has taken place, but the UBF front group character of the ISMF is particularly visible here.
Leadership Structures and Strange Connections
So far Mr. Chang always tried to stay discreetly in the background, and he is still trying not to be visible too much in the German public. In reality however, he is holding all the strings, and he is the driving and controlling force behind the ISMF and everything connected with it. The same can be said of him as the UBF founder Sarah Barry said about his role model Samuel Lee already in 1962: “He is showing real ability in the art of leading from behind.”
Two women appeared instead primarily in the public: Gloria Chrustovski (one of the UBF Koreans who had been married to a German UBF Bonn member by Peter Chang) and Hanna Ryu (the wife of Samuel-Peter Ryu, who is the leader of the small satellite chapter of UBF Bonn in Mainz). Mrs. Chrustovski is the director, musical leader and conductor of the UBF orchestra. Mrs. Ryu is a kind of cultural director and a PR manager for the whole enterprise. In UBF they both have the title of a “missionary” and are completely loyal to the “servant of God missionary Dr. Peter Chang” in the “spiritual order” of the UBF. Outwardly they try to give the impression that they are independent, freelancing artists, concealing their UBF “mission.”
Peter Chang has brought various registered organizations into being as a wire-drawer, in order to benefit from tax privileges and other advantages. However, to avoid problems with the authorities, he himself doesn’t appear as a chairman, but makes other loyal UBF members the chairmen or chairwomen. Officially, a German UBF “shepherd” is chairman of the registered association “University Bible Fellowship Bonn,” while Hanna Ryu is chairwoman of an association calling itself “Institute for Korean culture” behind which Peter Chang is hiding as well. In addition, Hanna Ryu is vice chairwoman of a Korean literature club in Germany. Using these titles she also promotes ISMF in various Korean newspapers. Of course, the connection with the UBF is never mentioned.
Now that his ISMF business and the promotion in the Korean newspapers seems to bear some success, and he has gained some sponsorship, Peter Chang has outed himself since the year 2005 officially on the Korean ISMF website as the “president” of the whole ISMF business, presenting it proudly in form of an organization chart of which we have made an English translation.
In the diagram, you can recognize one of the psychological tricks of Peter Chang, through which he tries to win others for his sake and let them work for himself: He gives these people a title, a position and a task in his little empire by which the person feels flattered. Everybody may feel honored and a little leader in some area – though always only under the dominion of Mr. Chang.
It is not cleared whether all of the listed persons and institutions are really aware that they are being used by Peter Chang for his own sake. The titles and social positions of the supporting persons are particularly emphasized. Peter Chang isn’t reluctant to have a Roman Catholic as the president of the sponsoring association, though Catholicism is condemned as heretical inside the UBF. It is also interesting that although UBF is mentioned, it is only listed as a “supporting organization,” and as such only on the third place. If you don’t pay special attention, you won’t notice the connection to the UBF on the ISMF website.
It should be also pointed out that Mr. Chang, whose empire supposedly is all about culture, music and children education, or respectively the Bible, has no education at all in any of these areas, neither in the cultural area, music, pedagogic, nor in theology. His doctorate is in pharmacy.
Searching for Recognition and Reputation among Koreans
It is obvious that Mr. Chang tries to establish a reputation as a promoter of Korean culture and cultural exchange in order to compensate for his negative image as a cult leader. Once he has gained a name, reputation, supporters and sponsors in the cultural area with his ISMF, it will become much easier for him to dismiss any criticism in other areas as being slander and unjustified, and to use it as a platform for further activities and businesses. For promotion and advertising, Peter Chang uses particularly the newspapers for Koreans in Germany.
He is particularly using the Korean newspapers “The Eurojournal” and “The Europe Christian Shinmun” for his promotion and fundraising campaigns. In the newspapers, concerts are announced, positive reviews of his concerts are printed and sponsors and orchestra members recruited. Hanna Ryu is apparently a friend of an editor of the “Europe Christian Shinmun.” The articles in the “Eurojournal” mention not only the newspaper itself as a sponsor of the ISMF, but also the Bonn satellite office of the Korean embassy. However, in the newspaper articles, the connection with the UBF is always concealed. The editors of these newspapers didn’t respond to our email enquiries.
Hanna Ryu is also trying to distinguish herself as an educated and gifted writer and as an expert and sponsor of Korean culture and literature and German-Korean cultural exchange, by writing other contributions and poems for various Korean newspapers, for instance an essay about “chopsticks” in Korean the newspapers “Uri Shinmun” shortly before Christmas 2004.
Improvement of the Reputation in Germany
Another goal of Mr. Chang is to revamp his reputation in the public, after newspapers had reported in the year 2002 that the office of the district attorney in Bonn had to deal with him because neighbors and kindergarten teachers had noticed the neglect and maltreatment of children in the Bonn UBF. Unfortunately, the investigations finally had to be abandoned, since the UBF members covered up for Peter Chang and it was difficult to deal with and prove the claims from a legal perspective, some of which were also time-barred already. In the following time, Mr. Chang tried to not be visible in the public as much as possible.
For UBF, the “Bible conferences” are particularly important, since people are not only converted to God, but also won as UBF followers, in a very emotional atmosphere. These Bible conferences often take place in renowned Christian conference facilities, so that attendants are confirmed in their wrong belief that UBF is a recognized and reputable Christian group that is part of the church or the Evangelical Alliance. Through concerts of the ISMF it is very easy for Peter Chang to twist the leaders of these facilities around his finger, by showing them the well-behaved, cute, obedient, musical, violin playing, prettily dressed up children, and talking about the Bible and world mission. Since some time, it has again become possible for the UBF to organize meetings in such Christian conference places.
In addition, Mr. Chang has planned a “charity concert” of the ISMF in the Beethoven Hall in Bonn in June 2005, allegedly to benefit the German Agro Action charity organization. The collection for a good purpose and the prestigious place are another means used by Mr. Chang in order to gain a positive image in public. It should be mentioned that so far in UBF Germany there was never a collection to benefit the German Agro Action nor any other German charity organization. It is also interesting that they particularly make the collection in favor of a humanitarian, non-church organization, though the “Godless humanism” has always been labeled the worst enemy in UBF and particularly in Bonn UBF. Their sudden interest in supporting the German Agro Action is nothing but hypocrisy.
Subsidies, Bounties and Entrance Fees
In addition to the motivations mentioned above, financial aspects are certainly important for Mr. Chang as well, or maybe even the main reason for his engagement in the cultural realm with his ISMF.
In the Korean newspapers and in the Internet under www.ismf.org/php/zboard.php?id=sponsor he openly tries to gain sponsors for his sake. The web page says: “We are looking for sponsors who would like to support our teenagers, who are our hope.” So far, this search has already produced good successes; the ISMF apparently is already supported financially or with free advertising by various newspapers for Koreans in Europe and even by the satellite office of the Korean embassy in Bonn. Mr. Chang probably also aims at private donations and sponsors among the Koreans who read these newspapers or visit the concerts.
In the realm of cultural exchange, it may be also possible to receive aid money and subsidies. Korea has a great interest in making the country and the culture known in Europe. Mr. Chang is possibly trying to get money from such culture budgets through his various culture organizations and associations of friends. Though currently such budgets like all others are tight in Germany, however, Korea and particularly the large Korean corporate groups are not poor at all, and they are ready to spend money for cultural promotion in order to foster their own sake and business in Europe.
For instance, the Korean Embassy in Berlin has declared the year 2005 as the “Korea Year” and tries to foster relations between Germany and Korea, together with the German Federal Foreign Office, the German-Korean group of parliamentarians and the German-Korean Society. In this context, they also organize concerts, in which the ISMF is apparently also performing, according to their website.
Whether the donations collected at charity concerts of the ISMF are really forwarded completely for the stated purposes is extremely questionable, in view of previous dealing with finances in the UBF and the previous lack of interest for such collections in the UBF. UBF has, however, a great experience in collecting generous donations for their own purposes. The concerts could be another opportunity for Mr. Chang to receive donation monies from outside, now that the members of his UBF group are already worn out financially and many of them even deeply indebted.
The combination with the cult UBF offers great financial advantages to Mr. Chang: He virtually doesn’t have any expenses, since of course all ISMF co-workers are working for him free of charge, being his cult followers. In his organization chart he lists alone four people who work for him as a webmaster, web designer or editor, and they certainly are not paid for their work. Thus, the takings from entrance fees, donations and subsidies are not much reduced by expenditures.
Tax Benefits and Money-laundering
Already long before the founding of the ISMF, Mr. Chang had founded another registered association for Korean culture in addition to his Bonn UBF itself, a fact that hardly anyone knew about, and this raises the question for what purpose this additional association was intended. It is an obvious assumption that these obscure associations offered him financial and particularly tax advantages already at that time. Though he has a doctorate, Mr. Chang never worked for his living as ordinary people do. Nevertheless he owns four houses, several cars and presumably further assets. All this was financed by his followers in the UBF through “offering moneys.” They also finance his living, inclusive of his frequent journeys to the United States, Korea and other countries. He even boldly collects rent from the UBF members who are living in “his” houses. Now the takings mentioned above by the ISMF have to be added, plus those from another business field still to be mentioned. Mr. Chang apparently is not only a genius in the area of psychology, but also in the area of finances.
Actually, Mr. Chang would have to pay income tax for his salary as a UBF director, and also for his rental income and his capital assets. The various non-profit associations which allegedly serve religious, charitable or cultural purposes, can also be used to juggle money around and to hide it from the treasury and other curious looks, or even receive tax privileges or additional subsidies.
Other Advantages for the UBF
The UBF “missionaries” are usually sent to Germany as students or doctoral candidates with a visa for the dedicated purpose of study. After the university study, which is usually only performed halfheartedly and often abandoned, these Koreans often have difficulties to get permissions for further stay and working in Germany. UBF has used a lot of tricks and deception “for the good purpose” in the past in order to get the longed for permanent resident permit from the resident registration office. Peter Chang’s various culture associations may also simplify getting these permissions for new UBF missionaries, through cultural exchange programs and better relationships with the Korean embassy which is appearing as a sponsor of the ISMF.
This problem is also another reason for the arranged marriages between Koreans and Germans in UBF. For the arranged marriages in UBF, the ISMF is an ideal platform, too.
In addition, the ISMF allows Peter Chang to promote and foster the talent and musical education of his sons. At least one of them is musically highly talented. This is a privilege that other UBF members never get. Career, hobbies and other activities next to the UBF usually are completely abandoned, because UBF already consumes all the spare time of the members.
The Children Education Business
Mr. Chang has always been obsessed with educating and training the children of his followers in UBF. Already in the past, he had assumed a large portion of the education of the cult members’ children in Bonn UBF. While the parents had to work and earn their living or were occupied with UBF activities, the children were frequently handed over to Mr. Chang, where he educated and trained them with authoritarian methods according to Korean-Confucianist conceptions. Even the German children had to learn the Korean hierarchical forms of address, where, for example, the older brother has to be addressed differently than the younger one, and transgressions in doing so were punished by Mr. Chang. In this education, “grandpa Peter” played partly the role of a confidant and attachment figure for the children, and partly the role of the absolute authority figure. As one of the children of a member said, he was the “decider,” whom they needed to obey more than their own parents. Because of the countless and perpetual UBF activities, most children were also severely neglected in the past. Currently, Mr. Chang pays attention to avoid that such neglect is publicly visible and at the same time the children are indeed given more attention, because they are now needed as members of the ISMF. The less successful UBF is in recruiting new members, and the more their efforts in the realm of “world campus mission” turn out to be a failure, and the more it becomes visible that their “visions” and “prayer topics” will be never fulfilled, the more they focus on the education of the “second generation” as their last hope.
The authoritarian training methods of Mr. Chang are admired in the Korean UBF. Apparently many Korean parents have problems with their children, who no longer follow the “party line” of the UBF with the ideals of absolute obedience and subordination. The parents often don’t have the necessary psychological skills of Mr. Chang who in a masterly manner knows how to make children and adults submissive. It seems that Mr. Chang has discovered a gap in the market here. He offers desperate Korean parents the possibility to send their children for an “education treatment” to Bonn for some months. Several Korean children already underwent this “re-education” in Bonn and were sent back to Korea. The parents seem to be pleased with the result and it is reported that Mr. Chang charges a pretty good fee for his services from the parents. Young UBF members are also sent to Bonn for training.
Within the UBF, Mr. Chang continues to promote his views and “services” in the realm of children education. In the year 2004, he was appointed chairman of an obscure “Committee for Second-Gen Education in Developed Countries” by the top UBF leadership. He also has the full support and backing of John Jun, the director of the Korean UBF who will soon take over the leadership of the UBF worldwide.
Perhaps Mr. Chang is trying to develop a new business area and another source of income, addressing the education worries of Korean parents in Korea and Europe not only in UBF, but even outside, promoting himself as a Korean variant of the “Super Nanny.” The second generation of “Kyopos” is currently adapting more and more to western culture, abandoning the Korean culture and Confucianist ideals. The offer that they may send their scalawags to Bonn and get them back a few months later, obedient, adapted, violin playing and as good as gold may be very appealing to Korean parents.
Of course it is very ironic that the Korean parents entrust their children to a man who already faced charges of physical abuse and neglect of children in the context of UBF.
Expansion of the Business and the Influence
It is obvious that Peter Chang doesn’t want to restrict his business to Bonn and Germany. According to his own web page, he wants to operate “in Germany, in the USA and in the whole world,” and the ISMF already runs “branch offices” in New Jersey (Rutgers UBF) and in Seoul.
On the ISMF homepage, the address given has been changed from the house of Mr. Chang in Bonn-Lengsdorf, An der Ziegelei 6, which also serves as UBF center, but another address in Bonn-Lengsdorf, Auf der Kaiserfuhr 39. Probably Mr. Chang has rented or bought office accommodation there.
The Future UBF?
Is ISMF the future of the UBF? Will the Bible cult now become a music cult? Or will it become a training camp for disobedient training children? Will Mr. Chang increase his influence in UBF so far that he will someday take over the leadership and become a new Samuel Lee?
Indeed, Peter Chang seems to be the only UBF leader who can be rated on par with Samuel Lee regarding their skills as cult leaders, and probably Mr. Chang could even surpass him, in a negative sense. Peter Chang’s abilities in manipulating people for his own purposes are perhaps even greater and more elaborate than those of Samuel Lee.
Inconsistencies and Problems
The big question for everybody knowing the UBF background to some extent is: Why does the director of the UBF cult in Bonn, Peter Chang, suddenly engage himself in the musical/cultural/educational realm? This seems to be very strange in view of the fact that UBF members, particularly hardcore members like Mr. Chang, claim “evangelizing” in the sense of UBF to be the only meaningful task in life. Every rank-and-file member of the UBF who would take the freedom to engage in other occupations besides job or university study and recruiting new UBF members would be reproached for having a “divided heart.” Every member is expected to support “wholeheartedly” what they call “world campus mission.”
Even in the year 2004 there was still no mention of music in a UBF self-depiction written by Peter Chang. Instead, he writes about himself and his wife: “They were full of vision and pioneering spirit to evangelize the students in Bonn with the Gospel by one-to-one Bible study.” And at the end: “Praise the Lord, who has raised up our small manger ministry through many trials and who now has set us up and uses us as a spiritual headquarters for the world mission. ... Now we want ... for the next 20 years of our pioneering ministry ... continue to serve the world mission ministry of God with God’s vision and with our five breads and two fish influentially.” Why then does Mr. Chang concentrate on Korean culture instead on the German students and Bible study? It is obvious that there is a stark discrepancy between his supposed goals and what he really deals with.
Generally, it is a principle of mission that missionaries should leave their own culture behind and adapt and live in the respective culture of their mission fields as far as possible for a Christian. This is actually what is characteristic for real missionaries such as the Apostle Paul who wrote in the letter to the Corinthians that he became like a Jew to the Jews, like a Gentile to the Gentiles, and “all things to all men” in order to win these people for the Gospel, or the famous missionary to China in the 19th century, Hudson Taylor, who deliberately adopted native dress and even shaped his hair into pigtails according to the Chinese fashion. “Missions have all too frequently exported with the gospel an alien culture” is explicitly named as one of the grievances that shall be absolutely eliminated according to the famous Lausanne Covenant of the International Committee for World Evangelization in 1974. But “Missionary Dr. Peter Chang” has even deliberately dedicated himself to exporting the Korean culture instead.
Within the UBF, Mr. Chang justifies his ISMF activities by claiming that he is serving the honor of God and the sake of UBF in doing so. However, there is no single word about UBF or God on the website, at the concerts and in the newspaper articles. So in the end, the concerts are serving the honor of their own, their own being brilliant as musicians, something that is always regarded bad in UBF. The ISMF organization chart also shows how much importance is given to titles, which obviously need to be as bombastic as possible.
UBF members have learned very well to live with such inner contradictions. In UBF, everything the leaders do is by definition right and synonymous with the work of God. It is our hope that UBF members one day may begin to see the problems through such inner contradictions.