Seoul - Around 7,000 couples were married in South Korea on Wednesday in a mass wedding conducted by controversial religious leader Sun Myung Moon. The "cosmic ceremony," eight days before 90th birthday of the Unification Church's founder, was held in an exhibition centre in Goyang, close to Seoul, a speaker of the organization said.
Some of the couples were already married, and were renewing their wedding vows, the speaker said.
Moon, who has described himself as the messiah, blessed the participants from South Korea and other countries with his wife Han Hak Ja at his side.
The pair are referred to by the followers of their church as "True Parents."
Another mass wedding in October brought together 10,000 couples, according to the organization. Most unions under the Unification Church are preselected on the basis of church members' photos and biographical information.
The Unification Church, founded by Moon in 1954, has also attracted attention through its worldwide political and economic activities.
The institution has drawn criticism for aspiring to world domination and the systematic organization of its mass "blessings."
A series of celebrations are planned among the church members and Moon's family for his 90th birthday, which falls on February 25th.