Shooting the Moon: Kahr Arms, Kook-jin Moon and the Unification Church

There is something about the gun business that exerts an inexplicable pull on dubious characters and Kook-jin Moon or ‘Justin’ Moon the 41 year old founder of Kahr Arms, fits the profile.

This month Kahr Arms sued Diamond Back Firearms LLC for patent infringement.  My prediction is that Kahr’s assertions will be upheld in court.  They have deep pockets, but curiously the patent attorneys are working for Kahr Arm/Saeilo but the patents are owned by Justin Moon.

Moon entered the handgun business in 1993 with a passion for pistols and a clear comprehension of the engineering of weaponry. He also came fully armed with an Economics degree from Harvard as well as a MBA from the University of Miami adequately financed by a $5 million loan from the Bank of Dad.

Kook-jin ‘Justin’ Moon has had a concealed-carry permit in the State of New York from the time he was 18, and understands weapons technically. So much so, when he had no success purchasing a large calibre compact pistol, he engineered one. Moon designed the K Series 9mm himself and developed seven US patents in the process.  Kahr Arms was then founded in 1995 and Justin has not looked back.

Kook-jin opportunistically recognized the design advantages fashioned by legislated magazine restrictions.  The new magazines would permit a sub compact frame but also the space to accommodate high calibre ammunition.

He recognized a then fallow market niché, concealed carry pistols, that has grown exponentially and Moon introduced his Kahr 9mm and .40 SW little hitters.

The affirmation of concealed-carry legislation in 30 states has transported Kahr to market prominence. Kahr Arms sales have been increasing at an estimated 30 percent annually.

Moon’s long range plan for Kahr is to augment manufacturing capacity through acquisition. They have been deliberate in their purchases, top bidder for intellectual property, production facilities and expertise.

Numrich Arms was acquired in 1996 and Kahr took over the brand names Thompson (Tommy Gun) and Auto Ordnance.  This single purchase placed them in the rifle and machine gun business in a significant way.

Magnum Research Inc, manufacturer of the Desert Eagle Pistol was acquired in 2010 to vault Kahr into the lucrative full frame business, purchasing a highly respected company and filling a  missing aspect of their line. Kahr has developed a significant munitions supply business as well.

Justin Moon is also President of the holding company that owns and controls Kahr Arms, Saeilo Inc. of Blauvelt, N.Y.  Saeilo is a subsidiary of Saeilo (Korea) Inc. who in turn is part of the Tongil Group in Seoul, South Korea.

If the name Moon is recognizable you have correctly linked it with the self-proclaimed Messiah The Reverend Sun Myung Moon (문, 文, 선, 鮮, 명, 明) of the Unification Church. He is Kook-jin’s billionaire father.

In the United States the Unification Church might be best known for their association in the media with the counter-culture movements of the 60s and 70s and the controversial use of the term “Moonies” to describe adherents to the religion.  They were investigated heavily in the 70s and 80s as a result of high pressure recruitment including brainwashing tactics.  Sun Myung also claims to be “Humanity’s Savoir, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Father”.  Put that on a business card.

Kook-jin Moon, ‘Justin’ known as the ‘True Son’ in the Church was appointed the chairman of the Tongil Group in 2008 at the age of 37. Tongil is a business cabal of over 100 companies but the consortium was hit hard by the Asian Stock collapse. This presented a serious challenge for a recently minted MBA, as the Tongil Group was in the ditch by $3.6 billion when Justin came aboard. To supplement the drama he was appointed Chairman to replace his father.

The broad focus of the Tongil Group precluded vertical integration with business units that ranged from ginseng manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, tourism and publishing so Kook-jin began revamping the operation seeking commonalities. His analysis was exact.

In the first year he sold 11 companies and ultimately transformed 90% of the remainder into profitability within three years, thus rescuing the multibillion dollar Tongil Group by the time he was 40.

The True Son rode to the rescue and in that respect, maybe Kook-jin Moon is the real Messiah. I know for certain, in business he is a certified rain maker and seems to have performed a miracle, if true.

Kook-jin ‘Justin’ Moon the True Child is now in the big leagues, even though ranked the 4th son in the True Family. In all probability Justin is in training as the next True Father of the Unification Church, as Sun Myung is over 90.

‘The True Father in waiting’ will continue to operate the Tongil Group as it is the funding source for the Church and then eventually to ascend as the spiritual head of the religion.

I highly doubt that he will be going back to Massachusetts to make pistols.

So why is he expanding the weapons business, acquiring companies and making bullets? This is the elephant in the room.  The incongruity of a wealthy church, with a billionaire leader who espouses peace and captains a burgeoning weapons manufacturer as part of its holdings just seems historically counter intuitive.

Justin Moon is interview shy and media savvy but in a discussion with a print reporter I attempted to decipher lengthy direct quotes from The True Son in response to questions about Kahr Arms and its links to the Unification Church.

Kook-jin Moon is articulate in his explanations and even more eloquent in his ability to neither give facts nor a direct response.

The True Son’s ability to rationalize the Church and the business is reminiscent of the exquisite skills of President Clinton.  Love him or hate him ‘slick Willy’ is elusive but very smart and Justin Moon appears better at both.

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