Officials say the religious leader who founded the Unification Church and built it into a
multibillion-dollar business empire has died in South Korea at age 92.

Church officials said Sunday that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon died at a hospital the church owns near his home in Gapyeong  after being hospitalized with pneumonia last month.

The patriarch and founder of the controversial Unification Church gained fame in the 1970s and 1980s for pairing up and marrying off thousands of followers at elaborate mass weddings.

Critics accused the church of demanding cult-like devotion from its followers.

 

The church also built a business empire that included newspapers, schools, a ski resort and dozens of other ventures in several countries, including a peace institute, carmaker and hotel
in North Korea.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)