Sun Myung Moon
Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who has been taken to a church-owned hospital.

The health condition of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the self-proclaimed South Korean messiah, has worsened and he has been taken to a church-owned hospital near his home.

Moon, 92, is suffering from pneumonia and a Japanese specialist is trying to treat him, according to a statement from his own Unification Church.

The founder of a successful religious and business empire, Moon preaches that he represents the Second Coming of the Messiah promised in the Bible.

The Unification Church owns an extensive portfolio including The Washington Times newspaper, the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, Bridgeport University in Connecticut and hospitals in South Korea and Japan.

"Seoul St. Mary's Hospital notified us that, as Rev. Moon's hospitalisation period prolongs, complications arise and there is no way to improve his condition with modern medical technology," a statement from the church said.

"Family members and church executives decided through meeting to continue his medical treatment, along with believers' prayer and sincere care, in Cheongshim Medical Center in Chungpyeong, a shrine for the church he founded."

The Church has made headlines all over the world for its mass weddings, in which thousands of people meet their spouse shortly before getting married. It has also drawn criticism for allegations of brainwashing its members, called Moonies. Also, Moon's conservative political and social views have often been ridiculed.

Moon was born in North Korea during the period of Japanese occupation. Five younger siblings died from starvation in one year when he was young. In the late 1940s, he was sent to a labour camp by North Korea's communist leadership for being religious.

He became a staunch anti-communist as soon as he moved to the South. However military leaders in Seoul became worried about his growing influence on public opinion and also jailed him.