Thousands of mourners have gathered for the funeral of controversial South Korean religious leader Sun-Myung Moon.

Nearly 30,000 people attended a ceremony at the church's headquarters in the resort of Gapyeong, 60 kilometres (35 miles) east of the South Korean capital Seoul.

Many followers sobbed quietly when the wooden coffin was placed before a portrait of their revered leader.

Moon, the founder of the Unification Church, famous across the world for its mass wedding ceremonies, died at the age of 92 on 3 September. He was suffering from pneumonia and died at a hospital in Gapyeong.

The church has millions of followers all over the world known as "Moonies". He was often accused of brainwashing converts and denounced by critics for running multi-billion dollar businesses that included publishing, arms factories, universities and food distribution.

Moon was jailed for 11 months in the US for his shady business deals and tax evasion in 1982.

Born in 1920 in Pyongyang, the capital of present day North Korea, Moon established the church in refugee camps in 1954, following the Korean War.

His followers believe he had had a vision at the age of 15 and was asked by Jesus to restore humanity and complete His work on Earth.

Though his teachings were based on the Bible, he gave new interpretations to the holy book and was accused of creating a cult faith. His church claims to have nearly three million followers in different parts of the world.

"I'm very sad. As I had been praying a lot for him, I thought he would live longer. But he passed away so suddenly," a mourner from Germany told AFP.

"He was not a god. I think he was like a messiah, through whom you can reach God."

Scroll through the pictures to see the funeral ceremony of the Rev Moon:

Han Hak-ja, widow of Sun-Myung Moon, sits beside Moon's coffin during his funeral service in GapyeongReuters
Guards of honour carry the body of Moon as his family members follow during the funeral service for the late founder of the Unification Church, at the CheongShim Peace World Center in GapyeongReuters
Han Hak-ja, widow of Sun-Myung Moon, watches as a guard of honour carries the coffin containing the body of her husband in GapyeongReuters
Hyung-Jin Moon, International President of the Unification Church, and believers bow during a funeral service for Sun-Myung Moon in GapyeongReuters
Honour guards carrying the body of Sun-Myung Moon march at Moon's funeral service in GapyeongReuters
Hyung-Jin Moon, International President of the Unification Church, leads the honour guards at the funeral service for Sun-Myung Moon in GapyeongReuters
Wreaths sent from other countries are seen as a man cleans the floor during memorial services for the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in GapyeongReuters
The body of Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, is seen at the Cheon Jeong Gung in GapyeongReuters
Reverend Sun-Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church, at his 91st birthday party at Cheongpyeong Heaven and Earth Training Center in GapyeongReuters
The Cheon Jeong Gung Museum, where the body of Sun Myung Moon will rest, in GapyeongReuters