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: