“Maka-Diyos, Mako-tao, Makakalikasan at Makabansa.”
“For God, People, Nature, and Country.” —national motto of the Philippines
“To benefit humankind”
A few weeks ago, I got to be a part of the Global Peace Convention (GPC) 2023 in the Philippines. On December 12, one of the programs I participated in was the International Forum on One Korea. Throughout the forum, I was reminded of the time I wrote a piece on One Korea and the Korean word “Jeoung.”
“Jeoung,” as Kyung Mi Lee beautifully wrote, “It’s kind of like affection, kinship and empathy…It’s more visual for me. I’ve always imagined it like a thread connecting people. Like everyone walks around with jeoung attached to their bodies.”
In the forum, I thought everyone present had this beautiful thread, jeoung, connecting with one another for “the greatest dream of all—One Korea,” as put by Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, Chairman of the Global Peace Foundation. This thread was not only connecting the people present, but in my wild imagination, it was beyond the Philippines, expanding toward the 38th Parallel and the people on both sides.
As prominent speakers shed light on the possible reunification of Korea, it was incredible to witness people from different countries, races, and ethnicities come to support this cause of unity. While this time, the forum focused more on the economic lens of the reunification of the Korean peninsula, the ideas, support, and people were there.
Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at American Enterprise Institute, informed the attendees with his in-depth analysis of North in the post-war era as he not only talked about the poverty in North Korea, but also about the economic costs of postponement of reunification and a viable economic reconstruction of North Korea with high return on investment collectively with the potential of South Korea and the world.
Likewise, another speaker, Dr. Chong-Soo Park, former Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation, talked about the implications of reunification and how preparedness is imperative. He furthered the prospect of creating a free economic zone on the North Korean, China, and Russian border, which the United Nations has supported since 1991.
Among all these conversations, the ideal of “Hongik Ingan” and connectedness were present. Jeoung was there. Jeoung was present with an American person vouching for One Korea; it was there as a Filipina listened closely to the shared history of colonialism, and jeoung was definitely there as two Nepalis sat towards the end of the row and reflected on the history of colonialism, division, family, and reunification. Jeoung was a thread of hope for unified families, robust economic prospects, and a new nation.
The forum showcased the dream of a reunited nation “that is better than the sum of the parts,” as Dr. Moon put it. He described a nation founded on the ethos of “Hongik Ingan,” a country that would benefit all of humanity and serve as a model for peace for the world, one which is relevant today more than ever as many people have bitterness and hatred in their hearts. He elaborated on building that body of work with the shared culture between the two nations and how South Korea and the Korean Dream were never opponents of the North. Neither is it about the South eating up the North and bringing it under control of the South.
As Dr. Moon ended his speech with a ‘Mabuhay,’ I considered how different countries have different names for similar ideals. The overlapping of ideas of “Hongik Ingan,” i.e., to benefit all of humankind, the Korean Dream, and the Filipino motto, “Maka-Diyos, Mako-tao, Makakalikasan at Makabansa,” roughly translates to “For God, People, Nature, and Country.”
They are different countries with different languages, but the principle of oneness is the same.
Maybe, just maybe, it is jeoung; this connectedness among people despite our differences.
Maybe this is what makes it worth it.
Maybe this is why people stand in solidarity for a cause for people who do not have a voice, standing up against violence that happens.
Maybe this is what gives hope, strength, and courage to dream big and live to benefit all.