On August 15, 2019, over 15,000 activists, citizens, and friends gathered for the first Action for Korea United Festival (AKU Festival) at the KINTEX Convention Center in Seoul, Korea. Action for Korea United (AKU), is the largest coalition of civil society organizations working toward a free and unified Korea. AKU has been changing the conversation around peaceful Korean reunification, bringing the issue to the fore of everyday conversations, consciousness, and concern. Founded in 2012, it has grown to nearly 1,000 member organizations, with overseas partners representing the Korean diaspora around the world. Since its founding, Global Peace Foundation Korea has been a leading partner in the AKU coalition.
2019 marked the 100th Anniversary of the 1919 Korean Independence Movement, and the AKU Festival was a part of the year-long commemoration.
August 15 was selected as the day for this annual festival because of its significance in Korean history. A bittersweet moment for Koreans, August 15, is called “Gwangbokjeol” in Korean, which means “bringing back the light,” signifying the excitement and hope of building a newly freed Korean nation in 1945, liberated from colonial rule with the ending of WWII. But, yet again, these hopes were dashed by the geopolitics of the time, resulting in a peninsula divided into “North Korea” and “South Korea.” “Gwangbokjeol” became a fitting day to remember the excitement of that day and also remind Koreans of the North, South, and diaspora of the importance of that unfinished work to build a nation truly reflecting the Korean’s people history and heritage.
In 2019, August 15th renewed the spirit of the Korean Independence movement and the 5,000-year legacy that pre-dates all of the current divisions. The 15,000 that gathered became the inheritors of the unfinished work of the 2019 Korean Independence Movement and the patriots, activists, faith leaders, and leaders of civil society that would take up the mantle of building a nation rooted in the ideal of Hongik Ingan and finish the work to form a Korea that could live for the benefit all of humanity.
After a two-year pause due to the global pandemic, the annual Action For Korea United Festival was relaunched in 2022.