An American’s Dream for Korea’s Peaceful Reunification

Risa Perea
October 5, 2023

A group of people holding signs in front of a stage.

When I applied to study abroad in Korea, I wrote in my cover letter that one country’s situation is not isolated from another. I was inspired by the Korean Dream and all the efforts to work for peaceful unification. Thus, I wrote, rather boldly, that it is my personal mission to support peace and progress in the Korean Peninsula and that my dream is for Korea to rise to be a world-class example of integrity.

Later, while attending graduate school in Korea, I wanted to hear what young people thought about the issue of a divided Korea and reunification. I found out that one of my upperclassmen worried considerably about North Korea because her grandfather was from there. One weekend, as we made kimchi together, I heard stories about how her grandfather walked to South Korea during the Korean War. My friend’s relatives were fascinated that this girl from the U.S. would want to learn more about their family history and talk about unification.

On the other hand, I met classmates who didn’t care much about these issues. I remember their shocked faces when I introduced myself as a student from the United States and my interest in Korean unification. A couple of students couldn’t understand why an American would come to Korea when they were all trying to leave Korea to go to prestigious Ph.D. programs in the U.S. and land successful careers.

To me, the answer is obvious. If the peaceful unification of Korea does not happen, then at this rate, North Korea will continue its human rights violations, South Korea will become a dying elderly population, and the rich history and traditions of Korea may fade away.

I know I’m not alone in this movement. What inspires me to continue to support this Korean unification movement is seeing other youth who are interested in the Korean Dream, receiving help from elders who are actively participating, showing up at events myself, and hearing the inspiring words of the Global Peace Foundation chairman who tells us that it is possible.

This October 3, on Korea’s National Foundation Day, I attended the 2023 Korean Dream Festa for Korea United at Yeouido Park in Seoul. I saw a massive stage and heard many people talking about unification. I heard Dr. Hyun Jin Moon speak about the dream to unite all people. Dr. Moon spoke with fervor when he stated that we can’t wait for peaceful unification to happen, and it can’t be done alone. We all must take initiative and work together.

Like everything else, it will take effort. I can confirm that there are several challenges, even on a personal level, for me. Sometimes, I feel out of place in Korea, not quite understanding all the language and cultural nuances. One professor commented that I left my home to go to a tiny country on the other side of the world. However, is it not an American quality to answer the call to support peace in the world, even if it is for a country or people we don’t know?

Read more about the International Forum on One Korea

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