Building nation-wide grassroots support to advance the cause of a free and unified Korea, Action for Korea United (AKU) hosted four regional rallies during February 2023. The rallies expanded upon an AKU festival on August 15, 2022, where twenty thousand Korean citizens pledged to build a grassroots base that would gather 10 million people by 2025 to mark the 80th anniversary of Gwangbok Jeol, or Korea’s Liberation Day.
Called Gwangbok, or “return to light,” by the Korean people, August 15 is one of the few holidays observed simultaneously in both North and South Korea. Reminding Koreans of the thwarted hopes of the Korean patriots who led the popular uprising for Korean independence against Japanese occupation in 1919, political and civil society leaders said those ideals of a restored Korean homeland remained unfulfilled. The historically brief postwar political division of North and South similarly was driven by Cold War rivalries and not the will of the Korean people.
Action for Korea United is the largest coalition for reunification in Korea with nearly 1,000 NGOs committed to advancing a vision for a peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula. Global Peace Foundation is a leading partner and founding member of AKU and has supported Korean-led efforts for reunification through international conferences, rallies, and cultural initiatives since 2009.
Strengthening the local grassroots foundation and expanding the civil society base all around Korea, thousands gathered in each of the four regions —Busan, Honam, Chungcheong and Daegu—to honor Korea’s shared heritage, language, and culture and commit to the 2025 target. Leaders of partnering organizations and local government representatives opened each event by welcoming citizens and galvanizing their base for the work ahead over the next three years.
Realizing the ‘Dream’
The Korean people “set a tremendous precedent in the beginning of the twentieth century, at a time when we did not have a nation, but only a dream,” Global Peace Foundation Chairman Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon told cheering Korean leaders at a concluding banquet in Seoul on February 21.
“When the door was opened by the president of the United States at that time, Woodrow Wilson, through the League of Nations and also his proposal that all colonized nations should eventually have a pathway to national sovereignty, Korea was the first nation to rise up to take on that call,” the GPF chairman said.
The 1919 Korean Independence movement became the inspiration for colonized nations in the twentieth century, Dr. Moon noted. “It was the voices of the Korean people, not any leader, but the Korean people that rose up at a time of hopelessness and gave the world inspiration.” The ‘Samil’ movement, he said, eventually set the precedent for citizen-led movements for national sovereignty and civil rights around the world.
For more information on Korean-led and international efforts supporting a free and unified Korea, visit the One Korea Global Campaign.