The following is an unofficial translation of the original Korean article for our English readers. The original Korean article can be found here.
“2023 Korean Dream Festa for Korea United” kicked off in Seoul
- Eight civil society organizations took a central role;
- Held in major cities nationwide from October 3-28th;
- Addressed the lack of awareness of the need for unification;
- Included various youth programs;
- Plans for international expansion across 29 countries;
- Holding various campaigns culminating in 2025.
“Mansei (Korean traditional cheer meaning to live a thousand years) the Republic of Korea!”
On the afternoon of October 3rd, the 2023 “Korean Dream Festa for Korea United” was held in Yeouido Park in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul with over 20,000 participants. This was a large-scale unification vision festival held to commemorate the Korean National Foundation Day. This event was held with the aim of realizing a new unified Korean nation, which can contribute to world peace based on Korea’s founding vision of Hongik Ingan (to be “of benefit to all humanity”).
Although it was the last day of the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holiday season, tens of thousands of citizens were on site before the event began. They enjoyed performances such as the K-Dance Festa and the Taekwondo Flash Mob, which included over 1,000 youth participants. An official from the Korean Dream 10 Million Campaign committee observed, “It’s been four generations since Korea’s liberation, and now many young people believe that unification is not necessary. In comparison with the older generation, awareness about the necessity and importance of unification is low.” He added, “In order to raise awareness of the importance of unification, we have prepared a number of programs for young people to participate in.” An official from the Taekwondoship said, “Just as the Hwarang (an elite warrior group of male youth in ancient Silla kingdom) spirit was important in unifying the Three Kingdoms, the Taekwondo spirit can also play a major role in unifying North and South Korea. My hope is that if everyone understood the spirit of Taekwondo, we would come together as one and unification would be achieved as soon as possible.”
The event included congratulatory speeches from dignitaries such as Dr. Chanil Ahn, the Co-Chair of Action for Korea United. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, Chairman of Global Peace Foundation.
During the program, citizens recited a declaration for unification and sang the Korean traditional song, “We Wish for Unification.”
At the Korean Dream Mansei event, participants cheered waving the Korean flag as well as flags bearing the message “Korean Dream: One Korea through People Power.” One participant, Chun-hee Park (76) shared, “When I left my house today – even though it is National Foundation Day – I didn’t see many houses with the Korean flag in their windows and I felt we have lost our sense of patriotism and aspirations for unification. I’m glad that it’s now time for many people to gather together, feel pride in our country, and rekindle our desire for unification.” Another participant, Sung-jeong Cho (49), expressed, “Instead of leaving the issue of unification to the government, I thought: I should think about what I can do.”
The organizing committee consisted of 8 organizations including: Action for Korea United, the Korean Senior Citizens Association, Korean National Police Veterans Association, Federation of Artistic and Cultural Organizations of Korea, 10 Million Divided Korean Families Association, Korea Cluppy Association, Korea Freedom Federation, and Leaders’ Alliance for Korea Unification. This event was sponsored by the Global Peace Foundation, the South Korean Ministry of Unification, Peaceful Unification Advisory Council, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, and Taekwonship. The 2023 Korean Dream Festa for Korea United kicked off in Seoul on October 3rd with similar events to be held in Gyeongnam on the 7th; Daejeon and Busan on the 9th; Chungnam and Gwangju on the 14th; Jeonbuk on the 22nd; and Daegu on the 28th. A total of more than 100,000 citizens are expected to participate in the nationwide events.
The 2023 Korea Dream Festa for Korea United is but a part of the larger 2025 Korea Dream 10 Million Campaign. This is a Korean citizen-led grassroots unification campaign that aims to achieve peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula. The program will culminate in the 80th anniversary of Korean independence on August 15th, 2025. Just as 2 million people participated in the first “March 1st Movement” more than 100 years ago in 1919, the “Second March 1st Movement” would aim to engage 10 million people in 2025.
Based on the vision of the Korean Dream to build a model nation that would benefit all people, the campaign strives to build local and international support for unification of the Korean peninsula. As such, organizers are working to engage 100,000 people in 2023 with plans for 1 million participants in 2024 and 10 million people in 2025. To this end, organizers are planning the following:
- 10 million Citizens March Campaign
- DMZ One K Global Peace Concert
- DMZ Korea Dream: 1 Million National Tour and Bicycle March
- Korea Dream Volunteer Grand Festival
- 8.5 Million Diaspora Koreans’ Korean Liberation Day Celebration
Along with various national campaigns, there is also an overseas campaign underway to raise global awareness of the larger unification movement. The Korean Dream Eurasia Tour was launched in March 2022 and has spread the Korean Dream vision across 85 cities in 29 countries over a period of 137 days.
“‘Aju’ means “I am the Owner”… The unification movement connects to the Korean founding spirit of Hongik Ingan.” Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, Chairman of Global Peace Foundation
“Aju” means “I will be the Owner”
At the 2023 Korean Dream Festa for Korea United, the keynote speech by Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, International Chairman of Global Peace Foundation, was delivered in an unusual manner. Dr. Moon did not go up to the podium and read a prepared speech, but rather gave an impromptu address. He spoke while walking among the participants, making eye contact with them, and encouraging them to respond with the word, “Aju” (An original word that means “I will become the owner.”).
Chairman Moon emphasized that the most important thing for the unification movement is spirit of ownership and the spirit of “Aju.” In order to achieve unification, it is not the government or political leaders that should take the lead,
but rather individual citizens who desire unification and the spirit of an owner to work for unification. Chairman Moon explained, “When I began this movement for unification, I explained to many top leaders, “I’m going to create a movement for unification rooted in the Korean people. A grassroots, bottom-up movement.” Nobody believed it was possible. They told me of the hyper-partisan divide between left and right, the religious divide between Christians, Buddhists and indigenous religions, various factions and groups in South Korea. […] Yet, this gathering here today is a testimony that dreams can really come true, that the impossible can be possible if we have a vision and a dream that we can share.
Chairman Moon emphasized the importance of the spirit of Hongik Ingan, which means to “benefit all humanity,” and encouraged participants to start change from within and then work to make others aware of the importance of unification. “The most important thing in this grassroots movement for unification is the ownership over the Korean Dream vision by the Korean people themselves. If you become the owner and through whatever foundation you have, you spread this message and wake other Koreans up, then this will grow like wildfire.”
Chairman Moon, who delivered his speech in English, also emphasized the importance of global support for the Korean Dream. Chairman Moon explained, “If we were to achieve North and South Korean unification, can we do it alone with our own power? So, if I were to especially only speak in Korean about Korean unification, how can we have foreigners listen and how can we inspire foreigners to help us to be a part of this movement? That is why I use English. […] The Korean Dream is not just a dream to inspire Koreans; it can inspire the entire world.