September 29-30, 2014
Seoul, Republic of Korea
Theme: “Vision, Principles and Values for the Unified Korea”
Greetings & Opening
Distinguished leaders, ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your participation in this significant Global Peace Leadership Conference in Seoul, Korea focusing on “The Vision, Principles and Values for a Unified Korea.”
Today at this session we are gathered to touch on a theme that is very close to my heart “The Role of Women for a Unified Korea.” It is a deeply personal topic, not only because Korea is my homeland or because I am a woman, but also because I believe Korea’s destiny is deeply connected to the future of the world and for the peace, security and prosperity of the entire human family.
The Korean Dream
My husband has just released his new book, “The Korean Dream: A Vision for a Unified Korea.” It is a timely book as Korea stands at a crossroads today.
In the book he seeks to present a new approach to unification. It is one that draws on the rich heritage of the Korean people to form a framework for a nation uniquely our own. It is an approach that speaks to the Koreans in the North, Koreans in the South, Koreans in the diaspora scattered around the world. It is an approach that provides a platform that can reach beyond the 60-year ideological divide remaining from the Cold war and show that this short division is nothing compared to the 5000-year common history the people of Korea share and the destiny we are meant to fulfill together.
The essence of this destiny lies within the philosophy Hongik Ingan that we are Divine sons and daughters of Heaven, called by God to fulfill a mission to live for the benefit of the world. Throughout its history, Hongik Ingan became deeply embedded in our nation’s traditions, culture, political and social systems, and especially in our family values taking form in what became the extended family tradition of Korea. This family model allowed the Korean heritage to be passed on from generation to generation and raised people to embody a deeply spiritual tradition with virtues such as self-sacrifice, filial piety, and jeong song.
The Korean family tradition is such a beautiful treasure we have. We are warmed by the image of the sacrificial Korean mother and her complete devotion to her children, her husband, and her aging parents. We are moved by the stories of children and their filial piety and loyalty, living to fulfill their family’s legacy and fulfill their parents’ dream. We watch historical dramas made to capture the compassion and father-like heart a king or a leader showed toward his people. We all grew up learning about characters like Shimcheong, Chunhyang, and Heungbu and Nolbu who exemplify the highest virtues of the Korean culture. We are moved by the iconic heroes of the Korean legacy that honors human life that were all willing to sacrifice themselves for a loved one or for the betterment of the whole.
In the extended family, the past, present and future generations are connected and concepts such as lineage, heritage, and destiny come to life. A child learns about identity, culture, traditions, and norms in an environment of mutual love and respect. A child learns to honor and care for the elder generations as they watch their parents attend the grandparents and prior generations. The elders pass on their wisdom to the next generation who carry on the dreams and lifelong work of the previous generation.
In the context of extended family, marriage is not only the concern of just two people. It is the bonding of two families into the lineage that continues through their children. Newly married couples and young families have elders who can serve as ready counselors, offering their advice and example. Naturally the family honors both men and women, boys as girls as two counterparts, unique and different, designed to serve and complement each other, together creating a family and society, harmonious, balanced and whole.
Through the wide range of relationships built with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the immediate family of mother, father, brothers and sisters, an individual gains a sense of decorum and manners, learning what is right and what is wrong in human relations, and develops the lifestyle of responsibility, hard work, and the pursuit of excellence. The essence of the values formed within strong families and especially the extended family is the culture of service, living for others and living for the greater good. Individuals raised in such families were to carry that culture out to the world. Most of all, the extended family prepared our people to interact with the diversity of the human family.
Our First Task: Rebuild Our Family Tradition
Today, this family tradition, which has been the crown jewel of Korean culture, is disappearing under the pressure of our world’s circumstances. Today the issue of family breakdown has become a global epidemic, and this deterioration of family values has had unspeakable negative impact on our children, our communities, and our school environments.
Therefore, the first step for building an ethical, just Korea that is true to our heritage is to strengthen the culture and tradition of the Korean family. The role of the women in this monumental task will be imperative.
Global Peace Women must look to our spiritual and traditional roots to revive the family ideal. We cannot let the contemporary trends take away from our people the ideal of family and the extended family model. It is part of our root, our core, and our heritage. Family is the most important social unit for building a strong nation that can serve our world. It will provide the solid bedrock to undergird our national and global aspirations. The family is the foundation for just, ethical, cohesive and prosperous societies. The family is the “school of love and virtue” in which the character and heart of each individual is formed at the deepest level. Faith is first put into practice as values and lived out as virtues at home. Within strong, healthy families virtuous men and women are raised, who can govern themselves in accordance with their conscience and live for the sake of the well-being of others.
Without it we cannot produce the moral and innovative leaders that Korea and our world needs. Without it, our society will not be able to withstand corruption, conflict, and an immoral, selfish culture motivated only by money and power. Without a stable foundation built on strong families, it would be like building a skyscraper without a solid base, doomed to crumble under its own weight.
Building a National Model for the World
The world today faces serious challenges fueled by identity-based conflict. We have a world where still too many die of starvation, malnutrition, disease and poverty. We need a vision and leaders who can pull together our fragmented world. The Global Peace Foundation advances the vision of “One Family under God” together with a network of leaders around the world. Based on a common aspiration and universal principles and shared values, the Global Peace Foundation is creating new models of development and building a platform that can transcend national, ethnic, and religious divisions. It recognizes that “family” is fundamental to the meaning and fulfillment of that dream. It is at the essence of what all people cherish and the foundation of forming just, ethical, cohesive and prosperous societies.
That is why I have created the tagline for the Global Peace Women: “Peace Starts with the Home.” Home is where you find peace, home is where you are surrounded by family. Home can mean so much more. Home can be the hometown where you were born. Home can be your homeland, your nation. And one day, this world, will become “One family under God” and truly become our home of peace, happiness, and fulfillment.
I feel Korea has a mission beyond just its own nation. Unifying the Korean peninsula and forming a nation unique to our heritage is the first step to fulfilling the Korean Dream. We must work to build a much-needed model for the world where modernization and economic prosperity does not come at the cost of morality and the family tradition. We need to form a nation that all humanity would aspire to resemble. We need to produce global leaders and models of development that all people would welcome into their nations.
For this, we must work to strengthen the family unit and from there, expand the family values and traditions into the culture and structure of the nation. The love, respect, self-sacrifice, and virtues that are embodied within the family must become the ways of the school systems, economic systems, political systems, and social systems. Within our own nation, we must create a culture that honors every life and upholds every human being’s God-given human rights and dignity. I believe, our people have the qualities of character and the deep spiritual heritage to do so.
The story of Dangun that tells of the origin of our people paints a beautiful picture of the Korean people as Divine children of Heaven. We see each human life as something valuable to treasure and treat with dignity. This is the time we must bring this ideal vision to life and create a nation where every community, every policy, and all the systems put in place honor this principle and uphold such values. When we begin to see every human being as a member of our family whom we are meant to protect, nurture, and love, then our society will move beyond squabbling political viewpoint or personal agendas. We must create a society where the value of men and women, of boys and girls is not determined merely by career advancement or financial success, nor by political power or social status. Rather it is determined by the quality of each person’s character and how much they use their creativity and skills to better this world. Once we revive our family foundation, Korea will give rise to the greatest men and women of history and raise a generation of Koreans prepared to live for sake of humanity in fulfillment of the Hongik Ingan ideal.
If we, Koreans can reclaim our Korean identity and connect our daily lives to the lofty aspirations of Hongik Ingan, we can create a unified Korean homeland and build a nation that truly can live for the benefit of all humanity. This process must begin through awakening the vision of the Korean Dream in our families since they are the school that can raise people of character who will become owners of Korea’s providential destiny to live for the sake of the world and devote their lives to its fulfillment.
I ask you to join with me in this noble effort because this responsibility rests upon each and everyone one of us. Thank you very much.