By Naomi Yakawich
“You were the believers that a dream could ignite the hearts and minds of a people… A dream so compelling that it could inspire not just Korea, but the entire global community.”
The Chairman of Global Peace Foundation, Dr. Hyun Jin P. Moon, addressed leaders with Action for Korea United (AKU), a coalition of over 800 NGOs spearheading a grassroots movement for reunification on the Korean peninsula. Initiated five years ago, AKU and its many partners, including Global Peace Foundation, convened in Seoul, Korea on December 7-8 for part two of the International Forum on One Korea, the first of which was held in Washington D.C. last month.
With leaders from all sectors of Korean society, including representatives from a variety of faith communities and civic and humanitarian aid groups, AKU is striving to bring a fresh grassroots approach to building awareness of the importance of unification, particularly among younger generations.
Painfully aware of the political and military divisions threatening the peninsula, the forum addressed the importance of the civic sector in transcending these divisions in order to tackle human rights issues, economic stability and global security based on the shared history and founding vision of a united Korea.
Like many historical citizen-led movements for change, the effort to unite the two Koreas will require a strong base of support from Korea’s citizens both on the peninsula and in the diaspora around the world. Speakers like Kenneth Bae, the longest serving American prisoner in North Korea, pointed out the need to win the hearts of the North Korean defectors around the world, saying that the human rights issue goes beyond humanitarian aid alone.
“Support needs to be provided in a transparent way,” said Young sik Kang, General Secretary of the Korean Sharing Movement, “In order to secure human dignity in North Korea, we need to make a joint effort between humanitarian aid and human rights activates.”
Citizen-led activities to promote reunification include humanitarian aid projects like the Miracle of 1,000 Won, pledge campaigns asking South Korean citizens how they can contribute to the movement for unification, and music and art projects promoting traditional Korean culture and a vision based on Korea’s founding philosophy of hongik ingan, a nation that serves humanity.
Learn more about the International Forum on One Korea and grassroots efforts for reunification of the Korean peninsula at 1dream1korea.info.