Past, Present, Future, and Our Part in the Korean Dream

October 1, 2023

The streets of Seoul are quieter than usual.

It is Chuseok, “Korean Thanksgiving,” and people are returning home. If there is a family burial ground, they go to clean the grounds. Today is about spending time with family.

I came to Korea to participate in the International Forum of One Korea and the Korean Dream Festival on October 3, Korea’s National Foundation Day.

It is an odd feeling knowing that I am not home, but I get to experience the Korean tradition of homecoming. It gives me the chance to remember and reflect on my roots. I think about the significance of every relationship, every decision, and every moment. When each of us looks back on our roots, we see the sum total of the many people and their lives that make up our past, and we seek to inherit the enduring qualities from their convictions, and their investments. Seeing their decisions and lives across time shows us what is important, and perhaps what is not as important.

The origin story of the Korean people has an ethos called hongik ingan, meaning “to broadly benefit humanity.” That is a grand calling that takes a lot of work and investment.

It makes sense that Korean people have the tradition of jungsung, meaning “sincerity.” It is a way to bring consciousness and intention into every moment and every action. It means making every moment count because they are each asked to do something great for humanity.

I think there is something in each of our traditions that speaks similarly. And what I am experiencing here in Korea, it stirs the desire to connect to my own heritage of similar aspirations.

I am sitting here in Seoul, preparing for the upcoming festival and forum, reading about the voices of past Koreans—who invested their hearts and souls to create a nation that expressed such noble ideals—and hearing the voices of those today, who are taking up that mantle.

I am witnessing history like I never expected to.

It inspires me to do the same: reach back and then look forward, with a commitment to make a contribution that benefits humanity.

Learn more about the International Forum on One Korea.

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