Team Uni-Tree Unification Contest 2012 Winner Reflections

February 18, 2013
Eric Olsen

Unification Project Contest 2012: Reflection Series

Part 1

In May 2012, as part of the Korea United campaign, Global Peace Foundation Korea and other partnering organizations hosted the Unification Project Contest 2012. Students from universities around South Korea were invited to design innovative projects to promote North and South reunification. The winners were announced in August, during the Korea United Festival.

Team Uni-Tree express their elation at winning the Gold title.

Since then, six months have passed, and it is certain that the Unification Project Contest 2013 will be even greater, and more powerful. But before it launches, let’s take a look at the winners of the Unification Project Contest 2012.

Their stories are worthy testimonies.

Today’s featured winner is from Team Uni-Tree, the recipient of the Gold Award, 21 year old Seo Yeon Lim from Sook Myung Women’s University.

It was a chilly February day, when we met up with Seo Yeon at Boo Cheon Station.

While sitting across from her, It’s odd to think that six months have already passed.

Here are the nine questions we talked about.

Seo Yeon Lim with GPF Korea at Boo Cheon Station.

* What made you participate in the Unification Project Contest 2012?

– I was on my way home with a friend after class when I got a leaflet. I have always been interested in the issue of reunification, so I thought it would be a good opportunity for me.

* How did you come up with your idea?

Team Uni-Tree’s proposal was to plant trees on North Korean mountains.

– The team leader of Uni-Tree, Mi Yeon Oh (21), also a student at Sook Myung Women’s University, is passionate about this issue. A few days later after she received the contest leaflet, she visited the Unification Observatory with her parents. When she looked over the Demilitarized Zone, she saw how bare the mountains on the north side were. The thought occurred to her, “How nice it would be to plant Uni-Trees on those mountains.”

* Everyone on your team are childhood friends, not college friends. How did you get everyone together?

– There are four of us in Team Uni-Tree. We attended the same academy during junior high and high school. The team leader, Mi Yeon Oh and I go to same college. It was easy for us to work together because we have been friends for a long time.

* What was the most difficult thing for you while working on this project?

– Probably team coordination. Although we are close friends, we do not agree on everything. Whenever we had a disagreement, there was always one of us who helped defuse the discord so we could successfully complete the project.

* What would be the most memorable thing that happened during the process?

–  We also worked with elementary school kids on the Uni-Tree Planting Campaign.

At first, the children had negative views toward North Korea and reunification. They used derogatory terms like “Bbalgaengi” (communist). But, as they studied the meaning of reunification with our team and made Uni-Trees with us, they began to develop a more positive understanding of the issue. We were so proud to see them change.

* You also won a trip to Baekdu Mountain and how was it?

Team Uni-Trees won a trip to Baekdu Mountain.

Team Uni-Trees won a trip to Baekdu Mountain- We not only visited Baekdu Mountain but the tombstone of King Gwanggaeto the Great as well as the grave site of King Jangsoo. I noticed the mountains in China have so many trees but the ones in North Korea are mostly bare. Someday, we hope to fill the mountains in the north with our Uni-Trees. We yearn for reunification more passionately now, than ever.

* Six months have passed since the contest concluded. Do you feel differently about reunification?

– Yes! I feel different. I was just a student who had no idea about reunification before I participated in this contest. The Unification Project Contest 2012 made us realize that reunification is not just a far-off concept.  We can make it happen. Even small changes in our daily lives can make a huge difference.

Whenever a forum on reunification is held in school, we are eager participants. We even discuss the issue with friends. (Smile)

* Lastly, do you have any expectations for Unification Project Contest 2013?

– I hope they improve the Mission III phase of the content. During Mission III the participants get to work together with the public on the project.

Mission I and II focus on planning and publicity of the project through social networking. Mission III is to conduct activities offline. I regret that the we didn’t have enough time to execute well. I hope give more time for Mission III in 2013. That way, more people can feel reunification getting closer. (Smile)

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