The World Watches Korea: International Youth on Korean Reunification

Naomi Yakawich
October 23, 2017

“There is so much youth can do for the reunification of the Korean peninsula.” —Hee ryoung Kim

The 2017 International Young Leaders Assembly (IYLA) gathered youth delegates from countries around the world August 7-17 in a ten-day program beginning in Washington D.C. and continuing a tour through Philadelphia and New York City, culminating in a summit at the United Nations headquarters. The premier leadership program, co-convened by Global Peace Foundation (GPF) and the Global Young Leaders Academy (GYLA), hosted thirty delegates in the full program, including Ms. Hee ryoung Kim of Korea, who shared her profound reflection on the peninsula’s reunification issue as a global issue through her IYLA experience.

“I was very much inspired by my fellow IYLA delegates. We had many opportunities to discuss global issues, sharing ideas and learning a lot about what makes a good leader. During the program we were able to visit the most prestigious places, such as the U.S. Capitol Hill, Supreme Court, World Bank, and most importantly on second day of the program, we were given a chance to deliver a two-minute speech about ‘passion and what makes a leader.’ I was honored to speak on the importance of embracement in leadership and the need for the support of the international community to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula, which will eventually lead to reunification.”

IYLA delegate Hee ryoung Kim asks U.S. State Department Unit Chiefs of North and South Korea the strategy in coping with tensions on the peninsula.

IYLA delegates had the opportunity to visit such institutions as the Woodrow Wilson Center and the U.S. State Department where the Korean issue was a hot topic. It was during this time that another North Korea missile provocation erupted in the media, peaking the interest of our assembly and the world in the resolution of tension on the peninsula. Mr. James Personz, Director of Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy, responded to questions about the problems a divided Korea posed to the global community, stating the importance of international support, especially from China and Russia.

“The sound of the Korean Dream filled the United Nations General Assembly Hall,” said Hee ryoung, fondly recalling the IYLA Summit. In an effort to bring more interest to peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula, Grammy awarding winning duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis worked with international artists to produce the song “Korean Dream,” which made its debut at the 2017 One Korea Global Peace Concert in Manila.

Second generation Korean youth like Hee ryoung make their home in countries all around the world, but that doesn’t mean they have forgotten their proud heritage of a culture that is thousands of years old.

IYLA delegates in front of the Russell Senate Office Building where they discussed approaches to Korean Reunification

International support like that which was demonstrated by youth from IYLA and those participating in efforts for One Korea shows that although it is ultimately up to the Korean people to reunify their homeland, the world cares; the world hopes for peaceful reunification. The Korean Dream is not just for Korea, but for all humanity.

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