By Naomi Yakawich
A solemn evening candlelight ceremony in Seoul opened a Peace Vigil commemorating the outbreak of the Korean War sixty-seven years ago. The vigil, held in Gwanghwamun Square on June 25, was a grave reminder of the division and heartbreak that lingers on the peninsula to this day.
Hannah Kim, once chief of staff for the former U.S. Federal Congressman Charles Rangel, attended the ceremony. Ms. Kim has traveled to more than 26 countries over five months, including China, Russia and North Korea, observing the effects of the Korean War in the surrounding region. She encouraged attendees to remember the ongoing consequences of a war that continues to threaten peace and happiness for the future of Korea and the world. “We should not forget about this heart breaking event, and that true peace, remembrance, acknowledgment, and reconciliation should come first.”
A hopeful crowd gathered, singing the traditional song “Arirang” and holding up the taegeukki, a symbol packed with tradition and symbolism for both North and South Korea. Now renowned for its appearance on the flag of South Korea, the taegukki also once represented the North previous to and immediately following the peninsula’s occupation by Japan. North Korea would go on to change its flag three years later.
The taegeukki symbolizes the universe in perfect balance: the negative in blue and the positive in red. The four trigrams surrounding the circular symbol bear multiple meanings, representing nature, virtues, family and much more.
The ceremony included a Korean Drum performance and presentations by singers Young Sil Kim and Catherine Lee, songs by the Children Korean Traditional Music Chorus, pianist Kiwon Shin, violinist Hyung Joon Won, and musical team WE. Singer and North Korean defector Yeon Hee Kim offered a heartfelt song, moving Korean onlookers to a rousing applause despite the rain that would greet the performers throughout the day.
The global campaign to reunify One Korea is gaining traction on an international stage. As demonstrated by students in Global Peace Youth’s One Korea Camp, the dream for Korean reunification will have global implications for the safety and prosperity of all.