By Jinhoon Lee
2019 is a landmark year in that Korea’s March 1st Independence Movement reaches its centennial. To commemorate this event, the initiation ceremony of One Korea (One K) Ambassadors was held on May 3rd at Social Factory, Mapo-gu, Seoul. The event was co-organized by the Korea International Student Support Association (KISSA) and Global Peace Foundation (GPF) with the support of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety.
Koreans from both sides of the 38th parallel are one ethnic family, sharing 5,000 years of history and culture. Just like many others of different ethnicities, Koreans value their culture and tradition and share a sense of deep connection to one another. Such sentiment is reflected through the 1919 March 1st Independence Movement, where many Koreans sacrificed their lives in order to protect their independence and to preserve their culture and tradition. The spirit of the March 1st Movement, therefore, sets an appropriate atmosphere for the ongoing efforts and discussions of peaceful Korean unification.
This year, One K Ambassadors welcomed 50 students from 28 countries during the month of April for a series of activities encouraging international support for One Korea in the months to follow. Joong-Seok Park, the chairman of GPF Korea’s youth division, mentioned that today, there are many international students in Korea who are interested in the issue of Korean unification. “Through their stay in Korea, these students have gained much insight on the issues happening in the Korean peninsula and their objective perspective can be valuable in the discussions and efforts toward Korean unification,” said Park. Indeed, Korean unification is ultimately a Korean citizen-led endeavor, however, it will require the support of people from around the world; therefore, international students in Korea could serve a major role in resolving this challenge.
One Korea Ambassadors had the opportunity to visit historical sites at Gunsan and Cheonan, including the March 1st Movement centennial memorial, Independence Hall, and Dongguksa temple.
In June, the Ambassadors visited the War Memorial at Yongsan to commemorate the Memorial Day (June 6th) and the outbreak of the Korean War (June 25th). After the expedition, participants had the chance to discuss their ideas on Korean unification. Sherwin, a One K Ambassador from the Philippines, shared:
“Even though I looked at [Korea] from a safe distance, I cannot help but feel scared and worried about our world's future. We cannot let another devastating war to happen in the peninsula and that is why I am in support of fostering peace and harmony not only in the Korean peninsula but also in all parts of the world.
We certainly have lived differently from each other, but we should not forget the fact that we all originally came from one, the single human race. This thought alone must be enough for us to think beyond our differences, and for us to do whatever it takes to maintain lasting peace in this one and the only world that we are living in.”
Through these programs, One K Ambassadors have made a determination and their first steps in contributing to the peaceful unification of Korea.
What can you do to contribute to peaceful reunification?