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The Dream of Hong Ik Ingan and the Great Harmony (大同)

Mr. Chul-Soon ImThe following editorial was published in HanKooki by Mr. Chul-Soon Im and attendee of the Global Peace Convention 2013 from Korea. The Global Peace Convention, held in Malaysia, was organized by the Global Peace Foundation, began by Chairman Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, promoting the vision of "One Family under God."

The GPF Convention in Malaysia proposed new initiatives for peace. The proposed "UN Interfaith Council" is to promote Hong Ik Ingan and the Great Harmony (大同).

The national slogan of Malaysia is "Satu Malaysia", one Malaysia. Numerous religions of the world co-exist in Malaysia, and its population’s ethnic profile consists of Malays, Chinese, and Indian at the ratio of 6:3:1. The Department of National Unity and Integration, which was launched under the Office of Prime Minister in 1969, has coped well with the structural complexity of the multi-racial, multi-cultural, and multi-religious Malaysian society by seeking a united identity and peaceful coexistence.
In such a country, it is natural to discuss ways to realize the shared prosperity of mankind and sustainable peace. The 2013 annual convention of the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) was held in Kuala Lumpur from December 5th to 8th under the theme of "Unity in Diversity". About 400 participants from 40 countries around the world discussed how to realize interfaith cooperation, women’s leadership, development of families and regional communities, and media ethics. Many participants across the globe such as a group of former presidents and prime ministers from Latin America made the convention resemble the UN General Assembly.

The most noteworthy of the action plans and resolutions adopted at the convention is the proposal by GPF founder and Chairman Moon Hyun-jin to create an interfaith peace council at the United Nations. The rationale behind the proposal is as follows: "The most dangerous and cruel conflicts since the beginning of history have been religious conflicts. Today we are facing a greater risk of religious war as religious passion is coupled with weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, the world needs an interfaith movement which takes actions beyond dialogue and mutual recognition. The existing UN, the legacy of the Cold War, is no longer effective. So we need a new organization". It is true that the UN is limited when addressing religiously-based conflicts are rooted on faith. The UN, by nature is designed to promote a balance and status quo. As Samuel Huntington pointed out, this international organization is not equipped with the structure and capacity to deal with growing religious conflicts. In this sense, this proposal is worth discussion and efforts towards implementation.

Chairman Moon presented the vision of One Family under God as a motto for lasting peace and mutual prosperity. All religions pursue peace. God in this statement refers to a spiritual and transcendent being that each religion reveres. The philosophy that encompasses such a beyond -religion-movement that can embrace the world is found in "Hong Ik Ingan", the founding ideology of Korea.

The founding philosophy of Korea makes me look back on the situation of Korea. Korea has called for cultural and religious acceptance since the adoption of "globalization" as a national policy in the early 1990’s, but we have yet to see significant progress. The concept of multi-cultural family in Korea serves more as a mechanism of discrimination than of embracing multi-cultural families. There will inevitably substantial side effects as we try to integrate multi-cultural families into our society without changing ourselves..   

The bigger problem lies inside of us. If we remain mired in stubborn and firm belief in factions with little tolerance, political development and social unity is hardly achievable. The spirit of "Grand Harmony" (大同) is truly needed. The Grand Unity, an idea developed by Chuang-tzu, means "All things are one in a big picture but they are all different in detail". Our goal should be to realize a mature society through tolerance and harmony by promoting the Grand Harmony (大同) and considering minor differences.

Scholars in the Joseon Dynasty during the 18th-19th century had a "Byung-se consciousness", in which they considered the intellectuals and civilization of the Qing dynasty as contemporary equals even though they were located in a different regions. At that time, for Joseon intellectuals, the Chinese Qing Dynasty was not only the center of the world but also the whole world. "Byung" connotes benevolence, to embrace, befit, and unite. The "Byung-se" consciousness would direct us to enhance the substantial promotion of the Grand Harmony (大同) while valuing differences.

Why do we need to pursue the task of reunification in Korea? The goal of achieving "one Korea" should be creating an ideal unified country which is globally recognized and respected not for its military and economic power, but for the contribution to the culture and spirit of unity. This is my with and conviction renewed in Malaysia.