By Emiko Perea
“The reunification of Korea...is a worthy and historic cause that furthers the peace and development of the whole world,” said Dr. Junsook Moon, Chairwoman of Global Peace Women, “All the women leaders gathered here are the ones who should lead... and this mission begins first in our homes.”
On February 26, the first day of the 2019 Global Peace Convention (GPC), Dr. Moon gave a keynote speech during the Women's Leadership Forum to speak on the significance of Korean reunification and the role of women in the endeavor. On this day, 18 women leaders and over 180 participants from 12 countries gathered in Seoul, Korea to partake in the Women’s Forum and explore women’s unique leadership qualities that contribute to building sustainable peace through creating a united Korea under the theme of “Women’s Leadership for a United Korea and Global Peace.”
Throughout the first session, speakers such as Dr. Eva Latham, President of Human Right Teachings International, and Dr. Inja Hwang, Former Member of the National Assembly of Republic of Korea, drew inspiration from remarkable women leaders of the Korean independence movement, especially Yu Gwan-sun. They emphasized the impact that these women leaders had in realizing the Korean Dream, which is to bring peace to Korea and create a unified nation under the founding ideal of Hongik Ingan (meaning "to benefit all of humanity").
Dr. Moon’s words in her keynote speech reminded the audience that women are born with a natural affinity for empathy, genuine love, and sacrifice. Moreover, strong-minded mothers serve not only their own household, but their unconditional desire to serve extends out to society as well. She called all women leaders in the room to action by saying, “We live in an age when the world needs citizens who internalize Hongik Ingan values, especially women, to further Korean reunification and world peace. More than ever, places of chaos and conflict are yearning for women’s peace, love, and service-based leadership.”
Women leaders from Global Peace Women (GPW), the Global Peace Women Leadership Academy (GPWLA) program, Leadership Task Force (LTF), and Service for Peace (SFP) have initiated 22 projects worldwide. Five outstanding projects were recognized and presented as different ways to engage the message of the Korean Dream to diverse fields of interest and age groups.
Mihwa Kim, GPW Korea representative, shared how her project approached the Korean Dream by training North Korean defectors in work skills to help integrate them into South Korean society. Nakako Furuta, an educator and mother, developed a way for parents to prepare their children for a future of an united Korea by creating a workbook titled, “My Dream, Your Dream, Our Dream.” She wanted to make the book accessible for children to understand the common root of Hongik Ingan that unites the two Koreas as one people and that forms the basis for the realization of the Korean Dream in the future. Sooyeon Kim, Director of Volunteer Center at SFP and two other presenters highlighted campaigns they took part in to promote the message of the Korean Dream with young people while they developed their own projects. Fundraising projects for North Korean defectors like Myungsook Dong conferred donations to support her and other North Korean defectors through programs that help them transition to South Korean society.
Winners of the Korean Art Contestant were also recognized at the Women's Forum. As one of the Korean Dream projects hosted by GPW and other partners, the Korean Dream Art Contest aimed to gather art pieces that depict the ideal of a peacefully united Korea, essentially connecting the artists to the Korean Dream messaging and spreading the vision to others through their showpieces. Grand prize winner Soeun Lee’s painting and four winning pieces of Korean Dream Art Contest were displayed for the audience to admire during the sessions.
In gratitude with the continuous collaborations with Service for Peace, one of the main partners for the year long Korean Dream projects, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Service for Peace Executive Director, Mr. Seongyeong Jang and GPW International Chairwoman, Dr. Junsook Moon, establishing the commitment and collaboration between Service for Peace and Global Peace Women for future projects together for peace and development.
Namshik Jung, a participant of GPW Korea’s on-going Women’s Forums, said that the Women’s Leadership Forum made her reflect on what she could contribute as a woman for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula and believes in achieving the Korean Dream: A vision for a Unified Korea. Another participant, Anji Cho mentioned that she was inspired to do more by the many international female leaders saying, "I can reflect that in my life, I have been staying under the comfort zone...This was a great forum for women to feel that there was a lot of work to be done.”
Throughout the women’s forums, women leaders from Korea and around the world showed a way for women to become owners of the Korean Dream. Through the efforts and examples of women who have led campaigns and service projects, leaders reflected women’s unique leadership for peace and reunification, starting from the home and expanding to communities and to the entire world.