Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Korean Independence and the historic launch of a global initiative toward the Reunification of the Korean Peninsula
One Korea Foundation in partnership with the Global Peace Foundation and other nonprofit, community, corporate and institutional stakeholders, is building a global movement for Korean Reunification, linking popular culture, scholarly research, public policy initiatives, grassroots youth activism, and influential international leadership.
Though comprised of the same people, language and heritage, the two societies could not be more different, as evidenced in the satellite view of the peninsula at night.
The division does not simply affect the two nations but impacts all of Northeast Asia directly and the rest of the world indirectly.
As each year passes, the expectation or even the imagination of a reunified Korean peninsula wanes. Older generations are often stuck on particulars of policy and the mechanics of engagement and reunification. Among young people in South Korea, there is little consideration, enthusiasm or will to undertake an initiative to unify the peninsula.
Significance and opportunity of the seventieth anniversary
August 15, 2015 marks the seventieth anniversary of the independence of Korea; but it also represents the anniversary of the political division of the Korean peninsula between North and South. A seventieth anniversary is considered the last decade that can be celebrated with those who have direct experience of an event, and also, historically, to be the lifespan of single-party political rule.
Realizing the Dream
A unified Korea is the heritage and sacred destiny of the Korean people, grounded in the historic national ideal of hongik ingan, “living for the greater good.”
The dream of a reunified Korean family must be clarified for the Korean people on the peninsula and those of the diaspora. That dream must extend to the nations directly impacted by the division—specifically the Six Parties plus Mongolia.
To empower the will for reunification, a broad-based popular movement must be created centered on the dream of One Korea. The dream must be an elevated perspective that can engage both left and right, as well as capture the imagination and energy of the young generation.
In South Korea, popular civil society initiatives throughout the country to raise awareness about reunification will culminate in a Reunification rally at Seoul’s World Cup Stadium on September 19.
For the occasion, a song of Reunification is being composed by the noted Kim Hyeong seok, modeled on the ‘We are the World’ anthem that impacted the world 30 years ago.
The Unification Song will engage 33 top Korean artists representing the 33 activists who comprised the core of the original March 1 (Independence) movement in 1919.
This Unification Song is meant to engage the mind and heart of young people and will be released simultaneously on August 15 in Seoul, Washington DC, Tokyo and Beijing.
The American Initiative for Reunification will center on a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Abraham Lincoln unified a divided nation following a traumatic Civil War by extending a hand of forgiveness “with malice toward none and charity for all.” Projecting a vision of the Korean diaspora in America committed to unification at the feet of the Great Emancipator will encourage and inspire the Koreans of the peninsula. The American initiative will include a Declaration of Unification to be read at the memorial and at the other global venues, and a presentation of the Unification Song on the Mall and at a program at Constitution Hall.
This Korean and American initiatives will also be reflected at significant events in Hibiya Park in Tokyo where the 1919 movement started, and in Beijing, encouraging Chinese Koreans and leadership with a vision of reunification. All of these venues will feature the Unification Song and a reading and endorsement of the Declaration of Unification. The programs will be linked on-line, sharing images reflecting a global vision. A robust, comprehensive media strategy will amplify the impact.
Ongoing Impact Programs
The popular movement development is being complemented by the engagement of scholars and political leaders in Washington, DC and Seoul. Ongoing social impact programs are already being initiated, including a Declaration signature campaign, refugee education and scholarship program, a 160-mile walk campaign (the length of the 38th Parallel dividing the two Koreas) and the Power of 1K Won donation initiative.