Hong Seok-hyun, chairperson of the Korea Peace Foundation, delivered a captivating lecture on peace between the two Koreas on Sept. 12, 2018 at HUFS Seoul Campus. Hong provided valuable insight into the complex history and the current progression towards peace between South and North Korea. Hong highlighted that Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea, agreed to denuclearization at the Singapore Conference earlier this year.
Whilst Hong highlighted the progress of peace between the two Koreas, Hong also dedicated his speech toward the Korean and international students, for them to take ownership to pave the path for peace for the Korean Peninsula. A relevant declaration by the U.N. expressed, “Improving peacekeeping is a collective endeavour, and global concern.”
Before coming to South Korea, this author’s understanding of the importance of peace, specifically for the two Koreas, was very limited. As most international students may relate, the unresolved conflict between both Koreas is an intriguing topic. From Hong’s brief overview of Korean history, I was able to catch a glimpse of the complexity and delicacy of Korean history. Amongst the complexity of the topic, I received Hong’s message of hope and inspiration to “dream for peace, not war, co-existence and not parity, and become a gateway of the future.”
Depending on which country or background you come from, your perception of conflict will alter dramatically. I am from Australia, and I have never experienced the fear of war or safety of loved ones within Australian borders. As a result, the concept of peace and its importance has always been rather misunderstood. I have always hoped for peace between the Koreas; however, I felt unworthy of contributing to that peace because I have only ever experienced a life of freedom.
However, Hong’s dedicated career towards world changing issues, such as working closely towards peace and reunification between two Koreas, has broadened my mind beyond the borders of my country. Hong reiterated that denuclearization also requires cooperation from the international community. This statement by Hong particularly opened my eyes. Although I have not experienced the hardship of conflict between the Koreas, my support and all international support is imperative.
I decided to highlight this topic because I wanted to spread encouragement to other students who were unable to receive this message from Hong himself. You may have the desire to rewrite the headlines for the Koreas or in some other part of the world which needs your support. I also hope to spark a new vision for students, who may not understand their place in the peacekeeping field. I hope you can have the courage to ensure suffering, separation, and war truly become history.
We must remind ourselves of those who have dedicated their lives to secure the current progress towards peace, and we must fulfil the peace mission. The solutions remain with us; we all “possess an innovative mind, and must seek new opportunities in the future.”
Hong’s message of hope and purpose is to be applied and delivered to students of the world, to become champions of peace. I believe some of the most effective ways to contribute towards peace for Korea is through diplomatic channels, supporting organizations and advocates of peace, and working within government roles to have a positive influence and input. We must not simply hope for peace, we must achieve peace, for Korea, for humanity, and for the world.
By Rebekah Woodeson