Last week we watched this Korean Movie, As One, Starring Bae Doona. It is based on the true story about the one time that North and South Korea joined as one team in the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships in Chiba, Japan.
What struck me was the depth of heart that developed between the players from the North and South.
The unification of North and South Korea is a complicated issue. North Korea has been in the news a lot and continues to make threats toward South Korea and the US.
Recently, some American college students from the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles, CARP, gave a presentation on Korean North/South Unification. I’m copying the transcript here with their permission:
Jermaine Bishop, Jr.: We’re here to tell you about potential!
Joshua Holmes: The potential of true love
Naomi Froehlich: And its ability to move mountains
Joshua: and even Demilitarized Zones
—————– Jermaine Bishop, Jr. —————
A few weeks from today we will once again acknowledge the lives offered up in support of two opposing ideologies, which led to the armistice at the 38th Parallel. Though I doubt anyone here is in need of a history lesson on this account, I dare recount a few facts in order to bring forth the significance of this great peninsula.
Just 5 years after the second World War had come to a close, the Soviet influenced North decided to reclaim and reunite the unsuspecting South, and forcefully so. Battered and drained from quite possibly the most exhaustive war the world has ever seen, it might have been acceptable for American leaders to look upon the invasion of the free world representatives in South Korea as a Korean matter. Not so! Call it what you will, but I choose to call it divine understanding. You see President Harry S. Truman was insightful enough to recognize this as a more than some skirmish over the relatively small southern tip of a developing country. He along with his administration was insightful enough to recognize that within in this battlefield the fate of the entire free world hang in the balance.
I have to be honest, I didn’t know much about the Korean war before deciding to prepare for this speech. So, I am thankful for the opportunity to understand something so vital to the worldview of a man who seeks to create the kind of world that we seek to create as a CARP leaders. Cheon Il Guk we call it or in English, a “nation of cosmic peace and unity.” There were two great understandings illuminated during my research that I wish to share with you today.
Number one: Korea is of special significance in terms of creating a unified world. 16 UN nations sent troops in support of South Korea’s freedom. 5 more nations offered support and war supplies. That is, 21 nations came together for the 50 million free citizens enjoying life at this very moment all around us. 21 nations made it possible for a developing nation to have their shot at becoming the world influencer they are today. With the prosperity South Korea now enjoys, there is hardly a face on the earth that has not been influenced in some way shape or form by the beautiful culture of the Korean people. K-pop, Korean Drama, Samsung, and Hyundai are simple but obvious examples of this. But what is more important is why. At the time when 21 nations surrendered their equipment, soldiers and prayers toward the fate of the Korean peninsula, do you think they had an idea that Korea would one day become a prosperous nation that would repay them all one by one? Why did America sacrifice 35,000 of its young men? Some husbands, some fathers, some brothers, each one of them a son to a couple who did not imagine they would one day send their children to offer their lives for the freedom of another country. Why did twentyone nations spend money from a military budget already depleted by a world war just five years prior to this one?
Korea is of special significance not because the people are so charming and nice. That is most certainly a fact, but I somehow doubt that men died for that reason. No! Korea is significant because somehow it exists in a space where the gate toward a world of freedom and another toward a world of oppression overlaps. An overlap that divides blood against its own. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. And it is most unfortunate that so many of our brothers and sisters are born on the wrong side of that divide. It is even more unfortunate that we are forced to live such prosperous lives all the while knowing that we are enjoying what our distant siblings cannot.
Point Number two: The war never ended. On July 27th 1953, an armistice was signed by the U.S., China and North Korean army generals. Now I don’t have the most exhaustive understanding of war terminology but I know that war ends when one party is completely defeated or when a treaty that should ensure the longevity of peace is signed. To this day no such agreement exists and the DMZ is a testament to that. Each nation stands on guard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Either side prepared for the worst possible scenario at all times. The Korean war ended instead in an armistice which essentially is nothing more than a cease fire. A commitment to refrain from violent actions until a peaceful settlement can be reached.
The start of this war occurred because someone had the desire to reunite their nation. Throughout the course of the war that was achieved twice. By late 1950 the North Korean army had seized control over all areas of South Korea to exclude only Busan. For the first time since Japanese Colonial evacuation the nation was unified even if only for short lived time. Shortly after America joined the fight the south was able to push the North Korean army as far as the Chinese boarder. For the second time during this war, the Korean Peninsula was united, this time under the authority of South Korea. 3 years later, a divide was once again drawn at the 38th parallel. How much was sacrificed simply to prolong this struggle.
There is a new testament scripture I am reminded of, when I think of divide that exist between the two worlds represented in North and South Korea. It goes:
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but indeed and in truth.” ~1 John 3:16-18 (ESV)
Ideology has an interesting way of influencing our world view. World-view, or the comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it influences the way we view ourselves. Which of course, influences the way on which we view those around us.
Now if we go through life seeing each other as nothing more than a sack of chemicals, just another animal seeking to satisfy his own needs, or even a being without innate purpose and direction. What type of world can we expect to create? Unfortunately, you don’t have to look far to find that answer. Oh, but if we saw ourselves as children of the same loving parent, who created us with one wish. A wish that he might find delight in our existence in joy and peace with one another then that is world that would exist without boundaries or boarder lines. I have fought many times with my brothers, not one of those time did we need an army to resolve our conflicts.
In the Bible, there is the story of Cain and Abel. Although only a brief story, it stands at the core of the struggle we are facing today. You see, Cain was the oldest child, but God denied his offerings and accepted Abel’s. So, Cain became twisted by his jealousy, arrogance, his lack of love and killed Abel. Was this only Cain’s fault? No… Was this what God wanted? Absolutely not! Both Cain and Abel had a responsibility: to humbly and respectfully listen to each other, and to talk things out, eventually learning to love one another. And through this exchange of love, Cain would have discovered why his offering was denied and returned to God. That was God’s dream.
I call upon this story because I believe it parallels our current issue, the Re-Unification of North and South Korea. Just like these two brothers in the Bible, North and South Korea stand at odds with one another. One is condemned and degraded while the other is given blessings and prosperity. However, each come from the same common source, they are family. But this is not just a Korean issue, this is a global responsibility. As Jermaine shared, the divide was not caused by Korea alone but by 21 nations, so it should be resolved by these nations! The 38th parallel is a representation of the world today, enveloped in contradictions between Democratic and Communist ideals. As an American I can not run from this! Until we can resolve the central location of the conflict, how can there be true unity elsewhere?! The Korean divide is the bedrock!
Serious issues are emerging in Korea such as the installment of a new president, heavier North Korean missile testing, and even the removal of United States anti-missile defense systems on the 38th parallel. Despite your opinion regarding these current events, I see this as a necessary opportunity to cultivate our resolve and unify together. Cain had a choice to kill or not, so as North Korea’s brothers, we can help them make the better decision.
Of course, this dream has opposition. Some may be against Re-Unification because of how much it costs. Studies have shown that the whole process of unification would amount to $2 Trillion, not a small amount. But this is a burden that South Korea does not need to carry alone; America, Japan and Russia can rally in support. And we must think long-term! Russia is the power it is today because it fought through the collapse of the USSR and now sees the brighter future. Also, would America have been a leading country in the world had it chosen to remain divided as North and South because of the Civil War? When put into this perspective, there is an endless degree of potential growth if both Koreas were one unified country! The social and long-term benefits far out-weigh the cost.
Additionally, some may be believe that it is simply impossible to Re-Unify. A recent poll found that only 31% of Koreans believed that Re-Unification will happen in their lifetime. Meanwhile, in America, the media regarding the issue of North and South Korea is predominantly negative. So, no wonder our viewpoint is so pessimistic! There is hope, we just need to look in the right places. I find my hope in two leaders whom I cherish and respect for their deep love and sacrifice towards restoring Korea back together, Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han Moon. Rev. Moon was beaten and tortured in North Korean prison camps for years, facing immeasurable pain and sorrow. Despite these atrocities, in December of 1991, they met with Kim Il Sung and embraced him, choosing love over resentment. This meeting converted Kim Il Sung from any enemy to a friend. What if we could embody that same kind of heart? Would this dream still be impossible? True Love tears down the wall of impossibility and opens the gate of hope for Re-Unification.
I would like to invite up Naomi Froehlich to dive deeper into this concept and how we can achieve unity.
———————— Naomi Froehlich ————————-
As we heard from Jermaine and Joshua, North and South Korea represent a confrontation between two ideologies and ways of life. Although North and South Korea have become quite different over the years, they are originally one nation, and a special nation with a long and brilliant cultural history of 4000 years. The Korean people honor and respect one another in beautiful family traditions, which have been passed on through generations. They. Have a deep spiritual tradition and a love for peace.
We (Jermaine, Joshua, and I) stand here before you today as an international community to reaffirm our faith in the peace process. We need a solution on the Korean peninsula which will be a victory of faith, and an unprecedented reconciliation between brothers and sisters separated by a tragic conflict. That conflict was instigated by powerful forces beyond the borders of Korea, on a world level. A peaceful reconciliation here would bring a new era of international cooperation to the Pacific Rim and the world.
As representatives of the Free World, we need to rise to a challenge. The great spiritual teachers of our times teach us to persist resolutely in seeing the best in others rather than vilifying the enemy. Let us think of NK as our brothers and sisters; our families; and put ourselves in their shoes. As an international community, we need to practice the kind of heart, character and values that can win the trust of the North Korean people
His Holiness the Dalai Lama said “You must not hate those who do harmful things. The compassionate thing is to do what you can to stop them because they are harming themselves as well as those who suffer from their actions.”
This is the attitude we can adopt as we move forward in our pursuit of reunification.
What do families in North Korea want? I firmly believe that in their hearts the people of NK want Peace – they definitely do not want another Korean War. Thus, we need to exemplify such great love and a renewed commitment to the dream of One Global Family under God to move their hearts.
And how about the NK government? I believe they want the respect of surrounding nations and the world; Respect especially of the US, SK, and Japan –crucial leaders of the free world. They want the right to exist – in prosperity and with all the blessings we enjoy. We need to give them the dignity and respect they long for.
Unfortunately, the US fears a nuclear weapons strike; NK fears annihilation. NK is surrounded on all sides by powerful nations they perceive as their enemy. This is problematic because NK is isolated and cut off, so they put up walls and barriers. EVEN ON AN INDIVIDUAL LEVEL – when someone is isolated and then backed further into a corner, how do they react? Strike out; fight back
You and I, as a united front, need to transcend this wall of fear. We can and we must build relationships of trust and transcend the barriers with enlightened approaches and attitudes.
I am so moved by the peacemaking example of Rev. and Mrs. Moon. They have been motivated out of a love for God; and a love for humanity. They are not condoning the evils of communism; but they are not fighting to annihilate the enemy, instead they strive to heal them with compassion and true love.
Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon continues this great peace-making work today. She is a great woman of peace, with the heart of a mother, who wants her sons and daughters to reconcile and shed tears of forgiveness from the bottom of their hearts. She too was born in N Korea and escaped as a refugee at the age of 6 years old. But she has never wavered in the pursuit of a peaceful reconciliation and reunification of Korea. She longs to see NK brothers and sisters fulfill their dreams for lives of virtue and peace and prosperity, just as she longs to see her SK brothers and sisters, as well as the rest of the world, reach out with dignity and self-restraint willing to make the sacrifices to melt the heart and resistance of our people in the North.
Rev and Mrs. Moon’s example is a beacon of hope that this approach is possible.
What if we as a whole community made a new commitment to live a life of true love, one that stems from a heart of embrace and forgiveness, that no one could resist?
As Martin Luther King Jr put it, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Are you ready to put these words into action?
Are you ready to tear down the walls dividing not only this nation but the entire world?
Now tell me, how much are you willing to endure to make that a reality?
As I understand it, more than 2 million men on either side of the 38th parallel laid down their lives for us. Besides remembering their names, there isn’t much we could do for them now. But there are men and woman on the other side of that DMZ that are just as much a brother or sister to us as any person here today. How much are we willing to offer in sacrifice for those siblings?
From this day forth, as we go throughout the seemingly mundane day to day task. Let us make a sincere effort to walk according to the words of the late Rev Sun Myung Moon, who once said,
“When I loved those, who acted against me I brought victory. If you have done the same thing, I will give you the crown of glory.” ~Crown of Glory (full poem)