Wednesday, September 21, 2016

NGO seeks global support for unification

Kim Hyo-jin, "NGO seeks global support for unification,"

Image from article, with caption: Seo In-teck, co-chairman of Action for Korea United (AKU), speaks at the United Nations General Assembly hall on Aug. 18.

While the world is moving to slap the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea following its latest nuclear test, a South Korean NGO is calling for unification of the two Koreas louder than ever.

Seo In-teck, co-chair of Action for Korea United (AKU), launched a global campaign for reunification of the two Koreas and introduced it during an International Young Leaders Assembly (IYLA) held at the United Nations Aug. 18.

Seo, who participated as a South Korean representative at the summit, said AKU will create a cultural platform that seeks support from global citizens for reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

As part of such efforts, AKU plans to publish a song in collaboration with world-famous music producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis by next year, he said.

Jam and Lewis, who made a joint speech later that day, vowed to make a song that has an “impact beyond the charts,” exemplifying Michael Jackson’s “We are the World.”

Seo sounded resolute in his belief in the efficacy of a global campaign on the seemingly regional issue during a recent interview with The Korea Times.

“It has already become an international issue,” he said, noting the multilateral tracks where major players like the U.S. and China have been involved in dealing with the isolated country.

“What we need here is international consensus. How global citizens view and act has a significant impact on our destiny as it will in the end be the milestone of policymakers’ moves.”

Seo says there is common ground where people worldwide can empathize with Korea’s reunification.

“It is a matter of freedom, human rights (for North Koreans), and world peace,” he said. “We should not approach the issue from an ethnic view, but from a view of co-prosperity.”

The activist recalled how many participants at the IYLA summit showed interest in his speech.

“It was surprising to see young foreign students and activists come up to me and ask how they can help to realize the goal,” he said. “It might be just us who have become numb to the significance of unification on the Korean Peninsula.”

Seo said arts, literature and music can be tools to raise awareness among global citizens. And if they are delivered through hallyu, or the Korean wave, their impact will be huge, he views.

He put his eyes on music that he believes can bring people together.

AKU, a coalition of domestic 850 NGOs, launched its domestic civic-led unification movement last year and distributed a campaign song, titled “One Dream, One Korea” sung by 28 top K-pop singers.

It held a unification-themed concert with pop idols in Seoul, drawing attention from young South Koreans.

This year, the civic group is set to expand its campaign to a global level. It plans to organize world concerts. The first event is scheduled to be held in Manila next March.

In the collaboration with the six-time Grammy winners Jam and Lewis, Seo expects a great song like “We are the World” to be released next year.

Seo expressed his resolve, noting that the public diplomacy law that came into effect in August will further boost AKU’s activity. The law intends to support the roles of civic and private groups in diplomacy instead of government agencies.

“The government might have to opt for sanctions against North Korea under the circumstances. Promoting visions and values is not the government’s job but is the responsibility of civic groups.”

No comments: