The following is a keynote address for the women’s leadership forum by Dr. Junsook Moon, held at the Global Peace Convention 2019 in President’s Hotel, South Korea.
Distinguished guest and leaders from around the globe who are working tirelessly for the realization of world peace, how are you?
I warmly welcome and thank you for participating in the 2019 Global Peace Convention organized by the Global Peace Foundation. Our theme of “Korean Dream: a Vision for a Unified Korea” is especially significant because we are celebrating the centenary of the historic Samil (March First) Independence Movement.
It is a distinct pleasure to gather with you in my dear homeland of Korea with our shared conviction in the importance of “Women’s role in realizing Korean Reunification and Global Peace.” I would like to thank the Honorable Amina Sambo, humanitarian and wife of the former Vice President of Nigeria; the Honorable Shadya Karume, former First Lady of Zanzibar; Dr. Eva Latham, human rights expert and distinguished educator from the Netherlands; the Honorable Dr. Nona Ricafort, former Commissioner on the Commission of Higher Education in the Philippines; the Honorable In Ja Hwang and the Honorable Yeon Sook Lee, former members of the Korean National Assembly. I would also like to acknowledge the Global Peace Foundation and Global Peace Women Korea for preparing this program.
The Korean Dream and Peaceful Unification
The 2019 Global Peace Convention brings together women leaders from around the world who have transcended national interests through service and dedication. Together, we will collaborate and work toward a unified Korea and a peaceful world.
My husband, Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, and I have continuously striven to realize world peace in all sectors of society. Through the Global Peace Foundation, in particular, we initiated comprehensive and transformative projects to establish peaceful and prosperous societies centered on the vision of One Family under God. Because we believe that the Korean peninsula is geographically and historically positioned to play a critical role in realizing world peace, we focused our efforts on building substantive progress toward Korea’s reunification. With Action for Korea United, a coalition of over 800 civic organizations, we are leading a grassroots movement guided by the Korean Dream to usher in the peaceful reunification of Korea.
My husband authored Korean Dream: A Vision for a Unified Korea to ask fundamental questions and offer a practical solution regarding the issue of Korean reunification. Unlike previous approaches that emphasized methodology or the process of reunification, Dr. Moon explored the fundamental question of what a unified Korea should look like. His answer is rooted in the Hongik Ingan ideal which is embedded in 5,000 years of Korean history and culture.
Hongik Ingan, which means to live for the benefit of all humanity, is the founding aspiration of Korea. This simple phrase contains profound spiritual meaning that transcends history and time. Korean reunification cannot be achieved through short-sighted policies based on the geopolitics of the last 10, 20 years. The Hongik Ingan ideal that runs through the Korean Dream represents the destiny and yearning of the Korean people, its DNA. Thus, the reunification of Korea is not just the physical combination of North and South Korea into one whole state. Neither is unification only for the sake of Korea; rather, it is a worthy and historic cause that furthers the peace and development of the entire world.
Women’s Role for Unification and Peace
Then, who should lead the charge to benefit all mankind? Who can play a major role in creating a new nation rooted in the Hongik Ingan ideal? Where does this historical mission start? I dare say that all the women leaders gathered here are the ones who should lead, and I am convinced that this mission begins first in our homes.
Both men and women, of course, share the responsibility to create families and a nation that embodies Hongik Ingan. However, it is undeniable that women are born with a natural affinity for empathy, genuine love, and sacrifice. Think about your own mother. You know to what extent she leads a life of devotion and sacrifice for the sake of the entire family.
However, no mother expects compensation for her sacrifice. She only hopes for her children to be healthy and happy, dedicating herself to the family’s harmony and wellbeing, and guiding everyone on the right path. A righteous and strong-minded mother illuminates not only her family but also helps society and history to shine even under challenging circumstances. Great historical leaders have the dedication and teaching of great mothers behind them. Mothers of many great Korean independence leaders did not stop their children even as they risked their lives. Rather, they taught that it was righteous to serve their homeland. Korean history is filled with countless examples of mothers, women leaders, and women patriots who loved and sacrificed for their country. For instance, Yu Gwan-sun, a young girl raised by righteous and enlightened parents, ended up leading the cheers for Korea during the March First Movement. For her bravery, she was arrested, tortured, and tragically died in prison at the tender age of 18. Yet I believe that the sacrificial spirit of Korea’s women patriots who loved their country and humanity can serve as an exemplary model to women leaders around the world.
The Precious Role of Women and Family as the Foundation for Peace
Where does such a noble life begin? It begins in the home! Family is the most important and fundamental building block of society, the nation, and the world. Familial relationships encompass the most intimate and enduring relationships of love, even more, sacred than religion. This is why parents and family have tremendous influence in shaping a person’s character. We know all too well that someone raised in a family filled with peace, love, and mutual support is likely to have vastly different outcomes from someone who experienced abusive and self-centered relationships.
If we treat each other like brothers and sisters, cherishing and empathizing with each other as parents do, how can destructive violence and war ever take root? If men and women grow up in a family respecting and serving each other because they know that they absolutely need each other, how could we see the widespread animosity between the genders sweeping across Korea and the entire world? I believe that the Hongik Ingan ideal of benefiting every human and the vision of the Korean Dream will provide a fundamental solution to one of the foremost contemporary social issues, the conflict between men and women. Global Peace Women recognizes that men and women each have unique value and dignity that are complementary to each other. Both men and women have the responsibility to work together to create vibrant, happy families.
Furthermore, we assert that the pursuit of human rights and peace should begin in households that strive to treat all human beings as members of their family. Just as a mother naturally becomes the center of love and empathy in the home, women leaders who embody love and service play critical roles in promoting peace and uplifting human dignity throughout society. Recognizing this, we should support the growth and development of women’s leadership around the world.
The Extended Family Model and Women’s Leadership as Fundamental Elements for a Unified Korea and World Peace
Korea’s traditional extended family model can make a significant contribution to one of the greatest tasks to achieving world peace–the peaceful reunification of Korea. For the role of parents and family inextricably determines the fate of a nation.
The creation of a new nation described in the Korean Dream emphasizes the extended family because it is where we inherit traditions and develop the root of identity through three generations. More than in any other setting, the extended family is where we come to realize that we exist today due to the love, sacrifice, and dedication of our parents and forefathers. The shared experience of living for the sake of family members, the nation, and all humanity through an extended family culture will allow the citizens of a newly united Korea to practice Hongik Ingan in their daily lives.
Any dream or vision must be made real through our everyday actions or else remain a fantasy. The extended family model that Koreans cultivated throughout history is the very place where the Korean Dream can come to life through lived experiences.
As Mother Teresa asserted, instead of searching for world peace in any other place, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” This teaching is consistent with Global Peace Women’s advocacy that “Peace Begins in the Home.”
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.
Global Peace Women’s Initiatives for Peace based on the Korean Dream
Women leaders making important contributions to various sectors throughout the world!
The reunification of the Korean Peninsula is relevant not only to Koreans but to all people working toward world peace. Thus, it is significant and timely that we are gathered at this convention to discuss “women’s leadership for a unified Korea and global peace.”
We will also share the diverse ways that women leaders around the world are spearheading efforts to realize the Korean Dream vision. We have numerous and innovative case studies, including conferences to further women’s leadership, service-based cultural programs promoting reunification, education to develop the economic capacity of North Korean refugees, culture and art initiatives to promote Kore- an reunification for children in the home, and Korean Dream workbooks for women leaders and elementary school students. This afternoon, women leaders from around the world, as well as North and South Korea, will participate in a special service program. It presents an opportunity for us to give and take love and transcend boundaries between different nationalities.
Korea’s peaceful reunification is not just the work of the Korean government or a handful of organizations. It is a historical mission that Koreans throughout the world and all people should and can work together to fulfill. The moment is now. I sincerely ask that women leaders participating in this convention and all righteous people of the international community pioneer the path to Korean reunification and world peace. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each of you for sharing this noble dream with me and for setting the model of women’s leadership in your families, societies, and the world.
May God forever bless you and your families.
Thank you very much.