Established in 1931, Shin Dong-a is Korea’s oldest and most prestigious monthly news magazine, popular for its critical and in-depth reporting. In late 2023, Shin Dong-a featured a special three-part section on Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon’s Korean Dream work.

The following is an unofficial translation of excerpts from the special written by Hye-Yeon Jung. This section focuses on events surrounding Korea’s National Liberation Day in October 2023.

On October 3, Korea’s Foundation Day, more than 20,000 people gathered in Yeouido with groups waving red placards declaring, “Unification is our strength,” and blue placards with the phrase “Unification through people power” written across them.

In the morning, the sky was overcast with clouds, but later in the afternoon, the sun appeared. As we walked along the Han River, enjoying the smell of the grass, we came to Yeouido Park. We saw the Korean flag stretched across the sky as we entered the cultural center where the 2023 Korean Dream Unification Festival was held.

Praying for reunification in the spirit of Taekwondo

Around 2 p.m., we could hear loud shouts in the distance. It was the sounds of more than 1,000 demonstrators from the ‘Taekwondo Ship Taekwondo Hero Corps’ participating in a Taekwondo-themed flash mob event (flash mob: a crowd that gathers at a location and performs coordinated shows for a short period before dispersing). The crowd performed spinning kicks. They incorporated exciting songs along with Taekwondo’s signature movements. The whole show was a colorful spectacle.

The audience roared as they enjoyed the 20-minute Taekwondo demonstration. Periodically, international travelers thrilled with the performance shouted, gave a thumbs-up, and exclaimed, “Wonderful!”

Lee Young-man, an office worker at the event, shared, “This was my first time watching a Taekwondo demonstration, and it was exciting – not stiff or solemn,” he said, adding, “I hope that the spirit of Taekwondo will unite the North and South and that our wish for unification will be fulfilled as soon as possible.”

In addition to the Taekwondo flash mob, there were K-POP cover dances, competitions, a photo and video archives exhibition of the Korean Dream movement, and the Eurasian Peace Fellowship pavilion.

A Citizens’ Organizing Committee member for the Korean Dream 10 Million Campaign for the 80th Anniversary of the Liberation of Korea observed, “Unlike the older generations, Korean youth tend to think that unification is unnecessary. It is a problem that the younger generation does not recognize the importance of unification. As such, we planned a program that would appeal to the youth and draw their interest while teaching the importance and necessity of unification.”

Kim Byung-chan, the host of the 2023 Korean Dream Unification Action Festa, opened by playing the national anthem to announce the event’s start. As the national anthem played, flags with the phrase “Korean Dream” and the Korean flag fluttered across the sky. The event commemorated the 4,355th anniversary of Korea’s founding, making it all the more meaningful.

The Korean Dream is the Second Samil Movement

The event was organized as part of the Korean Dream, a new movement to contribute to world peace based on the Hongik Ingan spirit, a running thread throughout the nation’s history and culture. The goal is to create a unified nation that can contribute to world peace.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government organized the event with a committee of eight unification and civil society organizations. The committee included Action for Korea United, Korea Senior Citizens Association, Korea Veterans Association, Korea Federation of Arts and Cultural Organizations, Ten Thousand Mountain Families Committee, Scent of Reflection, Korea Federation of Free Associations, and the Korean Federation of Unification Leaders.

The 2025 Korean Dream 10 Million Campaign is a citizen-led effort to achieve peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula in 2025, the 80th anniversary of Korea’s liberation.

A hundred years earlier, two million Koreans demonstrated to the world the legitimacy of their efforts for independence through the Samil Movement. Likewise, the Campaign aims to develop a “Second Samil Movement” based on the Korean Dream again to demonstrate the legitimacy of the Korean Peninsula’s reunification and draw the international community’s sympathy and support.

To this end, the organizers plan to mobilize 100,000 citizens this year, followed by 1 million in 2024 and 10 million in 2025. In addition, by 2025, plans are underway to conduct a 10 million citizens walking campaign, the Korean Dream Volunteer Festival, and the August 15th Grand Festival to engage the participation of the 8.5 million overseas Koreans.

A variety of events will be held to unite the country. Along with the domestic campaign, the organizers are also conducting an international campaign to raise global awareness of the massive unification movement.

The “Korean Dream Expedition” launched in March and traveled to more than 85 cities in 29 countries for 137 days, spreading the vision of the Korean Dream.

The 2023 Korean Dream Unification Action Festa culminated with a keynote address by Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, Chairman of the Global Peace Foundation. As Moon took the podium, he repeatedly shouted, “Aju! Aju!” Aju combines the Chinese characters a (我), meaning ‘I,’ and ju (主), meaning ‘owner.’

Instead of reading a prepared speech, Dr. Moon walked among the event participants, interacting with them, making eye contact, and inviting them to say “Aju.” In promoting the idea of Aju, Dr. Moon encouraged citizens to see that – rather than relying on governments or political leaders – a new Korean nation would only be realized when individual citizens desired unification enough to take up their initiatives to support it.

Ten years ago, when we said we would build a grassroots unification movement centered on citizens, Korea was divided between the left and the right, even along religious lines such as Christianity and Buddhism. At the time, they said that a grassroots unification movement was impossible under these circumstances. But today, so many people have gathered here. So many people have come together today – across differences – and this is powerful evidence that our dream of unification can be realized. The most important thing in the unification movement is the spirit of ownership. Let’s chant “Aju,” which means I am the owner. Aju!”

Unification with the spirit of Aju and the spirit of Hongik Ingan

Dr. Moon intertwined the spirit of Aju with the spirit of Hongik Ingan, the founding ideal of the Korean nation to “benefit all humanity,” and emphasized that we should start with ourselves and let others know the value of unification.

He emphasized the spirit of Hongik Ingan, a national identity and providential mandate that can unite all Koreans, including North Koreans. Dr. Moon observed, “The most important thing in this grassroots movement for unification is the ownership over the Korean Dream vision by the Korean people themselves. If you become the owner and through whatever foundation you have, you spread this message and wake other Koreans up, then this will grow like wildfire.”

Dr. Moon delivered his speech in English and emphasized the importance of global solidarity. He said, “If I were to speak only in Korean about Korean Unification, how can we have foreigners listen, and how can we inspire foreigners to help us be a part of this movement? The Korean Dream is not just a dream to inspire Koreans; it can inspire the entire world.”

In response to the idea that we should “teach children about the importance of the Unification,” Mr. Cho Young-hwan, a citizen who attended, said, “I’m a history teacher, so I heard that this is an event that tells the growing generation the meaning of the unification of the Korean Peninsula. I drove in the rain early in the morning to attend the event. While attending the event, I vowed to realize the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula with my children.”

The 2023 Korean Dream Unification Action Festa was held on October 3, 2023,  at the Yeouido Park Cultural Courtyard in Seoul, October 7 at KBS Changwon Hall in Gyeongnam; October 9 at the Hanbitop Square in Daejeon; October 14th at the Busan Station Square, Busan, Korea, Oryunmun Square, 14th at the Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do, 5-18 Minjungwang, in Gwangju;  October 22nd at  Deokjin Park in  Jeonju; and on October 28th at the Orong Outdoor Music Center in Daegu.

The organizers estimate that more than 100,000 people attended the events nationwide. One representative commented, “This event confirmed the potential of the Korean Dream and the unification movement. We are grateful for the citizens’ active participation throughout all the events.”