In the past few years, the idea of a “Korean Dream” has been building momentum in Korea and around the world. Although many continue to focus on the idea of Korean reunification from economic and political perspectives, people are beginning to realize the importance of first coming together around a common vision.
Dr. Hyun Jin Moon’s 2014 book, Korean Dream, proposes this by suggesting that Koreans around the world substantively engage in the study of Korea’s own noble history and culture to find new pathways for peaceful reunification.
Seok-Hyun Hong, the Chairman and CEO of the ChoongAng Media Network, writes in an article published in the World Post, “What is the Korean Dream?”:
The Korean dream comes in a very specific context. Korea is trying to position itself in a rapidly changing world. As the world evolves in an economic, political and cultural sense, cultural power, the power of the Korean dream, will not come simply from the imitation of what others have done. It will be something that is constantly evolving. And here is a fundamental break with the past: the Korean dream must move beyond the reverse engineering of a previous age. The Korean dream is not an imitation of other dreams, but rather an invitation to everyone to dream, to discover some aspect of Korea’s culture that Koreans had overlooked.
And while Mr. Hong points to essentially the same message of a need for a shared vision and an expansive, global perspective of all that Korean reunification has to offer the world, there is also a need to be reflective about the ways that Koreans today on both sides of the 38th parallel have failed – in different but important ways – to live up to the highest Korean ideals. Above all, it is the continued division that needs to be addressed as perhaps both the process and the goal by which the Korean Dream can be realized.
While most take it as a given that South Korea should take the lead in reunification – we also need to re-evaluate our values and the principles that we hold to be self-evident – in order not to expand the political and economic territory of South Korea but to create a new, united Korea that is better than anything we would be apart. But as Dr. Moon explains in his book, this can not be realized by governments alone but needs to engage the will of the people and grassroots civil society in making all of Korea into the One Korea of our dreams.