At the Action for Korea United Festival on August 15, 2022, twenty thousand Korean citizens pledged to build a grassroots base that would gather 10 million people by 2025 to mark the 80th anniversary of Liberation Day.
Taegu was the fourth in a series of regional events held throughout Korea to start this work. Thousands gathered in on February 18, 2023, to expand the grassroots, citizen-led movement in the region.
I was told that Taegu is the city and the region where great Korean patriots grow. I guess I came to the right place to give my message today.
We are living in the most consequential moment in modern Korean history. The only nation that has not been able to resolve all of the travails of the last 20th century is this nation of Korea. And yet, still today, as we’re approaching our 8th decade since liberation, still, this peninsula is divided; our people are divided.
Yet, this is a time in which the Korean people can show the world, just like it did a hundred years ago in the beginning of the 20th century, that we can set a new precedent for this 21st century. I’m sure that many Koreans are not aware that the March 1st Independence Movement of 1919 did not just affect this nation of Korea, but the entire world. We were the first people to rise to the call that all nations should be able to determine their own national sovereignty, challenging the imperialistic order of the early 20th century. That message, that precedent was not lost on this peninsula, it reverberated throughout the course of 20th century history, where all the national movements for national sovereignty were inspired by the March 1st Movement.
In three years’ time, including this year, we’re going to prepare the foundation for tens of millions of Koreans, not only in South Korea, but all around the world, to rise up and to declare to the world our demand for unification based upon the Korean Dream.
The voices of the Korean people that sparked the movement for national restoration in the 20th century shall not be forgotten to the world. But that voice shall be found again in a new generation of Koreans, in a new century that will bring peace not only to the Korean peninsula, but to the region and to the world. That is the Korean Dream.
Now, I’m going to teach you a new word today. It’s a word that my father used, because more than anything that you should get today is that “I need to become the owner of the Korean Dream.”
Instead of saying “[Korean: I need to become the owner.]” All you have to say is “Aju.” So if I ask you, “Do you want to be an owner? Yes or no?” All you have to say is “Aju.” [Korean: Let’s try once. Aju!] [Aju!] Remember the quote I used to open my book, a quote by another Asian leader that basically transformed the last millennium of human history. It is a quote by Genghis Khan. He said, “If one person has a dream, it is but a dream. But if everyone can share in that dream it becomes a reality.” The Korean Dream is not the dream of just one man, one family, it is the dream of the entire Korean people and all of humanity.
It is rooted in the DNA of the Korean identity that goes back 5,000 years. As a student of history, one should know that the Korean founding is special among all the ancient civilizations in the world. The Hongik Ingan ideal was a providential mandate given to us by God to create a model nation that can be the benefit for all humanity. Among all the ancient civilizations, there has been none which had such lofty ideals such as this.
When I shared the Hongik Ingan ideal to even the top leaders of America, who basically pride themselves as champions of fundamental freedom and human rights, they were blown away that an ancient civilization 5,000 years ago had this founding vision. They were blown away, because they thought that such ideas were the province of the modern era that was led and founded by the United States. No. This root was part and parcel of the identity of the Korean people and the Korean civilization – 5,000 years ago. It had been the founding vision that led the Korean people to seek truth, righteousness and goodness. Although Korea was invaded more than 900 times throughout its history, it never invaded its neighbors. It’s because of the Hongik Ingan ideals. It is part and parcel to our Korean identity.
I have come here to Korea to once again reawaken that DNA that is latent in each and every one of you. Aju! [Aju] For once that DNA reawakens within each and every one of us, and we become owners of the Korean Dream, then, we shall set the precedent for peace in this 21st century, an era that is beginning to look very dangerous in the world today.
Then, those of you who want to become the owner of the Korean Dream, stand up! Raise your hand and say, “Aju! Aju! Aju!” [Aju! Aju! Aju!] [Korean: Thank you.]