It is a tremendous honor for me to be here today.
I was told that there were going to be many, many patriots gathered here who want to dream the greatest dream of all.
Is that correct? (Yes)
We are here, gathered and inspired, by a dream. That dream is the Korean Dream. It was one hundred years ago that our forefathers gathered all across this land, two million of our forefathers, inspired by a dream to create a new, independent, ideal model nation that could be the inspiration of all humanity.
Although they lived in a land that has been stripped of their independence—has been stripped of their nationality—under colonial dominion, they dared to dream the dream to build a model nation inspired by the age-old providential calling and destiny in the founding of our people, rooted in the philosophy of Hongik Ingan that charged the Korean people to live for the benefit of all humanity.
They dared to dream to create an ideal nation.
That ideal nation was not to reinstall the Joseon Dynasty.
No, our forefathers at that time of the turn of the 20th century, recognizing that there are better ways in which a nation should be built, believed that a republic—a Western-style republic—should be created on this land.
In 1945, with the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule, that dream could have been realized.
This day celebrates that day, where the possibility of the dream fulfilled could have been realized.
But, unfortunately, this was not to happen as three years later, in 1948, although there was to be a national election that would create a unifying government, to create an independent unified Korean nation, this was not to come to pass.
With the creation of two governments, both North and South were permanently divided on this peninsula to this day.
Although many Koreans today only understand this reality, they should be reminded, especially with this centennial celebration of our independence movement, of the dream that sparked their ancestors—their grandparents, their great grandparents, their parents—to give of themselves for the creation of a new nation, inspired by the Hongik Ingan ideal: to benefit all mankind.
Action for Korea United has inherited that legacy.
Have we not? Yes or no? (Yes)
With the beginning of a great movement, it takes leaders who are willing to take ownership and put their neck out on the line. Any great cause means that there has to be self-sacrifice and the willingness of those to set the precedent of leadership that can inspire others, that can inspire society, that can inspire a nation to once again dream the greatest dream for Korea, which is the Korean Dream.
Especially in the context of this current environment, the work that you have undertaken as your own cause is reminded by the quote of Genghis Khan, “If one person has a dream it is but a dream, but if everyone shares in that dream, it becomes a reality.”
It is right and proper that we have gathered here on this day: A day of possibility and hope, when a dream could have been realized to once again reignite that hope and that possibility for all the Korean people, not just in the South, but in the North and the entire diaspora and to spread that message so that it can echo throughout the world with the support of the entire international community, unlike the environment that existed in 1945.
We stand at the precipice of tremendous change, if only we are willing to take the lead.
Unlike 1945, due to the work of the AKU, we have developed a large civic movement, inheriting the Hongik Ingan ideal, and spreading that message to a larger global community that wants to stand with the Korean people and help the Korean people realize the dream of one united nation, realizing the Hongik Ingan ideal of benefiting all mankind.
So, the world will stand with us if only we take ownership and leadership.
Can we all do that? (Yes!)
If only we take leadership, we can bring about a tremendous transformation on this land. But, before we do so, we as Koreans have to strip ourselves of all the foreign constructs that have divided this land, North and South, and even here in South Korea, left and right, and recognize that we have a common heritage and common identity as the Korean people.
We are one Korean family. And we have to unite that family.
There is a saying that the value of a people is determined by how we treat the least of us. The fact that there are twenty-five million Koreans across the 38th parallel that do not enjoy the freedoms and the opportunities that exist in the South is a reflection on our Korean identity.
This is a time in which we need to mend that reality and build a united homeland for all Korean people. Can we do that? Yes or no? (Yes!)
That is why I am so glad that I came over here today.
Can I come down and speak with you today?
I can’t hear you, yes or no? (Yes!)
Do you like it so far? (Yes!)
We are one Korean family.
One Korean family.
We share one dream. We share one identity. We share one aspiration. We share one hope. We share one dream. And that is the Korean Dream.
The power of dreaming—of hope—that is how the world has changed.
Don’t listen to the naysayers who say this can’t be done or that can’t be done. Whenever one has an aspiration and dream, and when one believes in that dream… you are the ones who will make history.
Can we be those kinds of people? Yes or no? (Yes!)
I know that Korea is going through tremendous difficulty today. There are demonstrations happening in the streets today and a lot of it is rooted in resentment.
But, in this auditorium today there is no resentment. There is no hatred. There is only hope. Because we are people that are drunk with a dream: a great dream. One that can inspire not only the Korean people, but all the people of the world.
Are you with me? Yes or no? (Yes!)
Is that right?
This is the time to show the greatness of the Korean people, not to grumble over petty differences but show the greatness of our Korean character as reflected by the Declaration of Independence that was read one hundred years ago.
Remember, it was our forefathers that were living through the tragedy of colonialization. But, in the declaration, they made it a point that Korea should work with Japan to establish peace in East Asia, as partners, not as enemies.
That was the greatness of our Korean forefathers. That is the greatness that we have to find today in order to face the challenges that Korea faces today.
Can we do that? (Yes!)
That is the Korean Dream.
I know this for a fact that we, as Koreans, this is our time to shine and show who we are to the rest of the world. The world is watching us today. I remember when I first went to the United States more than 30 years ago. Everybody thought I was Chinese. So, I said, “No I’m not Chinese, I’m Korean.” But then they would reply by saying, “What is Korea? Where is Korea?”
Today, if you go to America and you go to any small town in the United States and you talk about—you raise the issue of Korea—everybody knows not only that there are two Koreas, but that North Korea is an existential threat to global security. All around the world, everyone knows of two Koreas. The name Kim Jong-un is a household name. Everybody knows. That is why the world is watching.
Being a person of deep faith and conviction, I know that the founding of our people was rooted in a providential destiny: a destiny to create a nation that could inspire the world and lead the world to peace.
Our greatness lies in our ability to internalize our pain—internalize the injustices done to us—and to be able to live, still, for the sake of others.
That is our greatness. And that is encapsulated in the Korean Dream.
So, let us dare to dream the greatest dream at this time that inspires the people of Korea to embrace a vision that can bring an end to the division of our homeland and create a new nation founded upon the very ideals that our ancestors formed the identity of the Korean people on.
And in so doing, let us inspire the world to peace. Can we do that?
Can we do it? I can’t hear you, can we do it? (Yes!)
And grandmother here…
Only in our nation, do we look at somebody who I never met before and we use familiar terms, halmeoni (grandmother).
Young people are called sons and daughters. Korean people are full of Jung (feelings of love, feelings of intimacy).
This is our unique contribution to humanity. This is something that we should be celebrating; that we should be proud of.
Because the world is watching us.
So, I want to leave you with a challenge. Can you, can you become the owner of the Korean Dream and bring this dream to every citizen in this land! Yes or no? (Yes!)
I can’t hear you. Can we do it? Can we do it? (Yes!)
Our work is not done yet.
Shall we take ownership over the Korean Dream, moving the entirety of the Korean people and this land and eventually build a new ideal nation that reflects the Hongik Ingan ideal? Can we do that? Yes or no? (Yes!)
I can’t hear you. Can we do it? (Yes!) Can we do it? (Yes!)
Wow. Thank you.
Remember, AKU is your movement. I created AKU for every single Korean so your dreams can be heard, not only on this land but throughout the entire world.
I wrote the Korean Dream to empower you so that you can dream the greatest dream for the Korean people. So, please take these tools and bring tremendous transformation on this land, and this region, and on the world. Thank you very much.