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.
Honam was the second in a series of regional events held throughout Korea to start this work. Thousands gathered in on February 4, 2023 to expand the grassroots, citizen-led movement in the region.
I’d like to give a message that’s challenging, but at the same time that’s inspirational. But I want to first ask for permission that I could use the entire stage. I’d like to engage all of you, if that’s okay?
We live in the most consequential moment within the history of the Korean peninsula. In a world that’s plagued with tremendous crisis, especially with the rise of statist, absolutist powers right on our doorstep. The potential threat of nuclear annihilation. There are many dangers in the world today and yet, because of that contextual environment, there is the opportunity for people to recognize that there must be another way; that the status quo has not achieved to the great aspirations of our forefathers or even the aspirations that we might hold dear.
I believe it was Einstein who said that, “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing and hope for a different outcome.“ And yet, look at the efforts for unification. We are close approaching 80 years after the liberation of the Korean people from the Japanese Empire in 1945.
The dream that had inspired the liberation movement was rooted in the Hongik Ingan ideal of creating a modern, ideal nation, not just for the Korean people, but to inspire the rest of the world as to what human potential could be; what a true nation could resemble. This defined the uniqueness and the greatness of the Korean people.
As a student of history, one knows that all great civilizations have their beginning story. Yet there is only one nation amongst all the vast nations that existed in the world that had such a lofty aspiration as the Korean founding. So if you look at the entirety of human history, Korean founding ideals stand unique and special amongst all the ancient civilizations of the world. And what was that founding ideal? Hongik Ingan: to build a nation not just for the Korean people, but for the inspiration of all of humanity.
That is why the history of the Korean people has never been a history of oppression but seeking peace, seeking truth, seeking righteousness, and seeking goodness. Our people have been invaded more than 900 times and yet we never invaded or oppressed our neighbors.
Why was that? Because of the Hongik Ingan ideal that is etched in the DNA of our very Korean identity. In this world today, that’s plagued with such tragedy, such potential violence, as well as such travesty, it is a vision, it is an idea rooted in the highest and the great expression of our human experience that will uplift humanity from this quagmire and uplift them, to once again dream, to once again hope. And what is that vision? The Korean Dream.
Now I’m going to teach you a new word today, because even if you might not get everything that I say today, there’s one thing you absolutely need to take away, because we are making history.
Like I said, this is the most consequential moment in the history of the Korean people, especially this generation. We are making history. Nobody believed that there could be a grassroots movement, citizen-led movement for unification . And yet, here we are. I look at each and every one of you as the seed of this historic movement that will move this nation of Korea and the rest of the world. The true test of ownership is for you to be the owner of this word, and I’m going to teach it to you today. It’s called, “Aju.” Now what does Aju mean? My father coined this term as a very quick way of saying, ”I will be the owner.” Aju.
Because the Korean Dream has to be your dream. It can’t be Dr. Moon’s dream. It can’t be my neighbor’s dream. It has to be your dream. It has to be the dream of your family. It has to be the dream of your children, your grandchildren. Because that is what makes us Korean, that is tied to our 5,000-year-old legacy, with the most lofty, inspirational founding ideal of Hongik Ingan. [Korean: Can you all become the owners? [Yes!] Can you become the owner? [Yes!] Can you become the owner?] [Yes!] Ooooh.
This Korean Dream vision is not only a vision that I’m sharing with Korea today, especially for the AKU movement, but is actually being shared around the world. As many of you know, the Korean Dream book is a bestseller in the United States. Actually, in most of the Asian Studies schools, they study this book. This book was actually required reading for every new officer suggested by the Defense Department. So it’s very important worldwide. But who do you think it has to move the most? [Korean: The Korean people. Us. We must become the owners.]
So we have a huge goal – an outrageous goal – that in three years time, in celebrating the 80 year anniversary of liberation, that it won’t pass by as a forgotten moment in history, but will be a defining moment not only for the Korean people and the Korean peninsula, but the entire world. We’ll be making a bold-faced statement to the world, that we have not forgotten unification. But most of all, we have not lost our Korean identity rooted in the Hongik Ingan ideal. That although our leaders might have failed us, we as the Korean people, we have solidarity behind the singular vision that will ultimately unify our homeland. [Korean: Do you want to become the owner?] [Yes!] [Korean: Do you want to become the owner?] [Yes!]
That is what this movement is about. I especially want to challenge all of you, as owners, to be able to move ten people that you know. I want you to study the Korean Dream book so that you can give the type of lectures that Seo Inteck, the President of GPF Korea, can give. [Korean: Can you do this?] [Yes!] If you can do it, by being an owner and if you can do that, you will be a leader that makes history in the most consequential moment in the history of humanity and especially this nation. Aju? [Aju!]
You know, people might say that this Dr. Moon, he comes to speak to the Korean people in English. He’s like a banana. Yet, if you hear the content of my speech, there is no one who is more Korean than I am. At this time, Korea needed an outsider, so-called outsider, to come in with the vision that will reawaken their true Koreanness. Someone who, at a young age, at four years old, left his homeland of Korea, went to a completely foreign nation, received tremendous persecution and prejudice on every single level, and yet held on to his Korean identity and his roots in this nation so preciously that he had not forgotten how precious and how great God has blessed our people. That seed, the Korean Dream seed, that was within me that allowed me to overcome all the trials and tribulations is the same seed that exists in every single one of you. And it is my God-given mandate to awaken that seed in every single one of you and to rise at this moment and realize a long list of aspirations of our people to create a model, ideal nation as a unified nation, North and South. [Korean: Can we do this? Aju.] [Aju!]
So, I cannot leave without a challenge. So I have to make a challenge for you today. Can you become the owner of the Korean Dream and move this nation as part of the most historic and consequential movement in the history of our people, to bring about unification and create a new nation that can be the inspiration for all humanity, leading the world out of this quagmire of destruction and hopelessness and getting hope, once again, rooted in the Korean Dream? If you want to become an owner – stand up! Stand up! Raise your hands and say, “Aju! Aju! Aju!” [Korean: Thank you!]