International students in S. Korea hold Peace Talk Concert at DMZ

International students from 14 nations and representatives of the 6 party nations held a peace talk on July 26, 2013 at the DMZ in the northermost region of South Korea. Titled the “Peace Talk DMZ Tour,” the Korea International Student Support Association (KISSA), and its stakeholders including Global Peace Youth Corps Korea (GPYCK), and the Ministry of Unification organized this event on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice.

Participants of the Peace Talk DMZ Tour (Photo: KISSA)

The aim of the Peace Talk Tour was to honor the Korean War veterans, to create and increase awareness of international students on the Korean reunification undertakings, and to strengthen the younger generation’s contribution to the reunification course.

Pursuing the event’s schedule, the Peace Talk started at 10:30 in Paju by an opening speech by the honorary guest of the day, Congressman Kim Sang Min. He commented on how the youth’s contribution is a vital step forward towards reunification of the only divided nation in the world. Yoo Kyung Eui, President of KISSA, also gave welcoming remarks. Following this, the representative students from the 6 party nations made five-minute speeches each on the role of the young generation on the reunification of the Korean peninsula. The six party nations are China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States, which have held a series of multilateral negotiations intermittently since 2003 for the purpose of dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program.

There were 66 participants (34 international students from 20 nations, 18 Korean students, 12 staff and a member of parliament). International students joined from Seoul, Daejeon and Busan. The five continents Asia (North Korea, China, Russia, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Palestine, and South Korea), Africa (Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, and Tanzania), North America (USA), South America (Ecuador and Columbia) and Europe (France) were represented.

Congressman Kim Sang Min giving an opening speech (Photo: KISSA)

Key notes of the 6 party nation representative students’ speeches are as following:
– Lee Jun Hui (North Korea): The reunification could come naturally if the two countries exercise smooth socio-economic interactions first.
– Daria Krutova (Russia): I call for the young people from the 6 party nations and all over the world to think about Korea’s unification, care about it and fight for it.
– Tsuzuki Akari (Japan): Peace on the Korean peninsula and reunification is the assignment of all of the 6 party nations and the whole world in general.
– Heejin (South Korea): The division between the two Koreas is like a quarrel between brothers/sisters of the same family so that to separate for such long time is a big tragedy; we have to reunite! And now is the time for action!
– James Mills (USA): Peace is only achievable if both parties seek to benefit from unification. And I strongly believe that reunification will make Korea stronger.
– Li Ziquan (China): China is in favor of peaceful reunification of the two Koreas. We, the young generation of China, have the same aspirations.

Members of the 6 party nation peace talk with Congressman Kim Sang Min and KISSA President Yoo Kyung Eui (Photo: KISSA)

The speeches were followed by a heated discussion in which the international students’ enthusiasm and concern for the reunification of Korea was displayed. Participants asked questions and made suggestions and comments based on the speeches given. Questions asked included, “Whom does the reunification benefit most?” Some replied that reunification will benefit both divided parties and will make them economically and socially stronger and more interconnected. Similarly, a Nepali student suggested that the reason reunification has yet succeeded is because the process so far only focuses on complete reunification, created after the agreements. However, he believes that peace building between the sister countries needs to be focused on first so that each nation could have smooth movement of people and its economy. As time goes, the reunification will come up through self-initiation from both sides at a low cost and without any third party’s significant involvement.

After the discussion, nine students including  the six speech makers, moderator, and two people from the audience (Nawaraj Sanjel (Nepal) and Karen Roma (Ecuador) were assigned to develop a stand statement based on the whole discussion. The stand statement is a way of advocating the reunification of the Korean Peninsula by the young international students studying in Korea.

Afterwards, all participants went on a tour of the DMZ site, visiting the Underground tunnel, walking to the top of Dorisan, Imjingak, and tying ribbons and flags with individual peace messages on the wires of the fence.

Group photo at Imjingak during the DMZ tour (Photo: KISSA)

At the end of the tour, Daria Krutova, representative student from Russia recited the stand statement next to the Peace Bell and the six party nation representative students hit the bell seven times.

Daria Krutova reading the stand statement at the Peace Bell (Photo: KISSA)

Stand statement (Photo: KISSA)

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