YWCA Hanminjok(One ethnic group)
200 Women Visits Mt. Taebaek
“The Humanism Beyond Ideologies Results in a Value for Peace”
South Korean women, North Korean defectors, Koreans from China, Koryo-in, and Korean Americans yearned for the peace and the unification of the Korean peninsula at Mt. Taebaek. YWCA realized a new possibility in the peace movement created together with the diaspora women.
National YWCA of Korea (President Young Soo Han) and Seoul YWCA (President YooLim Lee) led ”YWCA Hanminjok(Korean Ethnic People) Women Peace Pilgrimage ‘From Mt. Halla to Mt. Baekdu’ 2019 Mt. Taebaek” from September 30 to October 2 in Taebaek, Jeongseon ,Yeongwol regions. There were 200 participants including members of YWCAs in Korea, the Hanminjok Diaspora, and etc.
In her opening remarks, President Young Soo Han from National YWCA of Korea said, “The peace we long for is not limited to one in the Korean peninsula but it is about not accepting the vicious cycle of repeated discrimination and oppression to other small and weak ethnicities”.
President YooLim Lee of Seoul YWCA said, “The Hanminjok Diaspora is Hanminjok but, at the same time, it has a cultural diversity. Therefore, I look forward to their important role in the peace and coexistence of East Asian countries and the unification of the Korean peninsula. In particular, as the theme this year was "Korean Diaspora", the overseas Korean residents walked the pilgrimage and shared their role as a Hanminjok women, the principal agents of a peaceful unification. Furthermore, they consolidated their solidarity.
On the first day, the participants watched “Jeronimo”, a documentary of Jeronimo Im. He was a man who tried to protect his identity as a Korean in Cuba. This session was intended to share the meaning of the Hanminjok Diaspora. After the movie, a Guest Visit was held with him. Director Juhn, a Korean American and a Korean Diaspora mentioned humanism, the love for the humanity, as the fundamental reason for finding Korean identity. He stated, “As a minority, I was able to find a general value that could embrace others with similar experiences”. He mentioned ‘2015 Women Cross DMZ’, a movement which people from YWCA and women peace activists crossed DMZ, as an example to describe the intersection between the diaspora and women peace moment. Then he added, “It is possible because there is a solidarity among the marginalized such as women, diaspora, etc. Therefore, the humanism that surpasses ideologies result in the value of peace”. Director Juhn concluded, “The root of all the diaspora is pain as they had to leave the land they love. However, it is used as a force that creates various identities.” He emphasized that admitting and respecting diversity is also a universal value. On October 1, the peace pilgrims reached Cheon-jae-dan (1560m) and recited the Prayer for Women Peace that hopes for the peace within the Korean peninsula. In the evening, Prof. Seong Kyoung Kim at University of North Korean Studies proceeded a session under the title of ‘Hanminjok Diaspora and Women’. In her session, she emphasized the importance of opening our hearts to the diasporas as she said, “The issue of diaspora is about being concerned about peace and coexistence” A North Korean defector and a Korean from China shared their feelings saying, “Embracing the North Korean defectors in South Korea and Koreans in China is the beginning of peaceful unification. I hope the spirit of YWCA peace pilgrimage will spread out even more”.
On October 2, the last day of the event, the participants recited 2019 YWCA Declaration of Women Peace as they made a determination to “Strive for the transformation of history with pain and division into a peaceful future through autonomous participation of North and South Korean women and the solidarity of women in the global society.” The peace pilgrimage of YWCA will continue. The event concluded with Seoul YWCA passing on the “Peace Patchwork (with Korean traditional design)” to Gwangju YWCA which will supervise the Women Peace Pilgrimage next year. The “Women Peace Pilgrimage”, a commemorative and peace movement project for the YWCA’s 95th year to 100th year, started last 2017 at Mt. Halla and it will last until year 2022 as they climbed Mt. Jiri in 2018 and Mt. Taebaek this year. From 2020, future participants will climb Mt. Seorak, Mt. Geumgang, and Mt. Baekdu respectively.
YWCA Declaration of Peace
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9 NIV)
Today, the Korean Peninsula is in the midst of transformation. The three inter-Korean summits in 2018, the North American summit, and the two US-North Korea summits this year allowed us to anticipate the door of peace to open wide. However, the situation in Northeast Asia surrounding the Korean Peninsula is changing ever so rapidly. The year 2020 marks the 70th year since the outbreak of the Korean War, and it is the moment when we should gather our strength and solidarity for all of us to transform the atmosphere of this prolonged war into a wave of peace.
To mark the 100th year of the March 1st Movement, we remember the significance of the international nonviolent peace movement which was voluntarily participated by everyone who longed for the fulfillment of autonomy, independence, justice, and peace. We once again realize the unconditional mission to fulfill the values of justice, peace, and life. In doing so, we declare that the peace in the Korean Peninsula is not just about the security and prosperity of the two Koreas, but about a firm establishment of a peace structure in Northeast Asia and creating peace of Christ on this land.
Our lives have always been a repetition of peace and insecurity. As an imperfect human being, we have sought the genuine peace from God. Peace is God's gift and, at the same time, it is our calling. Through Christ, the peace of God's kingdom, "that has already come but has yet to come", was confirmed in our hearts. From now, we will continue this pilgrimage toward the peace that has already begun, but which has not been completed.
This pilgrimage is a time for deep encounter with the Mighty One. Walking this pilgrimage from Mt. Halla, the southernmost part of the Korean Peninsula to Mt. Baekdu, the northernmost part of the Korean Peninsula is for us to be certain that this land is a place where God’s history is being created. It is for us to be determined to be a witness to this history. As Christ went up the mountain before his crucifixion and prayed until his sweat was like drops of blood, we will humbly listen to God's words and respond to his calling through this journey. Above all, pilgrimages should take place throughout our lives. Therefore, we will not stop this journey on this beautiful mountain, but return back to our daily lives to live out our lives as a pilgrim. As a pledge to continue our footsteps a pilgrimage and continue our solidarity for justice and peace that result in real changes we declare the following:
1. We strongly oppose any form of war on the Korean Peninsula and will continue our movement for the establishment of a peace structure in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia. 1. We actively strive to transform the history filled with suffering and division into a future with reconciliation and peace by the autonomous participation of women from the two Koreas and through the solidarity of women around the world. 1. We actively participate in the creation of regular consultative body in North and South level that sustains various and cooperative civilian exchanges. Furthermore, we actively cooperate to expand the wave of peace on the Korean Peninsula into the rest of the world.
2019. 10. 01
YWCA Hanminjok Women Peace Pilgrimage
"From Halla to Baekdu" - Pilgrims of 2019 Mt. Taebaek