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Excellencies, Distinguished Peace Ambassadors, and European leaders!
I am very pleased to meet you, even online, when people around the world are suffering very much from the Corona-19 pandemic. The topic of this session is about ‘the Arts and Cultural Initiatives for Peace’. For half of my life, I was associated with the Korean children’s folk dance troupe, called the ‘Little Angels’, which was founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon.
The Little Angels was founded in 1962 with the founders’ unique vision for the realization of world peace through the arts and culture. They asked that the Little Angels serve as a private diplomatic mission through their performances, acting as ‘Ambassadors of Peace and Goodwill’, and promoting the Korean people's ‘Spirit of Peace’ to the world.
In 1961, Dr. Bo Hi Pak, while serving as an aide to the military attaché at the Korean Embassy in Washington D.C., wrote a desperate letter to Rev. Sun-Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon asking to organize a traditional folk-dance company. In his letter he said “Today, people around the world only remember Korea as a country destroyed by war. As a diplomat representing Korea, I am so sad about this situation. The Korean people have deep roots, with 5,000 years of history steeped in beautiful arts, culture and traditions. If we can show our cultural heritage to the people of the world first, then they will respect Korea and the Korean people. Therefore, if possible, I hope True Parents can create a ‘folk dance company’ and let them perform around the world so they can raise Korea’s status and show Korean culture and arts to people around the world.
A few weeks later, Dr. Bo Hi Pak received a letter from Rev. Moon. He approved his idea of creating a folk-dance company under the condition that the dance company should be a ‘children’s folk dance group’. Rev. Moon explained the reason for this in his letter., “Children are a ‘symbol of peace’. Everywhere in the world, even in communist countries, everyone loves children. Children speak a ‘language of peace’ that is understood all around the world. Only through the language of children can we make the world know that the Korean people is a ‘peace-loving people’. So, that’s why I am going to name the children's folk dance company ‘The Little Angels, the Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea’.”
After 3 years preparation starting from 1962, finally the Little Angels started their world tour in 1965, beginning in the USA. In 1965, Dr. Pak arranged that the Little Angels’ first historic American performance was a special performance for former US President Eisenhower. On September 20, the Little Angels visited the residence of President Eisenhower in Gettysburg. Needless to say, the Little Angels from Korea captured President Eisenhower's heart. The President said: “Aha! Now the angels in heaven must be in big trouble! Because these beautiful Korean little angels are dancing on the ground!”
After a special performance at the National Press Club in 1965, Mrs. David Leroy, the wife of the President of the National Press Club, visited Dr. Bo-Hi Pak backstage and said: “I kept crying tears of joy while watching the Little Angels. If I had a lot of money, I would use all that money to send the Little Angels around the world 7 times. What better way to achieve world peace? These children are ‘apostles of peace’ and ‘ambassadors of peace and goodwill.’ If they go around the world seven times, war will disappear in our world.” That was the moment when Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon’s vision for peace was achieved through the Little Angels.
In 1970 and 1973, they were invited to give a Christmas performance at the White House. In 1971 the Little Angels were invited for the Royal Command Performance in attendance of the Queen of England at the London Palladium and became Queen Elizabeth's special guests at a reception afterwards. And in 1973, the UN General Assembly's main conference hall was the site of the Little Angels’ special concert to raise funds for UNICEF. The Little Angels have been selected to represent the Korean government many times, serving as ‘goodwill ambassadors,’ introducing Korean arts and culture in 40 countries around the world.
So far, the Little Angels have performed in more than 60 countries with more than 7000 stage performances and more than 600 TV appearances. I am sure our co-founders’ desire is that the Little Angels continue their tours more and more until a world of peace is realized.
Next Year, 2022, the Little Angels will celebrate the 60th anniversary of their founding. Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja han Moon encouraged the Little Angels to organize a special tour in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea. In 1991, when Rev. Moon visited North Korea and had a special meeting with President Kim Il Sung, they had already agreed to have an arts and cultural exchange program. They hoped that a non-political arts performance by the children, the Little Angels with tranquil and clean minds, would lay a cornerstone to open a door for reconciliation and cooperation between North and South Korea - the dearest wish of the Korean people.
Finally, on May 3rd, 1998, the Little Angels visited Pyongyang and performed 2 times at the Pyongyang Bongwha Theater. It was very historical that the Little Angels were the first performing arts company from south Korea to perform in Pyongyang. The theater was full with an enthusiastic audience. The North Korean audience who saw the South Korean performing arts programs for the first time were fascinated, shed tears and united with a common sentiment of the same cultural heritage based on their shared 5000 year history.
In return for the Pyongyang performances, the Little Angels invited the Pyongyang Schoolchildren’s Art Troupe to Seoul in May, 2000. Their two performances in Seoul were also fantastic and had great success. At the joint performance of North and South Korean children at the Little Angels Performing Arts Center, one member of the Little Angels said to the audience, “Tonight we children from North and South made complete unity with love, without any hatred; please, all fathers and mothers, do your best to make one Korea in the future.” Through these exchange programs the historical first ever North-South summit took place a few weeks later.
The teachers who educate and train the Little Angels and direct their world tours have a motto, originally taught by Dr. Bo-Hi Pak, following the spirit of the co-founders:
'If you have a beautiful heart, your dancing will be beautiful.'
'If you have a beautiful heart, your singing will be beautiful.'
'If you have a beautiful heart, your face will also be beautiful.'
The deep philosophical meaning of this teaching is that 'all arts are an expression of inner character.' Their performance on stage is an expression of the children's inner beauty, so Dr. Bo-Hi Pak emphasized that they have to be beautiful human beings first.
On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces invaded the South and started the Korean War. Thousands of people were sacrificed, and both South and North Korea were devastated. However, in this difficult time, God worked to protect our nation by sending troops from 16 countries around the world under the name of the ‘UN Forces’ to secure the freedom of South Korea. These troops made great sacrifices and suffered many losses. Perhaps if it wasn't for them, the Republic of Korea today would not be on the world map. In addition, five other countries supported the war effort with medical supplies and other aid, contributing to the recovery of the country after the war.
The Korean people have unlimited gratitude for the help provided by these countries. In particular, Rev. Moon was imprisoned in Hungnam Labor Camp by the communist regime in North Korea when war broke out. In October 1950, the prison was liberated by UN Forces, saving his life and securing his freedom. On the 60th anniversary of the Korean War in 2010, Rev. Moon asked the Little Angels to organize special performances in the 21 countries that sent troops and aid to Korea during the war, to express our gratitude to the people of those countries.
Therefore, the Little Angels went on three world tours to 21 countries in three years from 2010, giving performances and holding memorial events for the war victims and the surviving war veterans, on behalf of the Korean people. For this project a lot of money was needed, but Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon provided great support for this work, which neither the government nor any businessman could do. Such initiatives demonstrate the practice of their philosophy of “living for the sake of others.”
Many veterans expressed their appreciation to Rev. Moon for acknowledging their sacrifices in the Korean war, 60 years later. They also praised the Little Angels, who expressed their nation’s gratitude through their beautiful dancing and singing. In conclusion, True Parents founded the Little Angels in order to promote national prestige through Korean traditional culture and arts, at a time when Korea was suffering due to the damage of the Korean War.
Now they have become ‘Ambassadors of Peace’ to the world. These days, the Korean people praise the Little Angels as the origin of the ‘Korean Wave’ that has now made many K-Pop groups and other performers popular around the world.
I am proud that Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon will be remembered for their contribution to promote the prestige of Korea, and the pride of the Korean people, with a unique vision for the realization of world peace through their arts and culture initiatives.
Thank you very much for listening.