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Session I - “Track 1.5 Diplomacy Initiatives with North Korea”
Session 2 - Resources and Tools of Faith Based Organizations in Support of Reuniting the Korean People
Session III: “The Power of Humanitarian Initiatives in Overcoming the Division of the Korean Peninsula”
Session IV: “The Emerging Power of Women’s Diplomacy toward Sustainable Peace”
Session V: “The Potential of Private Sector Initiatives to Boost the North Korean Economy”
Session VI: “Talking to the Heart: Culture as Peacemaker”
Session VII: “Imagining a Unified World: The Youth’s Contribution to Peace on the Korean Peninsula”
Session VIII: “Beyond Borders: The Peace Road Initiative” and Closing Session

Click on the session titles for the session reports and videos.

Europe and the Middle East—Track II diplomacy as a path to Korean reunification was the focus of eight sessions of an International Leadership Conference.

The online conference, held from July 27 to 29, 2021, by the Europe and Middle East branch of UPF, was titled “Toward the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula: Best Practices in Track II Diplomacy.”

The webinar series was the second of three ILCs that followed the launch on May 9 of Think Tank 2022—a worldwide alliance of experts from government, academia, civil society, faith-based organizations, the media, business, and the arts who have committed to work together for the peaceful reunification of North and South Korea.

Track II diplomacy can be defined as “the practice of non-governmental, informal and unofficial contacts and activities between private citizens or groups of individuals, sometimes called ‘non-state actors’” (Diamond & McDonald, 1991). Neither Track 1.5 nor Track II discussions carries the official weight of traditional diplomacy, yet they offer a private, open environment for individuals to build trust, hold conversations and discuss solutions in a way their official counterparts sometimes cannot. Trusted figures often can glean better insights and nuances and provide non-official communication channels that can prove useful in a crisis.

The ILC was held simultaneously in five regions of the world—Africa, Asia, North and South America, and Japan, as well as Europe and the Middle East—to address best practices in Track II diplomacy to bring about Korea’s peaceful reunification.

Eminent leaders, notably from the diplomatic, political, economic, and humanitarian fields, participated in the eight webinars of the Europe-Middle East ILC, two of which were co-hosted by partner organizations Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) and International Association of Youth and Students for Peace (IAYSP).

Session I - “Track 1.5 Diplomacy Initiatives with North Korea”

June 27th, 2021, 10:00 CET

Mr. Jacques Marion, Co-chair, UPF Europe & Middle East, France Dr. Katsumi Otsuka, Chair, UPF Europe & Middle East Mr. Humphrey Hawksley, Author, Commentator; Former BBC Foreign Correspondent, UK Hon. Glyn Ford, Former UK Member of the European Parliament; Founder, Track 2 Asia, UK Dr Antonio Betancourt, Former Director, UPF Office for Peace and Security, USA

The ILC and its first session were opened by Jacques Marion, co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East (EUME).

In his opening remarks, Dr. Katsumi Otsuka, co-chair of UPF EUME, referred to the Korean War often being considered as the “Third World War.” In this context he introduced the lives of the UPF co-founders, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, both of whom were born in North Korea and fled as refugees to South Korea.

As moderator of this first session, Mr. Humphrey Hawksley, an author, commentator, and former BBC foreign correspondent, introduced the two guest speakers and commented on the importance of Track 1.5 dialogues.

Hon. Glyn Ford, a former UK member of the European Parliament and the founder of the non-profit organization Track2Asia and the private company Polint, recalled that he made his first trip to North Korea in 1997 after being approached by DPRK diplomats from a UNESCO delegation. At that time, North Koreans were seeking food aid from the European Union. Upon his return, a European Parliament resolution was drafted which led to the DPRK allowing an official EU delegation to visit North Korea. In 2010, he was asked to set up a political dialogue and gathered a group of senior politicians from the EU to travel to Pyongyang regularly to hold discussions.

He noted that North Koreans are not interested in early unification because it would mean assimilation, just like in the East German model of reunification, which they do not want. The North Koreans want the United States to allow them to grow by themselves and develop their economy. He added, “The only way to actually guarantee regime survival, from their perspective, has been the development of weapons of mass destruction.” He concluded that any solution requires trust to be built step by step on both sides and the involvement of the international community.

Dr. Antonio Betancourt, a former secretary general of the Summit Council for World Peace (an organization established in 1987 by the UPF founders) and the former director of the UPF Office for Peace and Security, spoke of his experience in 1991 of conveying a message from Reverend Moon to North Korean leader Kim Il Sung through Cuba, with the purpose of bringing about reconciliation for the good of all Korean people and the peaceful reunification of Korea. Reverend Moon advised Dr. Betancourt that “you don’t achieve anything by demonizing your adversaries; you have to give them the respect that you, in your bias, do not think they deserve. In the end this will bring results. You may be able to make your adversary into a partner.”

Dr. Betancourt contributed to dialogue between North Korea and external powers. Indeed, he used his influence to encourage U.S. President Jimmy Carter to visit Pyongyang, through which tensions between the US and the DPRK were reduced. Dr. Betancourt was one of the few Westerners invited to attend President Kim Il Sung’s funeral. Together with Col. Bo Hi Pak, one of Reverend Moon’s assistants, he presented Father and Mother Moon’s condolences to President Kim Jong Il at the funeral.

Session 2 - Resources and Tools of Faith Based Organizations in Support of Reuniting the Korean People

Date: July 27th, 2021 – 14:00 CET

Mrs. Maria Nazarova, President, Universal Peace Federation Russia Archpriest Vladimir Fedorov, Scientific Director of the Institute for the Study of Orthodox Resources for Peacemaking, Missiology, Ecumenism and New Religious Movements; Archpriest, Russian Orthodox Church Rev. Dr. Stephen Kim, Co-Chairman Korean Clergy Leadership Conference, Seoul, South Korea Rabbi Kevin De-Carli, President, GIIA Interfaith Youth Council, Switzerland Mr. Heiner Handschin, Coordinator IAPD Europe and Middle East

This session was hosted jointly by UPF and its Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD).

The moderator, UPF-Russia President Maria Nazarova, warmly welcomed the attendees and introduced the speakers who would offer their perspectives on how faith-based organizations could support the reunification of the Korean people.

Archpriest Vladimir Fedorov, the scientific director of the Institute for the Study of Orthodox Resources for Peacemaking, Missiology, Ecumenism and New Religious Movements, and archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church, stated that, in the modern era, humanity is facing many threats. To confront these threats and act creatively to resolve them, he said, we are obliged to unite. He predicted that the unification of the two Koreas will be achieved once the younger generation integrate into a culture of peace. He encouraged the creation of various opportunities and projects to promote spiritual and moral enlightenment.

Archpriest Fedorov spoke of the phrase “good will toward men” and its importance. To him, this phrase relates to those who see peace as a fundamental value for which they must work together in solidarity to solve problems. He concluded by explaining his change of heart toward other religious groups. He defined peacekeeping as not only the process of ending bloody wars but also the work of preventing conflicts, which itself requires investment into the sphere of education.

Rev. Dr. Stephen Kim, the co-chair of the Korean Clergy Leadership Conference, an organization that is affiliated with UPF, emphasized that peace on the Korean Peninsula will have a positive impact on peace around the world, as the peninsula historically has been a region of struggle between various world powers. He spoke of Christianity’s role in unifying Germany when it was divided, bringing about a substantial social change in the country.

Reverend Kim explained that Christianity in Korea has a role to play in unifying the nation, but said it must go beyond the evangelical dimension and political boundaries.

Reverend Kim spoke of Christianity not as an ideology or political belief but as a means to bring about unification through forgiveness and reconciliation. He described “unification” not as forcing two different things to become one, but as something that restores perfection from what is separated and progresses toward greater perfection. He concluded by encouraging the development of educational materials that support Korean cooperation and spread Christian values.

Rabbi Kevin De-Carli, president of the Interfaith Youth Council of the Geneva Interfaith Intercultural Alliance, recalled his experiences in reconciling divided groups and people, and his work with religious associations and the Swiss military. He spoke of the need to reconcile conflict on both the personal and institutional level.

Citing an old Jewish proverb, “Be a human. Don’t be religious,” he explained that empowerment can be gained from realizing that humans are not needy but are needed by God. He emphasized that this attitude can take the energy out of the vicious political and factionist arguments of our modern age.

Rabbi De-Carli said we must recognize our basic humanity, our human dignity, and realize that we are needed by others and needed by God. He concluded: “Be a human first in every action, and then be Christian, be Jewish, be Buddhist, be whatever, but a human first—and that to the very best degree that you can.”

Mr. Heiner Handschin, the coordinator of IAPD for Europe and the Middle East, began his talk by introducing IAPD, a primary association of UPF, which focuses on supplementing political leaders with the wisdom of religious leaders and taking into account the spiritual dimension of working toward peace.

Mr. Handschin talked about the efforts that UPF founders Rev. and Mrs. Moon have made in striving for world peace. He quoted from a speech given by Reverend Moon: “Although secular authorities rule most human societies, religion lies at the heart of most national and cultural identities. In fact, religious faith and devotion have far greater importance in most people’s hearts than do political loyalties.”

Mr. Handschin highlighted the strengths of a faith-based approach, which include sincere, selfless intentions, the ability to think outside the box and to come up with a visionary perspective on issues. He emphasized UPF’s and IAPD’s commitment to advocating and promoting the peaceful rapprochement of North and South Korea.

Session III: “The Power of Humanitarian Initiatives in Overcoming the Division of the Korean Peninsula”

Date: July 27th, 2021 – 16:00 CET

Mrs. Chantal Chételat Komagata, Coordinator UPF Europe Mr. Thomas Fisler, Former Director, Cooperation in Pyeongyang for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, FDFA, Switzerland Dr. Alain Destexhe, Former Secretary General, Médecins Sans Frontières; Senator (1995-2019), Belgium Mrs. Brigitte Wada, President Women’s Federation for World Peace, France

The session moderator, Mrs. Chantal Chételat Komagata, the coordinator of UPF for Europe, explained why UPF has been organizing so many webinars on the Korean Peninsula. The UPF co-founders, born in what is today North Korea, shared the destinies of millions of refugees fleeing the North during the Korean War.

In 1991, they met with North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, during which Reverend Moon clearly denounced worldwide communism. Their meeting led to numerous humanitarian initiatives aiming at a community of solidarity and mutual prosperity.

Mr. Thomas Fisler, a former director of cooperation in Pyongyang for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, said that despite the persisting humanitarian needs in North Korea, where 40 percent of the population suffer from malnutrition, the country went into a total lockdown in January 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This measure brought international humanitarian aid to a halt and has exacerbated the plight of ordinary people. “North Korean lockdown measures are impacting the lives of ordinary people more than any externally imposed sanctions in the past,” he said.

Looking ahead to the post-pandemic period, Mr. Fisler said that most INGOs and NGOs will need to negotiate all over again with the North Korean authorities, since all connections currently are cut. They will have to work in difficult conditions, as much material and infrastructure had to be left behind. Most importantly, communication channels should be kept open, and information should be gathered on what is happening in rural areas. Providing medical equipment and COVID-19 vaccines certainly will be one of the priorities, although solving children’s malnutrition is even more urgent.

Dr. Alain Destexhe, former secretary general of Médecins Sans Frontières and former senator of Belgium (1995-2019), pointed out that humanitarian aid mostly is organized and delivered in a highly political context. Even when humanitarian organizations want to remain totally neutral and impartial, they cannot ignore the reality and merely concentrate on the suffering of the people, which is what he witnessed notably during the Bosnian War (1992-1995), as well as during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. “When the goal is murdering people, there is no room for humanitarian aid,” he said.

As for North Korea, Dr. Destexhe said it is very important to maintain open channels and dialogue, however difficult this may be. At any time, minimal conditions must be met to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid. As humanitarian aid organizations cannot merely trust the government, they need to be able to assess the needs of the suffering people and have a minimum of control over what happens to the relief supplies they give, if they cannot deliver them themselves.

Mrs. Brigitte Wada, president of Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) in France, spoke about the 1% Love Share Project, which was launched in 2001 in the belief that Korean reunification can be achieved if South Koreans and North Koreans change their hearts and become more affectionate to each other. The project, supported by women’s associations worldwide, involves setting aside 1,000 won (approx. €1) each month to support the poor in the North.

WFWP has been helping, among others, North Korean women who have fled to the South to integrate into society. Furthermore, a World Assembly of Women Leaders was organized at North Korea’s Mount Kumgang in 2007. It was the first international gathering of this magnitude held in North Korea to promote world peace and reunification. Proposals have been made for a “Peace Zone” near the Demilitarized Zone, where women of the two Koreas can meet and generate innovative strategies for peace and human development. Mrs. Wada concluded with the words of Reverend Moon, who said that “the unity of the Korean Peninsula cannot be achieved through political, economic, or military means, and none of these will succeed without another prerequisite: true love.”

Session IV: “The Emerging Power of Women’s Diplomacy toward Sustainable Peace

Date: July 28th, 2021 – 10:00 CET

Mrs. Carolyn Handschin-Moser, Coordinator for Europe & Middle East, International Association of First Ladies for Peace Dr. Sun Jin Moon, Senior Vice President, Women’s Federation for World Peace International H.E. Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Prime Minister (2003), Finland H.E. Nayla Moawad, First Lady (1989), Former First Lady, Minister of Social Affairs (2005-2008), Lebanon H.E. Naziha Labidi, Minister for Women, Family, Children and Senior Citizens (2016-2020), Tunisia Mrs. Kholoud Wattar Kassem, Founder & President, Lebanese Women Towards Decision Making NGO, Lebanon Mrs. Marcia De Abreu, SG, WFWP Europe, Spain

This session was hosted jointly by UPF, its International Association of First Ladies for Peace (IAFLP), and its affiliated organization Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP).

Mrs. Carolyn Handschin, coordinator of IAFLP for Europe and the Middle East, opened the session. “While today’s discussion on successful models of women’s diplomacy and mediation is aimed at the cause of reconciliation, peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, it is relevant everywhere,” she said.

Dr. Sun Jin Moon, the senior vice president of WFWP International, said that the Koreans are victims of a geopolitical conflict embedded in a much larger global context. She emphasized the role of citizens—rather than just leaders—working not only through economics but also culture and the arts. Because relations between Seoul and Pyongyang have been hostage to geopolitical dynamics and external actors’ influence, Dr. Moon said, the involvement of non-governmental actors in enhancing reconciliation between the two Korean communities is very important.

As the daughter of UPF and WFWP co-founders Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, she described her parents’ extensive efforts toward Korean reunification. As a child, her mother was forced to flee North Korea during the Korean War but returned to the DPRK as an adult to speak with Chairman Kim Il Sung about the need for reunification. Sun Jin Moon said her parents have developed businesses and a tourist industry in the North. Now her mother is making plans for a world summit, including North Korea in the conversation, about achieving peace not just on the Korean Peninsula but worldwide.

H.E. Anneli Jäätteenmäki, the former prime minister of Finland (2003) and a member of the European Parliament (2004 to 2019), moderated the session.

H.E. Nayla Moawad, a former first lady of Lebanon (1989) who was also her nation’s minister of social affairs (1992-2004), spoke about the current crisis in her country: There is a struggle for control, which has led to corruption and resultant poverty. Even wealthy families are now struggling to afford food, due to extortionate inflation. She said this is because of a lack of balance in leadership. Women are more empathetic in leading positions, and hence less corruption arises, she said. Lebanese people saw this when she served as first lady; they were surprised by her desire to serve all of Lebanon. This touched people’s hearts, and she was very well received following the assassination of her husband. She then founded the René Moawad Foundation, which is successfully providing aid across Lebanon. If there were more women in power, she said, it would be easier to solve Lebanon’s crisis and lead the country to success. This can be applied to other countries in conflict too, she said.

H.E. Neziha Labidi, former minister for women, family, children and senior citizens (2016-2020) in Tunisia, began by quoting the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza: “Peace is not merely the absence of war, it is the presence of justice.” Statistically speaking, she said, women-led countries are more peaceful. Tunisia itself has a history of women in leadership, as well as laws that protect women against domestic and sexual violence, pioneering this in the Middle East. However, a change in culture takes a lot longer than a change in policy, she said, and the fight for equality is far from over.

Agreeing with the previous speaker, H.E. Nayla Moawad, she said the hearts of women are the key to a more compassionate, inclusive future. The key is to not get discouraged, even if you are outnumbered, she said, since willpower is more important than numbers.

Mrs. Kholoud Wattar Kassem, the founder and president of the NGO Lebanese Women Towards Decision Making, considers empowering women in peacebuilding as her mission in life. Growing up in a conservative family and environment, she fought to go to university and work, even to drive her own car. She was empowered by the thought of pioneering the way for women that follow her. Her attempt to join parliament was met with cynicism by family members. Even her husband struggled to accept this reversal in dynamic. But after years of persistence and patience, her husband is now her main supporter. Women as public decision-makers is not the norm in Lebanon, but in the 2018 general elections 113 female candidates ran, a record-breaking number. This is a promising development, she said: women not waiting for peace but going out to actively seek it.

Session V: “The Potential of Private Sector Initiatives to Boost the North Korean Economy

Date: July 28th, 2021 – 14:00 CET

Mr. Ole Toresen, Vice-Coordinator, IAED Europe and Middle East. Dr. Claude Béglé, Swiss entrepreneur, founder and president of the investment company Symbioswiss Mr. Paul Tjia, Director, GPI Consultancy, The Netherlands Mr. Mark Tokola, Vice-president, Korea Economic Institute of America, USA Dr. Pablo Sanz Bayón, Lecturer in Commercial Law, Spain Mr. Enrique Miguel Sanchez Motos, IAED coordinator for Europe and the Middle East

This session was hosted jointly by UPF and its International Association for Peace and Economic Development (IAED).

After a short welcome, Mr. Ole Toresen, the IAED vice coordinator for Europe and the Middle East, introduced the session moderator, Dr. Claude Béglé, the president of the investment company Symbioswiss and a former member of the Swiss Parliament.

Mr. Paul Tjia, the founder of GPI Consultancy, a consultancy firm in the field of international outsourcing, organizes business missions and tours of North Korea for journalists. He said that North Korea clearly wants foreign investments and is interested in foreign trade. Private businesses can play an important role in building trust between North Korea and other countries. As an example of possible business, he emphasized online IT-related work on behalf of foreign clients.

Mr. Tjia has brought garment producers to North Korea, but currently, due to the UN security sanctions, the country is not allowed to export garments. He emphasized software development, which is rather complicated and needs a lot of communication, as important for bringing about successful results. In doing business, it is possible for people to visit North Korea, he said, but North Koreans also appreciate being invited to visit other countries.

Mr. Mark Tokola, the vice president of the Korea Economic Institute of America in Washington, a former U.S. senior foreign service officer, and former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, said that for North Korea, the biggest problem is not denuclearization, but rather the terrible condition of its economy. This has been caused by droughts and floods in recent years, international sanctions, and now North Korea’s self-imposed pandemic border controls, which have cut off imports, even of humanitarian assistance. However, 30 years of economic stagnation have been primarily due to North Korea’s mismanagement of its economy.

To get the North Korean economy on its feet, Mr. Tokola said, fundamental reforms are necessary in state budgeting, banking, property legislation, commercial law, and many other areas. Without those reforms, neither North Korean entrepreneurs nor potential foreign investors will have much incentive to risk investments. As one of the very first steps, North Korea will have to show its government revenues and expenditures. Furthermore, in the long term there will need to be an economic relationship between North and South Korea, in which North Korea is not overwhelmed and destabilized by South Korea’s economic strength.

Dr. Pablo Sanz Bayón, an assistant professor (PhD) in commercial law at the Spanish university ICADE, and a law expert in digital business regulation and corporate law, said there are several existing cases of foreign businesses, mostly Chinese and Russian firms, in joint ventures with the North Korean government. However, North Korea does not yet have a proper environment for foreign companies to invest. Indeed, it lacks laws, systems, and rules for dispute settlement, insurance, wages, and remittances. Furthermore, infrastructure—roads, railroads, and telecommunications for the supply of electricity, gas, and water—is extremely poor. The large-scale military spending and nuclear programs severely draw off the resources needed for investment and civilian consumption.

To the question “Why doesn't North Korea become more like Vietnam?” Professor Sanz answered that any North Korean attempt at liberalization will depend on the progress of ongoing nuclear negotiations. The lifting of sanctions, coupled with economic reforms and changes in national security policy and international relations, could help put the North Korean economy on a path of stable growth and economic integration.

Session VI: “Talking to the Heart: Culture as Peacemaker”

Date: July 28th, 2021 – 16:00 CET

Mr. David Fraser Harris, Secretary General, UPF Middle East and North Africa Dr. David Eaton, Composer, Conductor, Producer, USA/Korea Dr. Seung-ho Lee, President, The DMZ Forum, USA Mrs Natalya Karpova, Deputy, Khasan Municipal District, Russian Far East Dr. No Hi Pak, Vice President, Korean Cultural Foundation; Former Managing Director, The Little Angels of Korea.

This session was jointly hosted by UPF and its International Association of Arts and Culture for Peace (IAACP).

Mr. David Fraser Harris, the UPF secretary general for the Middle East, cited UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon’s remarks that “people often think that politics moves the world, but that is not the case. It is culture and art that move the world. It is affection, not reason, that touches people in their innermost being.” Mr. Fraser Harris then asked the audience “Is your heart ready?” with the hope that this session would provide more than talk and would open each participant’s heart.

Dr. David Eaton, a composer, conductor, and producer currently based in South Korea, framed the vision of his work in the Greek (particularly the Platonic) concept of the unity and interrelatedness of beauty, truth, and goodness. There is a philosophical dimension of art as something being placed in the world. Artists don’t create in a void, but in relation to their culture and society, he said. Therefore, they have a moral obligation to contribute to building a better society.

He related his personal experience in the intersection between the arts and peace movements. Between 2003 and 2011, he traveled to Israel to work on several musical projects related to peace. These projects in the Middle East created powerful communal experiences through music. A simple chant—"Peace, shalom, salam aleykum”—brought together people of all backgrounds at a very tumultuous time in Israel. “It is not a matter of just talking about art, but about producing art that can bring change,” Dr. Eaton said. Artists have the power to make a change, and they do so by creating beauty.

Dr. Seung-ho Lee, president of the DMZ Forum, is the driving force behind a project to develop a naturally protected environment in the area of the Demilitarized Zone. The idea is to approach North-South Korean relations and potential reconciliation through the creation of a neutral natural and touristic area. After all, he said, tourism is an expression of culture and not just the economy. Dr. Lee’s presentation was a reflection on the deep reasons behind such an apparently simple project. He began with a reflection on Juche, the DPRK’s ideological base, as the expression of North Korea’s mindset, not just politically, but toward economic struggles and hardships in general.

“Who can take off North Korea’s nuclear cloak? The wind or the sun?” asked Dr. Lee, referring to the United States’ “wind” policy in trying to make North Korea denuclearize. What he proposed instead is that we should aim at a “sun” strategy or project, for example by empowering North Korea to raising the standard of its national tourism, allowing foreigners to enter and its citizens to come and go more freely. Tourism is, after all, a natural way of cultural exchange.

Mrs. Natalya Karpova, deputy of the Municipal District of Khasan in the Russian Far East, gave a broad view of Russian-North Korean relations from the perspective of someone who lives on the border. “People who live on the border with some states always feel that they are messengers of peace,” she remarked. Therefore, in Khasan, a small town, there is a tradition of cultural exchange among the countries despite their differences. This is a story of friendship and connection, which included the visit of DPRK delegations, including Kim Il Sung’s grandson; an international project Football Without Borders; peace projects that included planting trees at the border; schoolchildren’s projects, and many others.

Mrs. Karpova explained how the dismantling of the Soviet Union in the 1990s actually created opportunities for travel to North Korea, especially for ordinary citizens like the residents of Khasan. This simple exchange allowed the town’s population to be naturally in contact with North Korea. Currently, due to the pandemic, it is difficult to have exchanges and hold meetings. “But one thing we need to know,” she concluded, “is that culture, education and sports will help preserve peace on our entire planet, and we must help this.”

Dr. No Hi Pak, a senior advisor to UPF-Korea and former managing director of the Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea, described the Little Angels’ vision and history as the materialization of what connects art to peace initiatives.

The Little Angels are a children’s folk dance and singing company that was founded in 1962 by Rev. and Mrs. Moon with the mission to bring the spirit of peace around the world, while conveying Korea’s beautiful traditional heritage. They have performed in over 120 countries, including North Korea, and in front of prominent figures such as U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1965 and Queen Elizabeth in 1971.

Wherever they perform, the Little Angels are children who serve as peacemakers and ambassadors, Dr. Pak said. “If they travel around the world seven times, the world will be at peace,” a dignitary once proclaimed after watching their performance. As Dr. Pak sees it, art is an expression of inner character, and the Little Angels precisely express children’s beauty and innocence, which after all are an expression of human beauty. “If you have a beautiful heart, your dance will be beautiful,” he said. It is art that moves people’s hearts.

Session VII: “Imagining a Unified World: The Youth’s Contribution to Peace on the Korean Peninsula”

Date: July 29th, 2021 – 10:00 CET

Ms. Mélanie Komagata, postgraduate student in East Asian studies, University of Geneva Mrs. Ju-hee Um, Member of IAYSP Korea, Unius Project for a peaceful reunification in Korea, South Korea Mr. Andrei Litvinov, Founder of Ethnic Korean Kids Center and of "Culture DNA", Teacher in Senal for foreign students, article writer in Segye Ilbo Newspaper, Ukraine Mrs. Jeonghye Hassinen, Secretary General, IAYSP Europe & Middle East, Austria

This session was hosted jointly by UPF and the International Association of Youth and Students for Peace (IAYSP), an affiliated organization.

Ms. Mélanie Komagata, a UPF intern and member of the committee of IAYSP-Switzerland, who is completing her graduate degree in East Asian studies, moderated the session. She started with a brief historical explanation of the division of Korea, as well as what has been done so far by Youth and Students for Peace on the Korean Peninsula and around the world. Young people have used their talents and skills— notably, in sports, art, and culture—to bring about harmony and peace, she said.

One example, which was shown in a video, was the United Korean Team at the World Table Tennis Championships in 1991, at which the Women’s Team won the gold medal. When the athletes had to separate after the tournament, it brought attention to the heartbreak of division between the two Koreas.

Ms. Ju-hee Um of IAYSP-Korea and a member of the UniUS project, which is working toward Korean reunification, was introduced with a video titled “A Letter from a Unified Future.” The film focused on the perspective of Korean citizens in a future unified Korea, expressing their gratitude to the people of the past who contributed to peace and the reunification on the Korean Peninsula.

Mrs. Um explained that the division of Korea is an ideological one, between communism and democracy, and therefore is politically complicated. However, the relationship between the people of North and South Korea doesn’t have to be so difficult.

She emphasized the slogan “Peace Starts with Me,” which expresses that every individual has a role to play in reunification. Rather than leaving it to the leaders, we all can take initiative by using our skills and talents, by joining an NGO, or by supporting organizations that contribute to peace. Even small actions can have a huge impact on one person’s life, and we shouldn’t underestimate that. She emphasized the importance of each investment with the motto “Little drops of water make the mighty ocean.”

Mr. Andrei Litvinov, a Ukrainian living in South Korea, the founder of the Ethnic Korean Kids Center and "Culture DNA” and a teacher at the Senal school for foreign students, brought the perspective of non-Koreans to reunification. From an outsider’s viewpoint, we may think that the two Koreas are worlds apart from each other. In fact, they share a common history of nearly 5,000 years, and the division is only very recent. Furthermore, the family portrait of Korea is quite sad, as families were divided. As young citizens of the world, we need to show that we care about others, he said, and not just “talk a lot, as it is now time for action.”

Mr. Litvinov emphasized that regular people in this way can change the world—especially young people, who have grown up in the age of social media and have witnessed everyday people become influencers and activists. We need to be intentional about how we use our influence, he said—and why not use it to bring about peace? Furthermore, he said, we need to keep in mind that “we [foreigners] brought tanks to the Korean Peninsula and now [it is our responsibility] to bring peace” in Korea.

Mrs. Jeong Hye Hassinen, the secretary general and former president of IAYSP for Europe and the Middle East, said that we live in an age in which borders are less and less significant. Therefore, we all are global citizens.

She admitted that practically, financially and politically, unification will be hard, but ultimately it will be beneficial on a global scale. If we can shift our focus from immediate, self-centered gain to the greater good, looking past ideological differences, we will see how important unification is.

In this sense, no leader, nor the Korean people, can achieve reunification alone, Mrs. Hassinen said. We all need to be involved. Ultimately, it is also a matter of values. These days Koreans place a lot of importance on academic success and economic growth. If we can remember our values, on a worldwide level, we can achieve reunification in our lifetimes.

Furthermore, as there is no holiday that is celebrated by all of Korea, not even Christmas Day or New Year, Mrs. Hassinen proposed that the day of Korea’s reunification should become a holiday that is celebrated worldwide, representing world peace.

Session VIII: “Beyond Borders: The Peace Road Initiative” and Closing Session

Date: July 29th, 2021 – 15:00 CET

Mag. Elisabeth Cook, president, Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Austria Dr. Katsumi Otsuka, Chair, UPF Europe & Middle East Dr. Juraj Lajda, president of the Universal Peace Federation in Czech Republic Mr. Ali Laçej, Coordinator, Albanian Peace Council, Albania Dr. Afsar Rathor, President of LIOS, Austria Mr. Dmitry Samko, Chairman, Universal Peace Federation-Moscow, Russian Federation Mr. Jacques Marion, Co-chair, UPF Europe & Middle East, France Dr. Michael Balcomb, Regional President, FFWPU Europe and the Middle East, United Kingdom

Mrs. Elisabeth Cook, the president for Austria of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), an organization that is affiliated with UPF, was the session moderator.

She introduced the session with a presentation on the historical background of the Peace Road initiative, starting with the 1981 proposal by Rev. and Mrs. Moon for an International Peace Highway. The founders had a vision of a global system of highways, railways and tunnels that would connect the world together, fostering interdependence and harmony. Mrs. Cook also detailed the various activities connected to the Peace Road Initiative, all with a single goal of tearing down barriers between communities and countries, including the division between North and South Korea.

Dr. Katsumi Otsuka, the co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East, outlined the general idea of the International Peace Highway project. He recalled the words of Reverend Moon, stating that the world is spending too much on war and it is high time to work together for peace. Reverend Moon mentioned the possibility of building a tunnel that connects Korea and Japan, as well as another tunnel under the Bering Strait linking the Eurasian continent and North America.

Throughout the years, the Korea-Japan tunnel has gone through several rounds of development, Dr. Otsuka said. UPF-Japan also played an important role in this process, having formed the National Promotion Movement for Undersea Construction. He emphasized that the Peace Road goes beyond mere political benefit or international recognition. It enters a spiritual realm in which the value it represents is in the spotlight: tearing down walls and linking the people of the world.

Dr. Juraj Lajda, president of UPF in the Czech Republic, explained how living in a globalized world entails the responsibility to find ways to live in harmony with each other. He underlined the importance of standing up against the culture of resentment.

One example of that was the joint Peace Road project of three neighboring nations—Austria, the Czech Republic, and Germany—which have shared a common but sometimes stormy history and therefore need reconciliation, due to the acts of the Nazi regime during World War II and the division during the Cold War.

Although these three countries managed to overcome the past and now are cooperating with each other, Dr. Lajda said, there is still one nation that is a victim of ideological division between democracy and communism: Korea.

He expressed his hope that one day the Korean people can unite, just as these three nations did, that North and South Korea can overcome the obstacles of their shared history, and that the Peace Road can send a strong signal of hope to all Koreans.

Mr. Ali Laçej, the president of the UPF Albanians Peace Council (representing the Albanian diaspora), reported on the Balkan Peace Road event of 2018, which traveled through the Western Balkan region, with participants from Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Greece.

Mr. Laçej pondered that the Balkans, a historically divided region full of conflicts, developed into a place where three monotheistic religions, several languages and ethnicities live together and the connection between people remained. He emphasized that Peace Road Balkans gives space for all religions and cultures to coexist in harmony and present themselves to each other, creating bridges among the peoples sharing their ideas and finding more ways to create a better world. “Without peace, you cannot help development,” he explained.

Dr. Afsar Rathor, the president of the ecological organization LIOS-SOIL and a former UN official, said, “Peace cannot be achieved without reconciliation.” He pointed out that one key element of lasting peace, the concept of human rights, often is misused for political benefits and for creating division among people.

Dr. Rathor related his personal experiences while serving in the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, observing that reconciliation brought peace and peace brought development.

As a message for future generations, Dr. Rathor concluded by saying that the road to peace is through forgiveness, forgetting the past, and looking into the future without prejudice. Korean reunification cannot take place through military means, he said. It needs to be based on dialogue, and this dialogue should take place in North Korea, and that is what the Peace Road initiative can contribute to.

Mr. Dmitry Samko, the coordinator of the Peace Road Initiative in Russia and the chairman of UPF-Moscow, said that even decades after World War I, international conflicts and polarization between the East and the West still rule the world. As a possible solution, he quoted UPF founder Reverend Moon, who presented the International Peace Highway as a grand project to bring the world together.

Mr. Samko reminisced about the first Peace Road programs that took place in Russia, an initiative that grew larger by the year and eventually connected Pyongyang and the DPRK to the project too.

He underlined that all individual contributions count for this world project. “The day is not far off when we will be able to run and visit each other without visas or limits,” he said, quoting the words of the founder of this project.

Mr. Jacques Marion, the co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East, concluded both the session and the ILC webinar series. He noted that throughout the eight sessions, esteemed speakers from different fields of expertise, cultures and religions offered their wisdom, bringing hope for the reunification of Korea.

Mr. Marion announced that a third series of webinars was planned from August 19 to 21 on the themes of “Prospects for Economic Development and Peace” and “Ideologies, Worldviews and International Relations.”

Dr. Michael Balcomb, the regional president of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) for Europe and the Middle East, offered the closing remarks. He likened the border separating North and South Korea to the famous Hadrian’s Wall, which divided the island of Great Britain 2,000 years ago. He noted that Hadrian’s Wall—the path of the 2021 Peace Road event in the United Kingdom—even has roughly the same length as the Korean border.

Summarizing his realizations throughout the series of webinars, Dr. Balcomb said that the problems we experience in the world haven’t changed much throughout history. However, he emphasized that we should not be dismayed because of this and should not hesitate to take action for this noble cause of reconciliation and peace.

According to the patterns we see, hard-power efforts have made little difference, he said, and soft power is required, with openness and dignity accorded to all sides. He stressed the importance of the cumulative efforts of all people, which can make a difference. “Peace starts with me,” he emphasized, quoting UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon to conclude the conference.