Click on the session titles for the session reports and videos.
Europe and the Middle East—The August 2021 International Leadership Conference (ILC) focused on both economic development and ideologies as means to achieve the reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
The online conference held by the Europe and Middle East branch of UPF from August 19 to 21 consisted of two separate segments and was titled “Toward the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula: Prospects for Economic Development and Peace, and Ideologies, Worldviews, and International Relations.”
The webinar series was the third of three ILCs that followed the launch on May 9, 2021, 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. The two previous ILCs were held in June and July 2021.
The first part of the August ILC was titled “Prospects for Economic Development and Peace.” Its four sessions focused on economic development on the Korean Peninsula and throughout Northeast Asia. Might a Northeast Asian Economic Union be possible, one that includes the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)? Are there bilateral trade agreements that would offer a peace dividend?
The second part of the conference was titled “Ideologies, Worldviews, and International Relations.” Its three sessions were dedicated to the following questions: How can ideological and worldview factors, political and economic philosophies impact the various understandings of the Korean conflict? What theories of international relations—liberalism, realism, balance of power—inform the various understandings of the causes and potential solutions to the conflict, thereby influencing policy and practice?
Each of seven world regions—Africa, Asia Pacific, Japan, Korea, Latin America, and North America, in addition to Europe and the Middle East—held its own ILC.
Prospects for Economic Development and Peace
Session I – “The Japan-Korea Tunnel: Toward Northeast Asian Prosperity and a Connected World of Peace” – August 19, 2021, 10:00 CET
The ILC and its first session were opened by Jacques Marion, co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East (EUME). In his introduction he described the 2021 ILC webinar series of June, July, and August.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Katsumi Otsuka, co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East, said that the 20th century saw great progress in science and technology, which brought economic development and improved living standards for many. However, it was also characterized by war and revolution.
UPF founders Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, said that to end the division of the Korean Peninsula and to realize world peace, the ideological conflict between communism and democracy should be overcome. To achieve these objectives, they proposed the Headwing ideology, the core principles of which are interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values.
Session moderator Robin Marsh, the secretary general of UPF United Kingdom, said that the Japan-Korea Tunnel is a very significant component of the grand vision of an International Peace Highway proposed by the UPF co-founders.
Masayoshi Kajikuri, the chair of the International Highway Construction Foundation and of UPF-Japan, said that the Japan-Korea Tunnel project was first announced in 1981 by Reverend Moon at the 10th International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) in Seoul. His aim was to build a unified economic zone, a new civilization that would unify the East and the West, and lead to a peaceful world. This was to be accomplished by building an “Asian Highway” linking Japan, the Korean Peninsula, and China. It would then expand to an International Peace Highway linked to the world’s highway systems.
In response to Reverend Moon’s International Peace Highway, the Chinese government promised it would persuade North Korea to join the project. Furthermore, a groundbreaking ceremony to begin the tunnel excavation was held in Chinzeimachi-Nagoya in Japan’s Saga Prefecture in October 1986.
For the Japan-Korea Tunnel project to really take off, three issues need to be overcome, Mr. Kajikuri said:
- An agreement must be reached between the governments of Japan and South Korea;
- Public opinion in Japan and South Korea must encourage lawmakers to consider the Japan-Korea Tunnel as a national project;
- Further investigations into construction methods and time frames are required.
Professor Jin-hee Park, a professor of transportation and logistics at the Department of Logistics System Engineering at the Korean Maritime and Oceanic University in Busan, South Korea, reported on the effects of the Japan-Korea Tunnel. She explained that South Korea favors stronger cooperation between Eurasian countries. Infrastructure projects in Northeast Asia are attracting attention. However, political and historical conflicts of interest between Korea and Japan, as well as environmental issues, have hampered this tunnel project. The cost of building the tunnel is estimated between 90 trillion and 200 trillion won, and the work may last between 10 and 20 years.
Using the undersea Marmaray Tunnel in Istanbul and the Channel Tunnel between England and France as examples, Professor Park demonstrated that a better and quicker connection between Japan and Korea by high-speed trains would considerably boost the transportation of goods and people, saving money and time.
Professor Park concluded that the regional development and logistics of South Korea would be affected positively by the construction of this undersea tunnel. It would contribute to a balanced national development by expanding investment to other regions. The tunnel would considerably improve and simplify transportation links in Northeast Asia and increase urban connectivity as well as exchanges between countries in the region.
Dr. James Jung Sang Lee, a former senior director at the World Bank, argued that the Japan-Korea Tunnel, once completed, would be one of the most significant and historic monuments. It would give a strong boost to the economy and cultural exchange in both countries and indeed in the wider Northeast Asian region.
Unfortunately, Dr. Lee said, even though the tunnel has been highly evaluated, the project has not been on the official table of the two countries, for several reasons. The tunnel would be approximately 240 km long, and the estimated costs for its construction and maintenance are expected to be huge. More importantly, political tensions between Korea and Japan, and a heavy legacy of a troubled past, need to be overcome.
For the project to be successful, he said, a better understanding is needed of the mutual benefits of economic cooperation and cultural exchanges—and of additional benefits, once the transportation network connects with North Korea and China. If Japan and Korea agreed to construct the tunnel, the project could be carried out by an international government tender. Both governments also could contract civilian construction consortia.
Dr. David Hanna, president of UPF North Europe, spoke about the spiritual and humanitarian implications of the Japan-Korea Tunnel. Most significantly, he said, the project was introduced by a religious leader, and it is being pursued by people who share the same vision and desire for a world without unnecessary or artificial barriers.
As building the Japan-Korea Tunnel is a mega project, Dr. Hanna said, widespread support from both the people and the leaders of the two nations is indispensable. There is no room for protectionism or discrimination. Trading with people of different cultures or religions creates bonds of friendship, trust, and mutual dependence. The Japan-Korea Tunnel would be a huge triumph of reconciliation, given the history these two nations share.
Dr. Hanna then shed some light on the Peace Road project, a global goodwill project of the Universal Peace Federation proposed by Reverend Moon. The Peace Road initiative promotes two projects in particular: the Japan-Korea Tunnel and the Bering Strait Tunnel connecting Alaska and Russia. Many events have been organized under the banner of the Peace Road to raise awareness and encourage cooperation among nations and communities.
As the session moderator, Maria Nazarova, the president of UPF-Russia, introduced the topic of the Bering Strait, which lies between Russia and Alaska: a passage that would provide a link between North America and Eurasia, with many socio-economic implications. She discussed those implications with the panel of speakers, reflecting on the UPF co-founders’ vision of a Peace Road uniting all continents.
Louis Cerny, an international railroad consultant and former executive director at the American Railway Engineering Association, described his involvement in the planning of the Bering Strait railway tunnel, which he considers the most significant collaboration between Russians and Americans since their combined victory over Germany in 1945. This time, he said, it will be a victory of peace and collaboration that benefits not only two countries but two continents, and consequently the world.
Mr. Cerny admitted that when he initially heard about the concept of a Bering Strait tunnel, he was skeptical. However, he realized that the Bering Strait is not as wide as it appears on conventional maps.
There are, furthermore, several advantages to using a railroad between North America and East Asia, rather than shipping. These justify the costs of such a project. Electric trains, powered by renewable energy, are also better for the environment than shipping and would be less disruptive to marine life and the coasts. Mr. Cerny said that the tunnel, which is predicted to be completed by 2045, will be one of the greatest civil engineering projects in history.
Dr. Victor Razbegin from Russia, the co-founder of the Intercontinental Railway, said that the increase in population and coastal density around the world, combined with the effects of climate change, will lead to limited industrial, social, and infrastructural development. However, even though road density is high, long-haul journeys are much less efficient and cost-effective, making rail services a better option for trade. Until now, rail services haven’t played a big role in intercontinental trade. But in fact, the length of the Bering Strait tunnel would be far shorter than the main railways in Canada, Alaska, and Russia.
If the Bering Strait project were realized, all railroads would work as a global unit system, with seven channels across oceans and continents. However, it would be more than just a railroad, as it would allow power transmission lines, fiber optic cable, oil and gas pipelines, and even a highway. Although the total cost would be around $90 billion, Dr. Razbegin concluded that, over time, money would be saved. Much like Mr. Cerny, although at first he doubted the project, now he sees it as one of the most astounding engineering projects in the world to date.
Dr. Peter Stockdale, a policy analyst from Canada specializing in environment, indigenous and intergovernmental affairs, focused on the shift that has taken place culturally and scientifically since Reverend Moon’s proposal of a Bering Strait passage in 1981. Climate change, of course, has had diverse effects on the strait. Currently it is more ice-free, and permafrost is melting at an alarming rate due to rising temperatures, increasing the likelihood of the tracks flooding. Moreover, if the project is not launched soon, funding will be diverted to other problems created by global warming. Also, reducing carbon emissions is a necessity, Dr. Stockdale said. As we rely heavily on fossil fuels for shipping across seas, electric trains are a promising alternative, he said.
This session was held jointly by UPF and its International Association of Academicians for Peace (IAAP) and International Association for Peace and Economic Development (IAED).
As moderator, Eve Lau, secretary general of the Chinese People's Federation for World Peace International, welcomed the distinguished and expert members of the panel to offer their insights on the topic.
Dr. Claude Béglé, founder and president of Symbioswiss and a former member of Parliament in Switzerland, spoke of the possibility of a boost in prosperity in Northeast Asia, amity between East and West, positive results of dialogue and mutual understanding, and ultimately the potential for Northeast Asia to become a seed for peace. Integrating complementary economic inputs may bring stability and success through a common effort toward a goal of shared values, he said. To reach the level of cooperation to build an economic union, understanding and respect are necessary and can reduce the scope of nationalistic ideology or propaganda.
An obstacle on the pathway to economic unity is the rivalry between the United States and China, Dr. Béglé said. Furthermore, the Asian economy will overtake the North American economy, which may pose a risk of retaliation from the West to slow this trend. However, although the road to economic unity is not yet crystal-clear, economic integration is already in effect: Most neighbors are trading on a large scale with China, Japan, and South Korea. Furthermore, as there have been positive results through the European Union (EU), Europe can help design a similar model in Northeast Asia and can act as a neutral facilitator.
Dr. Vladimir Petrovsky, the chief researcher at the Russia-China Center of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, compared the geopolitical and cultural differences between Europe and Northeast Asia and shed light on factors that may be an obstacle to the creation of a union in Northeast Asia. The EU evolved from organizations founded after World War II and encouraged the end of conflicts, he said.
However, Northeast Asia did not follow this example, which proves the different and opposite interpretations of the historical, geopolitical, and legal consequences of World War II. Additionally, Europeans are culturally inclined toward collective interaction. This cannot be said about Northeast Asia, which has lacked mechanisms for collective actions in the field of security and economic cooperation.
Dr. Petrovsky proposed that the experience of the Association of North East Asia Regional Governments should be studied. It is an organization that supports interregional cooperation, includes the governments of Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and Mongolia, and unites 77 regional administrations. Dr. Petrovsky said that large infrastructure projects will enhance the economic interconnections in the region and will drive the creation of an economic union in Northeast Asia.
Professor Zhiyue Bo, the founder and president of the Bo Zhiyue China Institute in New Zealand, offered a proposal for a Northeast Asian Economic Union based on the EU model, which would have three primary goals:
- Forming a single market of Northeast Asia (including China);
- Creating a single currency;
- Forming a single travel zone.
These changes, however, do not happen in an instant and are a process involving the contribution of many, Professor Bo said. The EU was established on the foundation of small initiatives, which then grew into the participation of 26 countries.
Professor Bo offered insight into the positive impacts that may result from such a union:
- Its population could be four times that of the EU;
- Its territory could cover 6.457 times that of the EU;
- Its economy would be approximately 1.54 times that of the EU.
He concluded that as a single market, it would be the largest in the world. As a single currency, it would serve the largest population on the planet, and as a single travel zone, it would be the largest on Earth. This would eliminate potential wars in the region between member states.
Gerard Willis, the chair of the HJ Magnolia Korea Foundation in South Korea, said that as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, regional economic cooperation will play an important role in putting together the pieces of a globalized economy that fosters growth and alleviates poverty. Although regional economic integration in Northeast Asia has been slow to start, he said, the necessity of economic cooperation is now recognized in important Asian sub-regional and regional pacts.
Regional economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region is a relatively new phenomenon, Mr. Willis said. However, there was progress through the ASEAN Free Trade Area in 1992, leading to the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
However, progress toward an economic union has stalled for many reasons: ongoing political rivalries and tensions, recollections of the atrocities of World War II, unresolved territorial disputes still fueling resentment. It will require the nations and peoples of Northeast Asia to start looking past the wrongs and “begin to see themselves as sharing a common destiny,” focusing on the potential of peaceful interchange in the future. East Asia’s profound historical ties, especially cultural, philosophical, religious, and aesthetic, can be the basis for closer regional collaboration, he said.
Session IV – “The Potential and Benefits of Trade and Business Activities with North Korea” – August 20, 2021, 14:00 CET
This session was held jointly by UPF and its International Association for Peace and Economic Development (IAED).
Ole Toresen, the IAED vice coordinator for Europe and the Middle East, welcomed the participants. The moderator of the session was Marcia De Abreu, the secretary general of the European branch of Women’s Federation for World Peace, an organization that is affiliated with UPF.
Dr. Pavel Leshakov, a counselor at the Russian Embassy in the Republic of Korea, the vice president of the European Association for Korean Studies, and a former economic counselor to the Russian Embassy in the DPRK, stated that the first decade of Kim Jong Un’s leadership has brought fundamental changes in North Korea’s economic strategy, which now aims at achieving economic growth through the expansion of the market system while maintaining the regime’s stability through the strengthening of government management over the economy.
Foreign trade increased by 20 percent between 2012 and 2014, boosted by the expansion of the actors involved and greater autonomy given to trade-related entities, Dr. Leshakov explained. More openness to world markets (mainly Chinese) led to a rapid rise in consumer goods and food imports, the emergence of private market networks, and growing consumerism enhanced by the free circulation of cash in foreign currencies. Along with exports, the major source of hard currency was North Korean laborers sent abroad to work.
All these developments were, in principle, favorable for business activities and potentially beneficial for foreign actors, Dr. Leshakov said. Yet the strict international and bilateral sanctions enforced on the DPRK have left little room for North Korea’s engagement with the world economy.
Herbert Friesacher from Austria, a former agent for the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, gave insights into North Korea’s economy based on resolutions made by the Eighth Party Congress in January 2021. Kim Jong Un’s explanations do not indicate that pragmatism or market reforms have been chosen as solutions. Mr. Friesacher explained 10 economic goals presented at the Party Congress, which under the current UN sanctions seem to focus on self-reliance: foreign trade, industry, agriculture, afforestation, construction and cement production, rural areas, mobile communications, tourism, nuclear power industry, and relations with China.
North Korea is fortunate in having most of the mineral resources needed for operating its own metal and chemical industries, Mr. Friesacher explained, but it needs capital, technology, and export markets. Cable broadcasting is being introduced, because it is a convenient way for the state to control the media.
Mr. Friesacher said that he doubts these resolutions by the DPRK can boost business activities. Furthermore, compared to South Korea, which has almost no raw materials, North Korea owns a significant amount of raw materials that can be used for its industry. However, the North Koreans need capital and technology to develop their industry.
Tal Reshef, a former director of the Asia-Israel Business Forum and an emerging markets business consultant and lecturer in Israel, expressed that the unification of the two Koreas could bring important (economic) benefits. When dealing with a foreign company, one must understand the culture of that country, he said. Nevertheless, when dealing with and trying to understand one person, there is the need to focus on psychology.
His understanding of the DPRK is that it is neither a socialist nor a communist country; it is a personal dictatorship. Therefore, if we give Chairman Kim a solution for his fears (as fear is a person’s strongest motivator), the business and trade potentials and benefits can become evident.
Mr. Reshef said that openness will benefit North Korea’s economy. However, the danger for North Korea, and its fear, is that if it opens itself to the world, it may be influenced by ideas from “outside,” notably from South Korea. Nevertheless, both Vietnam and China opened to the world, despite being communist regimes. Therefore, to promote trade and business activities in North Korea, Kim Jong Un needs to find a way to open his country without endangering himself.
Ideologies, Worldviews, and International Relations
Session V – “Competing Worldviews Concerning Korean Reunification: How Much Will They Be a Factor in the Outcome?” – August 20, 2021, 16:00 CET
This session was held jointly by UPF and its International Association of Academicians for Peace (IAAP).
The moderator, Kaeleigh Moffit, the congressional liaison for UPF-USA, extended warm greetings to the participants and introduced the session’s five distinguished panelists.
Michael Breen, an author and commentator in South Korea, CEO of Insight Communications Consultants, as well as a former correspondent for The Washington Times and The Guardian, talked about the values at the heart of Korean reunification. He recalled a comment made 30 years earlier by a German ambassador that no foreign powers can morally object to Korean unification. Therefore, it is up to the Koreans to unite. As they haven’t, it means that for the Koreans, there is something else more important: “national values.” “The North Koreans and South Koreans remain apart because they have conflicting values,” Mr. Breen said.
He proposed three steps to consider before pursuing tactical measures for Korean reunification.
- Create a vision of a desirable unified Korea – a law-based, democratic state with a free-market economic system;
- Expand the vision to include Northeast Asia while making an active effort to “nudge” illiberal states such as China in that direction;
- Involve the North Koreans in various talks and exchanges.
Dr. Yevgeny Kim, a leading researcher at the Center for Korean Studies at the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, referred to the hope that the sudden passing of North Korea’s leader would cause the collapse of the regime, and therefore also the country’s rapid reunification. This is not feasible, Dr. Kim said. That is because the North Korean regime will not collapse until its own Gorbachev appears there. Dr. Kim maintained that there will be no unification in the next 15 to 20 years.
According to Dr. Kim, there is no foundation for the unification of the two Koreas, because they are antipoles of one another and thus will not be able to agree on the social, economic, political, and moral principles of the future unified state, nor on the strategy of implementing unification.
Dr. Kim said he does not see any solution through religion, customary laws, or nationalism, and it is therefore necessary to look for ways to unite Korea through a phased, long-term process of establishing cooperation in economy and trade, creating multilateral projects with the involvement of the two Koreas and other countries.
Torbjørn Færøvik from Norway, a historian, journalist and author specializing in East Asia, focused on the Chinese perspective, stating that for centuries China has been concerned over Korea. Even though North Korea was doing better economically shortly after the Korean War, South Korea’s economy rose rapidly in the 1960s. After the passing of Chairman Mao in 1976, China changed its view with regard to the Korean problem. In fact, today the Chinese leadership is placing great emphasis on relations with South Korea, in contrast to North Korea.
Although keeping North Korea afloat is a burden for China, it has no other choice, as the collapse of North Korea would mean millions of refugees would flee to South Korea and China. In addition, China does not want at its border a unified country leaning toward the United States.
Even though China does want a peaceful solution to the Korean issue, Xi Jinping is in no hurry, Mr. Færøvik said. The most important thing for him in this phase is to keep North Korea's economy alive, slow down or at best halt the country’s nuclear program, and moderate Kim Jong Un.
Bruce Klingner from the United States, a senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Asian Studies Center of the Heritage Foundation think tank, focused on the trilateral alliance of the United States, Japan, and South Korea. In these trilateral relations, he said, the weak relationship is between Seoul and Tokyo. The relations of Seoul and Tokyo were always difficult, he said, but currently are the worst of the 28 years that he has been researching Northeast Asia.
Today the United States is tiring of Japan and South Korea not getting along, and is trying to get them to focus on the present-day threats, such as China and North Korea, rather than on those of past centuries.
Mr. Klingner made the point that the United States cannot defend South Korea without support from Japan. He concluded that the United States could support behind the scenes, encouraging the two nations to work together so that they could better defend not only South Korea but also Japan against the present threats. Moreover, the United States, together with Japan, could support the reunification of Korea, notably by aiding South Korea to pay the cost of reunification.
Dr. Thomas Ward, president of the Unification Theological Seminary in the United States, focused on the topic of UPF and interstate relations in Northeast Asia. He emphasized the word “ripening” and said that in every conflict there comes a time when the two opposing sides conclude that the conflict is not worth continuing.
An example is the civil war in Mozambique (1976-1992). When things became “ripe” between the two opposing parties, a small religious group, Sant’Egidio, took the role of mediator, and consequently a treaty was signed in 1992. Dr. Ward suggested that UPF could provide the same significant facilitative role in the reunification of Korea.
When the “comfort women” controversy first came to light in the 1990s, the UPF founders brought Korean and Japanese women together to participate in a sisterhood ceremony in which they embraced each other. In addition, Dr. Ward said, within the Unification Movement there are more than 5,000 Japanese-Korean mixed couples who are dedicated to lasting peace between Japan and Korea. With regard to North and South Korea, in 1991 Reverend Moon met Kim Il Sung and established a deep friendship with him without renouncing his values, principles, and commitments.
Session VI – “The Korean People’s Common History and Culture: Resources for Peace on the Korean Peninsula” – August 21, 2021, 10:00 CET
This session was held jointly by UPF and its International Association of Academicians for Peace (IAAP) and International Association of Arts and Culture for Peace (IAACP).
In her introduction, the moderator, Chantal Chételat Komagata, the UPF coordinator for Europe, explained why UPF is organizing numerous discussions worldwide about peace on the Korean Peninsula. The UPF founders both were born in what is today North Korea and became refugees in their own country. They witnessed the division of their country due to opposing ideologies, a situation that continues to this day, whereas most countries that divided for the same reason have since reunited.
Professor Yoshisumi Asai, a researcher at the Faculty of Global and Regional Studies at Doshisha University in Japan, gave a deep insight into Kim Il Sung’s Juche ideology, which emerged in the 1960s for North Korea to establish a communist system of its own, during the confrontation between China and the Soviet Union. According to Juche ideology—a human-centered, atheist philosophy—human beings have both a physical life, limited in time, and a socio-political life, which can perpetuate thanks to organizational and ideological cohesion with the nation’s leader, Kim Il Sung.
Furthermore, Professor Asai said, Kim Il Sung is believed to have been born and raised in a Christian family, and the philosophy bears some similarities with the Christian salvation theory. While Christians believe that salvation comes only by following Jesus Christ, Juche ideology states that political eternal life cannot be obtained by individual effort alone but only by becoming one ideologically with the Great Leader. Moreover, North Korea is compared to a trinity—with Kim Il Sung being the brain, the Workers’ Party of Korea being the nervous system, and the people being the cells under its command. To maintain the regime, “education” of the people is used rather than force.
Dr. Alon Levkowitz, a professor at the Department of Asian and Korean Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that to lessen the economic gap between the two Koreas, US $10 trillion should be invested.
South Korea is in favor of incremental development, to prevent the North Korean regime or economy from shaking, Dr. Levkowitz said. In South Korea, the main challenge is the falling birth rates, in contrast to North Korea, which has seen a slight growth since 2000. Furthermore, most natural resources on the peninsula are found in North Korea. Thus, if the two cooperate or unify, the birth rate issue can be solved and the natural resources can be used to benefit both.
The challenge is that politicians tend to think of their short-term legacy and do not pursue a policy that will influence the future, Dr. Levkowitz said. Moreover, there is a political price to pay: In a unified Korea, one leader would have to step down. Therefore, the coexistence of two states may be necessary, as well as improving economic, political, and cultural cooperation, and preventing a military escalation. In the short run, unification will be expensive. However, in the long run, it will be a win-win situation, he said.
Dr. Thomas Selover, president of SunHak Universal Peace Graduate University in South Korea, spoke about “Headwing thought” in relation to the Korean culture and the Korean Peninsula. He quoted UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, who with her husband experienced the destructive nature of communism and committed to preventing it from spreading to other parts of the world.
Furthermore, with the so-called free world suffering moral and spiritual decline, and the foundations of faith, family, and freedom in liberal democratic societies being unhealthy, Reverend Moon coined the term “Headwing” to balance left-wing and right-wing ideologies. Based on Headwing thought, Rev. and Mrs. Moon have been working to create a world founded on the principles of interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universally shared values.
Dr. Selover explained that interdependence means the interdependent synergy seen in nature, human relations, and economic cooperation. Mutual prosperity signifies not only the benefit to two persons—the so-called win-win solution—but also the benefit to the whole. Universally shared values imply that each person’s conscience is the basis of human righteousness, human rights, and mutual respect. In the spirit of Headwing thought and on the foundation of tremendous work in civil society, Rev. and Mrs. Moon visited North Korea in 1991 and met with Kim Il Sung.
Professor Thomas Hwang, the chair of the Chinese People’s Federation for World Peace International, said that after World War II, Korea was divided beyond the will of the people. The Chinese and Korean saying “The one who tied the knot has to untie it” proves the importance of China’s support for the unification process, as China is partly responsible for the partition of Korea.
As China’s power and influence in the world have grown, we need to focus on its relationship with the two Koreas, Professor Hwang said. China’s main concern is South Korea’s military alliance with the United States. If South Korea and China could reach a military security agreement, there would be no more need for US troops in South Korea.
Professor Hwang said the solution would be for Korea to declare itself a neutral nation like Switzerland. Furthermore, it is in the interest of China and other countries in the region to have peace on the Korean Peninsula. Thus, Japan, Russia, and the United States should find a balanced agreement. He concluded by referring to the UPF founders’ idea of having an International Peace Zone as a meeting point in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)—which also would be the perfect location for the United Nations’ Asian headquarters.
Session VII – “The Role of the Media in Contributing to Peace on the Korean Peninsula” – August 21, 2021, 14:00 CET
This session was held jointly by UPF and its International Media Association for Peace (IMAP).
Peter Zoehrer, coordinator of IMAP for Europe and the Middle East, was the moderator for the session. He explained the background of the webinar and introduced the panelists.
Thomas McDevitt from the United States, chair of The Washington Times and global coordinator of IMAP, described the situation on the Korean Peninsula as a doorway that could open a new era of peace and prosperity. When the world seems so dark, he said, the emerging light of a new view of life is now becoming more evident. This view is centered on the highest ideals of true love that transcend the barriers of race, religion, culture, and national boundaries, he said. This new view of reality is beginning to take root. That is what journalists need to be watching for, to tell the world where to find real hope and opportunity, he said.
Mr. McDevitt described the founding of IMAP in February 2020 during the UPF World Summit, which brought together 520 journalists from 71 countries under the banner of UPF. “IMAP encourages the development of a free and responsible global media industry that is highly trusted, independent and prosperous, and accessible to all people,” he said. And, as the “peace” in its name suggests, IMAP encourages news media to shine a light on dialogue, collaboration, conflict resolution and, most of all, solutions to promote human development, God-given human rights, social well-being, freedom, and prosperity.
Andrew Salmon MBE from the United Kingdom, the Northeast Asia correspondent and editor at Asia Times, said: “The duty of the most basic media worker, the reporter, is to record the facts on the ground. We are not diplomats any more than we are warriors. However, we share a common humanity, so we need to tell human stories.” In this regard, there is a big hole in news reporting right now, he said.
Mr. Salmon said that in the past he reported from the border of China with North Korea, one of the best places to get an insight into what is happening in the DPRK. However, in today’s China reporting is becoming difficult and risky, and North Korea also has completely closed itself to the world. Thus, it is now harder than ever before to tell human stories.
However, while there is value in telling human stories, there is also value in delivering bigger-picture analyses, he said, and fortunately we still have South Korea from which to deliver that. Moreover, South Korea is arguably the best place from which to report on North Korea, as there is obvious national interest and a wide infrastructure of experts, pundits, defectors and specialist media.
Jung Mi Hwang, the vice president and executive editor of The Segye Times in South Korea, said that to achieve the peaceful reunification of Korea, it is essential to inform North Koreans of the reality of the outside world. However, following complaints by Kim Jung Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jung, the South Korean government passed a law to prevent the sending of “propaganda balloons” to North Korea. Ms. Hwang said this prevents freedom of expression, which is the essence of democracy, and blocks North Koreans' right to know. In addition, North Koreans are being denied access to the rice and medicine that these balloons also carried, among other items.
Ms. Hwang expressed her concern that the younger generation in South Korea these days are not interested in reunification, while the current government dismisses unification as a matter for the distant future. However, peace in Korea will be possible only when unification is ultimately achieved, she said. For this to happen, the media should help to reduce the quantitative and qualitative gap of knowledge and information between South Koreans and North Koreans. In this context, she mentioned that the UPF co-founders, who also founded The Segye Times, established national reunification as the first goal of the newspaper.
Guy Taylor from the United States, the national security team leader and foreign policy reporter at The Washington Times, focused on the key pillars of responsibility for both government-sponsored and private and non-profit news media and communication companies inside and outside the region, as well as the need for free media in the Asia-Pacific region to push for openings of coverage, information, and communications both with China and North Korea.
This should include access to all parts of China, such as the city of Wuhan, where the COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have begun, but also in Xinjiang, where Chinese authorities are accused of genocide against Muslims and ethnic minorities. “Beijing claims these accusations are baseless. Well, it should allow outside journalists into those areas, then,” he said.
With regard to North Korea, Mr. Taylor said, the whole world might benefit from greater coordination among free media companies from the Asia-Pacific region and the West. He suggested that these media companies petition the North Korean government to hold conferences inviting foreign media into the country, if only to create a basic opening for on-the-ground coverage, as well as some civil society dialogue between Pyongyang and the rest of the world that has been stifled in recent years.
Marlies Ladstätter, the president of the Austrian branch of International Association of Youth and Students for Peace (IAYSP) and the assistant to the deputy secretary general and the federal commander in charge of the Austrian Red Cross, moderated the closing session which ended the August 2021 ILC.
She reminded the audience that seven regions of the world were each holding an ILC. Within the EUME ILC, seven webinars took place with eminent speakers representing various fields of expertise, enlightening and giving hope with their perspectives and analysis on the potential for peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.
Dr. Michael Balcomb, regional president for Europe and the Middle East of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), another organization affiliated with UPF, said that despite the many inspiring ideas on how to advance the cause of Korean reunification, it is not really on anyone's agenda, not even in South Korea. He listed three points from the webinars:
- the need for action, such as in grand infrastructure projects and in improving trade and communication;
- learning from efforts made elsewhere in the world, such as the Channel Tunnel between France and Britain, and the European Union;
- the importance of a values-based solution to problems in the society and families.
Dr. Balcomb suggested that some of the negative outcomes could have been avoided if the European Union hadn't adopted, from the outset, an entirely secular approach, disregarding the common spiritual heritage of most European nations: their Christian heritage. The co-founder of UPF, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, often called the Mother of Peace, has said that the solutions do not lie in human hands alone. Dr. Balcomb concluded by citing the second secretary-general of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, who said he saw no hope for peace without a spiritual reformation.
Jacques Marion, the co-chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East, explained that this third of the three ILCs held this summer looked at the possibility of Korean reunification from two angles: the economy and ideology. He referred to Reverend Moon’s speech from 40 years ago in which he envisioned an International Peace Highway linking Japan, Korea, and China and leading to what he called an Asian Common Community.
Mr. Marion said the panelists convincingly highlighted the economic and cultural benefits that would result from realizing a Northeast Asian Economic Union and building undersea tunnels, once the Korean Peninsula was reunited. However, this would require nations to go beyond their own interests, guided by the Headwing philosophy expressed in the principles of interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values.
Mr. Marion mentioned Think Tank 2022, established in 2021, a worldwide alliance of experts who have been called to pool their best insights to bring peaceful reunification. He concluded by announcing upcoming UPF programs, including the Seventh Rally of Hope on September 12 and a series of forum discussions with experts and the Korean media, leading up to a World Summit for Peace in Korea early in 2022.