The War Memorial of Korea: war memories and reconciliation

Oct 1, 2019 – Kanghyun Kwon

Statue of Brothers symbolizes the reconciliation, love, and forgiveness

Regardless of its scale, duration, actors, and implications, war is always saturated with tragedy. The Statue of Brothers created by Korean architect Choi Young-jeep symbolizes the desire for reunification of Korea by showing two brothers meeting in battle during the Korean War: the elder as from South Korea, and the younger from North Korea.

Having this sculpture at the external exhibition area underscores the significance of the War Memorial of Korea not only as the commemorative place for soldiers, but also as the informative museum of tragic memories for future reconciliation in the Korean Peninsula.

The War Memorial of Korea

Located in Seoul, the War Memorial of Korea is designed to be a place for commemoration of soldiers sacrificed in the Korean War of 1950, and peaceful reunification of North and South Korea.

After almost 7 decades since the war had scorched the Korean Peninsula, national scars from the war still remain unhealed and thus extremely sensitive to modern Korean society. The country is still divided into North and South, albeit with several attempts of alleviation of tension between two for peace settlement. The War Memorial of Korea is built to remind the modern society of human insecurity that its predecessors had to endure, and value of security that the current system guarantees, so that there would not be any reoccurrence of similar violent conflict in the future.

Divided into outdoor and indoor exhibition areas, the War Memorial of Korea presents remnants of Korean War in two different categories; one can find sources of military confrontation such as military equipment from the outdoor exhibition area. Indoor exhibition area shows visual information of progression of Korean War from civilian’s perspectives. It tells that everyone, not just soldiers, was involved in this 3 years of tragic event.

Defending the Fatherland show soldiers’ spirit to protect their fatherland

Importance of commemoration

The War Memorial of Korea is often visited by field trip of young generations who wish to study the history of peacebuilding in the Korean Peninsula, and of war veterans and their relatives who fought for democracy of South Korea during the Korean War.

For teenagers and young adults, who have not experienced war and thus feel detached from the terror of war, this place will teach them the tragic background the country had to go through at the beginning of its history, so that they could value the sense of peace they often take for granted in modern society.

For war veterans, the War Memorial of Korea will be the concrete evidence that their service was valuable in the sense that the country which they had protected from the invasion successfully achieved prosperity and did not forget their devotion.

This museum is, in short, a respect for transgenerational humanitarianism. It symbolizes the continuity of virtues which the past generation had protected from threat, and the present and future generations must inherit to their society. As long as this bond between generations stay connected, there will be always the path for peace.

Educating the next generation

The ideal way to incorporate the War Memorial of Korea into educational context is through field trip, because it is a unique place of commemorative spirit. For domestic educational institutions, planning a visit to this place for instructive purpose is an easy task. For those outside of Korea, it would require longer time and more sophisticated planning for visit.

Students from middle school to university who are interested in Korean War would benefit from visiting the War Memorial of Korea. Although high school students or younger might not be able to plan an actual visit to the place abroad, they could apply for commemorative programs for Korean War inside the US, and obtain precious memories from war veterans and representatives from South Korea. University students go even further and visit the place to incorporate the primary resources into their knowledge.

Meanwhile, scholars who explore the early period of Cold War would be interested in visiting this place after reading this post because it is a large database consisting of symbolic remnants as well as records of primary source regarding the early confrontation of the US and Soviet Union.

Clock Tower of Peace

Messages from the war museum

The War Memorial of Korea teaches its visitors the value of peace they often take for granted. South Korea enjoys economic prosperity and democratic peace today, but one must not forget that its foundation was saturated with bloodshed and subsequent devastation. As demand for reunification grows, radical opinions often propose a possibility of war with North Korea to physically overthrow its government and achieve reunification through military means.

As simple as it sounds, it is both politically and morally unreasonable. As a former victim of war, South Korea should not become the starter of war to inflict the same pain it experienced in the past to other countries. Especially if that country is the victim of same war. Moreover, one should not forget that while it is extremely easy to end the existing peace, it is extremely hard to restore the lost peace from the devastation of war.

The War Memorial of Korea opposes the return to Korean War. Any violent means used for conflict resolution in the Korean Peninsula would defy the humanitarian values represented by this place. It is a lighthouse for peaceful reconciliation which navigates the government and civil society actors by asking them the following questions:

> Is it possible to prevent the reoccurrence of Korean War? How can it be avoided?

> Is military means ever going to promote human security? Why is human security important?

> What can the government and society do to arrive at reconciliation?


Kanghyun Kwon is a junior in Global Affairs, B.A., George Mason University.

Images are taken from Prepare Travel Plans (https://preparetravelplans.com/war-memorial-of-korea-guide/), The Seoul Guide (https://www.theseoulguide.com/sights/museums/war-memorial-of-korea/), and Espionart (https://espionart.com/2014/06/27/the-divided-brothers-of-the-korean-war/).

For further information, please visit the official website (https://www.warmemo.or.kr/LNG/main.do?lan=en).

Move This World: Peace Education Through Movement

While attending the Peace Education Exploratorium this weekend, I had the opportunity to learn about many different pedagogies of peace at work in the world today. The role of sports and peace education specifically piqued my interest as one of the guest facilitators, Amanda Munroe, spoke about her involvement with  Move This World, formerly Dance 4 Peace. 

Here is a short video about Move This World’s work. Move This World Video! 

Move This World is a non-profit organization dedicated to using creative movement to transform conflict, violence and bullying in communities around the globe.  Move This World created an innovative curriculum focusing on fostering empathy, mediation skills, diversity appreciation, anger management and conflict transformation. With a need for peace intervention at all levels, Move This World operates with grade level specific curriculum. The curriculum theme for each age group can be viewed by clicking here! 

Founder, Sara Potler, began the program with youth in Bogota, Colombia. Promoting peace through dance, Potler began the formation of the idea that movement can be used to create peace. Today Move This World works internationally in Colombia, Germany and the Philippines and stateside in Baltimore, Newark, New York City and Washington, D.C. Move This World employs several different peace pedagogies. By working and learning students with whom we are learning with, community building is a play. By moving and working together, relationships between peers can strengthen and encourage a community of peace. The second pillar of peace pedagogy, engaging in multiple intelligence’s is played upon. Through movement via sports, dance or whatever gets students flowing you can engage in the body, music, naturalist and interpersonal multiple intelligence’s. By accessing these intelligence’s, students are able to experience alternative forms of education. These tools enable students to benefit by stretching their skills into multiple forms of intelligence’s. 

Ways to use this resource – Elementary & Middle School 

Incorporating movement in the classroom is the first step in introducing peace pedagogy into the classroom. By looking at the curriculum themes for each grade level, teachers can gear their lesson plans to whichever activities best fit their classroom.

Ways to use this resource – High School

While kindergarden through eight grade focuses on key themes to teach students, the high school curriculum focuses on facilitating students own leadership and peace building skills. The first semester hones in on understanding emotions, conflict and cultural diversity. With an entire semester of immersion into conflict resolution information, the second semester is geared towards fostering students own leadership capacity as they grow to be peace-makers in their own community. 

During high school I was involved in the PALS, Peer Assistance and Leadership, which fostered parallel goals as Move This World focuses on during primary education. This program was brought to my high school by the administration in hopes of reducing the increasing amount of violence. While other non-violent programs were simultaneously put in place, as the development of the PALS program increased the violence occurring within the school decreased.  To learn more about training opportunities through PALS, click here. 

Ways to use this resource – Become a Partner! 

If your school or organization desires to facilitate peaceful change through movement, please sign up to receive more information from Move This World by clicking here. Move This World works in Colombia, Germany and the Philippines and stateside in Baltimore, Newark, New York City and Washington, D.C. If your school or organization is outside these regions, Move This World provides many beneficial tools to use in your classroom, as well as great curriculum models to follow. 

Let’s Talk About It!

SchoolTalk was introduced to me when the Executive Director of SchoolTalk, Leila Peterson, came to speak to my Conflict Organizations and Actors class at George Mason University in the Fall of 2012. SchoolTalk works to provide a safe place for families to resolve concerns regarding special education identification, assessment and service delivery. After hearing about SchoolTalk’s benefit to DC public schools, I researched them online to find more information about what they do. While SchoolTalk is a valuable resource to the families, teachers and students in DC public schools, they also provide training services which would benefit educators and families impacted by children with special needs. 

SchoolTalk is designed primarily for educators and parents with special needs children, however their trainings in conflict resolution techniques is applicable in many fields. The goal of SchoolTalk is to create better forms of communication between parents and administrators regarding the delivery of special education services for students. The conflict resolution techniques SchoolTalk provides can provide informal activities tailored to students with special needs or more formal trainings to the parents/guardians of children with special needs. 

Ways to use this resource:

Educators and parents can use the material they learn online or schedule a training with SchoolTalk. To fully implement this resource, participants must be willing and open to hear about alternative ways to resolve conflicts regarding special education. Encouraging a partnership with SchoolTalk reinforces one of the pillars in peace pedagogy, exploring approaches to peace. 

Parents and students who engage in SchoolTalk training and lessons would be able to foster patience with the public education system as well as straightening conflict resolution skills. By utilizing this resource, the communication between faculty and students can become more peaceful, contributing to a more peaceful classroom environment. 

The Interrupters

I had seen clips of the documentary the Interrupters on PBS a few times, but never got a chance to watch the full length of the movie. When I finally wanted to watch it, they weren’t airing it on T.V anymore. Luckily the PBS website had the full documentary online and for this blog I will give a summary of the movie and what I thought about it.

The Interrupters

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/interrupters/

The documentary “The Interrupters” looks at the life of three Violence Interrupters and their work within a span of one year. These Violence Interrupters work with an organization called Ceasefire in the most conflict-reddened areas of Chicago, who try to protect these communities from violence that they were once a part of. The film was directed by Steve James, an acclaimed director known for his powerful portrayal and insight of communities and cultures in his movies and documentaries. Interrupters was filmed during a period of constant youth violence in parts of Chicago, in African American and Latino neighborhoods, and during a time when the United States had its eye on Chicago as a national symbol for the violence in our communities.

Founder of Ceasefire, Gary Slutkin, believes that the spread of violence in communities is similar to the spread of diseases and epidemics, “violence is like the great diseases of history…. violence as behavior, not as bad people.” For the young people in these neighborhoods, they see violence as their disease and they expect that they are going to die from this. Tio Hardiman, who created Ceasefires main program, “Violence Interrupters” explains that violence is a two-step process. The first thought is grievances; people come up with reasons to start a conflict for example, “He looked at my girl…he owes me money…he’s a Sunni…he’s a Palestinian, and so forth. The second thought is that these grievances justify the violence.” Tio, just like members of the Violence Interrupters has street credibility (because of his own personal history), which gives him full insight into the violence and minds of Chicago’s youth.

Violence Interrupters

The three Violence Interrupters that are followed throughout this documentary are Amina Matthews, Cobe Williams, and Eddie Bocanegra. Amina was the daughter of Jeff Ford, one of the biggest gang leaders in the history of Chicago. In the documentary Amina is what Tio calls the “golden girl,” she knows how to get them (the community youth) to open up. Being an ex-gang enforcer and one that has lived a life in shoot outs, she knows what its like to be a youth in these communities that are plagued by violence. Cobe Williams, scarred by his father’s murder, began a downwind spiral at the age of twelve. After being in and out of jail numerous times, Cobe decided to turn his life around with the help of his family. In the documentary we see that Cobe, with his humor and general good nature, “knows how to get in, he knows the language – what to say, when to say it.” Cobe too has big time credibility with the gang members because of his past, which allows him to easily insert himself within the conflict in order to resolve it. Last, but not least is Eddie Bocanegra, who is still daunted by the murder he committed at the age of seventeen. For him, his work with Ceasefire as a Violence Interrupter is a repentance for his past actions. Playing on his strength in art, Eddie is able to and concerned with spending majority of his time with young children affected by the aftermaths of violence.  He teaches the children art, warns them of the trauma experienced by those who have come face to face with violence, and makes an effort to keep children off the streets and get them the support they need.

Throughout the documentary, the viewer is able to look into Ceasefire meetings and the conflicts that take place within the communities. Each Violence Interrupter has a past of their own, and each uses their history and knowledge of the streets to get closer to their goal, which is to “ stop the killing, and save a life.”

Youth

One of the first scenes we see is of a conflict-taking place right in front of the Ceasefire building. Amina Matthew quickly interrupts the conflict and has both groups separate.  What is profound is that even a five-year-old girl was shouting profanities and getting involved in a conflict that had nothing to do with her. Later, Amina talks to some of the youth and is able to get them to open up through different forms of communication, one form being laughter. Amina explains, “If you get them to laugh at themselves- find that soft side, not their weak side, then you ride on that.”

In these streets the youth have been brought up with the notion that “you have to stand up no matter what happens… death before dishonor.” They have been taught violence, as violence is a learned behavior. One youth justifies, “If you don’t do it, they’re going to do it to you, you go hard or it’s your life.” They say all odds are against them, they have been brought up this way, they want to fight, and that history is up against them.

One scene in the documentary that was very overwhelming for me was a still shot of a wall of names, names of all who had been killed, murdered, and shot, and in one spot someone had written, “ I am next…” This shows how deep the youths mentality about violence is, and that they think they are stuck in it, when in reality in order to break out of it they have to find change within themselves and their peers. However, in a sense they find an honor in getting killed. They want to be known that they didn’t step down, that they fought and died, and that they know that when they die, they’ll get all the hype, both from the community and the media, that they have made normal around such drastic deaths.

Tio explains in the documentary that “Once media goes back to wherever they came from, we have to step up to the plate and make something happen up over there.” He is aware that a lot of the violence isn’t gang violence, its interpersonal conflict that deals with respect and disrespect, not being accepted in an overall society where a lot of people are ostracized, and so they try to dominate their societies. Their actions go from “zero to rage in thirty seconds” and they act out because of something that upset them earlier in their day.  With this kind of anger and violence, Tio explains that they cannot mediate the conflict without full confrontation. As the documentary comes to a close, Tio explains that African American and Latino communities have been beaten for so long with poor schools, lack of jobs, hopelessness, and despair that it is “hard for people to stick with peace if they don’t have a stick that they can hold on to.”

Analysis

Although this documentary looked at the violence in Chicago communities as a whole, it also focused on specific youth whom Aminah, Cobe, and Eddie personally intervened with; Capyrsha Anderson, Lil Mikey, Flamo, Vanessa Villalba, and Kenneth. Along with these young adults, Ceasefire was able to prevent numerous outburst of violence to occur in their communities.   Its impact was beyond substantial. These Violence Interrupters were right there with each act of violence from the beginning to the end, and used their knowledge and insightfulness to the best of their ability to reduce the tension of the conflicts. Each young adult the Violence Interrupters assisted have taken a full 360 in changing their lives, sometimes all one angry person needs is someone right there beside them to show them the right path. 

Watching this documentary made me realize that these communities have been “brain –washed” into believing that violence is the only way to solve a conflict.  However, when they have member of Violence Interrupters come in and show them alternative options, it opens up a number of other possibilities for them, with a less drastic cost that wont end up affecting them for the rest of their lives.

I could definitely see myself incorporating this type of intervention and peace education into my practice. It is always useful to have those who are knowledgeable of a conflict come in and help resolve a conflict. What I liked the most was that each Violence Interrupter had a violent past of their own which they rid themselves of, and they knew exactly what was going on in the minds of the youth. Because of their insightfulness, they were able to assist the community and individual youths to a level of nonviolence.

Stakeholders:

Stakeholders that I believe will be able to benefit from my post are anyone who lives in a community that violence plays a big role in. For older community members, this type of intervention and peace education would assist their communities to a level of nonviolence for the youth. 


UNOY Peacebuilders

As a Global Affairs major, I was really interested in finding a blog topic that had a global approach and perspective to peace education. Through searching on the web, I found this amazing organization called UNOY (The United Network of Young Peacebuilders). UNOY (prounounced  ‘you know why’) is a global network of young people and youth organisations committed to establishing peaceful societies.  They have been around since 1989 and are based in the Netherlands. they consist of 49 member organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.

UNOY’s mission is ” to link up young people’s initiatives for peace in a global network of young peacebuilders, to help empower their capacities and to help increase the effectiveness of their actions” They achieve this goal by implementing a wide range of activities in each of their main areas: advocacy and campaigning, capacity building and gender. UNOY believes that young people are an essential part of peacebuilding because:

  • Young people are more open to change
  • Young people are future-oriented
  • Young people are idealistic and innovative
  • Young people are courageous
  • Young people are knowledgeable about their peers’ realities (http://www.unoy.org/unoy/who-we-are/our-vision/)

Some projects that UNOY has implemented in 2012 include, the Educating for Peace seminar that brings together members from all over the world, the Peace of Mind educational program for students, and training courses on peace building. Members even traveled to Colombia, Argentina, and Nepal where they were able to teach workshops on issues such as human rights, democracy and gender to youth there!

This organization caters to a wide range of peace educators and students alike. UNOY has created excellent resources that can be incorporated into a classroom or community setting for youth. The beauty of UNOY is that the wide array of projects it creates can be applied in a global AND local context. Most importantly, UNOY gives  young people the opportunity to get involved!!! I would especially recommend checking out their volunteer programs if you’re interested in working on an international level 😉 Through its broad scope of activities and projects, UNOY teaches youth the necessary skills and tools needed to become peacemakers in their own communities.

A clip describing one of UNOY’s projects in collaboration with other international youth organizations:

Resources:

UNOY home page http://www.unoy.org/unoy/

 

 

Bridges To Understanding

I recently learned about Bridges To Understanding through another popular organization, Teachers Without Borders (TWB).  This year TWB has decided to adopt Bridges To Understanding’s youth programs and educational curriculums since the non-profit organization, founded in 2001, will be dissolving (http://www.teacherswithoutborders.org/programs/teacher-programs/peace-education/bridges-understanding).  The Bridges To Understanding’s vision was to “empower and unite youth worldwide, enhance cross-cultural understanding and build global citizenship using digital technology and the art of storytelling” (http://www.facebook.com/bridgesworld?sk=info).

I thought it was interesting to see how Bridges’ two core curriculum-based programs, the Bridges Ambassador Program and the Bridges Global Citizens Program, connected students across the globe in a way most educators (especially those in a public education system) would never accomplish in the traditional classroom setting.  The Bridges group laid the groundwork for a “network of established partner schools and community organizations in Seattle, Peru, Guatemala, South Africa, India and Cambodia where [their curriculums] have been adapted to insure cultural relevancy” (http://www.facebook.com/bridgesworld?sk=info).  The first curriculum, the Ambassador Program, teaches children how to create digital stories about their daily lives, local culture/traditions and community.  With the help of Bridges staff, teachers lead discussion forums on conflict and resolution as well as environmental sustainability issues through both a local and a global lens.  The second curriculum, the Global Citizens Program, works on a more international approach by bringing together partner schools around the world into a classroom-to-classroom discussion forum to talk about important global issues.  This allows students to view others’ videos while sharing their own stories, photography and ideas (http://www.bridges2understanding.org/programs/programs.html).

Contextually, this peer-to-peer learning can be implemented at any age level.  In our global environment, the use of digital technology is something many young children are learning far more quickly than in the past generation.  I think both science and humanities teachers should be encouraging technology-based curriculums such as this one into their classrooms since it not only broadens the children’s skill set for the future workplace (arguable one goal of education), but also gives them the opportunity to explore a vast amount of new information available online.  Technology is typically applied in science classes, but by introducing online discussion forums into humanities classes, students are able to personally clarify the local context of the broad cultural content they learn.  By giving youth a protected informal setting, educators can eliminate some of the psychological barriers preventing students from asking questions in the formal classroom setting while increasing the perceived self-importance of other individual youth who take pride in speaking about their culture; perhaps, for many, this is the first time a foreigner has taken an interest in their lives.

The Bridges organization has added a resource called the Bridges Passport Program for educators to help implement their curriculums with ease.  This program provides educators with access to “ten youth-produced digital stories, with accompanying story guides, for classes to explore rich multicultural content” in the context of any existing curriculum (http://www.bridges2understanding.org/programs/programs.html).  After the merger with Teachers Without Borders, educators can also access both of the Bridges’ curriculums through the TWB website.  The only logistical setback would be that individual classrooms would need access to either a computer, camera or a TV to view and create the digital stories.  I would suggest taking the last class of each week to focus on a global issue presented within the content youth learned in class that week.  Educators can alternate between using a story guide to watch and discuss an international student’s video one week and having their students create videos to post online the next week.  If there are time restraints on watching videos or creating videos which is probably more likely, educators should encourage students to meet outside of school to discuss possible global issues in their local community and think of ways they can incorporate these themes into both a video and the lessons they are learning in class.  The application to already existing class material is key.

This resource is geared heavily towards conflict resolution and human rights education; hence, it would fit well into humanities classes.  Pedagogically-speaking, educators would use this to build trust across cultures and community building.  This resource allows students to explore alternative perspectives on global history and learn how they can reframe it to incorporate means of peace.  Bridges To Understanding specifically works to “develop students’ cross-cultural understanding, as they discover differences and similarities in the challenges faced by their peers in other countries” (http://www.facebook.com/bridgesworld?sk=info).  This requires students to not only become leaders to actively discuss issues in their community, but also active listeners to other students’ problems.  On a practical level, they must also become familiar with technology.  I believe the Northern Virginia public school system would make an excellent candidate as well as George Mason University for implementation of these programs since we have public access to many forms of technology.

Resources:

http://www.bridges2understanding.org/ – The Bridges To Understanding website

http://www.facebook.com/bridgesworld?sk=info – The Bridges To Understanding Facebook page

http://www.teacherswithoutborders.org/programs/teacher-programs/peace-education/bridges-understanding – The Teachers Without Borders website