Light from the sun was emerging from the horizon which could awaken the city. The routine of those who stepped into the city has just started. The busy city will give you the taste of the well-planned development. One WhatsApp message could awaken you by alarming the packed schedule of the day. It is indeed an interesting moment of life and useful interactions with those who are foregoing other pleasures for the common cause.
We were guided by three volunteers, Sofia, Kim and Cecilia to visit the place. It is a place of agony. It is a place of an attempt to consolidate the records of the painful history.
Located in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, the War Memorial of Korea is telling the story of the war history in the peninsula with a strong line in the entrance. “They are the true heroes of the republic of Korea who gave their lives for the peace of the homeland”.
As the common saying goes – history is written by winners. Therefore, what has written and portraits did not communicate a deep meaning but they showed a pathway to understanding the agony, affliction and throes of our past generations. Their lives have perished for the sake of nationhood, but what was the compensation for lost lives rather than constructing the monuments around? Can anyone in this world replace the price of another human?
One thing is certain; every war, has produced cruelty, depravity, barbarity, inhumanity, brutality, savagery, insensibility and ferocity while evaporating the strength of humanity. Commemorating those who sacrificed for a nation is indeed a cultural gratitude, but nationhood is junior to world peace. Peace is universal. Nationhood is jurisdictional.
The waves of the Hangang (Han) river was ending up at the banks while flowing. All the high-rise buildings and other infrastructure in Seoul have modified the natural viewpoint by wrenching the beauty of origin.
That is not the story here, but the nightmare witnessed by the Hangang River during the war within in the 50s. Most of the records were there, and many attempts were being taken to prevent future mayhem. But the imminent threat is growing silently as the geopolitical interests are making the issue more complicated than ever before.
When things are being censored, he/she cannot tell the true feelings of what they experienced. But, their eyes tell the story. Their eyes speak loud and clear.
When strangers come, they eagerly show the river, with the lengthy description of their national heritage. But in a moment they tend to recall the painful and priceless encounter the river witnessed.
The blood absorbed by the river never regained. The lives perished and wash-away around the river never returned. The horrid segregation made after the war divided not only the land but also the soul of one community, the spirit of culture, and the beauty of tradition. It has devalued the strength of harmony and peace of that place.
The debate over the re-unification Korean peninsula is arising on this very rooted notion. The solution is peace. In her bold and impressive speech, Ms. Nam Hee Kim emotionally elaborated the hour of need and the role women could play.
“Women were excluded in peacebuilding in post-conflict while negligence the right to education and their labour. Gender equality through education is must which can archive not only the issued highlighted in the resolutions passed by the UN security council but also world peace”, said, Ms. Nam Hee Kim, chairwoman of the International Women’s Peace Group ( IWPG) in Seoul on Monday, 19 September 2016.
“Mother’s heart has power for transform the life of a single cell. But, the women’s task in peace building has been impossible so far because we don’t try otherwise everything is possible.”
“Time has come to gather our voice to raise one voice with one mission. Our voices are condolence of oppressed women in our society. So we must not take rest until our hopes of restore peace for mankind fulfil. That is the most essential task all 3.6 billion women in the world. Women are essential and potential in world peace”, she added
Peace begins with a smile. A simple smile gives you a convenience of being one with the person next to you. But, why do people lose the smile? Why do they have to hold expressions of utter frustration, chagrin, irritation, and disappointment on their shoulders, while hiding all senses of happiness?
It is common sense, that not a single living being which does not like happiness. Everybody likes and expect happiness. But, things surrounding us, things within us and things away from us are making our daily life one of discomfort, discontent, displeasure, and dissipates status of mind which will lead us to drive our life in a gloomy, doubtful and insecure pathway.
It has been proven over and over again, that the distorted scripts of various beliefs are no longer capable of restoring peace but eliminating, evacuating and evaporating the seeds of peace.
The story of Ms. Yunsook Lee, former South Korean Minister of Political Affairs, is one of the thousands of stories to grasp the black pages of the history. She has been holding various dignitary positions in the bureaucracy of the country after she graduated from Ewha Woman’s University and has been a radio and TV commentator in Korea since 1959.
“This story is personal but I believe this could give you the answer why we need peace and why are we struggling for the reunification of the Korean peninsula”, Yunsook Lee said.
“It was 60 years later I have met my sister after separation as the part of the Korean War.”
“Door was opened, and I was sitting expecting my sister to come. But instead of sister I have seen the shadow of my mother who walking towards me. Then I realised, I’m seeing my sister 60 years later. We departed when we were teenagers but we met when we are in age of grandmother”
“I asked her; where do you want to go while expecting she will say the old house we lived together. But she wants to go the school where we all went to study”
“After hours later, she has to take the bus to depart.”
“This story is not an exclusive but it is the story of many Koreans. We have passed generation but still with tears and sorrows of painful history.”
“But, we still have the same beliefs and ideologies.”
“Families must be re-united. Blocked roads must be re-opened. People may get the chance to do what they want to do for their life. We must do this quickly,” she urged.
Nothing better to conclude this part than by citing an interesting observation in an article published by Beyond, the in-flight entertainment magazine of Korean-Air in which works of Hanna Arrant have been featured in the latest issue.
“Politics is not a real of truth but of opinion. Opinion is distinct from truth, and plurality is integral to opinion. The political realm is the place where assertions of truth should be made but arguments for or against opinions can continue without end. It is inevitable that the political sphere becomes a raucous place to solve problems”
Like many other jurisdictions, the cold crisis within Korean peninsula is lying on this notion.
Nilantha Ilangamuwa edits the Sri Lanka Guardian, an online daily newspaper, and he also an editor of the Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives, bi-monthly print magazine. He is the author of the just released non-fictions, “Nagna Balaya” (The Naked Power), in Sinhalese and “The Conflation”, in English. He can be reached at [email protected]