Korea has a rich history of over 5000 years. In those 5000 years, many great historical figures of Korea made huge contributions to helping Korea become the country it is today.
King Gwanggaeto was one of those great figures. During his reign, he made Goguryeo (Korea) the center of Northeast Asia and lived by the founding principles of the 1st Korean kingdom of Gojoseon: Hongik Ingan (Promote the welfare of all humanity) and Jaese Ihwa (Rule the people under the order of the heavens).
Another great figure was General Seo Hui, who helped to bring peace in Northeast Asia. Through diplomacy rather than violence, he was able to avoid war for his country and even expand its territory, obtaining six garrison settlements east of the Amnokgang River.
One of the greatest figures in Korean history was King Sejong of the Joseon dynasty. To distinguish Joseon from the China-centered world during that period King Sejong created many unique traditions and culture. This includes the creation of Hangeul (Hunminjeongeum) and even the creations of calendars and clocks to help people adjust to their own country rather than following China’s adaptions.
Just like these historical figures that changed Korean history, we must persevere in trying to change Korea today. A unified Korea will help to change the history of Korea and help bring peace in Northeast Asia. It will also get rid of the nuclear threat in North Korea and a new civilization will be formed. Help VANK in bringing and change to the world together!
Do you know about the great war hero and one of the most respected historical figures in Korea, Yi Sun-sin? In the late 16th century, Korea faces a series of Japanese invasions, known as the Imjin War. This was the biggest war in East Asia in that time period and Japan had an edge over Korea with their advanced weaponry. However, they failed miserably in naval battles against Korea, losing 23 of 23 battles, even though Joseon (Korea) had an absolute disadvantage in numbers and supplies. Despite these odds Admiral Yi courageously led his troops to victory in every single battle that he fought. He was also the inventor of the revolutionary Geobukseon (turtle ship) which helped to become the turning point in the war against the Japanese army.
Using the spirit and morale of Yi Sun-sin, young Koreans around the world have been trying to regain the dignity of Korea that was stolen by Japan. One example is the name Sea of Japan. Originally called the East Sea, the Japanese changed the name to their liking during the occupation of 1910-1945 when Korea was under Japan’s regime. Now that Korea has regained their independence, they are working hard to regain their dignity and pride by renaming the Sea of Japan to East Sea and even reclaiming their land Dokdo, which Japan is trying claim as theirs and has even named it as Takeshima. One of these hardworking groups is VANK. Currently, VANK has over 130,000 members and is continuously growing. Join VANK in their efforts of restoring Korea’s dignity and pride and help to recover Dokdo and the East Sea!
In 1963, one man delivered a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This man’s name was Martin Luther King Jr. and he was a human rights activist, fighting for freedom and equality for all humans, which in this case, were black people. Even though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was announced in 1948, black people were still denied their rights and were segregated often. However, with the perseverance of activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and the segregated people, they were able to gain their freedom and rights.
However, today, black people are still facing segregation and falling victim to police violence. One of the biggest tragedies of police violence happened in 2012 when a 17 year old African American male student named Trayvon Martin was shot to death by a neighborhood watch captain named George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was released with no charges, causing huge debates about segregation and equality between black and white people. Also, with police violence incidents like this increasing, a new movement known as #BlackLivesMatter has started to help recognize equality for all black people, and has become a statement and a movement to help fight against White supremacy and anti-Black racism.
Even in the Korean peninsula, many people are denied their human rights and forced to live in a restrained and harsh environment. In North Korea, many rights are restricted like freedom of speech. Women are also restricted from many things which include riding bicycles or something as simple as wearing jeans or pants. Also, there are no laws that protect women from sexual abuse or domestic violence. In South Korea, people have achieved democracy and are able to enjoy all their human rights. Just like the people in the South, we hope that the North can also one day be able to enjoy these rights.
We must work towards democracy and human equality for everyone. Not just for African Americans and Koreans, but for everyone around the world who are being discriminated against and are unable to exert their human rights. For this to be achieved, tolerance is key. Together, we can bring peace to Korea, Northeast Asia, and the world!