Admiral Yi Sun-shin of the 21st Century

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!

Public Diplomacy for Unification with Americans

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!

 

 

Public Diplomacy Efforts with the Chinese for Korean Unification

300 years ago, a man from Joseon named Hong Dae-yong traveled to Qing China and met a Chinese scholar in Beijing. It took 56 days on foot to reach his destination. The Chinese scholar’s name was Um Sung and eventually the 2 scholars became good friends. They communicated by exchanging letters which usually took 1 to 2 years to send and receive a single letter.

Today, China and Korea still maintain a strong relationship through tourism, trade, and even for education. China currently is Korea’s top trading partner, accounting for 26% of Korea’s exports. Also, the largest group of international students that go to China are Koreans and vice-versa. Thus, this China-Korea relationship is an important relationship for both countries.

However, with the recent nuclear threats in North Korea, this relationship has gotten weaker. To defend itself from missile attacks from North Korea, South Korea is planning on deploying a missile defense system. However, this defense system does not go well with China and they have threatened to end their good ties with Korea if they persisted on deploying the system.

These issues prove that reunification is key to help establish peace and prosperity within that region. Reunification is also key to help lay out the foundation towards a peaceful Asia.You too can play a part in helping to reach this goal. Help VANK in their goals to reaching reunification and peace!

Jikji, the Standard for World Heritage

What does it take to be considered a World Heritage?

In China, they proudly boast about their Great Wall which has been recognized as one of the 7 Wonders of the World and also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

In Egypt, the tomb of a pharaoh has also been recognized a a world heritage site. The Giza pyramid in Egypt was the world’s tallest construction done by the largest number of people in ancient history. This pyramid has also been recognized as one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

In Korea, Jikji has also been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage. But compared to these other places that are grand in size and construction, Jikji is just a small book. So why has it been recognized by UNESCO?

Jikji, was the first book to be printed using movable metal  type technology (78 years earlier than Gutenberg’s Bible). This technology has been recognized to be a prime factor in bringing a revolutionary change to how books were printed. Because of this, it has been given the recognition of a world heritage not because of the sheer size of the object, but because of the huge impact it has had on how books are printed not just in Korea, but even in other places around the world.

As of 2015, Korea has 11 world heritages, with Jikji being one of them.

Learn more about these kinds of world heritages through VANK and help promote this information to others!

Stories about Koreans Who Promote the East Sea

During the Japanese occupation in Korea from 1910-1945, Koreans had to surrender a lot of things to the Japanese. Some things included their country, rights, and their freedom. Another thing that occurred during the Japanese occupation was the name change of the East Sea to the Sea of Japan. With the surrender of Japan in 1945 and the end of World War II, Koreans were able to once again gain their independence and country back. However, the Sea of Japan name did not change.

To this day, many people around the world are misinformed about the naming of this sea. Most textbooks, maps, etc. still label this sea as the Sea of Japan instead of the East Sea. However, VANK has started a mission to try to change this by aggressively writing emails to famous publishers and websites about their misleading information and how it impacts Korean people. Thanks to their accomplishments, more publishers, educational institutions, and even museums have begun to use the name East Sea by itself or alongside the name Sea of Japan. In 1990, the usage of the name East Sea was just 3%. 10 years later, that statistic has risen to almost 30%! VANK has also started to distribute world maps to these facilities and to classrooms that uses the correct naming for the East Sea.

Please help VANK in helping bring about a change and help promote Korean history!

70 Years After Independence, the Path for Koreans

Korea today has one of the top economies in the world. With an 11th ranked economy in terms of GDP and a ranking of 29th for GDP per capita ( the amount of money a person makes), Korea has blossomed into a sophisticated society with a good standard of living. However, the country wasn’t always well off like today.

After the end of World War II with Japan’s surrender, Korea was able to regain its freedom and independence after years of suffering under Japan’s regime. However, their freedom was short-lived with the Korean War in the 1950s. After this war, Korea was divided along the 38th parallel. The country’s GDP per capita then was just $50, making it one of the poorest countries in the world.

Despite these odds, Korea has overcome many obstacles to become the prospering country it is today. However, it has not yet been able to regain full independence yet. Many historical facts about Korea are missing or distorted in texts and Korea still remains divided.

With your help, we can help to create a difference and bring Korea closer to gaining their full independence back! Support VANK and let’s change history together!

Korean Culture Postcards (B)

A set of 10 postcards that talk about the diverse and rich culture and history of Korea. There are postcards of famous martial arts like taekwondo and also postcards on cultural objects that are not as well known like the annals of the Joseon Dynasty, which has been registered as a UNESCO Memory of the World.

Learn about diverse cultural facts of Korea and experience the rich culture yourself through these postcards. These postcards are also available for download here: http://data.prkorea.com/?p=4865

King Sejong the Great korea2-09-716x1024.jpg

One of the most respected historical figues in Korea, King Sejong helped to evolve Korea dramatically in a positive direction. He is most well known for creating Hangeul, which is a Korean alphabet that has become the standard for the Korean language. He also contributed in many other inventions like a water clock (Jagyeongnu) and a sundial (Angbuilgu) to tell the time of day.

 

 
Traditional Music of Korea: Samulnorikorea2-08-716x1024.jpg

Samulnori is a Korean percussion ensemble that originated from Nongak or farmers’ folk music. Nongak was developed to raise morale or excitement during group work or for traditional holidays. Samulnori uses only four major percussion instruments, including Kkwaenggwari, Jing, Janggu, and Buk.Since its premier in 1978, Samulnori has gained widespread acclaim and popularity both in Korea and around the world.