DMZ Forum 2019 kicks off in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province

Posted on : 2019-09-20 16:36 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
“Napalm girl” from Vietnam War emphasizes power of hope and peace over desperation of war
Social activist Gloria Steinem gives a keynote address during the DMZ Forum 2019 in Goyang
Social activist Gloria Steinem gives a keynote address during the DMZ Forum 2019 in Goyang

“Achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula requires humility and patience. The unification of the Korean Peninsula means breaking down a tangible and intangible wall that has been in place for so long,” said Phan Thi Kim Phuc, a UNESCO goodwill ambassador for peace and culture, during her keynote address at the DMZ Forum 2019.

The forum was held at the KINTEX convention center in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, on Sept. 19. That was the day when the leaders of South and North Korea released the Pyongyang Joint Declaration a year before.

 on Sept. 19.
on Sept. 19.

On June 8, 1972, during the Vietnam War, nine-year-old Phan threw off her burning clothes and ran down the road as she wept, a scene that was photographed by AP reporter Nick Ut. Phan’s photo, which came to be known as “Napalm girl,” helped accelerate the antiwar movement.

“The worst thing that I suffered as a young girl was the destructive power of war,” said Phan, who was operated on 17 times.

“While I suffered from the pain of the incendiary bomb that had burned 60% of my body, I was being killed not by the bomb itself, but by hatred, rage, and the lack of hope. But I overcame through forgiveness and the love and warmth of friends and family, and through remembering the terror of the war, sharing, and looking after victims like myself.”

“Peace does not create itself; forgiveness is difficult; restitution requires sacrifice; reconciliation takes work,” Phan said.

“The leaders and people in South and North Korea can overcome these challenges, and I urge them to hold on to that hope.”

 Gyeonggi Province
Gyeonggi Province

“I wanted to show the world that this border of division is not impenetrable but has been artificially established and to let people know that it can be removed through political will,” said Gloria Steinem, who organized the Women Cross DMZ campaign in which 30 female peace activists from around the world walked across the demilitarized zone from North Korea on May 24, 2015.

“The unilateral insistence by American leaders that North Korea’s denuclearization is the essential condition for peace talks is a step backward. In order to build the conditions for denuclearization, we need to first establish peace,” Steinem said.

“The US needs to declare the end of the Korean War and to replace the temporary armistice with a peace treaty, in respect of the wishes of the people and governments of North and South Korea.”

“War and militarism turn women and children, the most vulnerable among us, into the victims of violence. While we are bringing peace to Korea, we need more women from the North and South to say that true security comes when we reduce our dependence on oppression, militarism, and political differences”

Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung gives a keynote address during the DMZ Forum 2019 in Goyang
Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung gives a keynote address during the DMZ Forum 2019 in Goyang

Over a thousand people attended the forum’s opening ceremony on Thursday. In addition to foreign guests such as Phan and Steinem, Democratic Party leader Lee Hae-chan and Han Wan-sang, chair of the Presidential Commission on the Centennial Anniversary of the March 1st Independence Movement and the Korea Provisional Government, were in attendance.

By Hong Yong-duk, South Gyeonggi correspondent

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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