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Re-Unification: One Step Closer

May 14, 2018 by

I recently took a trip back to Korea with my family for the first time in ten years. It was a special time for us. A few days after we returned home, the inter-Korean summit began. Around the world, people who long for peace on the Korean peninsula watched this historic event with amazement.

For me, the most striking part was how easily Chairman Kim Jong-un stepped over the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) that divides the two countries to meet with President Moon Jae-in. At Kim’s suggestion, Moon also stepped over the line. This scene was a symbol that this line can be overcome.

border between north and south Korea

To me, who a few days earlier had walked on Korean soil, it felt like Korea was on the threshold of a tremendous change.

My hometown is Pyeongchang. When I learned that the 2018 Olympics were to be held there, I hoped that it would bring the Olympics of peace. And now, the heads of state of the two countries have met face to face.

For three weeks, our family traveled all over South Korea, from the northern border region in Kangwon-Do to Jeju Island off the south coast. On the surface, the country looked relaxed and peaceful. We met many people on our journey, most of them just quietly living their lives. But the seventy years of division are a pain that has sunk deep into the bones of the Korean people. Not everyone we met expressed it openly but I felt their pain and their longing for true peace.

At the northern border, we passed through the security check to enter the Goseong Unification Observatory. Looking north across the Demiltarized Zone (DMZ), I felt my eyes fill with tears. There in front of us were the mountains and streams of North Korea spread out like a picture, just a few steps away. In front of us stood the majestic Keumgang Mountain, the most beautiful mountain in Korea, with its foothills stretching down to meet the jade-colored sea.

Song Hoon and Soon Ok at Goseong Unification Observatory

Near the coast, I could see the road and railway that connect the two countries. Once this railway carried people freely over. Now only the wind and the clouds, the birds and the waters of the sea can cross the barbed wire. This situation is painful to see.

We left the Unification Observatory and headed over to the DMZ museum. The museum gives a strong feeling of Korea’s present situation as the only remaining divided nation, as well as emphasizing the dream of reunification. We had a special experience there. Visitors can hang cards with their wishes for peace on a “Peace Tree.” I wrote on mine, “I have hope that Korea will be united.” My wife and son also left messages there. Already there are too many to count. Looking at them all, I was deeply moved. I hope that the longing expressed on these cards can bring our country together soon.

Authors son Habin puts note on Peace Tree

On our trip, we met with many wonderful people who are working for reunification. Among these was Choe Chol-ho of the Balgun Nuri (Bright World) community. He is currently on a year-long “Prayer Pilgrimage for Peace and Life” to pray for peace in our country. From August through October of this year, he plans to visit Pyongyang and Mt. Baektu at the northern border of North Korea.

I am still thinking about something he told me: “What holds Korea apart is people, nothing else. God has already made ready for reunification.”

The inter-Korean summit of April 27 is a step on the road to this reunification. It is a miracle, a fruit of all the prayers that have been offered over the years. What looks completely impossible to human eyes is possible for God.

In order for this change to continue, we have to trust God even more completely. I believe. I pray. God will bring about a unified Korea.

Sung Hoon Park, originally from South Korea, now lives at Maple Ridge, a Bruderhof in Ulster Park, NY, with his wife and two sons.


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