On August 14, in commemoration of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial occupation in 1945, 1,000 people from all sectors of the movement for peace and reunification gathered in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Plaza for an outdoor “roundtable conference.” People from all sectors, including workers, farmers, women, youth and students, urban poor, scholars, media, elected officials and faith-based communities, from all regions between Seoul and Jeju sat around 100 round tables in the plaza to discuss peace and reunification. During this assembly, the 1,000 participants discussed the following questions:
- What will we do in the face of threats against the peace of the Korean Peninsula?
- What would a joint reunification movement between South and North Korea look like?
- What must we do to build a truly mass movement for reunification?
Opposition to the recent U.S.-South Korean decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea was the subject of much discussion at all the tables. There was also broad consensus on working towards realizing an inter-Korean conference of government officials, political parties and civic groups as a step towards peace and unification.
Participants agreed to step up pressure on the South Korean government and all political parties to work towards – restoring communication channels between the leadership of the two countries; facilitating talks between the two countries (particularly around military tensions); resuming operations in the Kaesong Industrial Zone and tourist areas of Mount Kumgang; finding solutions for issues surrounding separated families; and guaranteeing people-to-people exchanges between Koreans on both sides of the peninsula.
The 1,000 people roundtable conference event came a few days following a meeting between North, South, and overseas Koreans, who resolved to work together to realize the Inter-Korean Conference, which North Korea proposed at the end of June. Representatives of the North Korean Preparatory Committee for the Inter-Korean Conference, the Overseas Korean Preparatory Committee for the Inter-Korean Conference, and the June 15th South Korean Committee for Reunification of Korea gathered in China from August 11 to August 12 to discuss how to coordinate efforts in preparation for the proposed Inter-Korean Conference.
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