Northeast Asia Peace Initiative

Bicyclists for Peace Release Doves at Korea's DMZ

Imjingak, Korea - About 1600 people from 70 nations gathered at the Imjingak on Aug. 24, 2013, to pray for the peaceful reunification of South and North Korea. Then they released doves expressing hope for the peaceful reunification of Korea and the establishment of a World Peace Park at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

Imjingak is a park located on the banks of the Imjin River in the city of  Paju, just north of Seoul. It is home to the truce village of Panmunjom and serves as a gateway to North Korea's Kaesong, where the joint industrial complex is located. The Imjingak park has many statues and monuments related to the Korean War and was built to console those from both sides who are unable to return to their hometowns, friends and families because of the division of Korea.

Three hundred Korean residents in Japan also joined in the rally to express their support for the peaceful reunification of their homeland. Beginning on August 3, they rode bicycles from Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, took sea transport to South Korea, and continued biking to Imjingak, a distance of about 3800 km (about 2360 miles).

Representatives from other nations joined the bikers from Japan for part of the journey, carrying flags from their nations. Many of the international participants in the rally had attended the International Leadership Conference on "Building a Nation of Peace" that began on August 20 and included a session on prospects for the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula.

The Korean team leader of the cross-country bicyclists, Mr. Hyeong Mo Leen, said, “It was hard, but I rode with the hope for unification of South and North Korea.” Mr. Jin Ho Yu, who bicycled 700 km, said, “It was hard at first but I finished with a joyful heart and prayed for the unification of Korea.”

Dr. Charles S. Yang, President of the Family Federation for World Peace in Korea; Mr. Yong Su Seol, director of the rally; and Mr. Tea Su Park, vice-mayor of Paju, presented flower necklaces and medals to the cross-country bicyclists.

A few days earlier, on August 15, South Korean President Park Geun-hye expressed hope for the resumption of reunions between the many thousands of family members who have been separated for six decades by the DMZ, "a legacy of division and confrontation." She also expressed hopes that a peace park can eventually be established at the DMZ: "By making the DMZ a peace zone, I hope we will remove memories of war and threats of provocations left in their consciousness and take on a new start to make the Korean Peninsula a place for trust, harmony and cooperation."

Establishing trans-boundary peace zones in areas of conflict was one of the proposals the Rev. Sun Myung Moon made in his Peace Message at the establishment of the Universal Peace Federation in 2005.

Protected from development, the DMZ contains unique plants, animals, and habitats. The DMZ Forum, launched by Korean-Americans in 1997, has taken the lead in promoting conservation of the unique biological and cultural resources of Korea’s Demilitarized Zone and envisions it being transformed from a symbol of war and separation to a place of peace among humans and between humans and nature.

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