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Peace Education

Reflections on the International Leadership Conference in Seoul, Korea, August 2013

Comments by a participant from Australia in the International Leadership Conference in Seoul, Korea, August 2013.

The International Leadership Conference that was held in Free Korea on August 20-24, 2013 emphatically and passionately broadcasted to the world that the Unification Movement is ‘opened for business.’ The conference was co-sponsored by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP).

The theme of the conference was “building a nation of peace” which was very relevant when you consider that North Korea is only 35 kilometers from where we were holding the conference and also as reflected by what is currently happening in Syria and Egypt and other parts of the word.

Three hundred delegates representing 80 nations gathered in Korea to honor and celebrate the amazing deeds and life of Father Moon on the first anniversary of his passing.

When I booked into my room I should have realized that I was in for a remarkable and memorable conference as I was sharing a room with Archbishop George Stallings. We certainly had a number of thought-provoking and exhilarating discussions.

Father Moon’s son, Kwon Jin Moon, set the mood for the conference. After he delivered the opening address on behalf of Mother Moon he shared a heartfelt testimony on his love for his father and the mission and service of his parents over many decades.

Over the next two days, representatives from the UPF gave presentations on the teachings, life course and legacy of Father Moon. The raw emotion and passion of the speakers was very evident. Reports and updates on the work and advocacy of the WFWP, Religious Youth Service, The Washington Times, the University of Bridgeport, the New Yorker Hotel, and various businesses were also presented.

For me the high-point of the conference was the session on ‘Peace and Security in East Asia’. A number of very poignant presentations were made by representatives of the Japan and Free Korea congresses and by academics. Dr. Mansourov, thinking outside the square, suggested that we need to ‘Gorbachevize’ North Korea dictator, Kim Jong-un by working with his regime through a joint space race with South Korea, joint defense exercises, and by lifting some trade embargoes. Through these measures Mansourev suggested that like Gorachev, Kim Jong-un may be persuaded to take the higher ground and help reunite the two Koreas.

The highlight of my time in Free Korea was the commemorative celebration held in Cheongpyeong, Gapyong. Gapyong also has a very special place in Australia’s heart as it was the location of the Battle of Gapyong in the Korean War in which Australian troops (27th Brigade) fought to hold the Gapyong Valley. Although heavily outnumbered, the 27th Brigade held their position well into the afternoon before being withdrawn. Australian losses were 32 killed, 59 wounded, and three captured. Perhaps this is also one of the reasons Father and Mother Moon love Australia so much.

The anniversary ceremony was very moving, inspirational and at times solemn. The speeches, musical presentations (including from the Moon grandchildren) and video productions were all very uplifting.

Following the celebrations Mother Moon hosted the delegates to a gala luncheon in the banquet hall in the imposing and indeed stunning Cheon Jeong Gung Museum. Daughter Sun Jin Moon extended a heartfelt and stirring greeting to delegates on behalf of the Moon family.

On my last day in Seoul I made a trip up to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and while reflecting on the proceedings of the conference I couldn’t help but feel emotional as I observed the North from a viewing platform, especially when at the same time a UN inquiry was being made in to conditions in North Korea.

It was an honor to represent Australia at the International Leadership Conference and especially at the anniversary celebration. I have now had the privilege to attend the first Religious Youth Service in the Philippines, the launch of the Universal Peace Federation in New York, and now the significant International Leadership Conference.

The conference provided me with the opportunity to reflect on my life, to pay my deepest respect to Father and Mother Moon, and to celebrate the amazing life and contribution of Father Moon.

 It was also nice to meet the other ‘patriots’ from the Oceania region. It was also very humbling to receive a second Ambassador for Peace certificate, which I guess that makes me a ‘double’ Ambassador for Peace.

Mother Moon’s words “lasting peace requires harmony and cooperation among religions. Believers of all faith traditions should work together in love and respect, for the sake of fulfilling the Will of our God, our Heavenly Parent,” are very relevant, and it is each of our responsibilities as community leaders and advocates to work towards building ideal families and in doing so, ideal nations centered on God” should ring strong in all our ears.

Mother Moon’s 2020 Vision is something Australia should embrace so this wonderful nation can also establish a God-centered, prosperous and peaceful nation. I had deep lumps in my throat on many occasions I left the conference with hope. If one person such as Father Moon can make such a difference, imagine what the world would be like if we all made a difference.

- George Lemon

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