Korean unification takes grassroots turn

Aug. 19, 2012 at 8:41 AM
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SEOUL, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Participants at a conference on Korean unification called for a more grassroots approach to the process.

"It is important to have an initiative that is not top-down but is citizen-oriented," Charles Morrison, president of the Hawaii's East-West Center, a think tank specializing in Asia-Pacific issues, said Saturday.

Hyun Jin Moon, chairman of the Global Peace Festival Foundation, the conference sponsor, called for "a concerted, collaborative grassroots effort, in conjunction with state and global support."

Korea United, a GPFF project, aims to collect 1 million signatures on a Unification Pledge.

"We should educate young people about the benefits of unification," said Jung Tae-ik, co-president of Northeast Asia Peace Solidarity.

Eni Faleomavaega, delegate to the U.S. Congress from American Samoa, warned that the interests of neighboring powers weren't always in Korea's best interests. He urged the Korean people "to make unification themselves."

There were also calls for more people-to-people exchange with North Korea.

"We should be militarily strong," said Korean Assemblywoman Seo Young-kyo, co-chairwoman of Korea United, "but take a different approach to the North Korean people, with cultural and education exchanges."

Moon is the chairman of UCI, which owns UPI.

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