Tuesday, August 30, 2011

5th No Gun Ri Human Rights and Peace Camp

Last August 16th to 19th, Youngdong County in Chungcheong province became the starting ground of a long lasting friendship for 40 young individuals from Korea and different countries. It was also the ground where they shared their own experiences and thoughts about the No Gun Ri incident, human rights and peace.

Background About No Gun Ri and the Incident
During the camp, some survivors of the massacre had a small talk to the participants. They said No Gun Ri was a very peaceful village. They had never seen a gun nor heard a gunshot. But came one day, between July 26 and July 29, the peaceful village became the valley of death where an undetermined number of South Korean civilians were killed by soldiers of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment.
On Human Rights and Peace

The camp was devoted to educating young individuals about human rights and peace. There were six lectures touching different pillars of human rights and peace starting from the No Gun Ri incident to how incidents like this are being viewed in the international law and what role does the media play in this kind of movement. There was also a musical performance carrying the same theme, human rights and peace. Participants also visited the incident point and offered flowers at the No Gun Ri Peace Memorial Park which was still under construction but hopefully would be finished next year. The documentaries and movie about No Gun Ri incident made most of the participants cry. I think it’s a must watch movie. The movie’s title is “On the Pond.”

Cultural Experience
The camp wasn’t just lectures. Participants were also given a chance to experience Korean culture through Youngdong’s very own specialty, the Korean traditional music. They all showed their hidden talents in music by playing Janggu* and Buk** two of the Korea’s traditional musical instruments and also showed their hidden craftsmanship by making small replicas of Janggu.  They also had a workshop on folding Korean traditional paper.

The camp did not just become a venue for them to signify their voices on human rights and peace. It also became the sanctuary for comradeships. Who would have thought that the simple small gathering of these young individuals in a small county in South Korea would lead to meaningful friendships? Despite the hectic schedule during the day they still had fun and actively participated in the evening bonding activities. The heat (literally very hot) oven-like dorms did not even hinder the fun and excitement ^^     

*A double-headed hourglass-shaped drum generally played with one stick and one hand
**A barrel drum used primarily in pansori, pungmul, and samulnori

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