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2017-09-06 17:22
By Michael Bergmann



Candles are for dreamers. And "peace" is achieved by weapons, strategies and guarantees of mutual destruction. But not so in Korea.

What mighty anti-weapons candles can be not only surprised the powerful, the corrupt and the cynical, but I think, the protesters themselves who eventually toppled a government and brought democracy, transparency and fairness back to Korea. But I feel, and I have heard more hopeful voices recently, that what we have seen was only Candle-Light Revolution Part One.

As democracy and peace belong together and as peace is more than just another day without war, you and I might need to light candles once more, metaphorically or literally, but with all the power of such anti-weapons. I want to quote columnist Choi Sung-jin`s inspiring words: "President Moon has 50 million South Koreans behind him who lit candles for months for democratic reform. South Korea and its leader must be able to induce the same passion ... toward lasting peace."

Moon has given his personal guarantee against the feared tragic irony that he could go down in history as the president who allowed war to come back to his country. But as Choi and some other thoughtful commentators have pointed out, Moon might spend too much of his diplomatic energy trying to engage the group currently in power in the United States. There is no doubt that Seoul has to lead the international efforts to reasonably deal with the North Korean regime. But maybe South Koreans have to lead their leader on this vital issue.

Imagine “Revolution for Democracy and Peace Part Two”, candles for peace in Gwanghwamun, every Saturday until the goal is achieved: trust in peaceful coexistence assured by the overwhelming will of the people.

But wait! I hear the cynical anti-pacifist voices. Peace with the enemies of democracy? Weakening our own defenses, our will to prevail? Yet I`m not talking about any extremist movement but something as moderate, considerate and balanced as the popular movement that started here last autumn. No anti-Americanism or such extreme ideas as uttered by advisers of the American president such as, "US-troops out for a freeze of the North`s nuke program" or the like. No, it`s about recognizing the survival interests of the maybe uglier but clearly weaker and therefore, as analysts put it, "realistically threatened" side.

The people could lead their leader and declare with authority: We want peace and we condemn anything not truly defensive in its purpose. We do not want to destabilize the opponent or provoke insecurity. Analysts like Stephen Costello have shown the potential for an international breakthrough in such an atmosphere. But the will to move forward now must come from "us".

Unification under a democratic constitution will come one day, as unpredicted as it came in my country of birth. And it will come the more likely the more peacefully we coexist "in the meantime".



The writer is a teacher in Seoul. Write to bergmann2473@yahoo.de.

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