By Veena Singh Bryar a young woman from the YWCA of Fiji
The World YWCA and the YWCA of Korea have partnered to deliver the first YWCA International Training Institute (ITI) in ten years taking place in Seoul, Korea from 8 to 13 of November 2012, the theme of the ITI is Violence against Women (VAW).
I really don’t know how to share my emotions today. I am feeling lots of mixed emotions. I have moments of feeling a sense of excitement because I always have dreamt to in Korea (due to its history) but more so I wanted to be closer to North Koreans (so I can offer some form of help). I feel really nervous and scared, I also feel sad. I don’t really like going to camps or any Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) because it’s a sad reminder of the situation of the reality of the country. But let me quickly share with you the background of the situation of South and North Korea. After the Korean War (June 25 1950 – July 27 1953), South Korea and North Korea established a border that cut the Korean peninsula roughly in half. Stretching for 2km on either side of this border is the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea, which runs along the 38th parallel north. This natural isolation along the 155 miles (249 km) length of the DMZ has created an involuntary park, which is now recognized as one of the most well preserved areas of temperate habitat in the world. Several endangered animal and plant species now exist among the heavily fortified fences, landmines and listening posts.
It was a rainy cold cold day today…there was even hailstorm up at the Cheorwon Peace Observatory. We started our journey to the DMZ around 9am. It was quite cold compared to what I am used to. Mind you anything below 24 degrees Celsius is cold for a girl from the tropics.
On our way to the DMZ, I noticed barbed wired fences along the river. I immediately knew what it was for. I mean it’s not to keep people safe within South Korea, but I felt it was to keep the North Koreans out. This really saddened me. Why do we become heartless people? We as individuals have so much power to change things, but we don’t. We sit within our comfortable lives and let life go on, while people are getting killed, innocent people are being punished and women are the ones left to bear the brunt of it all. I really don’t know what the North Korean women go through except from books that I have read, and from those books I can to some extent visualize and imagine the pain, sufferings and hardships they go through.
I wonder how I can make a difference. How can I make a stand and contribute to peace in the long term for this country. These are just some thoughts running through my mind.
Being here for the World YWCA International Training Institute training will in many ways provide me with some ideas of making the world a better place and provide me with the opportunity to contribute to peace building here in Korea and back home. I am grateful that I am learning so many things in the past days and have already thought of things that I can be doing.