Friday, August 12, 2011

Nanum Munhwa for Peace and Justices

Park Nohae in the middle with two students

Park Nohae a labor, poet, thinker, agent of peace and democracy and the citizen of South Korea founded Nanum Munhwa “cultural hearing” in 2000 after releasing from prison. Nanum Munhwa is a non-profit social organization, which mainly focused on Global Peace Activities and deal with crises like “emerging ecological disasters, increasing polarization, war, famine, diseases and the disappearance of the spirituality.”  
The missions of the organization are towards peace, foster democracy, save lives of people and planet and create a community of friendship and hospitality. Interestingly, the organization has been already passed 10 years with the contribution of 3400 members who are farmers, students, house wife, youth and activists. It does not accept any sponsorship from the government partnership, large multinational corporations or media publicity to maintain independence and self-determination because “we think this is our responsibility to separate between good and bad money” says the general secretary, Sohee Im.

Let me describe you little bit how Labor Park become a poet and an agent of peace and democracy. When Park Nohae, was imprisoned in 1976 by the authoritarian dictator in South Korea, he was a socialist and a labor. However, he was already a poet, thinker and agent of peace and democracy in 15 August 1988His first poem “faceless” was published when he was in the jail but immediately it was banned by the then dictator. But it did not stop him to write rather encourage him. Again in 1991, he was arrested by Korean CIA for 7 years and 6 months. In 1993 he published his 2nd poem, while he was still imprisoned. In 1997, He published the collection of the essay called “People are the only hope”.  Finally in 15 August 1998, he was freed by the democratic government. Then he decided to open an Organization, Nanum Munhwa.

Some of the projects carried out by Nanum Munhwa..
Photo @Organization Website
Park carried out several campaigns and movement for Korean and people around the world (please refer the jpeg photo the organization which describes clearly about the work). He also traveled several countries to support people for bringing peace in their respective countries. To say few, when the US invaded Iraq, Park wanted to go to Iraq and supports the Iranian. As a result, he managed to go to Iraq in 2003 to help children suffering from wars, hunger and diseases. He didn’t stop there rather it was just a start of his journey to support people all around the world.  After he came from Iraq, the organization started protesting against US Embassy in South Korea, “People used to say ‘Why do you stand for foreigner not local people’” says Sohee Im. She further added smiling; “finally they have understood us after 10 years”.

 In 2005, Aceh in Indonesia were suffering from severe poverty after the Tsunami, so Park started a movement to support goat for the victims so that the victims can survived. Similarly in the same year, the organization started one person demonstration in front of Samsung. “Many young Koreans are attractive to work in Samsung because of the salary and the benefits but many people die while operating. We want Samsung to apologize publicly for not even caring human body like a machine” states Sohee in a soft voice with gloomy face. As park believes that his feet compel him to go with a spirit and powerless love. “Once again I go where the spirit in my feet compels me to go. I shall go on a powerless love” a quote taken from the park which was shown in the slide presentation during our field trip.

In 2006, his feet compel him to go to Ain Al Halwa, the biggest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, where he got chance to meet with Children. He fell in love with the children and dream to open a school so he opened Zaituna (peace in Arabic) Nanum Munhw School. After opening school in Iraq, it was a time to support Korean democracy in 2008, thus the organization including other civil society organizations organized 100 days candle light with teenagers especially girls. Candle light was a symbolic image of democracy and social justices in South Korea. Girls wore the T-Shirt which says “We are the candle light girl” to support the peace movement for democracy. In the same year, he went to Sudan and Ethiopia in Africa to help people.  

In 2010, he went to Peru and Bolivia to support people. He also organized a photo exhibition “Like them I am here”, photos that were taken by him during his travel. Additionally, last year he published the third poem “So you don’t disappear”. Some couple of months, he went to Burma to support the people by building school in Burma. “We just want to support them by building school; we don’t want to control Burmese people. They should be educated by their local teachers, love by their local parents and study in their own land” replied by Sohee when one of my friends asked “why do you build school but not education?”

There are many activities that are conducted by the organizations but these are some of the few which interest me. To know more about the activities, please visit here: It was a fruitful and very inspiring visit to hear what one person can do to make differences in the world. Poet Park is one of many individual who is working harder to make the world a better place to live, where most of us take for granted. I remembered a famous quote from John F. Kennedy where he says “One person can make a difference, and every person should try.” When we try to help people, if we face any challenges we try to run away from the problem and/or start another work by leaving the existing work in the middle. I hope park life story will help all of us to be prepared and face challenges. Last but not the least thanks to my Korean friend Ran for arranging this wonderful trip couple of days back.

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