Extremely Repugnant, Yet Disturbingly Familiar

When people asked me what the most memorable experience of my summer internship as a Ministry of Unification overseas correspondent was, I found it quite difficult to choose one particular portion of the program. During the 6-week program, we had an opportunity to participate in various activities that started with traveling across the border regions of China and North Korea to volunteering to teach English at Hangyeore School, a specialized middle and high school for North Korean defectors. In retrospect, each component of the program had its own merit, but really it was the internship experience in its entirety that enabled me to renew my enthusiasm for the issues of Korean unification and supporting North Korean defectors. In that sense, making the UCC video geared to promote the issue of unification was a befitting close to our summer.

Initially, many of us were dreading this final project, which seemed to be a daunting technical endeavor at the time. Since very few of us had any experience with video production, we were convinced that we had no capacity to produce a substantial output. However, as our group brainstormed ideas regarding the information and sentiment that we wanted to depict in our video, it became clear to us that we came up with a meaningful product that could serve as a reality-check to the public, especially the younger generation of South Korea.

When we were viewing the final clip as a group, I was suddenly struck with a mixture of emotions that made me uneasy.

“Why Should I care?”

The two girls in the ending scene differed in every possible way in appearance, but somehow their dull, detached faces mouthing the same words made them seem strikingly similar. Besides the horror of watching myself on video, something about the image that was portrayed in the video was strangely disturbing yet familiar to me.  I have seen those faces and heard those comments all around me. At one point, I was also that person staring blankly into someone’s eyes when asked about unification. Is this really what the Korean youth has come to become? How do we maintain the social drive needed for national unification when the generations that will soon lead our society simply just don’t care?

It is clear that we as a nation have an immense task ahead of us: the task of presenting a message for unification that does not solely rely on the sympathy for “our people” suffering above the 38th parallel, but one that is distinct from the past in that even younger generations with absolutely no connection to the North can agree upon.

*The UCC video of MOU overseas correspondents can be viewed from the following address:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LL2jrKLbOTY

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