The Peace Foundation
The Korean peninsula suffered a painful colonial occupation by Japan, which took over the peninsula by force. Then, Korea was divided into the North and South by the world's great powers after its liberation from the Japanese colonial rule. Millions lost their lives during the devastating Korean War. For over half a century, it has experienced much strife and conflict due to the ideological struggles of the Cold War antagonism.
The Peace Foundation seeks to play an active role in relieving and resolving such pain and conflict and establishing peace and unification on the Korean peninsula.
Objectives of the Peace Foundation
The Peace Foundation (the "Foundation") strives to achieve the establishment of peace on the Korean peninsula and unification of the two Koreas.
Firstly, the Foundation aims at establishing permanent peace, free of a war or a threat of a war, on the Korean peninsula by helping to overcome the crisis heightened by the North Korean nuclear issue and by helping to change the current unstable system that has lasted since the Armistice of 1953.
Secondly, it wishes to contribute to ending the 60-year division and achieving unification of the two Koreas by assisting the two sides to acknowledge and understand each other's system, by easing the pains caused by hostile confrontations of the past, and by adding the pursuit of common interests through cooperative exchanges.
Thirdly, the Peace Foundation hopes to contribute towards collaborative prosperity and harmony in East Asia by helping to ensure that peace and unification in the Korean peninsula will be helpful, not harmful, to neighboring countries in Northeast Asia.
As a non-governmental organization, the Foundation is impartial to any particular ideology, doctrine, or political party. It seeks to contribute towards building a peaceful society on the Korean peninsula by building a national consensus for peace and ending conflicts and structural violence.
The Peace Foundation was established in October 2004 by Ven. Pomnyun Sunim, a Buddhist monk and Zen master. The Foundation is the latest organization established under the leadership of Ven. Pomnyun Sunim, who is also the founding chairman of the Join Together Society, Good Friends, and Ecobuddha, which are all based in Seoul, Korea. Ven. Pomnyun Sunim is also the guiding Zen master of Jungto Society, a Buddhist community, which endeavors to develop a society of "Pure Mind, Good Friends, and Clean Land" through individual practice, building a happier community, and preserving the environment and nature.
The Foundation strives to achieve its objectives through three distinctive and yet interrelated activities: (a) research and analyses of policies concerning North Korea and the Korean peninsula (the "Peace Institute"); (b) educational programs; and (c) exchange of policy analyses and recommendations concerning North Korea among policy makers and experts in Korea, the U.S. and Japan.
The research and analyses work focus on ways to resolve North Korea's nuclear, human rights issues, and to study how best to prepare for the unification of the two Koreas, including specifics of the systematic approach to achieving unification and building a unified Korea. To that end, numerous colloquiums and experts' forums have been conducted since March 2006 with participation from scholars, researchers, lawyers, former and present high-ranking government officials and policy makers, as well as journalists. The research work is carried out primarily by Korean scholars who often collaborate with foreign experts.
Often the forums or similar events are co-organized with foreign embassies (such as those of the U.S. and Japan) and research institutes, with frequent funding support from the South Korean government and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation of Germany.
The educational programs are delivered under the title of the "Peace Academy" lectures, which consist of the Leadership Academy sessions, the Open Academy classes, and the Experts Lectures series. These activities aim at helping to educate the younger generation of Koreans who are interested in learning about the historical events and contexts, promoting peace and a just society, and exploring the intellectual and societal rationales for unification and its importance in promoting peace on the Korean peninsula.
Since 2007, the Foundation has been increasingly active in exchanging views, policy analyses and recommendations concerning North Korea among experts and policy makers in Korea, Japan, and the U.S. The Foundation has been broadening the network of researchers and policy makers in Japan and the U.S. in an effort to enhance the understanding of the differences in perspectives, the political contexts, and policy analyses and formulation relating to North Korea and to bridge the differences by providing forums for discussions and debates. Numerous workshops and discussion sessions have been conducted for this purpose in the U.S. and Japan, attended by government officials, members of the U.S. Congress, and research fellows and scholars from prominent think tanks and academia.
Since its inception in October 2004, the Foundation has organized and conducted over 30 forums, 140 colloquiums, 13 workshops, 8 symposiums, and countless number of lectures in Korea, Japan, and the U.S. The Foundation currently holds 3 to 5 such events every month.
Many policy analyses and recommendations are documented and published by the Foundation in both printed and web-based forms.