Friday, November 21, 2014

Tearing Down Walls Between People

For over a year there has been an hour long radio program, 'Korean Songs' for overseas Koreans, mostly in China, Sakhalin and North Korea. The best time for the listeners is from midnight to 7:00 am. There is little feedback but one of the vocalists writing for the Peace Weekly expresses his feelings on the outreach to the North with song.

On occasions he has met defectors from the North or those who have spent time in China before coming to Korea and has been told the songs and the program have been a great consolation to them. Some  listened secretly to the programs while in North Korea, or heard the  program in China while waiting to come to Korea.

Here in Korea we have TV programs in which North Korean defectors appear together with celebrities from the South so there is a coming together, but a distance is maintained, fear and avoidance of contact. The writer admits that even he after a year working with them doesn't find it easy to relate.

Those brought up in the South have difficulty with their way of speaking: coarse and stiff. From the time they were in elementary school they heard only negative remarks about the North which makes forgetting the past difficult. The North Korean defectors have entered a society altogether different from what they were accustomed. They find it difficult to open up to those in the South. With the passage of time,he says, we will reach a point where we will see them as members of our society. Separation has been long; it will take time to overcome the language difference and customs.

In our efforts to become closer we will bicker, have misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and feel uncomfortable. If we avoid these difficulties we lose the chance for intimacy. From the time we were born we have learned to relate with others. We need not only envision unification of Korea, and coming closer to the refugees from North Korea, but when we look around there are many with whom we avoid. We should be the first to approach them with a warm greeting.

Often we hear, he says, that the vibes are not right, from the start we exclude others from our company. But it is not difficult to see that others may not like the vibes they experience in our company, and choose to avoid us. We should ignore our feelings and do what we know is right.

When we were children our mothers often told us to get along with our friends. Not only not to fight, but to know what they like and don't like, and to  enjoy what is in common and to  understand what is different. This is the way we need to go if we are to see a change not only with North Korea, but with  those we choose to avoid in our society.