Today is the Feast of the Assumption and National Liberation Day. Korea gained its independence from Japanese rule on August 15, 1945, and the establishment of the Republic of Korea that came three years later. Korean Catholics have a special reason for thanksgiving for liberation, but also sadness for division that came with liberation.
Society has many reasons to celebrate on this national holiday. Many events remember their years as a colony of Japan and lack of freedom. Cardinal Yeom in his message to the church:
"For our country, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation and the division of North and South Korea. It is a painful reality that a people that speaks the same language should turn against itself for 70, long years. There have been many complications, but we never stopped our effort for reconciliation and peace. The conflict and enmity between North and South Korea still remains.
Conflict, division, hatred are rampant throughout our society. That is why we should put in more effort into the peaceful unification between North and South Korea; we should continue to work on the communication and social integration in the Korean society. As the example of Mary, we should believe strongly in the Lord and never lose our hope even in the darkest of times – for nothing will be impossible for God" (Luke 1:37).
Last year at this time Pope Francis was in Korea and in his sermon on the Feast spoke words that continue to reverberate within the church.
"Today, in venerating Mary, Queen of Heaven, we also turn to her as Mother of the Church in Korea. We ask her to help us to be faithful to the royal freedom we received on the day of our Baptism, to guide our efforts to transform the world in accordance with God’s plan, and to enable the Church in this country to be ever more fully a leaven of his Kingdom in the midst of Korean society. May the Christians of this nation be a generous force for spiritual renewal at every level of society. May they combat the allure of a materialism that stifles authentic spiritual and cultural values and the spirit of unbridled competition which generates selfishness and strife. May they also reject inhumane economic models which create new forms of poverty and marginalize workers, and the culture of death which devalues the image of God, the God of life, and violates the dignity of every man, woman and child.
As Korean Catholics, heirs to a noble tradition, you are called to cherish this legacy and transmit it to future generations. This will demand of everyone a renewed conversion to the word of God and a passionate concern for the poor, the needy and the vulnerable in our midst."