Unification ‘school’ will open eyes of young people

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Unification ‘school’ will open eyes of young people

A leadership project organized by the JoongAng Ilbo to expand awareness of unification issues among young people will kick off March 30.

During the 10-week program, which will start next Wednesday and continue through late June, North Korea experts and renowned specialists will give lectures every Wednesday at the JoongAng Ilbo.

In the Youth Odyssey Unification School, around 60 people - graduate students studying North Korea or social activists in field related to unification in their 20s and 30s - will participate in discussions and field activities related to unification issues.

Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo will meet participants at the first meeting. The opening event will be held next Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the Korea Press Center in central Seoul.

Ajou University Hospital’s Dr. Lee Guk-jong, a trauma specialist renowned for treating Seok Hye-gyun, the captain of the freighter Samho Jewelry, who was shot by Somali pirates during a rescue mission in 2011, will lecture about the medical situation in North Korea. Dong-a University professor Kang Dong-wan, who studied how South Korean cultural content is received in Pyongyang, will describe his research.

The program is based on a “peace odyssey” campaign carried out last June, in which the JoongAng Ilbo organized a group to visit 14,000 kilometers of border areas between China and North Korea. It was an odyssey for peaceful unification. After completing that campaign, some of its participants thought a program should be devised for young people.

The JoongAng Ilbo is planning a similar trip for participants in the current program to visit border areas and Mount Paektu.

The issues of unification and North Korea are unfamiliar to many young people. According to a data released by Statistics Korea, only 10 percent of people aged between 20s and 30s said they think of North Korea as a friend.

BY KO SOO-SUK [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]
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