Korea-Japan relations are getting worse in the 21st century. It was because of the conflicts between Korea and Japan, which were caused by the colonization of Japan during imperialism in the early 20th century. In fact, there were some conflicts between Korea and Japan in Joseon dynasty. After the unification of Japan by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1592, Japan invaded Joseon with the aim of conquering the Ming Dynasty making Joseon a logistics base.
In the 16th century, after the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Japanese invasion was completed and Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Edo shogunate. Tokugawa Ieyasu had officially apologized to Joseon because he wanted peace unlike Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Then, Joseon dispatched ‘Joseon Tongsinsa’ as a meaning of reconciliation between the two countries. Each country exchanged their cultures through this way at that time.
In the early 20th century, Japan caused some conflicts. As a result, diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea were cut off by 1965. However, the Korea – Japan Basic Treaty allowed Korea and Japan to establish diplomatic ties again and planned to cooperate in many fields such as economy and culture. But the two countries are not completely friendly towards each other. In 2014 anti-Japanese feelings and anti-Korean feelings were formed in the two countries because of the issue of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery. So, the groups that hate Korea held protests against Korea in Osaka and in the Korean towns, Tokyo. Finally, the conflicts between the two countries got much more intensified.
In 2016, the first and second video conferences were held at Soongsil University for the purpose for investigating the perception of Korean adolescents about Japan. Most of Korean Students had very negative perception about Japan. In addition, Korean students were focusing on the past unlike Japanese students who had a future-oriented perspective. The conference had seemed to be over by confirming their conflicting position. But a third conference was held to narrow the distance between the two countries. The third conference was progressed with Dr. James Off, Dr. Len and some experts in disputes and conflicts fields.
In 2017, ‘Bridge for Peace’ invited the youth group U.R.I.Y.A for recognition improvement toward each of two countries and for cultural exchange. Cooperating with the Japanese private organization, we, U.R.I.Y.A, established ‘New Chosun Missionaries’, succession of the value of ‘Joseon Tongsinsa’.
New Chosun Missionaries and Bridge for Peace had several meetings to understand their neighbors abroad and discuss the historical conflicts. In addition, the missionaries enlarged their knowledge and experiences by trying out Japanese traditional activities such as fireworks meaning peace in Japan and eating the local foods. They also explored the original Chosun Missionaries’ landmarks.
In October 2017, documents about Chosun Missionaries had passed the final judge of 13th UNESCO Memory of the World International Advisory Committee(IAC) which was held in Paris, France. The history of the old missionaries is designated as the Memory of the World. Because the documents leave a precedent of friendly and peaceful interchange between the old two nations, we can expect amicable relationship between the two countries of these days and even peace among East Asia.
Not just with Japan, we, U.R.I.Y.A, look forward to international exchange with many other East Asia countries and resolution of conflicts. Conducting the missionary activity, we could contribute to making organizations that particularly deal with conflict resolutions throughout the East Asia. As East Asians had tended to depend on one another to protect themselves from foreign powers since 10th century, East Asians of the modern period should bind together and seek peace through understanding and taking out internal troubles.
Peace without comprehension and respect does not exist. East Asia, as a whole, needs to have respect for their neighbors. In accordance with the peace trend over the world, New Chosun Missionaries should be continued for peaceful future of East Asia and for its distinctive function of international cultural exchange.