Proud Koreans and Korean Americans in Southern California have been organizing events for the past few months to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Korea’s independence from Japanese colonial rule and urge unity between the two Koreas.
On August 15, 1945, the Japanese surrendered to the Allies, thus ending the horrendous six year-long World War II. This Allied victory not only freed Korea from subjugation under Japan, which had lasted 35 years, but also caused the division of Korea along the 38th parallel. Since the division of the peninsula, there have been many efforts on both sides to reconcile and unify as a nation. However, the two governments have proven to be inflexible and resistant to change.
“Since many people died to reach the independence of Korea, we do not celebrate the day extravagantly, but we show appreciation of the day by putting up the Taegeukgi in our backyard,” said La Cañada High junior Cindy Park in an interview with JSR.
Yet there have been several events taking place in Koreatown in commemoration of the 70th anniversary, including a concert, a writing and drawing contest, a speech contest, a choir contest, a soccer tournament, and a tennis tournament.
This year, the Korean American Federation of Los Angeles held a soccer tournament at School Canyon Golf and Tennis Club on August 1 and a tennis tournament the following week at Cerritos Regional Park Tennis Center.
“It’s incredible that the community is joining together in such massive numbers to celebrate independence, not only for their own country, but also to show support of the fight for independence in North Korea,” San Marino junior Emmy Nam shared with JSR.
As part of that fight, one group of Korean and Korean American Christians started Adopt815, a prayer movement for “One Korea and One Peace.” This faithful group hopes to have one million people worldwide pray together for North Korea, a nation in which people are restricted from having beliefs that are different from those of dictator Kim Jong Un.
When asked by JSR how the event name was obtained, one of the event leaders who goes by Brother Tim explained that the name came to him in January 2013 as he was passing by the city of Wenzhou, commonly known as the “Jerusalem of China” because it has a high population of Christians. Brother Tim learned that Chinese church leaders had met there to pray for China and all the nations and wanted these leaders to join him in prayer on Korean Independence Day.
“I thought of ‘adopt,’ [as in], ‘to take take hold of’ August 15, 2015 as one of their own children and to make this day very special and pray for North Korea as one body,” said Brother Tim. “From this point, we talked about adopting August 15, 2015 with not only Chinese people but with many people in different countries and cities.”
August 15th is a bittersweet holiday for Koreans because it is not only the day the country gained its independence, but also the same day it was partitioned. Nevertheless, Koreans take pride in and embrace their culture, especially on this day, and have hope that their nation will be unified as one someday.
For more information about the AdoptADay815 event, visit adoptaday.com.