"Irenology?" Most have heard of studies such as ecology, theology or sociology, but irenology is unfamiliar to the public. Irenology, the study on preventing and de-escalating conflicts by peaceful means, is a variation of peace and conflict studies. At Ewha, the forerunner of irenology is the Cneter for Peace Studies (CPS), led by Professor Park Kyung-seo.
Park, the current head of CPS, has taken part in numerous international organizations as well as government organizations. Park majored in sociology at Seoul National University and first decided to commit himself to humanity, human rights and peace when he witnessed the Yeosu-Suncheon Rebellion in fourth grade.
"During the fight between the leftists and the rightists, 40,000 innocent Suncheon people were slaughtered. I was stuneed," said Park. "Then I asked myself, can inhumane actions be done under the name of peace? Is there any relationship between peace and justice?"
To find an answer to his lifelong question, Parkstarted to work at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva, Switzerland, as Executive Secretary for Asia as well as Chairperson of the Asia Task Force from 1982. "During that time, I traveled to 31 Asian countries and other developing countries in Latin America and Africa, and witnessed people suffering from hunger, dictatorship and violence," said Park.
Park became the first human rights ambassador of Korea in 2001. "Although the study of peace is not recognized as an official field, I want to develop peace studies in Korea."
CPS has done much this year with the aid of Park: Nobel Peace Prize laureates such as Muhammad Yunus, Bangladesh diplomat and head of Grameen bank, Jose Ramos-Horta, current president of East Timor, and Rigoberta Menchu, a supporter of human rights in Guatemala have visited Ewha to give special lectures.
"My long and personal relationship withe Ramos-Horta, Menchu and Yunus date back to my days in Geneve. For example, I helped Ramos-Horta to continue on with his peace movement while he was exiled from Indonesia. Iam very proud of him and thank him on behalf of CPS," said Park. "The laureates who visited Ewha were convinced that the next Nobel Peace Prize laureate will be among Ewha alumnae, and I also believe in that."
Park advised that as the bridge between progressive and conservative forces and in the effort to achieve peace, human rights and reconciliation should be the main values of Ewha students. "The 21st century demands mature, balanced leadership," said Park.