Student Organization Raises Korean Issues Abroad
Student Organization Raises Korean Issues Abroad
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  • 승인 2002.09.04 00:00
  • 수정 2020.10.26 21:55
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This summer, an unusual sight could be seen on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. At Sather Gate, the entrance to the school, a group of Asians were handing out fliers and getting people to sign petitions. Behind them were large photographs that featured two middle school girls, and groups of people protesting the injustice of U.S. military judgements. This group, a student organization called Committee for Korean Studies (CKS), was trying to bring people"s attention to the issues surrounding two Korean girls crushed to death by U.S. military vehicles on June 13.
A group of 40 members of Korean descent, CKS is a 15-year-old student organization at Berkeley that strives to understand social and political issues in Korea and publicize them in their community. Besides topics related to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the U.S. military and the Korean government, they have dealt with such issues as North and South Korean relations and Japanese textbooks. While the group focuses primarily on understanding these issues through discussions among themselves, they are active in getting the community involved as well, holding symposiums and petitions to let the public know about Korean matters.
"We feel that it is our duty to do this work. Although there can be inner conflicts sometimes between 1.5 generation and second generation Korean-American members, we can still go on because we have a common goal," says Kim Cha-youn, President of CKS.
The organization is structured with separate subcommittees. One team prints a monthly newspaper called "Our Voice" designed for members and alumni, and members who call themselves "Kaleidoscope," write a small column for the Joongang Daily Newspaper branch in the region about the difference in opinions between 1.5 generation and second generation Korean-Americans, featuring two cyber figures. There"s also a subcommittee called "NEXUS" that focuses on North Korean issues and fundraising, and a community service group called "CL" that specializes in community leadership training.
The main project of CKS this summer has been related to the two girls who were killed by military vehicles while going to a birthday party. The group brought attention to other problems in the past concerning U.S. troops in Korea, and the fact that many in Korea believe the accident was too readily dismissed by U.S. authorities. Members asked people passing by to listen to the facts of the matter and sign a petition that will be sent to President Bush, asking for his attention. In addition to the demonstration at UC Berkeley, they have also held a mourning ceremony in honor of the two girls and demonstrated in front of the BART mass transit station in San Francisco.
"It"s the first time we have had such a large demonstration. But we feel that it is our duty to make these issues known to Americans. Although the victims" families are now compensated, there are still many things that should be revised in the SOFA. We think that petitions like ours may be a small step towards such a future,"says Oh Jin-ho, CKS"s secretary.
However, letting people know about sticky situations that place the U.S. in a negative light does not always get a favorable response. "Sometimes people come up to us and ask why we"re doing this. They seem offended and think we should give it up. But what we"re doing is too important to our people," says Kim Hahn Yeup, Vice President of CKS. "Many Koreans encourage us and when we make someone realize that these issues are important, we"ve succeeded," he adds.
CKS members are already planning for a seminar in October on the reunification of Korea and U.S. policies on the Korean peninsula. They will invite UN ambassadors in New York who have experience in North Korea to speak, and offer photo displays and lectures to the public.
"Alot of people may be surprised that people abroad can show their support for their country, too," says Kim Cha-youn. "I hope that our efforts will be recognized and encouraged by the public of Korea as well."

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