Dear KDF Friends All Over the World,
We are saying goodbye to 2016, the year of the monkey, and welcoming 2017, the year of the red rooster. Among the 12 Chinese zodiac characters widely recognized in the Far East Asian region, the chicken symbolizes abundance as it incubates eggs and a new beginning and birth as it announces the dawn with its crowing. We wish new hope and abundance for all of us in 2017.
In 2016, many things happened in Korea. People suffered financially with the continued economic regression, many young people remained unemployed, and sudden earthquakes gave people more anxiety. We have not yet recovered from the pain of the Sewol Ferry sinking, the controversial government-written Korean history textbook was published, and the whole nation fiercely argued about the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence employment.
However, at the same time, Koreans were creating new hope as they always have. They stood up for themselves to exercise their rights as the sovereign and changed the tide of history. By their calm yet strict sovereign order, they corrected the wrongdoing of the administration and forced the legislation to move the impeachment. In 2016, Korea witnessed the flow of citizens, which marked the end of the dictator regime and recovered the sovereignty of the people in 1987, reflowing in 29 years.
An unprecedented combined number of ten million people gathered and filled the heart of Seoul with candlelight, but no violence was seen, the parades were peaceful, and the gatherings were festive. Marching citizens and blocking police officers helped and cared for each other. They put flower stickers on the police bus barricades, making them walls of flowers. The citizens spent their own money to support the gatherings, and ideas were backed up, connected, and expanded by crowdfunding. The citizens cheered up one another and kept themselves in perfect order. After each gathering, they even cleaned the street.
Politics is corrupt, the economy is in a slump, but we witnessed the power of the citizens blooming from there. We saw the flower of direct democracy grown by the power of the citizens’s participation. We all witnessed the stern declaration of Article 1(2) of the Korean Constitution, “The sovereignty of the Republic of Korea shall reside in the people, and all state authority shall emanate from the people,” become a reality.
In 2016, we once again realized that citizens are the agents of authority. We would love to share this excitement with our friends all over the world. The year 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the June 10 Democracy Uprising in 1987. Celebrating this meaningful occasion, the KDF is preparing for a variety of commemorative events including the 2017 Seoul Democracy Forum. Our democracy is not complete yet, and it has a long way to go. However, the citizens’ awareness as the sovereign has grown through representative democracy, and now they have increasing aspiration for and participation in direct democracy. In this context, the June 10 Democracy Uprising has an even more profound significance for us. We are looking forward to your continued interest in and valuable suggestions for what the KDF does in 2017.
We wish you a Happy New Year, hoping that democracy will be in full bloom in 2017.
With warm regards,
Korea Democracy Foundation