About Us

VANK wants to speak out

My name is Jinseon Kim, a student in Cornell University and a member of the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK). VANK, a non-governmental and non-profit organization founded in 1999, is a cyber-diplomatic organization of 110,000 Korean and 22,000 international members united under the purpose of properly introducing Korea to the world and correcting distorted information about Korean history.

As an international student who has been studying in the U.S. for the last ten years, I’ve noticed that although the Holocaust is covered in depth during history or English classes, Japan’s imperialistic acts on East Asian countries are rarely studied. Since both the Holocaust and the Japanese imperialism happened in the similar time frame, I, as a global citizen, thought that the world should know both events, so that we, as well as the future generation, could learn from them and prevent such events from happening again. What’s more, Japan’s imperialistic acts still continue by way of distorting historical facts, and the best way to stop this would be to know what really happened in the past.

As you know, Germany’s imperialist acts spurred Nazism, thereby resulting in the Holocaust, German’s mass murder of Jews. Similarly, Japan, under imperialistic influence, colonized countries in East Asia and forcefully exerted its power. Both German and Japanese imperialists massacred tens of thousands of civilians through various inhumane methods, violated women’s rights by forcibly raping young girls and women, and tried to take over neighboring countries’ territories by force.

Many years have passed, and Germany has shown sincere apologies through various means, the most recent one being the Chancellor Angela Merkel bowing in front of the site of the concentration camps. On the other hand, Japan has not shown apologetic moves that are considered genuine by the affected countries. I feel that it is essential for the global citizens to be informed about the issue, as these acts of distorting historical information and not recognizing its faults can go down as the repetition of those imperialistic acts with the affected countries.

Therefore, on May 2014, I, with a fellow VANK member Sehoon Lee from Kyunghee University in Korea, made this website to introduce the idea of continuing Japanese imperialism to the general public. We justified this idea by addressing two unresolved issues between Korea and Japan, the ‘comfort women’ and Dokdo. Information about the Holocaust was also included as a means for non-Koreans to understand the idea more clearly.

We focused on logically explaining the issues and making sure that people who have no background on East Asian history could understand the issues as well. What sets us apart from the other websites is that we incorporated information about the Holocaust. Holocaust is taught in almost all areas of the world, and it is representative of a historical event that should not be repeated whatsoever. We thought that, by explaining the Holocaust alongside the acts of Japanese imperialism, general public could accept the concepts and actions of Japanese imperialists better. It is also written in a rational tone, focusing on listing facts rather than being emotional. What’s more, we utilized resources from various scholarly journals as well as books that are mostly written by foreign scholars to gain public confidence.

I’m confident that this website could be a valuable resource for people who visit your website. History is interconnected in every ways, and this website serves as an example. With Japan’s sincere apology for its atrocity and its cooperation with neighboring nations, peace in Asia will be solidified. Please take time to look over the website and let us know what you think about it, whether it be praises or criticisms. Thank you for your time.

Jinseon Kim


VANK is..?

VANK (Voluntary Agency Network of Korea), a non-governmental and non-profit organization founded in 1999, is a cyber diplomacy organization of 110,000 Korean and 22,000 international members united under the purpose of properly introducing Korea to the world and promoting cultural exchange through international friendships (http://www.prkorea.com).The members of VANK have taken upon roles as cyber diplomats in order to share Korea with the world and rectify international misrepresentations of Korea. VANK has implemented numerous programs for the members to improve the image of Korea in the global society while simultaneously gaining a better understanding of other countries.

Programs

In 2011, VANK has begun “May we speak” project, visiting various institutions abroad to correct distorted information about Korean history and introduce the issue of Dokdo and the East Sea. VANK also facilitates various other programs for their members, such as an education program for cyber diplomats and a world changers program where students can learn to contribute in resolving global issues, such as poverty and environmental crises.

boice@prkorea.org

30, Bomundong 4-ga, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul 136-084, Republic of KOREA

+82 2 921-3591

'May We Speak' Project

In 1907, when Japan forcibly seized Korea, Emperor Gojong of Korea dispatched three secret emissaries to the international convention in Hague to let the global society know of Japan’s unjust claim of Korea and atrocities Imperial Japan was committing to the Asian countries. However, due to Japan’s persistent sabotage, Gojong’s emissaries were unable to gain entry into the convention hall. Even in the present day, Japan still shows no sign of regrets about the issue of Dokdo and comfort women, the two main victims of Japanese imperialism.
In response, VANK has been implementing the “May we speak” project in 2011 to visit different countries in the world and inform foreigners about proper information regarding Korean history and culture. As part of the project, VANK researchers visited various universities in the United States, such as Cornell, Harvard and Stanford and hosted conferences related to Korean history, territories and culture. In addition, they held a demonstration in front of the UN headquarters in protest of Japan’s claim on Dokdo and the unresolved comfort women issue. They hoped to raise awareness in the global community about the distortion of Korean history. VANK is currently fulfilling the role of the 21st century Hague emissaries by introducing information about Korea to other countries such as Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, China and Mongol.

Cyber Diplomats

For over 10 years, VANK has been carrying out cyber as well as the public diplomatic activities. Under the belief that with the proper education, anyone could become a cyber diplomat who promotes Korea, VANK has implemented a program for aspiring cyber diplomats to learn how to interact with foreigners and act as citizen diplomats. VANK has created various high-quality education programs for the members to use different media in order to correct distorted information about Korean history. Members have sent letters to various websites with incorrect information or used VANK’s promotional materials in better explaining Korea to foreigners. National Geographic, which originally marked the sea between Japan and Korea the Sea of Japan, announced that they would use both East Sea and Sea of Japan. In addition, Graphics Maps and worldatlas.com, one of the largest map-publishing companies, decided to change the name of the sea to the East Sea or use both East Sea and Sea of Japan. Moreover, over 100,000 world maps and promotional materials about Korea were sent to more than 108 countries in the world due to efforts of members. This project has been acknowledged in Korea as a very successful public diplomatic movement.

World Changers

VANK not only strives to promote Korea through cyber diplomat program but it is also interested in global issues such as poverty, environmental issues, wars and other similar conflicts in the world. The “World Changers” program educates the members about the background of various social issues as well as possible methods for better change. Through this program, numerous VANK members are able to reflect on global issues and grow as the next generation of leaders who will change the world.