Allan: Peace and progress in times of war

"OUR lives are made up of a million moments, spent in a million different ways.” (Regina Hill)

During the end of a week’s tour in Seoul, we were brought to the Demilitarization Zone, the boundary of South and North Korea. At the observatory, we had a chance to see the North Korean side with its flag and soldiers just a few kilometers away from us. There were walls built and yet roads traverse the border. They are at still at war yet life goes on. My husband has spent training time in 1974 along the border with more than 700 troops camped in tents along the border. During this tour, he came to know that at that precise time North Korea was threatening to invade South Korea by digging the tunnels while peace agreements were signed. When the third tunnel were discovered in 1978, a sloped access interception tunnel was built cutting the horizontal tunnel of North Korea. This intercepting tunnel is open for tourism, my husband went during our tour but I did not and spent the extra time going back to the DMZ pavilion and the shop.

They are at war and yet South Korea has opened the border for tourism purposes. At the same time a village of 40 families is tax free settlers near the border. All over the area were banners and notices of a desire for reunification. The Dorasan train station has been built and outside the station was a pillar bearing the names of those who have donated for the construction of their dream train system which they desire will cut through North Korea and on to the rest of the Continent. Our tour guide mentioned that when this becomes functional, their produce will send will reach Germany in ten days and not one month as it is being sent by ship.

The Korean War took nearly a million lives, some were of the UN peacekeepers including 112 Filipino soldiers. The list is found in the Memorial Hall of the Korean War Museum. During our visit to the memorial we saw a ship that was sunk in 2012, a very recent encounter but the South Koreans retaliated and sunk two North Korean ships too. There is US military base in Seoul as part of the diplomatic agreements for peace in the area. This helps keep peace in South Korea as it also continues to build its military force.

As President Duterte wage his war against drugs, the Philippine peso to the dollar has reached a high 49.65 while the South Korea won remains to be stable. Unfortunately with the fluctuating exchange rate in the Philippines, prices of goods will increase and labor will clamor for salary increase because basic pay is no longer able to buy basic necessities. That has been history and it is the near future where economies try to adjust to changing times. These are times of instability in the Philippines brought about by numerous factors. These are not times of progress and peace eludes us where fear takes its place.

Korea was devastated during the 1950 to 1953 war where allies took sides – UN troops led by the USA in the South and Russia and China helping the North. The people became too poor, in 1970s they were recovering, by 1990s during my visit I saw a people determined to recover. But now we see a very progressive South Korea, remembering her past and forging towards a future. People are disciplined and with determination improved their life and country. The Philippines was one of the richest in Asia as far back as in the 1960s but has deteriorated in comparison. We have lagged behind in infrastructure, discipline, political stability and economic growth. Not to mention the cultural, patriotism and character formation, our great past is just a memory.

"Never measure the future by the past, let yesterday become a memory and tomorrow a promise." (Linda E. Knight)

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