In 2020, the Foundation continued to promote environmental protection and cooperation among the international community for Korean reunification, especially on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. This includes the support in regional development, with a particular focus on the border region (DMZ). In North Korea, HSF tries to contribute to peaceful development in the region through activities aimed at the international integration and cooperation of the DPR Korea in the field of environment. For example, at the 32nd Tongil Hankuk Forum, HSF tried to contribute to trust building and the reconciliation process on the Korean peninsula. The Tongil Hankuk Forum 2020 was the first time that the event focused on nature conservation as a platform for exchange and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula. The importance of coastal wetlands on the Korean peninsula as well as their conservation was not only the central subject of this forum, but also shaped the work of HSF Korea throughout 2020.
One important wetland is the Hwaseong wetlands, which are not only home to many species, but also provide an important resting place for many endangered waterbird species. At the third international symposium for the Hwaseong wetlands, the need to protect and conserve wetlands was highlighted, with close attention to the importance and mutual benefits of the Hwaseong wetlands for people and nature. The objectives of the Ramsar Convention of 1971 were recommended for nature conservation.
Another region of great importance is Suncheon Bay. It offers one of the most spectacular views of any remaining South Korean coastal wetland. HSF teamed up with a delegation from the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) and made a trip to Suncheon. A forum on possible inter-Korean cooperation was held there, which was also attended by the Mayor of Suncheon, Mr. Heo Seok and the Executive Director of the Ramsar East Asia Regional Centre, Mr. Seung Oh Suh. Dr. Bernhard Seliger, representative of HSF Korea presented a proposal for a possible town twinning based on sustainable, ecological cooperation between Suncheon in South Korea and Suncheon in North Korea. He referred to earlier German experiences of a town twinning between East and West Germany and illustrated the possibility of close cooperation in the context of nature conservation.
The Korean peninsula has also been in the focus of world attention for several other reasons in recent decades. As part of the legacy of the "Peace Olympics" in Pyeongchang, the "Pyeongchang Peace Forum 2020" was held from 9 to 11 February 2020, to which HSF Korea was invited to discuss topics such as "Sport and Peace", "Economy and Peace", "Peace", "UN SDGs and Peace" and, above all, "Ecology and Peace" on the Korean Peninsula. Each subject included several events that brought together Korean and international speakers to discuss the legacy of the Olympic Games in their respective fields. Dr. Bernhard Seliger, representative of HSF Korea presented the projects of HSF Korea in the border region and in North Korea. He underlined that HSF and its partners could organize direct encounters on the railways between South and North Korea more than 10 times in 2019.
2020 also marks the 75th year of Korean division and the 70th year since the Korean War, while for Germany it is the 30th anniversary of reunification. The first German-Korean Reunification Forum 2020 was held on 18 December to commemorate the 30th anniversary of German reunification and lay a foundation for peaceful Korean reunification. The German-Korean Reunification Forum, organized by the Korea Institute for Peace and Cooperation (KIPCO) and HSF Korea, was to present proposals for the Korean Peninsula based on the experience of peaceful and successful reunification of Germany. The aim of the forum was to make a further contribution to the Korean unification process.
You can read more about the activities around environmental protection and cooperation in the 2020 brochure.