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Pumasi Movement

Posted October. 25, 2010 11:34,   


In the 1950s, the Philippines was the second-richest country in Asia after Japan and became the first Asian country to establish diplomatic ties with South Korea in 1949. In 1963, Filipino engineers built Jangchung Gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea’s first dome-shaped indoor gym. When the Korean War broke out, Philippine congressman Diosdado Macapagal (1961-1965), the father of former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, submitted a bill for the dispatch of Philippine troops to Korea. An infantry battalion-size unit of Philippine troops courageously fought in the war, with 112 killed and 229 others injured.

Bilateral relations between Seoul and Manila seem to run in the spirit of "pumasi," a Korean word meaning "exchange of work." The H20 Pumasi headquarters in Korea conducted a letter-writing campaign to Philippine veterans who fought in the Korean War. When the organization’s director-general Jang Mun-seop visited the Philippines and conveyed the letters in July, Filipinos were deeply touched. Jerry Pelayo, mayor of Candaba City in the Philippine state of Pampanga, said, “The campaign the Philippines needs right now is pumasi,” and signed a memorandum of understanding on pumasi with H20 Pumasi. Arroyo attended the 2010 Pumasi World Competition at the Korean National Assembly in Seoul Friday. She said, “Pumasi, in which one helps the other in times of difficulty and gets reciprocal help later, is contributing to friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and Korea,” expressing gratitude.

After ruling Grand National Party Rep. Lee Kyung-jae was appointed chairman of H20 Pumasi this year, a movement has surfaced to develop pumasi, Korea’s beautiful tradition, into a global brand. Pumasi is different from “give and take,” which sounds rather interest-focused. The literal meaning of the word “pumasi,” which is “coming and going in living and friendship,” is beautiful, while the term itself is easy to pronounce even for foreigners. Lee plans to create a world pumasi network mostly among the 16 countries that fought in the Korean War, and display the genuine image of Korea as “a nation with national dignity” that has gone from international aid recipient to donor.

Peoples whose countries fought in the Korean War for South Korea continue to show strong interest and affection for the Land of the Morning Calm. Seeing this country advance to host the G20 summit next month, they should feel a deep sense of pride about their contributions to the country`s advancement. South Korea is different from African countries that have received foreign aid for several decades but remain in poverty. The people of South Korea, however, should go beyond merely taking pride in their nation`s strides. The pumasi campaign should serve as catalyst for co-prosperity of the global village.

Editorial Writer Kim Sun-deok (yuri@donga.com)