Students from Japan and South Korea come together at memorial service for Korean A-bomb victims

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

On August 5, a memorial service for Korean A-bomb victims was held in front of the Monument in Memory of the Korean Victims of the A-bomb in the Peace Memorial Park in downtown Hiroshima. While the divide between the Japanese government and South Korean government has deepened and begun to affect exchange programs between sister cities in Japan and South Korea, among other activities, about 20 university students from the two countries sang a Korean children’s song for Korean A-bomb victims.

The memorial service, organized by the Hiroshima Headquarters of the Korean Residents Union in Japan (MINDAN), was attended by about 300 people, mainly bereaved family members of the victims and people concerned. Lee Young-jun, the leader of the group, placed the register containing the names of 2760 A-bomb victims with the additional names of 14 people whose deaths were confirmed over the past year, into the monument. He said, “We will not forget the mortification and sorrow of those who were forced to live a hard life due to the atomic bombing. We will eliminate nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, help peace to take root, and make efforts to promote friendship between South Korea and Japan.”

On August 5, students from Korea University (Seoul), Waseda University (Tokyo), and the Hiroshima University of Economics (Asaminami Ward, Hiroshima), as part of an exchange program between Japan and South Korean universities, took part in the memorial service and dedicated a flower wreath to the monument. Togther they sang “Spring of Hometown,” a classic children’s song in South Korea which depicts hometown scenery and memories.

Lee Jung-jae, 19, a sophomore at Korea University, said that they could step beyond national borders to share the view of facing the violence of war by consoling the spirits of the Korean A-bomb victims together. The students are scheduled to participate in the exchange program until August 7, and a discussion on issues involving history, among other themes, is also scheduled. Hiroki Ooga, 22, a senior at Waseda University, stressed, “I believe that even when our national governments are at odds, we can come to a shared understanding over history as friends if young people talk face to face and heart to heart.”

(Originally published on August 6, 2019)