2017 marks the 70th anniversary for Dankook University (DKU). To honor the success and courage of Jang Hyeong, DKU founder and independence activist, Dankookians (Students of DKU) marched in the footsteps of Mr. Jang, reenacting his walk across the country.
Day 1, Walk for Reunification
Aligning with the slogan of ‘Walk for reunification, walk for independence’, the Jukjeon Campus’ crew started their journey from the Imjingak Pavilion. After the opening ceremony at Cheonan Campus, the Jukjeon Campus crew headed north, visiting spots such as the Dora Observatory and the 3rd Tunnel. Since the region is close to North Korea, security was tight. The crew had a meaningful time thinking about reunification while looking at North Korea through a fiercely guarded security fence. Though it was the first day, the crew easily broke the ice with their teammates. Groups were spotted swinging fans for each other and sharing snacks. The first day closed at a church car park. The initial plan was to stay overnight at a camping site, but the weather did not cooperate.
Day 2, The Journey Begins
Day 1 was a combination of walking and a field trip, while day 2 was the start of the walking only journey. Starting from the parking lot, Dankookians walked all the way to the Monument Dedicated to the Philippine Armed Forces who served during the Korean War. Shortly after crews started marching, rain poured down on the groups. With their wet heavy loads and soggy socks, crews could have spent the day complaining, but they didn’t. Rather, they chose to lift up the spirits of their teammates by helping them with their heavy backpacks and washed away any complaints with cool sherbet. The pouring rain was also the cause of a few injuries to the crews, but with the help of some students from the physical education department, who were familiar with first aid, they bandaged the wounded and everyone was able to march on. When the parade stopped by Paju Station for lunch, even though the weather was not very good, participants were having fun with their colleagues. Tong-il swimming pool welcomed the journey members’ tired bodies. Crews did not look like people who had walked all day in the rain when they dove into the pool. They made large splashes enjoying every moment of it.
Day 3, Following the Path of Korean History
Participants from the Cheonan Campus walked from the Chupungryeong Town Hall to U1 University. Meanwhile, there were several events planned to let participants from the Jukjeon Campus reflect on the sad parts of history in Korea. They got to visit the Seodaemun Prison History Hall, where they learned what happened when Korea was under the colonial administration of Imperial Japan. Then they visited Woodang Museum to learn more about ‘Woodang’, a passionate activist for independence. Ho Yeong-in (sophomore, Business Administration major) said that it was a marvelous experience to learn about the sacrifices activists made during the colonization period. After all those events, participants from the Jukejeon Campus prepared for the independence memorial event of the next day.
Day 4, Sharing the Memories of Independence
Participants from the Cheonan Campus walked from U1 University to Chungbuk Human Resources Development Institute. Meanwhile, participants from the Jukjeon Campus held a memorial event marking the independence of Korea in Tapgol Park. They sang the independence song and waved the Korean flag. The President and Vice President of the Student Council used this opportunity to swear an oath before the group. Then participants shared their Korean flags with strangers to encourage them to think about our nation’s independence.
Day 5, Rain on their Parade
The rain never let up and due to the terrible weather, the organizers were forced to make some adjustments to their schedule. On the fifth day, Dankookians headed to the Jukjeon Campus. Initially, they were planning on walking along the Tancheon River. However, it flooded from the excessive rain, forcing the crews to re-route their course. The parade arrived on campus by the end of the day. A recreation day was originally planned, but organizers ended up cancelling the events due to the rain delays.
Day 6, Departing Jukjeon
The walking journey proceeded to phase 2, with crews departing from the Jukjeon Campus for Yong-in Songdam College. Around noon, Dankookians stopped at Seongnam City Hall for lunch and watermelon punch and members of the journey identified the punch as the best part of the day. Later that day, a small lecture was given to the crews in the gym at Yong-in Songdam College.
Day 7, 33kms
By the seventh day, crews were accustomed to walking all day and things moved quickly. From the first to the fifth day, Dankookians had walked about 3km per hour, but by the seventh day they were walking at a pace of about 5km per hour. This meant they walked for 33km on the seventh day. Kim Na-young (Freshman, School of Business Administration) remembers day 7 as the hardest day of all. As time passed, the number of participants with minor injuries increased, and there were only two medics taking care of the whole group. Kim was one of the injured and she could not get satisfactory treatment, so she eventually decided to take a rest.
Day 8, The Toughest Day
Even though the weather was not too bad, many participants from both campuses said that this day might have been the toughest day. They were only two days from completing the journey and already were feeling the burden of the task that remained ahead. Participants from the Cheonan Campus walked from Cheongju University to Gurong Church. Meanwhile, participants from the Jukjeon Campus walked from the Anseong Campus of Chunang University to the Cheonan Campus of DKU.
Day 9, The End
On the last day, participants from the Cheonan Campus had to walk about 20km from Cheonju University to the Independence Hall of Korea, unlike participants from the Jukjeon Campus who only had to walk about 3km from the Cheonan Campus of DKU to get there. Once everyone arrived the closing ceremony was held. Despite the weather and physical challenges they faced, the majority of participants from both campuses said the experiences they gained from this 70th anniversary event were worth it. They enhanced their social skills by getting along with each other even under very challenging circumstances.
The DKH’s Comments
It is clear that this event forced participants to cooperate with each other and encouraged them to be considerate and understanding under pressure. Moreover, they were able to better appreciate the philosophy of the founder of DKU and were reminded of what happened while our ancestors were trying to gain independence from Japan. However, this event also left somethings to be desired. First, most of the meaningful events were for participants from the Jukjeon Campus. Second, there were no opportunities for participants to share this experience of the 70th anniversary of the independence of Korea with non-Dankookians. The DKH hopes that in future, organizers develop events that lead to more interaction with other people in celebrating the anniversary and that both campuses can enjoy equally meaningful events along the way.