The Hwacheon County of Gangwon Province, 79 miles northeast of Seoul, hosts the 3rd World Peace and Security Culture Festival at the Hwacheon Peace Bell Park, the Fish Island, the Culture and Art Center and the Hwacheon Sports Center for three days on June 6-8, 2014.
The Festival, which is jointly organized by Mayor Jeong Gap-cheol of the Hwacheon County and noted Korean Novelist Lee Oisoo, is supported by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Unification, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration, the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Land Infrastructure & Transport, the National Police Agency, the Republic of Korea Army 1st Corps, the Gangwon-do Provincial Council, and various other organizations, including K-Water.
Novelist Lee is especially popular among the young people and enjoys over 1.5 million twitter followers. Hence the popular nickname for him, “The Twitter President of the Republic of Korea.”
Ambassadors and their families are invited to attend the Festival with very interesting events in store for them. Major events of the Festival for the ambassadors and their families include a tour of the DMZ and the Peace Dam, a sketch contest, music concert and a visit to the Bimok Peace Park to attend the Bimok Memorial Service for the Korean War victims.
The tour of the DMZ will includes a visit to the Chilseong-dae (Seven Star Observatory) where the visitors can observe the villages of the North Korean people as well as the their military barracks and positions. Chilseong-dae is one of the few places in Korea from which one can get a glimpse into the actual conditions of North Korea across the DMZ.
There also are in store for the participants in the Festival various folk cultural and customs events, which include various interesting experiences such as riding the Cart Rail Car and the Sky Splitter which is a kind of cable car across the Hwacheon River, which used to be the site in winter where the visitors used to fish through hundreds of ice holes made on the surface of the frozen river during the Mountain Trout & Winter Culture Festival.
The visitors can also have hands-on experience in making steamed bun with sweet pumpkin fillings inside and they can also make glutinous rice cakes with a large wooden mallet by pounding the rice dough on a large, think wooden board. There is also a tasting event of the glutinous rice cakes, the steamed pumpkin buns and Maggeolli rice wine.
The month of June is a very special time for the Korean people as the Korean War started on June 25, 1950. This year marks the 64th anniversary of the War.
Hwacheon is the site of one of the fiercest battles of the Korean War. Named the Battle of the Paroho Lake, the Battle took place between the 6th Infantry Division of the Republic of Korea (South) Army and the combined forces of the 10th, 25th and the 27th Armies of the Chinese Communist Forces for five days from May 20 to 24, 1951.
On May 17, 1951, some 25,000 troops of the Chinese Armed Forces attacked the Buk Hangang River near the Hwacheon County but they were repelled by the joint efforts of the 6th ROKA Division and the 24th Infantry Division of the United States Army.
The 6th Division fought against three divisions of the 63rd Corps of the Chinese Forces and won a great victory over the Chinese Forces at the Battle of Hwacheon.
In the two-day Battle, the 6th ROKA Division neutralized 17,000 Chinese troops and took 2,000 others as POW (prisoner of war). The 2nd Regiment of the 6th Division was attacked by the Chinese troops and at one time was encircled by the enemy, but succeeded in defending their positions.
At the same time, two other regiments of the 6th Division counter-attacked the Chinese troops (encircling the 2nd Regiment) with the aid of massive airstrikes and artillery fire by the United Nations Forces, and succeeded in breaking through the enemy encirclement re-opening the line of communication with the isolated and encircled 2nd Regiment.
Beginning on May 20, 1951, the Chinese Forces gave up its May offensive?after suffering heavy causalities totaling some 90,000 soldiers.
In 1955, the then President Syngman Rhee renamed the then Hwacheon Lake giving it a new name, Paroho (破虜湖), meaning “Enemy Breaking Lake” in memory of the fiercest Battle of Hwacheon and victory of the ROK Army units.
Over a total of 100,000 young soldiers from 28 different countries of the world, including the ROK and US Armed Forces, were killed during the Baegam-san Battle and the Battle of Paroho Lake in the Hwacheon Region.
In order to console the souls of the fallen soldiers, a large-scale Joint Memorial Service was held on July 13, 2013 with the attendance of over 5,000 government leaders, civic figures and foreign ambassadors.
Mayor Chung Gap-cheol is a firmly believe in peace in the world as well as Korea, and therefore the Peace Park and the joint memorial service were not only for the soldiers of the ROK, US and other allied forces but also for the enemy soldiers such as those of North Korea and the China.
“It is my cherished desire,” said Mayor Chung, “to turn my county of Hwacheon, the fiercest battle site, into the best-peace promoting region of the world.”