South Korean student in Japan hopes to improve international relations with free hugs

By Meg Murphy, RocketNews24

South Korea and Japan? Not exactly known for getting along. But the inspirational video below gave us the feels in a big way.

South Korean student Suyeon Youn has had an interest in and a love for Japan and its culture for years. She’s no ordinary Japanophile, though; she’s currently studying Japanese language, history, and culture as an exchange student at Shizuoka University in Japan and wants eradicate the kind of prejudices that exist between the two nations.

Following in the footsteps of Koichi Kuwabara, a young Japanese male who first took to the streets of South Korea in 2011 armed with nothing but a sign reading “Free Hugs for Peace”, Youn also decided to do the same during her time in Japan. Donning a traditional chima jeogori and holding a sign that reads “Free Hugs” and “I’m Korean. Won’t you give me a hug?”, she headed to the shrines and shopping districts of Kyoto to spread the love.

See how she got on in her video.

Visibly nervous at first, it wasn’t long before there were hugs and smiles all around, from people who were as interested in Youn’s culture as she was in theirs. From the littlest hugs to the biggest running group hugs, Youn and her new-found friends have proven that many people are quite ready to move past all the political tension that has built up between their countries.

The video ends with a question and a powerful message: “Who is going to improve the relationship between Japan and South Korea? Not our countries or our governments, but each and every one of us individually.”

Yes, there will always be those individuals who perpetuate prejudiced notions and who have contempt for those from other nations no matter what, but judging from projects like Kuwabara’s and Youn’s hugs for peace, this generation is more than ready to move on.

You can help support Youn as she plans to travel across Japan this coming February to spread more hugs and peace around the country. Her support page is here.

Source: YouTube/ Koichi Kuwabara

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Our Japanese reporter shares three interesting revelations he had after studying Korean -- Japanese actress Mina Fujii is the most searched keyword in Korea and it’s not hard to see why -- You won’t believe what’s at the end of this 4-hour line

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The idea is absolutely fantastic. Hurray for the lady! I simply couldn't admire her more.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I love people like this. Screw the bigots, screw the hatred. Love will bring us forward.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

When's the stopover at Yasukuni?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

NIce... the problem is.. I personally dislike the hugging thing.... but nice to see this kind of things

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A very brave lady. Much respect.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Increase the Peace!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Just wonderful! She is such a positive force in this world.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wow! I met her and hugged her in Kyoto at Yasaka shrine, guess I didn't look Japanese enough to make the video lol.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Free hugs, cop a feel, but don't feel a cop

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Very noble of her. However, as lostrune 2 suggests, she'd better be careful. There are plenty of miscreants out there with ulterior motives.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Maybe she can replace Park and Kuwabara can replace Abe.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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