2015년 5월햇살이쨍쨍내리쬐는일요일, 임진각평화누리공원무대에는양복을차려입은남자가수들이역시양복차림의정부관계자들의뒤를이어수백명의관객을향해노래를하고있었다. 같은무대에는하얀플라스틱의자에전세계에서온 30명의여성평화운동가들이앉아있다. 이 30명의여성평화운동가들은이행사전에한반도분단이라는문제에관심을모으기위해평화의메시지를가지고북한과남한의국경을넘었다. 무대에서부터몇미터떨어진관객석에는다양한사회운동분야에서활동하고있는한국여성평화운동가들이끈기있게, 그리고불만스럽게그모습을지켜보고있었다. 평화만들기와관계형성하기에관한것이었어야할행사는양복을차려입은남자들이휩쓴지루하고판에박힌정부공식행사가되었다.
실망감은저명한 30명의여성들이실제로어떻게디엠지를건넜는가를소개하는것에서시작되었다. 여성들은처음에휴전협정이체결된판문점을통해국경을넘는것을목표로했었다. 하지만한국정부와유엔군사령부가이를거부함에따라그들은개성을통해남한으로내려왔다. 불행하게도개성을통해국경을넘을때조차그들은약속했던 “걷기”를통해서가아니라대형에어컨버스를타고국경을건넜다.
두번째실망감은누구에게걷기가허락되었는가, 누가국제활동가들과소통할수있었는가로한국여성운동계의일반적인위계가반영된유감스러운행사였다. 예를들어국제여성활동가들이북한으로부터버스를타고도착했을때그들은한국여성운동의지도자들에게만환영을받았다. 한국여성운동에서가진특별한지위때문에 300명의여성들이선발되었고걷기에참가했던다른많은여성들은환영의자리에도그들과함께걷는것에서도배제되었다. 따뜻한환영과적극적인상호작용대신국제여성활동가들은버스에서군중을피해멀리떨어진무대로안내되었고기껏해야위선적인식이끝난후에는 ‘안전’을고려하여밖으로안내되었다.
게다가둘째날서울시청에서심포지엄이열렸는데그룹을분류하는형식적인배치는계속이어졌다. 예를들어점심시간에국제활동가들은한국여성운동가들과어울리는대신따로떨어진테이블에앉았다. 일방적인공연에서상호작용으로행사의성격을바꾸기위해경계를없애고의미있는교류를만들려고하는명백한노력은적어도볼수없었다.
한국여성들과의연결, 공유, 소통대신 30명의국제여성활동가들은 ‘중요한’ 지위로승격되었다. 마지막폐회선언에서그들은 “일반적으로권력구조의바깥에있는사람들로서여성피스메이커들은분쟁분석및반대자를가로지르는유대형성에초점을맞춘평화조성전략에서비판적인관점을제공한다.” 불행하게도한국의관객들에게는이러한선언이그들이스스로를소개하는방식과는동떨어진것으로보였다.
행사는국제언론의상당한주목을끌었고그것자체로한반도분단이라는문제에대한인식을높이고토론을끌어냈는데기여를했다는것은사실이다. 이러한점에서우리는이행사를성공적이었다고생각할수있지만한국에서개최된행사내내솔직한소통과평화조성과정에대한의미있는접근은부재했다. 오로지 4명의여성만이남아서군사주의에저항하는많은여성활동가들이있는제주도강정마을을방문했을뿐이다. 나흘동안의강정마을방문과그곳현지활동가들과의교류는한국에서지역운동가들과의미있는교류를했던단하나의행사였다고할수있다. 하지만이교류는이행사조직자들에의해공개적으로지지되거나지원되지않았다.
위민크로스디엠지행사의목표는귀중하고아름다운것이다. 하지만그집행과정은많은사람들을실망시켰다. 적어도한국에서진행된이번행사가이렇게판에박히고위계적이게된데에는외국조직자들이 ‘정확한’ 한국단체와함께하지못한데서온것일수있다. 그래서많은풀뿌리여성운동가들이이과정에서배제된것이다. 또다른이유로는한국의현여성운동이가지고있는명백한위계적구조때문일수있는데이것은여성운동이처음부터도전했어야하는전통적인권력구조를불행하게도영속화시킨다. 마지막으로행사를길들이기위해한국정부가행사조직자들에게행사한압력또한있을수있겠다. 이것은전체행사를의미있는상호교류에서얄팍하고판에박힌의식으로만드는데큰역할을했을것이다.
On a beautiful sunny day in May 2015, at the stage of 임진각평화누리공원male singers in suits performed followed by government officials also dressed in suits addressed an audience of few hundred people. On the same stage, on plastic white chairs, sit 30 female peace activists from around the world. These 30 women peace activists, earlier that day, crossed the border from North Korea to South Korea carrying a message of peace with the intension of drawing attention to the issue of the division of the Korean peninsula. In the audience, a few meters in front of the stage, local Korean women activists from all walks of life, watched patiently and frustratingly. An event that was supposed to be all about peace building and creating connections, turned out to be more similar to a boring conventional official government event dominated by men in suits.
The disappointment started first with how the renowned 30 women actually crossed the DMZ. The women initially were aiming to cross the borders through Panmunjom, the “Truce Village” where the armistice was signed, however South Korea and the UN Command denied their crossing through that area so instead they crossed through Kaesong. Unfortunately, even when crossing through Kaesong, their border crossing on that day took place in a big air-conditioned bus, instead of the peace “walk” they had promised.
Second, an unfortunate reflection of a mostly hierarchical women civil society scene in South Korea was evident in who was allowed to walk and interact with the international activists. Upon their arrival by bus from North Korea, for example they were greeted by only the elite of the local women’s movement. 300 women were selected because of their special status within the South Korean women civil society, while many other women who participating in the walk were denied involvement in welcoming and walking with the group. Instead of a warm welcome and a lively interaction, the women international activists were ushered from the bus away from the crowd on a faraway stage, then ushered out for their ‘safety’ after a hypocritical ceremony at best.
Furthermore, even on the second day where the symposium took place in Seoul City Hall, formal arrangements of segregating the group continued. Over lunch for example, the international activists were seated on separate tables together instead of mingling with the other local women activists. At least there was no obvious effort made in that sense to break boundaries and build meaningful connections, in order to change the nature of the events from a one way performance to an interaction.
The 30 women international activists, rather than connecting sharing and communicating with local women, they were instead elevated to the status of ‘important’. In their final closing statement they claimed “As a group of people generally outside structures of power, women peacemakers offer a perspective in the analysis of conflict, providing strategies toward peacebuilding that focus on creating ties across opposing sides.” Unfortunately to a South Korean local audience, this did not seem to be how the group presented itself.
The event did draw significant international media attention, and that for sure would contribute to increasing awareness and discussions about the issue of the division of the Korean peninsula. In that sense, we could consider it successful, however it was obvious throughout the events that took place in South Korea that the interactions lacked honest connections and a meaningful approach to a peacebuilding process. Only four of the women actually stayed on and visited Jeju island and the village of Gangejong where many local women peace activist reside and resist militarism. Their visit to Gangejong and their interaction with the locals during the four days could be considered the only meaningful connection the group had the chance to experience in South Korea. Yet this interaction was not publicly endorsed or supported by the organizers.
The aims of the Women Cross the DMZ event are noble and beautiful, however the execution was disappointing to many. This conventional and hierarchical way that the events at least in South Korea unfolded could be caused by the fact that the organizers of the event from overseas did not make the ‘right’ local connections and therefore many local women grassroots activists were left out of this process. Another contribution to the disappointment was the obvious hierarchal structure of the current women’s organizations in South Korea, which unfortunately perpetuate the conventional structures of power that these organizations are supposed to challenge in the first place. Finally there also could be the factor of how much pressure the South Korean government had exerted on the event organizers in order to tame the event, which could have played a huge role in turning the whole event into a shallow conventional ceremony instead of a meaningful interaction.