Lessons of peace were highlighted through short films and workshops at two parallel events co-hosted by the Korea Peacebuilding Institute.
KOPI, which is supported by Mennonite Mission Network, partnered with the Bucheon Office of Education to co-host the first Bucheon Youth Peace Film Festival and Restorative Justice Conference in Korea, Jan. 5-8.
The film festival showcased student-made short movies about peace, while the conference celebrated and evaluated the impact of the restorative justice movement in South Korea in 2014.
About 400 parents, students and teachers attended the film festival’s opening ceremony, with 200 students attending each movie viewing. Thirty teachers and 160 student volunteers oversaw the festival operations.
The Restorative Justice Conference consisted of five sessions attended by 30 to 40 participants each. KOPI aims to hold the events annually.
Restorative justice is a systemic approach to peace that focuses on healing victims, offenders and the communities in which they live.
Restorative discipline is a step-by-step process aimed at increasing and sustaining mutual respect. Together, all parties sort through the problem, to come to an understanding of how everyone has been affected by each person’s actions.
Anticipating the film festival, 55 teams of students from elementary to high school took restorative justice classes at KOPI in 2014. They visited sites connected with social justice and legacies of pain.
Students then created short movies with the help of trained filmmakers to show what they had learned about peace and justice. The films were based on their experiences at school or with friends outside of school, reported MMN mission associate Jae Young Lee, KOPI’s director.
Of the more than 55 films that were submitted, 34 were shown at the festival.
“The past eight months for [the students] has been a journey for peace and hope,” Lee said.
Discipline in schools
Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, coordinator of the Crime and Justice Office at Mennonite Central Committee U.S., was the guest speaker at the conference.
Amstutz presented about restorative discipline as a new way to transform conflicts within a school context. She also gave an overview of the history of restorative discipline and justice in North America.
Amstutz’s co-written book, Restorative Discipline for Schools, has been a major resource for the teaching and implementing of restorative justice. After the conference, Amstutz remained in South Korea until Jan. 16, conducting lectures for teachers, parents and representatives of nongovernmental organizations.
Lee said restorative justice has spread into different areas of South Korean society over the past three years. After having gone through KOPI’s workshops, the Kyunggi Provincial Office of Education and many schoolteachers adapted restorative discipline as a main approach to school discipline.