South Korea and Japan? Not exactly known for getting along. But this inspirational video 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…

▼ “We love Korea!”


From the littlest hugs…

▼ No, I didn’t just tear up. It’s my allergies, I swear…


…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 (Japanese only, sorry, but perhaps you could help with that?).

Source: YouTube/ Koichi Kuwabara via grape
Top image: YouTube/ Koichi Kuwabara