People For Earth


People for Earth creates cultural and artistic endeavors to actualize an ecological lifestyle. Through encounters and expressions in diverse art forms such as theater, poetry, music, cinema, dance, and design, we hope to reawaken our life sensibility and embody the original form of life. Art for Earth offers a chance to re-evaluate the relationship between humans and the earth through a new type of narrative and redefines and creates ecological art through a variety of art creation initiatives.

Memories of Earth Day 2023 - Hiking Heroes’ love letter 〈Earth, I〉
  • 2023-05-30
  • 203


Memories of Earth Day 2023 - Hiking Heroes’ love letter

Hiking, at Namsan Forest.

It was April 22nd, and I walked. I walked towards the Namsan forest. The sun was
exceptionally bright that day. The touch of the warm spring air refreshed my body for the
first time since late winter, when I first moved into my mother’s ward. The wind and the
trees, the bitter scent of the moist soil, the chorus of chirping birds all felt so familiar yet so
fresh. Next to me was artist Ms. Won-yeon Jung. She, being the day’s guide, introduced the
group to the forest and its wildlife, as well as recommending nature-related books such as
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and A Field Guide to the Birds of Korea.
On the path there also were a trail of white-shirted teenagers. Written on the shirts was the
name Hiking Heroes. Naturally, questions emerged from the back of my mind. Who, what,
why, how. With no information about them, I slowly mixed into the white crowd.
The birds continued their chorus, unbothered by the sudden barrage of noise. I, also found
myself hushing down, my mind gradually swallowed up with the questions.

April 22nd: Dear Earth Day

The hike was oriented to be short, half an hour long. It was part of an ‘Earth Day
festival’ hosted by the environmental-intellectual foundation People for Earth.
As I read the invitation for the event a few days earlier, one question rippled past my
conscience; what exactly is Earth Day?

Here in South Korea, as it is well through-out Asia, the ‘World Environment Day’ on
June 5th is better known as the day to recognize the environmental efforts to conserve,
recycle and further protect. It was first established by the United Nations, almost 50
years ago in 1972, to mark the historic Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment,
which was held from June 5th to the 16th.

Unlike the World Environment Day which was established and continued through only
government - corporate policies, the Earth Day, as I later learned, first began and
expanded purely through civilian movements. With each and every participant becoming more
aware of the state of our Earth, burning with the desire to do something about it, the
Earth Day’s influence spread like wildfire. Indeed, enlightened by this knowledge, I
allowed myself to set aside my own wants and instead shift my perspective a little. A
point of view that looks for love. A view that desires freely breathing souls to freely
roam this earth. A perspective that advocates for you and me, for everyone in between the
skies and the earth!

‘For our land, for our skies, to save everything in between’
- South Korea’s Earth Day Slogan

With Sincerity: Earth Letter

We walked with the Hiking Heroes, though without a word, through the forest. And now, in
the unlit ‘People for Earth’ building, accompanied by the words ‘Earth, I’, their songs and
videos suddenly flew across the room. One voice emerged- “Even the smallest of warmth,
frozen by the winter wind. Even the sparkling stars of the sky - frozen”- breaking the loud
silence. Like the voices of the dark, a sprout surfaces from the arid plain of silence. “Earth’s
small sprout, the children are here. Earth’s children Hiking Heroes, early spring’s last gift.
This is the children’s picture of the Earth”.

“New lives, sprouted from fragments of Earth.
A new society, formed with the shards of Earth”
“A global partnership grown with countless ‘I’s,
A fresh harmonious spring, with the color of you and me.”
- Excerpt from the 〈Earth, I〉 performance
Their show presented a panorama of nature. As if in a 4-D theatre, the space around us
rapidly transformed and morphed, as if to express the vibrance of nature. With the violins,
cello, and the flute dancing across octaves, the children’s earth letters became centerpieces
of an earthly musical. They sang about harmony, earth, and warmth - it was like the
children were realizing this world was not livable alone. All of us, across generations,
incrementally tore down barriers, mixing and churning with one another, warmed the cold
winter into a new spring.

Oh, the sincerity! These pleading letters were the true identity of these children, the shape
of their hearts, the form of their essence. In these words, I began to feel what they have, to
resonate with the same soul of the white shirts, the message of these curious children, the
Hiking Heroes. Seeing them, I felt that I had no choice but to hush down. The performance
was a painful replica of human instinctual arrogance but also a lesson on embracing nature,
embracing community. Armed only with a shell of maturity named adulthood, I found myself
with nothing to say.

The Hiking Heroes stood for the love and thankfulness to nature through interacting with it,
hiking. But they also were spreading constant awareness about environmental conservation,
expressing with all their abilities that it was the ultimate responsibility, duty of humankind.
They walked, and continued to walk. With duffels on each back, they continued to walk.
With a giant waste bucket in one hand, and a burning desire in the other, they continued to
walk, step by step. Vivid steps that exploded with energy, strong steps that became
stronger with each stride.
Even as and after the curtains closed, the audience started their own nature path, discussing
amongst one another. Near a small corner of the room, at a booth named the “Earth
Market”, another hiker’s valuable efforts were recognized and embraced, regarded more
important by each and everyone. Upcycled pots with air-purification plants various shapes,
sizes, and patterns, all with unique personalities arrayed at an wooden table. Slipping in a
bird-shaped pot into my bag, I stepped out to the street and walked home. The walk home
seemed particularly fine that night.

May there always be courage and hope to guide your passionate futures, may there be little
trouble. For my heroes, the Hiking Heroes, I leave this message.

Written by poet Ms. Hye-Kyung Hwang
Translated from Korean by Yoonje Jin

Theatrical Performance 〈Earth Letter〉