Washington, D.C., March 30 | The internationally acclaimed film, “Ayla: The Daughter of War”, premiered in Washington, D.C. on Friday, March 30 at the US Navy Memorial. The premiere made its debut at a diplomatic relations themed gala. This touching true-life story is about not about war, although war is the setting. But rather, the movie is about love, peace and the magnificent sacrifice of those who dedicated their lives during the Korean War.
The gala started off with a reception of Turkish and Korean hors-d’oeuvres with people from all cultures. The night provided a great opportunity to promote peace and unity, which is seen in the movie. Keynote speeches were made by Christina Higgins, Acting Deputy Assistant for Public Diplomacy of the U.S. Department of State; Verna Jones, the Executive Director of the American Legion; Mr. Cheon Joonho, Minister for Public Diplomacy and Public Communication for the Embassy of the Republic of Korea; Ambassador Sedar Kilic, the Turkish Ambassador to the United States. The gala was organized by INTED (the Institute of Technology, Economics, and Diplomacy), and the Yunus Emre Institute, and attended by notable politicians, diplomats, professionals, students and philanthropists. They included: Honorable Harriet Fulbright, former Congressman Ed Whitfield, INTED CEO Gokhan Coskun, YEE Director Halid Bulut, Turkish Military Attaché Umut Yildiz, Korean Embassy Economy Attaché Jandi Kim, Korean Embassy Air Attaché Colonel Changhoon Kim, Ambassador of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Ismet Korukoglu, Deputy Chief of Mission Embassy of the Republic of Iraq Mohammed Jawad Al Quraishy, Goethe Institute Director Andreas Strohl, Taipei Cultural Center Director Jack Kuei, Korean Cultural Center Public Affairs Specialist Adam Wojciechowicz and Oscar winner producer Gigi Dement.
In describing the importance of the film, Minister Cheon said, “When it comes to our relations with Turkey, many Korean people call it we are kind of like brother nations, so we have strong bonds, especially after the Korean war.” Ms. Christina Higgins said, "We were not alone in Korea. Event like this gala, our opportunities to remember our shared history, we fight for together and shared our values as evidence by long history of partnership and friendship. Ms. Verna Jones said, “This movie that talks about patriotism and kindness and you know that showcases the veterans and really shows the heart of the men and women that serve their county.” Ambassador Kilic said, "We need humanitarian feelings especially in these times because there are serious humanitarian issues in many parts of the world," adding that the movie is a great indication of how much compassion a soldier fighting on the front lines can carry in his heart.”
Many Turkish, Americans, and almost every Korean alive today has a family member who was directly impacted by the Korean War. We are in a time of political flux for the United States, South Korea, and Turkey, which places longstanding diplomatic ties at a premium. The gala presented a forum for related discourse, connecting politicians with individuals of these brother and sister nations. The night was also about the importance of peace and unity.