The Turkish Movie “Ayla the Daughter of War” was on Friday, March 30, 2018, screened at the United States Navy Memorial Center located near the U.S Capital. The movie which was hosted by the Yunus Emre Institute in Washington, D.C., and Institute of Technology, Economics and Diplomacy (INTED) brought together American, Turkish and Korean communities and recorded a large number of the crowd who flooded the venue to witness the movie premiere.
In Attendance were high ranking officials from the United States, Korea, Turkey and other countries. Amongst the guests were Ambassador Serdar Kilic, the Turkish Ambassador to the US, Ms. Harriet Fulbright, the head of Harriet Fulbright Foundation, Verna Jones Executive Director American Legion, Mr. Ed Whitfield, Military Attaché from Turkish Embassy, Economy & Air Attaché from Korean Embassy, Christian Higgins, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy in Europe and Eurasia, Cheon Joonho, Minister for Public Diplomacy and Public Communication from the South Korean Embassy; Halid Bulut, Executive Director Yunus Emre Institute D.C; Gokhan Coskun, CEO of INTED.
Speaking before the event, the Executive Director American Legion Verna Jones expressed her excitement and satisfaction for being part of the great event.
“I can’t imagine another movie that will show really the heart of those men and women who do that for their country more than this movie. I am so excited to be here tonight,” Verna added.
Cheon Joonho Minister for Public Diplomacy and Public Communication from the South Korean Embassy in an interview recognized the tight relationship between U.S, Korea, and Turkey. “we have very strong bonds especially during the Korean war,” he said.
Also, in his speech, the Ambassador of Tukey Republic to the US, Ambassador Serdar Kilic reflected on the internal and international conflicts going on in the world today and called for peace especially in the ongoing war in Syria. “I hope the screening of this movie today reminds us of the ongoing war in Syria and brings peace where it is most needed,” Kilic said.
In her speech at the gala, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs, Christina Higgens, spoke about shared history.
She reminded that the ties between the United States and Republic of Korea were forged during the bloody Korean war and added: “Our ties have since become stronger. But we were not alone in Korea. We were there as part of a UN force which grew in time to comprise 21 countries including Turkey. Activities like this gala provide an opportunity to remember our shared history and the causes that we championed and fought for as well as to reaffirm our common values. We share deep-rooted partnership and friendship.”
Christina Higgins also noted that the Turkish brigade who fought in Korea alongside the American forces earned unit citations for their bravery and fighting skills. She went on to say: “This film, which tells the story of a Turkish officer who undertook to care for a girl orphaned by the war, reminds us our common feeling of humanity against violence. This is an harrowing story which needs to be told again and again. Similar stories are still taught in Turkish schools thanks to a right decision taken in this regard. I thank the Yunus Emre Institute and Inted for their contributions for adapting this story into screenplay and sharing it today with us. I wish that such stories emerging from the darkest days of war will always remind us to be the best of ourselves.”
Ayla: Daughter of War”, was the Turkish official candidate for the Best Foreign Language Film entry in the Oscars 2017. The movie shows the scary face of the Korean War and tells the story of a Korean orphan, Ayla, and a Turkish soldier, Sergeant Süleyman.
Sergeant Süleyman is one of the thousands of Turkish soldiers sent to join the Korean War under the U.N. command from 1950 to 1953. In the face of tragedy, after Ayla’s parents were killed and the entire village massacred, Sergeant Süleyman risked his life to save the little girl that was left freezing in the cold right beside her dead mother. Not having any information about her, Sergeant Süleyman smuggles her into the Army base and names her “Ayla”.
As Süleyman’s deployment ends, he is unable to bring Ayla to Turkey with him. He spends his entire life fighting to reunite with Ayla. After decades and with the help of people and organizations from around the world, the two are once again reunited. The two form an inseparable bond, and Ayla becomes a symbol of love and hope not only for Süleyman, but for all the Turkish soldiers. The touching true-life story established love, peace and the magnificent sacrifice of those that dedicated their lives during the Korean War.
Through this event, peace and unity were established and a deep cultural diplomacy toward developing cultural sensitivity and awareness was promoted. The event featured an evening of a large reception and Hors-d’oeuvres were served to the guests.