|"I'll remove those colonies, I'll do whatever it takes."|
|— Fire Lord Zuko to Earth King Kuei.|
The Harmony Restoration Movement was a campaign to remove the Fire Nation presence in the Earth Kingdom by transferring the Fire Nation colonials back to the Fire Nation. It was proposed by Avatar Aang at Earth King Kuei's re-coronation ceremony and was greeted with cheers from the Earth Kingdom citizenry. However, the movement eventually led to a conflict between Earth King Kuei and Fire Lord Zuko, mediated by Avatar Aang.
Before the beginning of the Hundred Year War, Fire Lord Sozin occupied Earth Kingdom territories and transferred Fire Nation citizens to the area. When Avatar Roku confronted him about it, Sozin attacked, but Roku defeated him. However, despite his defeat, the Fire Lord never dissolved the colonies, and these first colonies would continue to thrive until 0 AG. As the Hundred Year War began, more land was occupied by the Fire Nation and more colonies were formed. These practices continued through the reign of Fire Lord Ozai, over 130 years after the occupation of Yu Dao.
Disbandment of newer colonies
Immediately following the end of the War, Zuko, Aang, and Kuei met to discuss restoring peace. Zuko pledged to rid the Earth Kingdom of the colonies at all costs while Aang volunteered to ensure everything went peacefully. The process started without incident for nearly a year, as many residents of the newer Fire Nation colonies were eager to return home. However, problems arose when it came to disbanding the older colonies; interracial families had been formed over the years, and the colony was the only home many of the Fire Nation residents had ever known. With tensions quickly rising, Kori Morishita, daughter of Mayor Morishita in the colony of Yu Dao, made an attempt to take Zuko's life. When she revealed her origins within what was the oldest Earth Kingdom colony, which also happened to be the center of the resistance against the Harmony Restoration Movement, Zuko decided to personally remove the colony by going to Yu Dao himself.
Invited by Mayor Morishita and Morishita's wife to spend some time in the colony, Fire Lord Zuko noticed how intertwined the citizens of both nations had become by working together, as they were living in the same neighborhoods and even marrying each other. This led Zuko to abandon the movement and to believe that reforming the colonies was a better and less disruptive solution than total abandonment. He barricaded the city, announcing that no one was to leave or enter the city without his permission. When Aang arrived, several firebending guards attacked him and Katara. The brawl came to and end when Zuko bound Katara with hopes of making the duo give up. The arrival led to a scuffle, during which Zuko agreed to another talk with Earth King Kuei in hopes of achieving future peace.
As Aang was leaving Yu Dao, he met up with Smellerbee, Longshot, and Sneers, who explained the situation. Smellerbee was angry at Aang's decision to support peace and gave Aang an ultimatum: complete negotiations within three days or the Freedom Fighters would attack Yu Dao.
To come up with a peaceful solution, Aang and Katara traveled to the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace and invited the Earth King to a negotiation with Fire Lord Zuko. However, Earth King Kuei, determined to make up for his weak ruling of his nation in the past, refused such a meeting and immediately ordered General How to send troops to Yu Dao and reclaim it by force. His military campaign did not pass by the Fire Lord unnoticed, as Zuko had sent spies to the Earth Kingdom; in response to hearing of the Earth King's campaign, he led his armies toward Yu Dao as well. These events further complicated the movement.
Collapse of the movement
- Main article: Battle for Yu Dao
Aang and Katara traveled back to Yu Dao to warn the Fire Nation civilians of the impending advance; however, they were unable to convince them to leave. True to Smellerbee's word, the Freedom Fighters entered the city by distracting Aang with a battering ram decoy while a drill broke through the wall, plunging Yu Dao into war. The Freedom Fighters fought against the mob of protestors until Smellerbee and Longshot discovered Sneers' relationship with Kori. The fighting seemed to end until a protester was seen wreaking havoc. Next, both the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation armies arrived. General How implored Aang to kill Zuko to leave the Fire Nation Army leaderless and utterly disabled, but Aang started to argue with How.
At that point, Sokka, Suki, and Toph sabotaged the Fire Nation tanks, leaving the warriors to fight on foot against the larger Earth Kingdom Army. Assuming that the Fire Nation's sudden removal of their tank forces had crippled them, How ordered his troops to attack and reclaim Yu Dao; while Zuko's officers were initially caught off-guard, Zuko ordered them to defend the city's inhabitants. The two armies clashed, but neither side was able to gain an advantage. Enraged at the sudden upsurge of violence, Aang triggered the Avatar State and began to yell at Zuko until Katara snapped him out of it and convinced him to travel away from the chaos to a place where he could think clearly. There, Katara expressed her change of mind about the Harmony Restoration Movement, explaining that when she saw Kori's family that she also saw her and Aang's future as an Air Nomad and Water Tribe family. Katara later left to quell the violence while Aang flew away from the battle and consulted with Avatar Roku.
Suki and Toph were fighting the firebending soldiers and appeared to be losing until Toph's metalbending students saved them, while Aang's fan club was aiding Sokka in forcing the Freedom Fighters away from Yu Dao. At the same time, Katara arrived back at the colony, and, after sweeping several ranks of earthbending troops aside, she used her waterbending to propel herself up to Earth King Kuei's war balloon. She convinced him to come down the city and see for himself the lives of the Yu Dao civilians that he wanted to change.
Aang arrived at Yu Dao while in the Avatar State, separating the earth surrounding the entire colony, thus ending the fight. Believing Aang was there to kill him, Zuko removed his helmet, though the Avatar merely pushed the two armies onto either side of the chasm. Zuko was caught in the separation and started plummeting, likely to death. However, at the last moment, Aang grabbed the Fire Lord's hand and saved him from the otherwise fatal fall. Bringing the two leaders together, Aang explained to Kuei that he was not only fighting the Fire Nation, but the Water Tribe, Air Nomads, and the Earth Kingdom itself. He went on to say that the world had changed so much that the separation of the four nations could no longer apply in the post-war era as it had before. Kuei realized Aang was right and went to inspect Yu Dao for himself. At the same time, Zuko also realized that the choice he had made was indeed the right choice and not the legacy of his father's hatred, causing him to faint. Aang spoke with Kuei after the Earth King had finished touring the city, and they agreed that, after Zuko had recovered from his ordeal, the Fire Lord and the Earth King would meet again to negotiate the future of the remaining colonies, as it was clear they could not belong to either nation.
Although the original purpose of the movement was defeated, its collapse led to a peaceful and more integrated coexistence between all four nations. The colony of Yu Dao and the older Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom would soon elect coalition governments comprised of Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom representatives and would later merge into the United Republic of Nations, a society where people from all over the world could live together in peace and harmony. The capital was called Republic City, built from the resources of both the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation.
The movement also led to the creation of the Air Acolytes, formed from the Official Avatar Aang Fan Club chapters in Yu Dao and Ba Sing Se. It would continue the traditions and customs of the Air Nomads so that their culture would not be completely wiped out and lost to history.
- Sokka conceived the name "Harmony Restoration Movement".
- The Harmony Restoration Movement was inspired by various movements that China went through in the 1800s and early 1900s, such as the Self-Strengthening Movement and the May Fourth Movement.