Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا abouna.org
Year 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice which, on 27 July 1953, suspended open hostilities, but didn’t formally end the three-year conflict, leaving the Korean Peninsula divided and the threat of open war resuming still lingering today.
In the lead-up to that day, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling on its member Churches worldwide to join advocacy for the ‘Korea Peace Appeal’, an international campaign launched in South Korea in 2020 that seeks to amplify voices calling for a transition from armistice to peace beyond the Korean Peninsula.
Indeed, the unresolved state of war since 1953 has posed security risks, led to increased militarization and threats of nuclear war, as well as incurring major political and economic costs for all the Korean people.
The Appeal urges the governments involved “to take sincere and responsible action” to formally end the war, resolving ongoing tensions “with dialogue and cooperation instead of sanctions and pressure, and “breaking from the vicious circle of the arms race” and investing “in human security and environmental sustainability instead.
According to its promoters, “Without a formal end to the Korean War, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will not be achieved”.
The campaign aims to collect 100 million signatures by 27 July 2023.
The National Council of Churches of Korea (NCCK) is among the over 370 South Korean civil society organizations and religious groups behind the initiative, and more than 70 international partner organizations, including the WCC and Catholic Pax Christi International, are supporting the Appeal.
“We are committed to continue our peace-building efforts and advocacy for justice worldwide,” says WCC General Secretary, Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay. “Transition from the armistice agreement to a peace treaty is a crucial step towards achieving lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula and beyond.”
During the year, WCC will publish series of interviews with Church leaders and experts involved in the peace-building process on the Korean peninsula, and promote the resources included in its 2020 publication “The Light of Peace: Churches in Solidarity with the Korean Peninsula.”
On 27 July, the world ecumenical body will participate in the Korean Peace Appeal Conference marking the 70th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement.
WCC also invites its member Churches to join Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula, to be held on 30 July this year.
Other peace initiatives organized in South Korea for the anniversary include actions urging the suspension of the South Korea-US Combined Military Exercises and South Korea-US-Japan Military Cooperation; peace actions in 300 cities worldwide in June-July; two massive peace rallies on July 22 and on August 15, South Korea National Liberation Day.
Meanwhile, amid growing nuclear threats from North Korea and international tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, on Monday South Korean and U.S. forces started two major joint military exercises in South Korea: the Freedom Shield exercise, a computer-simulated command post training, from March 13 to 23 to strengthen their defense and response capabilities, and separate large-scale joint field training exercises called Warrior Shield FTX. Earlier this month Pyongyang threatened to take “unprecedently” strong action against such exercises.