[The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) on 13 March 2013 issued the following “Statement on the Current Situation in the Korean Peninsula in view of the Joint US-ROK Military Exercises and Threats of War between North and South Korea.” The original text can be accessed here. –CanKor]
Stop the threats of war, without any conditions, begin dialogue and negotiations!
“God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4).
We, in the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea confess our faith in the God of peace and have been working and praying for reconciliation and reunification of the North and South Korea and peace in the entire Korean Peninsula. We offered our earnest prayers especially in this Lenten Pilgrimage carrying with us the concerns of the suffering of the people, justice, peace and abundant life in the Korean Peninsula. Yet, in spite of our earnest prayers, the North and the South are heading toward precarious armed confrontation.
In view of the recent Joint United States-Republic of Korea Military Exercises which began on March 11 dubbed, ‘Key Resolve’, the North pushed to invalidate the Armistice Agreement signed in Panmunjeom in 1953, shut down telephone communication lines with the South. The confrontational exchange of words and propaganda between the North and South is just short of outbreak of armed conflict that may happen anytime in the Korean Peninsula, creating a very volatile situation. In this kind of situation we are mourning and in remorse like the prophet Jeremiah whose heart was broken and his bones tremble.
Weapons of war and destruction and the ongoing military exercises will not bring about safety and peace in the Korean Peninsula.
We remember the words of Jesus, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). The Bible says that the way to achieve peace is not through an ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth’ (Matthew 5: 38), but rather ‘to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,’ (Matthew 5:44). We believe that in order to achieve peace in the Korean Peninsula, the South and the North should pray for one another, rather than with confrontation and posing tougher threats to each other and eagerly move forward on the path of reconciliation and peace through dialogue and negotiation.
So, we in the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, urge following God’s purposes for peace ‘They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Micah 4:3b):
1. We urge North Korea to stop the threats of war and the attempts to use nuclear weapons and not withdraw from the Armistice Agreement of 1953.
North Korea’s launching of long range rocket and the underground nuclear weapons testing in December posed a grave threat to the region which was met with additional economic and political sanctions that resulted from the recent UN resolution. The withdrawal from the Armistice Agreement of 1953 and the declaration of war including threats of impending attack have created a volatile situation in the Korean Peninsula, the region and the world. In the event of nuclear war, “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down” (Mark 13:2). As mentioned, nuclear war will result in unprecedented destruction of both the South and the North and the whole of life in the Korean Peninsula, but sadly enough the lessons of past history have not been learned, that war has brought insurmountable pain and loss. North Korea should not make all of life in the Korean Peninsula collateral damage by posing threats and brinkmanship and withdrawal from the Armistice Agreement of 1953.
2. The governments of the United States and the Republic of Korea should immediately stop the Joint Military Exercises!
The ‘Key Resolve’ training, state-of-the-art weapons and military exercises to maintain the safety and peace of the Korean peninsula, has heightened the threat of outbreak of war in the Peninsula, and the ‘Ulchi’ military games which are in progress, a large-scale U.S. military show of military deterrence joint training launched by US and the ROK, should be stopped immediately. Also we strongly urge the government of President Park Geun-Hye to do its best to stop these large-scale military exercises which continue to escalate the crisis in the Korean Peninsula, and to start the dialogue and negotiation, build trust and be committed to the realization of a peace regime in the Korean Peninsula.
3. The hardline response of the government of South Korea should be halted and negotiation and dialogue should immediately be resumed.
South Korea should immediately begin dialogue and negotiations to establish a peace regime in the Korean Peninsula, and stop its hardline response, for this has led to intensified tension and deterioration to the brink of armed confrontation. South Korea’s government, denouncing North Korea’s remarks and high-intensity action, has not changed the attitude of North Korea to bring about resumption of steps leading toward dialogue toward denuclearization. We urge the government of South Korea, more than anything, to strive to find creative alternatives for the making of a Peace Treaty and work out extra efforts for negotiations for the denuclearization of the North and whole of the Korean Peninsula.
4. The international community should immediately lift all sanctions on North Korea!
Fundamental alternatives for peace in the Korean peninsula is necessary, but the recent United Nations Security Council’s resolution has added more political and economic sanctions onto North Korea and deepened the conflict in the Korean peninsula. While the international community had not anticipated the growing tension, the international community must fulfill the role of conciliation and arbitration for peace in the Korean peninsula and withdraw the sanctions, and are urgently required put in place tenable solutions to the ongoing conflict.
We, in the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, marking the 60th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement in this year of 2013, earnestly pray to be free from the threat of war, urge the resumption of dialogue and negotiation to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and the establishment of a peace regime without preconditions from the parties concerned.
The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea reaffirms that the day will surely come when ‘they will beat their swords into plowshares’ and renew this land and march together to achieve peace in the Korean Peninsula.
The peace of God will be done and we pray for the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia, and the whole world!
PROK Peace and Reunification Committee
Rev. Bae Tae-Jin, General Secretary PROK
- South Korea’s National Council of Churches issues Prayers for Peace (CanKor.ca)
- WCC general secretary calls for end to increased tension on Korean peninsula (CanKor.ca)
- United Church of Canada issues statement on the crisis in the Korean Peninsula (CanKor.ca)
- Christian Conference of Asia sends letters of concern to both North and South Korea (CanKor.ca)