Ecumenical Accompaniment for Building Justice and Peace in Korea by Erich Weingartner

[This article was written for a discussion on “The Korean Peninsula: Towards an Ecumenical Accompaniment for Building Justice and Peace” at the 10th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, which took place in Busan, Republic of Korea, from 30 October to 8 November 2013.]

Site of the 10th WCC Assembly in Busan, ROK

Site of the 10th WCC Assembly in Busan, ROK (Photo by EW)

The Korean War claimed millions of lives between 1950 and 1953. Sixty years ago, that war paused with the signing of an armistice, marking the cessation of the hot war on the Korean Peninsula. But an armistice is not a peace, and the hostilities of the Cold War have not ceased to this very day. The world’s largest armies, with the most powerful weapons, still threaten each other across the so-called “demilitarized” zone that dissects this beautiful country. This seemingly endless confrontation continues to be used by those in power to prove that the price of security is readiness to resort to arms, and that justice is irrelevant to peace.

In the name of this false security, economic well-being continues to be sacrificed in favour of military prowess. But though the pain of this tragedy is borne primarily by Koreans, the illness that caused it is global. When the WCC thirty years ago embarked on a mission to forge lines of communication between North and South Korea, we could not help but challenge the sanity of the bi-polar world that was taken for granted as a necessity for the preservation of security in our World. We no longer have a bi-polar world, but we still have a bi-polar mentality. Bi-polar illness is what used to be called schizophrenia. The continued division of Korea is a clear symptom of our global schizophrenia.

Thirty years ago, the ecumenical movement in South Korea was still dealing with a military dictatorship that produced countless cases of human rights violations, justified with reference to the need for an iron discipline in order to protect the security of South Korea from an aggressive and violent North Korea. This was part of the national security doctrine that was promoted by the USA in many countries the world over as the necessary stance to protect the world from the threat of communism. In Korea this doctrine was enacted as the National Security Law (NSL), which is 65 years old this year, and according to a 2012 Amnesty International report, is still being used to curtail citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, opinion and association.

Since the violation of human rights was justified as the vigilance that was necessary to fight against communism, anyone working for the realization of human rights was automatically assumed to be a communist, or to be doing the work of communists, whether knowingly or naively. This led most human rights activists to conclude that it was necessary to democratize South Korea first, before advocating the unification of Korea, or making contact with North Korea.

But after the military coup of Chun Doo-wan, and the terrible massacres at Kwangju in 1980, human rights workers, such as the Human Rights Committee of the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), began to realize that South Korea will continue to suffer from dictatorship until tensions on the peninsula are reduced, so that dictatorship becomes unnecessary. In other words, instead of human rights first and unification later, the idea was to begin to work on inter-Korean dialogue as a first step to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and subsequently to work on democratizing of both parts of the country.

As we learned in the ecumenical movement worldwide, and as it has indeed has been reaffirmed in the current 10th WCC General Assembly, peace and justice are inseparable and must be worked for together.

Getting the ball rolling

But that is easier said than done. The WCC had member churches only in South Korea (the Republic of Korea, or ROK), and these churches were strictly opposed to any contact with North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK). This was based not only on fear of the NSL, but on decades of intensive anti-communist propaganda, combined with a total information blackout about life in North Korea.

There was – and unfortunately still is – a broadly-held conviction that Christianity has effectively disappeared on the northern part of the peninsula. Although stories continued to trickle out about the existence of a worshiping community in the DPRK, such stories were met with extreme skepticism. Expatriate Korean Christians and non-Korean pastors who visited the North were regarded as dupes of the communist government.

My own experience in the WCC taught me that even the smallest step taken by the WCC with regard to North Korea had to be carefully prepared in intimate dialogue with South Korean member churches. The danger of such initiatives for the churches was very clear. South Korean punishments for contact with the North were draconian under the NSL. Meetings on the theme of reunification planned by the NCCK were consistently blocked by government actions. Christian teachers who discussed reunification proposals with their students were arrested and tortured.

After several attempts in South Korea to initiate a dialogue about unification – each time blocked by the authorities – our ecumenical counterparts suggested in confidence that the WCC needed to take the lead in putting reunification on the international ecumenical agenda. If meetings on reunification could not be held inside Korea, then it was necessary to hold them outside Korea. By the same token, it was clear that the Korean churches could not officially initiate such an event. The WCC would have to “go it alone” and take full responsibility for whatever the outcome. For South Korean member churches, the stakes were extremely high. The likelihood of success was extremely low.

Even within the WCC headquarters, there was some trepidation about this course of action. If we were to organize a conference on Korean reunification, then the obvious outcome should be that the WCC initiate contact with North Korean Christians, with the hope that this would lead to direct dialogue between North and South Korean delegations. This at a time when such direct contact – in fact, even talking about, let alone planning such direct contact – meant immediate imprisonment for South Korean participants.

It was left to two junior members of the staff of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) to stick their necks out in order to attempt this “mission impossible”.

By the time Victor Hsu and I began to plan what has come to be known as the “Tozanso Consultation”, it had become clear that if any openings toward Christians in the DPRK were to be achieved for the WCC, we had to secure the approval of all the WCC member churches in South Korea at the highest levels. What this meant was that we needed the presence of the churches’ decision-makers, i.e. the presidents/moderators of each member church at the consultation.

Of primary concern was the physical security of the Korean participants. Since the purpose of this consultation was to begin a process of open dialogue, we had to convince both Korean governments to see the WCC’s initiative in a positive light. We needed – and managed to obtain – assurances that Korean church leaders could participate without fear of reprisal.

One way to do this was to generalize the subject of the consultation. We did not label it a meeting about Korean reunification. Rather, this was a consultation on “Peace and Justice in North-East Asia, Prospects for Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts”. The regional perspective made sense also because the Korean conflict is in large part a clash of economic and geopolitical interests in the north-east Asian region. The meeting would not be open to the public, and we would not make public announcements nor hold press conferences. On the other hand, we made clear to the South Korean government of the time that we would invite both the Chinese churches and the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) of North Korea to attend.

Suffice it to say that on the basis of informal promises by the South Korean military government that they would not be prosecuted upon their return, the highest officials of each WCC member church and the NCCK did attend. This was a key factor in the success not only of the meeting itself, but also of the even more spectacular follow-up.

Launching the “Tozanso Process”

Tozanso has become almost a “household name”, at least in the ecumenical household. Christians and government officials in both parts of Korea recognize Tozanso as the first opening on a non-governmental (but officially recognized) level between North and South Korea. Both the KCF and the NCCK date their mutual recognition back to Tozanso, even though it would be two more years before their first face-to-face encounter in the small Swiss mountain village of Glion.

The Christian Conference of Asia organized a 20th anniversary of Tozanso in Japan in 2004. The WCC organized a 25th anniversary in Hong Kong in 2009. There is a proposal to hold a 30th Anniversary in 2014.

But if you happen to search for Tozanso on a Google map, you will not find it. Tozanso is actually the name of an International Youth Center run by the National Council of YMCAs in Japan, located at the base of Mount Fuji in the hillsides near Gotemba-city. It was here where an extraordinary meeting took place at the end of October 1984. It was here that top-level representatives of the WCC’s member churches in the Republic of Korea first encouraged the CCIA to forge contacts with North Korean Christians.

Although we had invited both the Chinese churches and the Korean Christian Federation of the DPRK to attend, neither could be present at the consultation. Yet although they could not send a delegation, the KCF was very much present among us. We were electrified by a cable they had transmitted to us, sending warmhearted greetings and wishes for success, which were read at the opening of the consultation.

The Tozanso consultation was the most tension-filled event of my entire WCC career. To the very end, there was nervousness, fear and resistance to what everyone knew would have to be the next step. In prayers both public and private, we wrestled like Jacob for God’s wisdom and blessing to assure us that the moment of kairos had really come.

As usual, I was on the drafting committee, where we worked the midnight oil to find compromises for wording on a concluding document, that just didn’t seem right. It was missing the most crucial element. Because of justifiable fears by some South Korean church leaders, we hesitated to make any mention whatever of initiatives relating to North Korea. We began to consider the implications of an inconclusive (read: failed) meeting.

It was during the final plenary that the Korean church leaders themselves achieved the breakthrough. In a section of operative paragraphs, they agreed to include the following laconically worded, though breathtaking sentence:

“The WCC, in collaboration with the CCA, (should) seek to facilitate opportunities where it would be possible for Christians from both North and South Korea to meet in dialogue.”

As we celebrated the successful conclusion of the consultation that evening, I could not have guessed that the name “Tozanso” would soon be inscribed in Korean church history – on both sides of the Military Demarcation Line – as a symbol of openness, of dialogue, of conversion, of hope, of healing.

I was sitting with some of our close colleagues, raising glass after glass of liquid refreshment, when Ahn Jae-Woong, who later became CCA General Secretary, said to me, “Erich, next year you go to Pyongyang.”

I laughed and suggested he forgo the next glass of refreshment. I could not believe that this would be possible.

Christians in North Korea, as we discovered when Ninan Koshy and I made our first visit one year later, had waited prayerfully for news from Tozanso and had welcomed with relief and thanksgiving the results. They felt that finally their severe isolation had been broken. It was their acceptance of the Tozanso conclusions that has made possible what we now know as the “Tozanso Process”.

Sunrise, sunset

During three decades after Tozanso, barriers were overcome, doors were opened, and a series of “first-time” events were added to ecumenical chronologies. Each breakthrough was a tremendous emotional highlight, not only for Koreans, but for all of us in the ecumenical community who have had the privilege of sharing their joy. Although I will merely list some of these highlights, each of them deserves detailed treatment – something I am working on in another context.

When Ninan Koshy and I visited the DPRK one year later in 1985, we established the first official, direct ecumenical contact with the Korean Christians Federation. We worshiped with local Christians in a house church. We brought gifts of bibles and hymnbooks from the NCCK. We conveyed NCCK’s wish for a face-to-face dialogue.

Two years after Tozanso, in September 1986, the dream of a direct encounter between North and South Koreans became reality at a CCIA-sponsored meeting in Glion, Switzerland. “Glion I”, as it came to be called, began with fear and trembling, as each side tested the other, openly confessing their mistrust. Both were keenly aware that they would have to account for their words and deeds back home, to their respective governments. The celebration of the Eucharist – that powerful symbol of the unity of all children of God – at the conclusion of Glion I broke down the invisible walls of separation that have tormented the Korean nation for too long. Participants from North and South dissolved into tears and embraces. The Tozanso Process began to take root.

Three years after Tozanso, in November 1987, a second, larger CCIA/WCC delegation visited North Korea. Part of their mandate was to discuss the contents of an eventual WCC Central Committee statement on reunification.

Four years after Tozanso, in November 1988, Glion II was held, this time expanded to include women from both parts of Korea. The two delegations agreed on a common “Glion Declaration on Peace and the Reunification of Korea”. Among its recommendations was a decision to observe 1995 as the Year of Jubilee for Unification, and to designate the Sunday before August 15 each year as a common day of prayer for peace. To this end, a common prayer text was adopted, the first liturgical element to be used by Christians on the same Sunday throughout the Korean peninsula.

Five years after Tozanso, in July 1989, the WCC Central Committee issued a “Policy Statement on Peace and the Reunification of Korea”, which commits the worldwide ecumenical community to the search for peace and justice in Korea. PLEASE NOTE that preparations for this Statement began with a WCC delegation visit to Pyongyang for initial discussions and concluded after intensive discussions over numerous drafts with both South and North Korean churches and those international ecumenical partners who had engaged in the most intensive programmatic follow-up to Tozanso.

Here are some of the ways that other ecumenical partners played their part:

  • The Christian Conference of Asia led the way in the Asian region, publishing information about Christian life in North Korea.
  • Delegations of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA visited both parts of Korea in 1986 and 1987. A policy statement was adopted and a campaign launched to encourage the US government towards a comprehensive peace settlement in Korea. In 1989, a KCF delegation was hosted by the NCCCUSA, the first time since the war that a North Korean group was granted visas to visit the USA.
  • Church delegations from Canada and Japan visited the DPRK.
  • Churches in Europe created an Ecumenical Network on Korea that included Austria, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
  • In 1989 a KCF delegation attended the German “Kirchentag” in Berlin/West.

Within South Korea, the NCCK issued a courageous “Declaration of the Churches of Korea on National Reunification and Peace” in February 1988. In April 1988, the NCCK convened a major international consultation in Inchon, the first such event to deal openly and publicly with this question within their country.

Chilgol Church in Pyongyang, amidst the highrises (Photo by EW)

Chilgol Church in Pyongyang, amidst the highrises (Photo by EW)

Christians in North Korea meanwhile were strengthened in their witness and diaconal influence. Alongside the KCF, which has existed since 1946, a Korean Catholic Association was formed in 1988. In the same year, two churches – one Protestant and one Catholic – were consecrated, the first to be built since the foundation of the DPRK in 1948. Next to Bongsu church was built a guesthouse with office space for the KCF, and a theological seminary. Two years later, Chilgol, the second Protestant church, was inaugurated on the spot where before the Second World War another church had been located: the church in which Kim Il Sung’s mother used to worship.

Six years after Tozanso, in December 1990, the third in the series of Glion meetings (Glion III) endorsed a five-year plan for the Jubilee Year of the peace and reunification of the Korean peninsula in 1995. Both sides pledged themselves to work on far-reaching goals such a family reunions and the release of political prisoners.

Over the next two decades a great many ecumenical events took place with both North and South Korean Christians and churches in attendance. Too many to list in this paper. Some were sponsored by various member churches, some by the CCA, and several others by the WCC. Until the current Busan assembly, the KCF became regular observers at WCC general assemblies.

The first international conference ever to discuss “ecumenical sharing of resources” directly with with the KCF was held in Macau in 1994. The Fourth International Ecumenical Consultation on Peace and Reunification in Korea was held in Kyoto, Japan in March 1995 (sometimes referred to as Glion IV). This was followed in February/March 2001 by the Ecumenical Consultation on Justice, Peace and People’s Security in Northeast Asia at Kansai Seminar House in Kyoto. And of course the aforementioned 20th and 25th Tozanso anniversary meetings in Japan (2004) and Hong Kong (2009). It was a special treat to have the KCF attend the 20th anniversary celebrations at the Tozanso YMCA Center near Gotembo, the precise location of the original consultation.

A more precise listing of all these events would make an excellent research project for some graduate student in church history. The ecumenical engagement with North and South Korea had become so intense during this period, that ecumenical invitations to the KCF filled their calendar of authorized travel years in advance.

Unfortunately, darker times were just beyond the horizon.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s resulted in a sudden cut-off of oil resources from Russia to the DPRK. This, combined with extreme weather conditions in the mid-1990s, led to severe food shortages in North Korea, soon to become a full-fledged famine. The ecumenical movement responded quickly and generously. When a number of faith-based humanitarian agencies needed a person on the spot in the DPRK, they chose me to go there. Because of my long-standing ecumenical relationship dating from the Tozanso Consultation, the DPRK authorities granted me a visa, and I spent more than two years living and working in the DPRK as the founding head of the Food Aid Liaison Unit (FALU) under United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) auspices, together with my wife and our younger daughter.

During that very same period, dramatic positive changes were occurring in South Korea, which evolved into a genuinely democratic country. Newly elected in 1998, President Kim Dae-Jung introduced a daring new approach to North Korea: the “sunshine policy”. There were many ecumenical traces in the sunshine policy, as also in the policies of his successor, President Roh Moo-hyun. One of these was the Tozanso principle that adversaries need to speak directly to each other, and that the international community should support efforts of rapprochement (reconciliation in ecumenical language) and face-to-face dialogue. Each of these presidents held face-to-face summit meetings with former DPRK leader Kim Jong Il. To organize his state visit to Pyongyang, President Roh Moo-hyun appointed one of our own, the Anglican Rev. Dr. Lee Jae-joung as Unification Minister.

Bridges between North and South were rebuilt, both figuratively and physically. Major cooperative economic projects were initiated, like the Kaesong Industrial Park. Family reunions were organized, roads and railway lines were reconnected across the demilitarized zone. These were not merely transient symbols. They were the building blocks of a reunified Korea.

Unfortunately, this hopeful period had its enemies, and the emerging “sunshine” was soon replaced by what might be called a “thunder and lightning” policy. US President George W. Busch put an end to President Clinton’s flirtation with the DPRK. In the aftermath of 9/11, dialogue and diplomacy gave way to invasive military policies. The branding of North Korea as member of an “axis of evil” and the unauthorized US invasion of Iraq led to a fateful conclusion by North Korea’s military leaders: Iraq endured an invasion because they lacked nuclear weapons. Ergo, security from US invasion necessitates a nuclear weapons capability.

It is easy to see that the testing of nuclear devices and long-range missiles by the DPRK was precisely what the hawks on both sides wanted: a new cycle of mutual recrimination, a new contest about who has the more frightening weapons. Unfortunately, the election of US President Barack Obama did not lead to a change of policy vis-a-vis the DPRK. When the ROK elected the strongly anti-sunshine President Lee Myung-bak, return to a policy of saber-rattling was complete. Joint military exercizes between US and ROK forces became larger, more threatening. The DPRK did what they do best: upping the ante in the game of brinkmanship.

What we were left with earlier this year was juvenile confrontational posturing to the brink of an accidental regional war. Although the sides seem to have stepped back from this brink a few millimeters, the rationale for maintaining pressure is being stubbornly upheld as the only way to deal with North Korea. Without in any way minimizing the reality of heinous human rights violations committed by the DPRK regime, it needs to be understood that the current escalation of human rights accusations against the DPRK, even within the UN system, is part and parcel of a failed policy of strategic confrontation. It will not improve human rights in the North, and combined with too many itchy trigger fingers pointing at each other across the so-called “demilitarized” zone, it may well plunge the entire peninsula into a disastrous, unwanted hot war.

There is one faint hope. Both North and South now have younger leaders, neither of whom seems to be suicidal. There are numerous changes happening in the North that may or may not alter the frame of reference within which some sparks of hope might flourish. Even before her election, the current ROK President Park Geun-hye announced what she calls her“Trustpolitik”. The spelling clearly harks back to former German Chancellor Willy Brandt’s “Ostpolitik”, an opening of East-West detente in Europe, reaching out to Germany’s prime enemies.

In search of renewed hope

Not surprisingly, actions by the WCC and member churches consistent with the Tozanso Process have diminished. Some of this is due to the diminished financial capacity of the ecumenical community. But the larger cause has to do with the inevitable fatigue that sets in when the hope of progress is dashed. Celebrating anniversaries of bygone glory is not the same as maintaining the discipline necessary to deal with a situation as chronic as Korean division.

Today it is difficult to find ecumenical leaders who are convinced that the Tozanso Process achieved genuine progress. Skeptics both inside and outside Korea are numerous and influential. Analysts are quick to dismiss Christian channels to North Korea as naïve diversions from unpleasant truths. Some of the assumptions that guided the Tozanso Process are being severely tested by the rising conviction that the hope of a peaceful outcome on the Korean peninsula is not only futile but is in fact wrongheaded. There is a growing “us and them” mentality, which demonizes all North Koreans, breeds contempt for “the other”, and fertilizes the soil that makes the unthinkable seem only natural. There is a growing sentiment that a brief war to eradicate the North Korean threat is preferable to maintaining an uneasy armistice for decades to come.

The genius of the Tozanso Process is that it contributes to the unraveling of the rationale for the division of Korea. Every conflict is a two-way street. Black and white are not the appropriate colours with which to arrive at a peaceful resolution of even this conflict. Every genuine effort towards peace requires both self-knowledge and the willingness to know the other, a willingness to dare to love the other. And that means abandoning our tendency to regard ourselves as innocent bystanders. We are far from qualified to cast the first stone. As the NCCK recognized in its 1988 Declaration of the Churches of Korea on National Reunification and Peace, the first requirement of peace-workers is to engage in a “Confession of the Sin of Hatred within Division”. It is a process of confidence building, of tearing down fabricated enemy images, of daring to love – and to trust that God can manage the final judgment without our help.

The re-establishment of relationships between North and South Korea cannot be a matter of indifference for the ecumenical movement. Why do we even have an ecumenical movement? One might say that many have prayed for the re-establishment of Christian unity since the Reformation 500 years ago. This is the 10th WCC General Assembly, 65 years after the 1948 first Assembly in Amsterdam. Can we truly say that in 2013 we have achieved our goal of Christian unity? As Christians we should be well aware that re-establishing unity after it has been ruptured requires a long-term and thankless commitment.

How we as a Christian community deal with our malignant disunity constitutes a choice between true and false prophecy. The false prophets prefer the force of arms, converting the heathens by trickery and compulsion. The true prophets call for confession and forgiveness, for dialogue and understanding, for persistence in prayer and self-sacrifice. True prophets will teach us that we are incapable of achieving unity without tapping into God’s endless capacity for love.

The ecumenical community’s involvement in Korea’s reunification is not an exercize in altruism. It is the prophetic acknowledgment that reconciliation is the key to curing our global schizophrenia.

Lessons learned

It would require a separate paper of considerable length to list all the lessons we have learned in the past 30 years. But this paper is about accompaniment. It is about the ecumenical community approaching those who are vilified with kindness, understanding their problems and their pain, accepting them as equals, respecting their wish to resolve their own issues in their own way, but assisting them wherever and whenever they need our help.

Above all, accompaniment means being there for them as sisters and brothers, in sickness and in health, through trials and triumphs, without judgment or prejudice. Ecumenical accompaniment is about being witnesses to hope in the midst of despair. Following here are only some of the lessons learned from the Tozanso Process. It includes also points that in the past were accepted by the ecumenical community as what was called the “Tozanso Discipline”.

  1. The history of the struggle for the reunification of Korea did not begin with the Tozanso consultation in 1984. It has existed since the division some 40 years earlier. This struggle continues to produce victims and martyrs to this day. The Tozanso Process needs to be seen in the context of both Korean history and ecumenical history.
  2. The principal actors in the struggle for reunification are the Koreans themselves. No one else will, can or should do it for them. No one can rush the process any faster than the Koreans themselves want it, although it is possible for outside forces to obstruct it, as they have done until now.
  3. The struggle for peace and the struggle for justice are one. In the same sense, the struggle for human rights and democracy and the struggle for reunification are one. Neither can succeed alone, each reinforces the other. The enemies of both are the same.
  4. Christians will contribute neither to global unity nor to national unity by dividing their efforts. The ecumenical community will contribute to the unity of the oikos (the whole inhabited earth) only if their efforts are united with all others, including non-Christians – in fact, even with the enemy, whom Christ has admonished us to love.
  5. Christian mission will be accomplished neither through Christian expansionism nor through denominational chauvinism, but only in the context of the struggle for justice and peace.
  6. Christian efforts for peace must be ecumenical not only because it is a moral imperative, not only because the objective of Christian mission is union with God and therefore the unity of all creation, but also because it is practically the only effective course of action from a political point of view. Divided efforts can most easily be exploited by malign political forces over which we have little or no control.
  7. Ecumenical action begins within ourselves, with God’s act of conversion. Self-appraisal, self-criticism, and changes within ourselves and in our social context must precede and accompany any effective contribution to peace and justice.
  8. Support for Korean efforts in the struggle for justice and peace requires that churches in the ecumenical family establish and maintain contact with churches and Christians in both parts of Korea. Such contacts should promote the building of confidence between North and South by providing first-hand information to each side about conversations and activities of the other side, thus contributing to an atmosphere of trust and reconciliation.
  9. There is a continuing and increasingly urgent need to revise negative attitudes towards Korea, both in church and in society (including political, economic and military policies). The production and wide dissemination of information about North Korea, both within the churches and where possible to the wider public is more essential now than ever before, given the fact that general knowledge about the Korean situation continues to be skewed in the direction of demonization and at the best of times is grossly inadequate.
  10. Church agencies need to continue their work of providing humanitarian and development aid to the people of North Korea, if possible via the KCF. Under current circumstances, such aid is often a requirement in order to obtain visas for continued face-to-face encounters with North Korean counterparts. Churches should also press their own governments to provide food and other humanitarian aid as permitted under UNSC sanctions.
  11. Considering that there have been a great number of new developments in both North and South Korea since Tozanso, there is an urgent need to re-appraise ecumenical positions with regard to the Tozanso Process, and to set new priorities in the ecumenical response to Korean division and the search for peace and reconciliation. Such reappraisal should take into account that as was underlined by the original Tozanso Consultation, the division of Korea is both a national and a regional issue, involving at least the countries represented in the Six-Party Talks (DPRK, ROK, USA, China, Russia and Japan).
  12. There is a need to recapture the “spirit” of Tozanso. We are living in an age of fear that has done violence against people living in hope. We have become lovers of bad news and banished good news from our lives. Without hope we grope in the dark, vulnerable to the false prophets of gloom and doom. Having so long accentuated the negative, we have not only forgotten the positive, we are afraid of the positive. Apart from the historical details outlined above, the spirit of Tozanso embodied the values of courage, caring, communication, confession, conciliation and commitment.
    1. It takes courage to confront the nay-sayers and pessimists, as well as the policies of the powerful who oppose peace and reunification.
    2. It takes love and genuine caring to step over established boundaries to connect with those who are locked behind physical or psychological barriers.
    3. Only heart-to-heart communication can break the hardheartedness that has become a global epidemic and major impediment to peace.
    4. Without confession of our own sins and shortcomings, we will be unable to free ourselves of the prejudice and miscalculation that is at the root of all conflicts.
    5. The dictionary defines conciliation as the overcoming of hostility or suspicion. Before it is possible to achieve peace or to reunify divided individuals, churches, nations or the world community, it is necessary to become reconciled with God. It is necessary to seek inner renewal.
    6. No one at the original Tozanso Consultation expected that the reunification of Korea could be achieved quickly. We all realized that it will take a long-term commitment. When despair takes over, hope is lost and commitment diminishes. But the antidote to despair is a stubborn commitment to persevere against all odds. Hope flourishes in the soil of our own commitment. 

One Response to “Ecumenical Accompaniment for Building Justice and Peace in Korea by Erich Weingartner”

  1. Sue Hickey Says:

    what can be done about those awful prison camps in the DRPK?
    Sue Hickey, national coordinator, Amnesty International, Canadian Section, for North and South Korea

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