Swiss mark 60 years of military presence in Korea

[The most sober account of the 60th Anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement that we have found comes – appropriately – from the International Service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. We include here three items from their “neutral” point of view. –CanKor]

A Swiss officer monitors the border between the two Koreas in 1977 (RDB)

A Swiss officer monitors the border between the two Koreas in 1977 (RDB)

Flexible neutrality on the DMZ

The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) was created by the armistice accord signed on July 27, 1953, in the town of Panmunjom. The armistice text ended the armed conflict but stopped short of being a peace treaty. It was signed by the armed forces present and not by the governments of the two sides.

The signatories were the Korean People’s Army (North Korea), the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the United Nations Command. The South Korean army was not a signatory, which is why the North has never considered it as a party in the context of eventual peace negotiations.

The NNSC was stationed on each side of the border within the demilitarised zone and was made up of military personnel from Switzerland and Sweden at the bequest of the South, and of Polish and Czechoslovak troops at the bequest of the North. The four delegations carried out the mission jointly.

The criteria for neutrality were relatively flexible as it was enough to not have participated in the Korean War to be considered neutral. In the first instance, the North proposed the Soviet Union as a neutral party. After the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1993, the country’s delegation was withdrawn and not replaced.

The Polish delegation, stationed on the north side of the border was asked to leave in 1994 when North Korea declared that the NNCS no longer existed. Poland no longer has a permanent presence in the demilitarised zone but remains a member of the NNSC and sends delegates several times a year to participate in activities in Panmunjom. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Call for Peace and Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula

koreapeace[The Korean United Methodist Church of Atlanta was the site of an ecumenical Korea peace conference from 15 to 17 May 2013. Theme of the event was “Embrace Peace, Pursue It: From Armistice to Just Peace on the Korean Peninsula.” Keynote and plenary speakers included The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts-Schori, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church USA, The Rev. Dr. Syngman Rhee, former president, National Council of Churches USA and a former moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, The Rev. Dr. Jaejung Lee, professor at the Sungkonghoe University, Seoul, former South Korean Minister of Unification, and Dr. Christine Ahn, Executive Director of the Korea Policy Institute. Sponsoring organizations were the United Methodist Korean American National Association; Committee on Korean Reunification & Reconciliation; General Board of Global Ministries; United Methodist Women; United Methodist Korean Ministry Plan; and the National Council of Churches, South Korea. Workshop theme were: Building a Case for Peace Treaty: Steps for Advocacy; Women & Militarism; Humanitarian Mission & Building Solidarity in North Korea; The suffering of North Korean defectors and their survival in the South Korean society and church; and Nuclear Armament & Peace in the Korean Peninsula. Following here is the statement issued by conference participants. –CanKor] Read the rest of this entry »

Ending the Korean War: conference report by Peggy McInerny

[CanKor editor Erich Weingartner spoke at a recent UCLA Center for Korean Studies conference, which brought together a wide range of speakers to reconsider how to end a war that never technically ended. Peggy McInerny, the author of the article which follows, is Director of Communications at the UCLA International Institute. A full conference summary may be read here: The Heartbreak of a Divided Nation by Peggy McInerny. –CanKor]

Podium and first row, left to right: Paul Liem, Korea Policy Institute; Dorothy Ogle, former Methodist missionary to South Korea; Pilju Kim Joo, Agglobe Services International; Indong Oh, M.D.; Jeong Young-Hee, farmer and peace activist from Gangjeong, Jeju Island; Christine Ahn (back turned), Global Fund for Women and Oakland Institute, and daughter. Top row, left to right: Moon Jae Pak, M.D., U.S.-North Korea Medical Science Exchange Committee; historian Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago; Erich Weingartener, CanKor; Rev. Syngman Rhee; James Chun, One Korea Movement; Hosu Kim, City University of New York. (Photo by Peggy McInerny)

Podium and first row, left to right: Paul Liem, Korea Policy Institute; Dorothy Ogle, former Methodist missionary to South Korea; Pilju Kim Joo, Agglobe Services International; Indong Oh, M.D.; Jeong Young-Hee, farmer and peace activist from Gangjeong, Jeju Island; Christine Ahn (back turned), Global Fund for Women and Oakland Institute, and daughter. Top row, left to right: Moon Jae Pak, M.D., U.S.-North Korea Medical Science Exchange Committee; historian Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago; Erich Weingartner, CanKor; Rev. Syngman Rhee; James Chun, One Korea Movement; Hosu Kim, City University of New York. (Photo by Peggy McInerny)

The UCLA Center for Korean Studies hosted a conference entitled “Ending the Korean War” on May 9, 2013. The meeting brought together a wide range of speakers — historians, sociologists, former missionaries, peace activists, Korean War survivors, and people currently engaged in humanitarian projects in North Korea — to reconsider how to end a war that never technically ended. Instead of a peace agreement, the United States and North Korea signed an armistice agreement in 1953 on behalf of their allies on each side.

Sixty years later, the Korean Peninsula remains heavily militarized, the United States has still not recognized North Korea, and acute tensions between the two states earlier in 2013 threatened to lead to military conflict.

Historian Bruce Cumings of the University of Chicago, where he is Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor and chair of the history department, served as keynote speaker. In his view, U.S. policy toward North Korea over the past 60 years, which has consisted mostly of nuclear threats, has been a complete failure. Not only does North Korea now have nuclear weapons, as well as long- and medium-range missiles, the two nations are no nearer to a peace agreement than they were in 1953. Read the rest of this entry »

What Park Geun-hye actually said about North Korea in Washington

Remarks by President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea to a Joint Session of Congress

Location: House Chamber, The Capitol, Washington, D.C., Time: 10:39 a.m. EDT, Date: Wednesday, 8 May 2013

ROK President Park Geun-hye addresses a joint meeting of Congress in Washington 8 May 2013. (Photo from Ebru News)

ROK President Park Geun-hye addresses a joint meeting of Congress in Washington 8 May 2013. (Photo from Ebru News)

PRESIDENT PARK GEUN-HYE:

Speaker Boehner, Vice President Biden, distinguished members of the House and the Senate, ladies and gentlemen, I’m privileged to stand in this chamber, this hallowed ground of freedom and democracy, to speak about our friendship and our future together.

After I arrived in Washington the day before yesterday, I went to the Korean War Memorial, near the banks of the Potomac. I read the words etched in granite. Our nation honors the sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met. Time and again, I’m moved when I read those familiar words. (Applause.)

Let me express on behalf of the people of the Republic of Korea our profound gratitude to America’s veterans. Their blood, sweat and tears helped safeguard freedom and democracy. (Applause.) Read the rest of this entry »

What Park Geun-hye should say about North Korea in Washington, by Victor Hsu

[From time to time we reproduce posts from our partner site 38North, for CanKor readers who may not receive 38North updates. In this case, CanKor Brain Trust member Prof. Victor Hsu offers his take on what should be South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s message to a joint meeting of the US Congress on Wednesday, 8 May 2013. –CanKor]

North Korea: Danger and Opportunity for Park Geun-hye’s Presidency

By Victor W.C. Hsu, 5 May 2013

President Park Geun-hye waves before leaving for the United States from Seoul Airport in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Sunday. During her first foreign trip after becoming president, Park is scheduled to have a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, Tuesday. (Korea Times photo by Koh Young-kwon)

President Park Geun-hye waves before leaving for the United States from Seoul Airport in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Sunday. During her first foreign trip after becoming president, Park is scheduled to have a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, Tuesday. (Korea Times photo by Koh Young-kwon)

South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s speech to the Joint Session of the United States Congress will be a great opportunity to signal that the Korean peninsula is headed toward a new era of inter-Korean cooperation, test the rough waters with policies for a breakthrough on the North Korea policy conundrum and dispel much of the jitteriness that has surrounded Korea since the beginning of the year. More importantly, her message can be an invitation to North Korea to grasp her outstretched hand and prove to the international community that it’s not an empty gesture but that she means business.

I am not President Park’s advisor, nor am I her speechwriter, but as an American citizen living in South Korea, here is what I would like her to say in Washington: Read the rest of this entry »

Canadians not about to leave or stay away from South Korea

[Canadians don’t seem too worried about war on the Korean Peninsula, judging from interviews with Canadians living in the Republic of Korea, and a group of Canadian Korean War veterans who are leaving on a tour to South Korea. We feature three articles that have appeared in the Canadian media recently. The first, distributed by The Canadian Press is taken from CTV News, 18 April 2013. The second appeared in numerous Canadian newspapers, such as The Chronicle Herald of Halifax, on 11 April 2013, with files from The Associated Press. The third is from QMI Agency and was published by various newspapers in the Sun News Network on 13 April 2013. –CanKor]

Canadian vets to tour South Korea despite threats from North

The Canadian Press, Ottawa, 18 April 2013
Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay looks on as Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney speaks with Korean War veteran Douglas Barber during an event on Parliament Hill, Tuesday, 16 April 2013. (Photo by Adrian Wyld, The Canadian Press)

Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay looks on as Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney speaks with Korean War veteran Douglas Barber during an event on Parliament Hill, Tuesday, 16 April 2013. (Photo by Adrian Wyld, The Canadian Press)

Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney is preparing to lead a delegation to South Korea next week, despite bloodcurdling threats by North Korea against its neighbour. Blaney and a group of 36 veterans of the Korean War are to leave this weekend for a commemorative tour of battlefields and cemeteries.

He says Foreign Affairs is keeping a close eye on the Korean peninsula, where North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has been threatening nuclear war against South Korea and the United States. Blaney adds that the South Korean government hasn’t raised any red flags over the trip.

The five-day visit commemorates Canada’s contribution to the 1950-53 Korean War. About 26,000 Canadians took part in the conflict and 516 were killed. Read the rest of this entry »

Replacing the Armistice With A Peace Treaty in Korea, by Leon V. Sigal

[Leon V. Sigal, a long-time CanKor friend, is director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York. This being the 60th year since the Korean Armistice Agreement (27 July 1953), and after the 17th repudiation of that agreement by the DPRK last month, we find it appropriate to alert readers to this article, published on 26 March 2013 by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability (NAPSNet) Policy Forum. –CanKor]

Leon V. SigalA peace process on the Korean Peninsula is essential to curbing the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs.

For over two decades the DPRK has said that denuclearization requires the United States to end what it calls the US “hostile policy” and to reconcile with it. A peace treaty to replace the armistice that terminated the Korean War is its long-sought manifestation of that end to enmity.
Recently, following US demands that it take “unilateral steps … to live up to [its] obligations,” (US Special Envoy Glyn Davies, VOA interview, July 26, 2012), North Korea toughened its negotiating stance, demanding that the United States move first to reassure it: “The 20 year-long history of the talks between the DPRK and the US has shown that even the principle of simultaneous action steps is not workable unless the hostile concept of the US towards the DPRK is removed” (DPRK Foreign Ministry Memorandum in KCNA, “DPRK Terms US Hostile Policy Main Obstacle in Resolving Nuclear Issue,” August 31, 2012). That stance was implicit in its insistence that the United States tolerate its satellite launches as part of the so-called Leap Year deal. Read the rest of this entry »

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