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 After the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1993, the country’s delegation was withdrawn and not replaced.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 »

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 »

PROK Statement on the Current Situation

[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).

Logo PROKWe, 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. Read the rest of this entry »

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