By Jesse Winter
The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) hosted a delegation from the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) this week to advocate for a permanent peace treaty between North and South Korea. The Church of the Brethren is a member organization of the NCC, and staff of the Office of Public Witness participated in events with the Korean delegation. Delegation members visited with key members of Congress, White House officials, and members of the ecumenical community to discuss prospects for peace.
This visit coincided with the 63rd anniversary of the July 27 armistice agreement that ended a three-year war between North and South Korea in 1953. Continuing tensions between the North and South, compounded by the presence of US troops in South Korea, have lapsed into threats of violence and outright confrontation between the two nations periodically since the armistice was signed. These critical relations highlight the urgency of the delegation’s call for a diplomatic negotiation of a permanent peace treaty.
On July 28, this tense reality came to light when a top North Korean diplomat spoke out against new US sanctions imposed on North Korea on July 6, stating that the US had “crossed the red line” and that “we regard this extraordinary crime of the US as a declaration of war.”
The Korean church delegation specifically challenged the effectiveness of sanctions imposed on North Korea and noted their negative impact on vulnerable populations on the Korean peninsula.
In order to lessen tension between nations and to foster reconciliation between North and South Korea, the delegation also warned against the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile and radar system in South Korea, and called for global nuclear disarmament.
These lofty goals address the heart of being followers of Christ in an increasingly militarized world.
— Jesse Winter has been serving as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker with the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C.