Why are Koreans asking us to work together to end this war? A personal reflection from Rev Kwang Beom Cho. Past Executive co-chairperson Rev Kwang Beom Cho offers this personal appeal to United Church members to participate in the current Korea Peace Appeal petition campaign offered by our global partners in Korea, as they seek to end over 70 years of war. Please click here to see his first reflection.
As I mentioned before, most Koreans never thought that Korea would separate when they were liberated from Japanese Empire Government. However, the two big powerful countries came into North and South Korea as a liberation army and as an occupation force. Then they divided Korea based on the 38th parallel of latitude. Many Koreans fought for the liberation of the Korean Peninsula from the Japanese colonial rule, but after the Japanese imperialists withdrew, other empires came into the occupying forces and decided the Korean Peninsula issue without consulting the Koreans, drawing a 38th parallel and dividing the two Koreas. Then after 5 years later, the Korean War broke out. June 25th of this year is the day the Korean War began 72 years ago. And the Korean people are asking the world for help, to end the unfinished Korean War and have peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Some of you might be wondering why the two Koreas have not signed a declaration for the end of the war plus a peace agreement. It’s because there is another tragedy between the two Koreas. The two Korean leaders can meet politically and go pass the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ, separating North and South), which was also impossible a decade ago. However, they cannot sign for the end of the war themselves alone.
In 1953, when a ceasefire came into effect, the representatives who signed the agreement were the USA (as a representative of the UN), and North Korea and China. So, the official name of the agreement is the “Agreement between the Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command, on the one hand, and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army and the Commander of the Chinese People’s volunteers, on the other hand, concerning a military armistice in Korea.” It means there were no representatives from South Korea. At the time, the South Korean president did not sign the agreement, arguing that UN forces should advance to the northern tip of the peninsula to achieve reunification and declare an end to the war. Nevertheless, the ceasefire agreement was reached, and the ceasefire agreement without the signature of one of the most important representatives of the war continues to this day.
That’s why the jurisdiction of the DMZ in the South (which is located between the South and North of the military demarcation line) is still at the UN.
For this reason, the Korean Peninsula remains in a state where war can be started again at any time- even now. For this reason, the end of the war between the two Koreas can’t happen with just the power of the two Korean representatives, but need at least one more representative, namely the US (strictly, the United Nations) representative.
Therefore, we, together with the consciences of the world who oppose war and want peace, are demanding an end to the war and a peace treaty, not only for the two governments on the Korean Peninsula but also for the countries involved in this war and the United Nations.
This appeal will end this summer. We have still a few months to sign for the Peace of Korea. Please, sign…