The Cold War never ended on the Korean Peninsula, and no peace agreement was signed. The Korean Peninsula has, all along, been a silent war. A leftover from the Cold War, not yet solved. And a conflict forgotten by many.
We have many conflicts with political root causes in the world. Where power games between nations or interests have made ordinary people suffer. Where people have paid or pay the high price in terms of personal suffering, loss, separation from loved ones, death and sorrow. It is easy to believe that only superpowers or or very powerful institutions can solve the conflicts.
But is that the whole truth? Or are we—as citizens, churches and faith-based organizations—more influential than we think, in creating and believing in peace and justice?
“It is not the numbers, it is the light in your hand, that will shine in the darkness, that counts,” as Rev. Frank Chikane says in an interview in chapter 15 of the publication Light of Peace: Churches in Solidarity with the Korean Peninsula.
Working with the booklet has been a very rewarding journey. I have been working as a journalist, editor and a communicator for peace and justice for many years, but the conflict on the Korean Peninsula still has been quite unknown for me. The opportunity I have had that for six months working with the booklet about the Korean Peninsula along with people well aware of the situation, from the World Council of Churches as well as from churches on the Korean Peninsula, has been a true privilege.
It has been an eyeopener to take part in these beautiful, strong stories that are revealed in the booklet, and to see what enormous power and faith people on the ground and churches have shown, and keep on struggling for. Not only in Korea, but all around the world, in solidarity for the people in Korea.
On 5 May this year, former WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit received the Dongbaek Medal of the Order of Civil Merit, from Moon Jae-in, president of the Republic of Korea, as well as prime minister Chung Sye-kyun. The medal was given because of the WCC's extraordinary work for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
I hope that the strong stories and testimonies in the booklet will inspire readers by giving them the courage and faith to get involved in peace work. To make policymakers, churches, solidarity groups and individuals all around the world aware of the situation in Korea, and the root causes, still very visible in the area.
How can we change the situation and put pressure on our governments and other policymakers to change the situation? How can churches around the world actively work for peace and justice, and be voices for a just peace? How can we cultivate a culture of true compassion, not only in our own circles, but for all on this planet?
I hope that this book will raise awareness and inspire us to see that each of us can be a contributor for peace and reconciliation. It is our own choice.
As the famous quote by Margaret Mead tells us: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”