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In Korea, candlelight vigil spreads “Light of Peace”

In Korea, candlelight vigil spreads “Light of Peace”

Candlelight vigil for peace at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Photo: NCCK

06 December 2017

Amid continuing tension and conflict on the Korean Peninsula that threatens peace and the security of the Korean people, the World Council of Churches (WCC) called its member churches to participate in “A Light of Peace” campaign during Advent.

In response to this call, on 3 December, the first Sunday in Advent, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) held a candlelight vigil at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, Republic of Korea, the same location as the Candlelight Revolution in which more than 17 million people gathered to demand the resignation of President Park Geun-hye and full democracy in 2016-17.

The NCCK vigil began in the evening with lighting candles for "renouncing war and building peace."

Dr Lee Un-sunn led the WCC Common Prayer saying, "God, the giver of all life, our saviour and comforter, give the people of Korea peace, and give peace to all peoples all over the world".

People responded, "God, grant us that our light shine where we are, so that we share the life and the hope you have given us."

In his sermon, Rev. Rah Haek-jib shared the biblical story of the Levite's concubine, who was raped and killed by some wicked people from Benjamin tribe. This tragic incident brings all tribes of Israel to wage war against the Benjaminites (Judges 19-21).

Eventually the tribes of Israel realize that the wars among them have destroyed not only the Benjaminites, but also the entire tribes of Israel. Haek-jib concluded his sermon saying, "violence builds itself on the sacrifice of others, but life builds itself on the solid foundation of peace."

Han Jeong Hyeon, a youth participant who came with her sister, said, "I came here to Gwanghwamun again to sincerely pray for a peaceful future on the Korean peninsula in which we, the young generation, live without any fear of war and nuclear catastrophe."

At the end of the vigil, all participants voiced: ”as apostles of peace, the Korean church, together with 10 million followers, strongly opposes a second war in the peninsula and therefore will not tolerate any forms of military actions aggravating the situation."

A week prior to Advent, Rev. Lee Hong-jung, newly-elected general secretary of the NCCK, shared a message in which he emphasized: "overcoming division and establishing a permanent peace system in the Korean peninsula is the historical responsibility of the Korean Christians."

Member churches of the NCCK will hold candle-light vigils every night from 4-9 December. On 9 December, members of the National YMCA as well as representatives from the NCCK and the WCC Diakonia Consultation will organize a candlelight vigil for a nuclear free world in conjunction with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons - a WCC partner - receiving a 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

WCC campaign A Light of Peace, including prayers for peace in the Korean peninsula (available in English, French, German and Spanish)

WCC urges all parties in Korean Peninsula confrontation to be instruments of peace (WCC press release of 22 November 2017)

Statement on the situation on the Korean peninsula 22 November 2017

WCC leadership celebrates steps toward world free from nuclear weapons (WCC press release of 22 November 2017)

WCC statement on the Korean peninsula 11 June 2017