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30th anniversary of the NCC in Korea's Human Rights Mission

23 April 2004

Letter to Rev. Paik Do-Woong, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches
in Korea, 23 April, 2004

Dear Rev. Paik,

Greetings.

It is an honour and privilege for me to send you this message as you celebrate
the 30th anniversary of the Human Rights Mission of the National Council of
Churches in Korea. The churches in Korea, through the National Council, have
made an exemplary contribution to the human rights movement not only in the
country, but also in the region. This work is a shining example of the Korean
churches' witness to the gospel - their healing ministry to the broken body of
Christ.

Through the years of military dictatorships, first under General Park Chung
Hee and then under General Chun Doo Wan, churches and Christians were in
the forefront of the struggle against repression and human rights violations. During
this period thousands of Christians, including members of the clergy, teachers,
trade unionists, students and others, were incarcerated and tortured. They were
tried before summary military courts and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment
under the draconian National Security laws. At that time the churches provided
not only the much-needed and timely legal aid to victims but also pastoral
care and accompaniment to the suffering families. The weekly prayer meetings
at the offices of the National Council of Churches became a hall- mark of Christian
love and concern for victims of human rights violations and their families, and a
symbol of resistance to the repressive policies of the military regime.

The World Council of Churches is proud to have been a part of the history of
struggle of the Korean churches. While the churches and Christians carried on a
vibrant and robust struggle against the forces of evil and darkness at the local and
national levels, the WCC and its member churches around the world mobilized
the much-needed international solidarity and support. The fact that Korean society
today is well set on the way to democratization and the rule of law is a tribute
to the efforts of the Korean churches for which we give thanks to God. May
our Lord's blessings and guidance be with the leadership of the churches and the
people of Korea as they continue their struggle for the dignity of all Korean people
and seek the peaceful reunification of the peninsula and its people.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary