What motivated you to commit to peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula?
Bishop Jung: My commitment is a kind of response to God’s call to peacemaking, to let people be free of separation. I have always followed the biblical mandate for reconciliation and love. We, in North and South Korea, are one nation and one people. The division is causing so much pain and so many tears, and needs to be reconciled. The Korean Peninsula is my native home, and the reality of separation and war has been part of my own biography. However, separation, destruction and ongoing pain, are inhumane.
What is the spiritual dimension of peace-building for Korea?
Bishop Jung: We need to continue to imagine and pray together for a peaceful future for the Korean Peninsula and for the whole world. We all say we have faith – but what kind of faith do we have? It is God who brings about reconciliation as God is the source of all shalom.
I went to North Korea in 2015 with the WCC delegation. It felt risky but it was such a blessed journey. I was so thankful to accompany together with other church leaders, and the Korean Christian Federation showed marvelous hospitality. It was an awakening experience for me in which I witnessed their strong commitment to peace on the Korean Peninsula. I returned with so much confidence that both Koreas want reconciliation and reunion of families. We all share a common aspiration and hope and desire for peace and reconciliation. If we Christians continue to pray together, I know that God will answer.
We need a Christian solidarity for the divided Korea. Prayer is a radical action. It is a radical commitment, the way we as Christians believe in prayer and also embrace each other through prayer. In this regard, the global prayer campaign by the WCC is so transformative and powerful.
Can you please describe the commitment of the faith community in the US for peace in Korea?
Bishop Jung: The US’s role for the division in Korea is very significant. Living in America, and working for peace for North and South Korea are linked with mixed feelings for me. How do we persuade the US politicians to make the right effort for reconciliation? We need to be a vocal on this matter and need to focus on advocacy and networking in our work for solidarity. It is a reminder on how we reach out to our decision makers, which is critical for our daily lives. I have sometimes felt that the Korean issue has been forgotten. There are so many opinions of how to solve the issues in North and South Korea, but I believe the diplomatic negotiations can bring about reconciliation. At the same time, we need to continue to dream, work, preach, teach, and pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Because peace in Korea will be a gift for the whole world. We need to remind people to pray to serve God's reality of shalom.
Will you give examples of the work for reconciliation?
Bishop Jung: I have always seen many brave and courageous people (minjung) in both North and South Korea, who are holding the historic pain in their hearts. They constantly hope for reconciliation and are committed to peace. About 70 percent of the population are still hoping to be united. It requires patience and mobilization in their daily lives, which is courageous in itself.
A lot of colleagues of mine, even in the USA and in the global community, are very courageous leaders, holding reconciliation and peace in their hearts. We all share the same dream. There are so many people, many ancestors and many courageous people that have worked or still work for reconciliation. It is ongoing footsteps that will continue for peace. This is our hope for our future.
What can the world contribute with regard to peaceful development in Korea?
Bishop Jung: I believe that Christians, non-governmental organizations, and other peace networks in the world are already working for peace and reunification for Korea. I am very grateful for their strong expression of solidarity and commitment. I deeply appreciate the WCC’s efforts to bring about peace in many conflict countries. The Christian community is needed in all humanitarian solidarity. It is a very critical effort right now.
We need to establish the peace treaty, that the war is done and we are sure in a peace effort together. This is a diplomatic action that a lot of leaders in the world are conscious about. We create a sustainable future together.