The World Council of Churches (WCC) is alarmed by the escalating tensions and exchanges of fire on the Korean peninsula. “The governments of South and North Korea are engaged in a dangerous game of provocation and counter-provocation,” said director of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs Peter Prove, “which puts the lives of the people of the peninsula into jeopardy.”
Recent incidents involving a landmine explosion in the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) in which two South Korean soldiers were severely injured, and South Korea’s resumption of loudspeaker broadcasts directed toward North Korea, have escalated rapidly in to exchanges of artillery fire between the two sides. This represents a qualitatively more serious situation than during previous periods of heightened tensions in the region. Recent joint military exercises by US and South Korean forces also have contributed to this explosive political environment.
“The World Council of Churches calls on both South and North Korea to refrain from further mutual provocations, and on other involved governments such as the USA to contribute to reducing rather than to heightening tensions,” said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. “Provocation does not offer a path to peace,” he stressed. “It can only risk a slide into conflict, with unimaginable and uncontrollable consequences for the Korean people as well as people of the region and the world.”
“Together with the National Council of Churches in Korea, we urge the opening and use of channels of communication to help prevent military clashes,” Tveit added.