The WCC is especially reaching out to those individuals and organizations who, in 2020, participated in a Joint Ecumenical Peace Appeal on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. This year, the WCC is asking them to renew their appeal and advocacy during the 70th anniversary year of the Korean War Armistice Agreement.
“Those calls remain unanswered, and currently another new cycle of confrontation and provocation is accelerating in the region, raising renewed risks of catastrophic conflict in an even more complicated and unstable global context,” reads a letter sent from the WCC to its partners in peace. “I therefore write to ask you, as subscribers to the 2020 Joint Ecumenical Peace Message, to take up this challenge again, and to make your voices heard in your societies and by your governments, so that a 75th anniversary of this unresolved conflict need not be lamented, and so that practical steps towards reducing tensions and building peace in the region may finally be taken.”
In its June meeting, the WCC central committee released a statement on the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement.
“We pray for peace and dialogue to end this dangerous cycle, and for denuclearization not only of the Korean Peninsula but of the entire world,” reads the statement. “In a time of renewed escalation of tensions and confrontation on the Korean Peninsula, we recall that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the 1953 Armistice Agreement which established a ceasefire, but not a formal end, to the Korean War.”
The statement notes that inter-Korean relations have experienced a major deterioration since the abrupt and inconclusive end of the US-North Korea Summit in Hanoi in 2019. “This deterioration was exemplified by North Korea’s demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office in June 2020,” the statement notes. “Compounded by the closure of borders following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, a complete breakdown of communication between the governments, private organizations, civil society, and churches in North and South Korea has ensued.”
The WCC has supported encounters between North and South Korean Christians and international ecumenical cooperation for peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula for close to 40 years.
“However, due to the current global circumstances, encounters with counterparts from the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) of North Korea have not been able to take place since December 2019,” notes the statement. “To help break this current cycle of confrontation, we believe that an important step would be to formally acknowledge the end of the Korean War 1950-1953 by replacing the temporary Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty.”