Dialogue and engagement – not threats and sanctions – have been urged for North Korea by the World Council of Churches (WCC) while the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) have sent an emergency letter to South Korean president Moon Jae-In.
Churches are also being asked to observe a Sunday of prayer for the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula on 13 August 2017 by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).
WCC urges dialogue and engagement
Concern has been expressed over whether new sanctions on North Korea will produce any positive impact in bringing a return to negotiations or preventing North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, by WCC general secretary Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.
Sanctions have, instead, clearly contributed to impeding humanitarian access to North Korea for disaster relief and other aid, Tveit said.
‘We appeal urgently to the members of the international community to liberate themselves and their policy towards North Korea from the vicious cycle of threat and counter-threat’, said Tveit. ‘The possible consequences of the failure to do so are too appalling to contemplate or to risk.’
Emergency letter to South Korean president
The NCCK letter to the South Korean president expresses grave concern and calls for dialogue during the period of military tension, stating:
‘We sincerely ask of the President that you swiftly take matters into hand. We ask that through unconditional dialogues, the two Koreas pave way to independently resolve the neo-Cold War crisis in the Korean peninsula. The NCCK is ready to take active participation.
‘In order to transform the present crisis into an opportunity and open the door for dialogue, we humbly ask you to immediately dispatch a special envoy to North Korea.’
Sunday of prayer
The theme for the Sunday of prayer for the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula is based on Romans 14:19: ‘Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.’ It takes place two days before Liberation Day in Korea, on 15 August, during which people celebrate Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonisation.
The joint prayer was prepared by the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) from North Korea and the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) from South Korea.
These can be accessed on the WCC website:
- 2017 North South/South North Joint Prayer for Peaceful Reunification
- Order of service prepared by the NCCK Reconciliation and Reunification Committee (PDF)
- Dr Suh’s Story: A Moment of Forgiveness and a Moment of Grace (PDF)
Analysis: peace on the Korean peninsula
It is important that the worldwide Church plays a mutual and cooperate role in the search for peace between North and South Korea says Christine Elliott, Director of World Church Programmes for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). Churches have also been challenged by North Koreans to call for the sanctions on North Korea to be lifted and CTBI has been asked to take the lead on exploring a response to this. Read the full analysis
Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula (EFK) – Leipzig, Germany on 7-8 July
A number of statements were issued at this meeting of churches and related organisations from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and seven other countries: