“Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean Peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.” – Pope Francis, Easter 2013 Homily
July 27th marked the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. While the armistice is in effect, the peace is fragile. The Armistice agreement of 1953 worked to put an end to active conflict on the peninsula, but it was intended as a short-term agreement until an official lasting peace agreement could be negotiated. Unfortunately, this never happened. North Korean leaders are developing nuclear weapons that could destroy the Peninsula and continue to isolate their people under a powerful dictatorship; South Korea is hosting provocative military exercises with the United States and constructing a new naval base on its southern Jeju Island that will damage the environment and change the fabric of life there. Columban missionaries strive for peace on a peninsula they once knew as one nation.
Columbans in Korea
We are called to work to create lasting peace on Earth and Columbans carry this forth faithfully in Korea. Currently, Columbans are in South Korea working for the protection of our brothers and sisters who are threatened by the construction of a new South Korean naval base on Jeju Island. Read more about the how this naval base threatens the peace and livelihoods of the community on the “Island of Peace” and the ecology in a past CCAO article on this issue. The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach developed a letter of solidarity from the international community that was shared at the August 4th “Day of Action for Life on Jeju” event in Korea.
Columban Fathers also participate in the broader movement for peace on the island through public witness and educational events. The Korean Bishop’s Conference’s “Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean people” organized a peace march to mark the 60th anniversary by walking for July 26th to August 1st from Seoul to across the demilitarized border. The Commission also hosted a symposium on peace building in Korea.
Advocating for Peace
This anniversary represents an important time in Korean history and it was recognized here in the U.S. too. The CCAO joined faith leaders, Korean Americans, veterans, and peace activists for an advocacy day to call for a lasting peace. We called for the U.S. to stop the military exercises, offer food aid, and start peace talks with North Korea. We joined colleagues on the 27th to watch Memories of Forgotten War by Korean Americans, Ramsay and Deann Liem, that told the painful story of countless separated families on the peninsula.
We believe the war on the Korean Peninsula is not over until peace is made whole. As people of faith, we stand together for a long-awaited peace agreement that will finally free prisoners of war, reunite families, and break the divide between the two nations that were split so dramatically 60 years ago. Columbans, faith leaders, and God’s people around the world see a desperate need to make light of this anniversary of the Korean War Armistice and spread awareness of the need of Korean reunification and a lasting peace on the peninsula.