Today, June 25th, marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War on June 25, 1950. The war divided the Korean peninsula and cost as many as five million lives.
Although a ceasefire brought an end to active fighting in 1953, a formal peace treaty was never signed, and this ongoing war contributes to hostilities and tensions between the United States and the Korean peninsula. The continuing divide between South Korea and North Korea on the 38th parallel is now the longest unresolved separation of a people in modern history.
Why does this 70th anniversary of the Korean War matter for Christians in the U.S.?
While World War II, the Vietnam War, and the wars following 9/11 are well-remembered in the US, the Korean War (1950-1953) is often called the “forgotten war.” The Korean War is remembered by the Korean people as yook-i-o (6-2-5), a reference to June 25. The war’s 70th anniversary calls us to see with Christlike empathy how the war and its unresolved trauma is unforgettable to Christians in the US today.
It is unforgettable to the 1.7 million American troops who fought on Korean soil, including the families of the 32,000 who were killed on Korean soil (memorialized in the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the Washington DC Mall).
More importantly, the Korean War is unforgettable to our fellow Christians of Korean ethnicity (both South Koreans and Korean-Americans) in the trauma their families experienced (2 million civilians killed), in the tragic and ongoing division between North and South, and in 70 years of hostilities and tensions between South Korea, North Korea, and the U.S.
The 28,000 US troops present in South Korea today – which hosts the largest U.S. military base in the world – is the longest continuing U.S. military presence on foreign soil in American history. South Korea and North Korea cannot bring a formal end to the Korean War without U.S. agreement.
One of the pro-active steps that Americans can do to help end the Korean War is to urge the member of Congress to cosponsor H.Res. 152 and support peace on the Korean Peninsula. You can sign the petition and personalize your email message for greater impact here.
A Christian Dialogue on Ending the Korean War
On June 11th, “A Christian Dialogue on Ending the Korean War” was co-hosted by Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Church USA, and ReconciliAsian to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War that never officially ended.
We gathered as Korean North Americans to recognize the need for truth-telling and reconciliation in the Korean Peninsula as well as the need to reconcile our own ethnic identity, learning our history, and embracing our full selves living and leading in churches, denominations, seminaries, and Christian organizations in America.
North Korea Webinar Series: Thank You and Follow-Up Cohort
We want to thank everyone who attended the webinar series on North Korea to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War. We are deeply grateful to our speakers Brian Taeyoung Ahn, Barnabas Park, Inyeop Lee, and Joy Yoon who gave four excellent talks to understand the historic and current issues facing the Korean Peninsula. We also want to thank our co-sponsors: Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Church USA, Presbyterian Peace Network for Korea, Korean Peace Committee of United Methodist Church, and North American Pacific/ Asian Disciples of the Christian Church. Each seminars had on average 45-57 people in attendance.
Some of you have contacted us wanting to continue the conversation and learn more about North Korea and the peace work needed in the Korean Peninsula. For those of you who are interested, we are planning to create a cohort- one led in Korean and another led in English. If you are interested, please contact Hyun or Sue at email@example.com
- Grace Ji-Sun Kim: Longing for peace on the Korean Peninsula for Faith and Leadership.
- Seeing myself in the eyes of a North Korean for The Christian Century
- Peace And Reconciliation On The Korean Peninsula cowritten with Rev. Jesse Jackson for the Huffington Post