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This year marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War on June 25, 1950. This horrific war took over four million lives, caused unspeakable devastation and trauma, divided the Korean nation and separated millions of family members.

The continuing divide between South Korea and North Korea is now the longest unresolved separation of a people in modern history. As Korean American Christians, we invite churches and communities of faith in the United States and throughout the world to both lament this pain and separation, and commit to the search for reconciliation in the name of Christ.

Letter drafters:
Peter Cha, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Eugene Cho, Bread for the World
Grace Choi, Re’Generation Movement
Hyun Hur, ReconciliAsian
Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Earlham School of Religion
Jongdae Kim, Re’Generation Movement
Sue Park-Hur, Mennonite Church USA
Soong-Chan Rah, North Park Theological Seminary
Stephen Yoon, Ignis Community

Please register below to add your name to this statement.

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Read the Full Statement:

Longing for Reconciliation:
Lamenting over 70 years of Division Between North Korea and South Korea 

A Letter from Korean American Christians

As people reconciled with God through the love of Christ, Christ calls us to the ministry of reconciliation across the divisions of this world (2 Corinthians 5:16-20). In this time of lament and reckoning in our world, we mourn systemic racial injustice and great divides between people within the United States and around the world. We also mourn seven decades of division and war on the Korean peninsula.

2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War on June 25, 1950. This horrific war took over four million lives, caused unspeakable devastation and trauma, divided the Korean nation and separated millions of family members – including the families of many of those signed below.

Although a ceasefire on July 27, 1953 brought an end to active fighting, the U.S. and the two Koreas never signed a formal peace treaty declaring an end to the war, and this ongoing conflict contributes to hostilities and tensions involving the United States and the Korean peninsula. The continuing divide between South Korea and North Korea is now the longest unresolved separation of a people in modern history.

The Korean War is often referred to as the “forgotten war” in the U.S. Yet 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. The Korean War is also unforgettable to our fellow Christians of Korean ethnicity in the trauma their families experienced, in the tragic and ongoing division between North and South, and in over 70 years of hostilities and tensions between South Korea, North Korea, and the U.S.

The United States played a significant role in the Korean War, and North and South Korea cannot end the war without U.S. agreement. Because of this, Korean Americans can play a unique role in inspiring communities, churches, and political leaders in the work of reconciliation.

As Korean American Christians:

  • We mourn the lives lost, the cities, towns, and land destroyed, and the families separated by the Korean War. We invite churches and communities of faith in the United States and throughout the world to lament both these tragic losses and the ongoing separation and hostility between North and South Korea.
  • We believe our deepest motivation to engage the Korean divide as followers of Christ is not political or economic but as peacemakers and agents of reconciliation, following Jesus’ costly way of the cross – of discipleship, forgiveness, and justice which restores broken relationships.
  • We call Christians in the U.S. and the two Koreas to examine and to confess where we have continued to perpetuate the Korean divide. There cannot be authentic reconciliation unless there is truth, and we believe repentance begins with the church itself.
  • As Korean Americans, we share the experience of longing for our country of origin, even if it is not one we have seen in our lifetimes. We recognize our familial ties and common cultural history with the people of North Korea, and we long for reconciliation with our sisters and brothers in North Korea. Often there is little awareness of the Korean War and a history of one Korea in younger generations. We commit to the ministry of education to rediscover our own story, and to embrace a theology of reconciliation shaped by a Korean Christian imagination.
  • In the spirit of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:34-36 and Luke 4:18-19, we seek to extend compassion for the widow, the orphan, the imprisoned, and the sick by supporting humanitarian aid and standing for human dignity on the Korean peninsula.
  • The prophetic call of the church is to speak truth to power, and that can call us to political action. We call for an end to the Korean War, a conflict that escalates hostilities between people who share language, traditional culture and ancient history. We pray for and call on the leaders of the United States, South Korea, North Korea, and other governments who have played a role in the conflict to engage peacefully through dialogue and cooperation.
  • We believe that God is faithful, and that the arc of the universe in God’s victory in Christ bends toward justice, reconciliation, and beloved community. We pray that someday all Korean people will be able to return to the birthplaces of their ancestors, to meet face-to-face across the peninsula, and to recognize each other as sisters, brothers and image-bearers of God.

 

Sincerely,

Statement Drafters,

Peter Cha, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Eugene Cho, Bread for the World

Grace Choi, Re’Generation Movement

Hyun Hur, ReconciliAsian

Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Earlham School of Religion

Jongdae Kim, Re’Generation Movement

Sue Park-Hur, Mennonite Church USA

Soong-Chan Rah, North Park Theological Seminary

Stephen Yoon, Ignis Community

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Remembering the Korean War that Never Ended

 

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.

TAKE ACTION
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.

Top row: Sue Park-Hur (MC USA), Soong-Chan Rah (North Park Seminary), Chris Rice (MCC United Nations) Second row: Peter Cha (Trinity Evangelical Divinity), Sebastian Kim (Fuller Theological Seminary), Paul Choi (Village Church), Grace and Jongdae Kim (Re'Generation Movement) Third row: Sujin Pak (Duke Divinity School), Hyun Hur (ReconciliAsian), Jaime Kim (Lausanne Movement), Stephen Yoon (Ignis Community) Fourth row: Grace Ji-Sun Kim (Earlham School of Religion), Seonghan Kim (MCC NEA), Eugene Cho (Bread for the World)

Top row: Sue Park-Hur (MC USA), Soong-Chan Rah (North Park Seminary), Chris Rice (MCC United Nations)
Second row: Peter Cha (Trinity Evangelical Divinity), Sebastian Kim (Fuller Theological Seminary), Paul Choi (Village Church), Grace and Jongdae Kim (Re’Generation Movement)
Third row: Sujin Pak (Duke Divinity School), Hyun Hur (ReconciliAsian), Jaime Kim (Lausanne Movement), Stephen Yoon (Ignis Community)
Fourth row: Grace Ji-Sun Kim (Earlham School of Religion), Seonghan Kim (MCC NEA), Eugene Cho (Bread for the World)

 

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.

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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 reconciliasian@gmail.com

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Below are some of my older pieces on Korea and Peace.