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Letter to President Park Geun-hye
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H.E. Park Geun-hye
Republic of Korea
21 April 2016

Dear President Park Geun-hye,

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has been actively engaged in promoting peace, reconciliation and reunification on the Korean peninsula for over 30 years. Throughout this period we have encouraged and facilitated dialogue encounters between North Korean and South Korean Christians – through the National Council of Churches in (South) Korea (NCCK) and the Korean Christians Federation (KCF) in North Korea – in the interests of promoting Christian unity, fostering mutual understanding and reducing the enemy images that predispose towards conflict. WCC member churches from many other parts of the world have accompanied and supported such encounters and dialogue, and reaffirmed this commitment at the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, 30 October-8 November 2013.

Through such national, regional and international ecumenical commitment and cooperation, the ecumenical movement seeks to witness to the peace of Jesus Christ and to make visible the unity of the Church in a divided and conflicted world.

The WCC has been, like all other members of the international community, greatly alarmed by the recent escalation of tensions on the peninsula. Given the highly militarized – and nuclear-armed – nature of the confrontation in the region, reducing the current tensions must be a matter of existential concern to all people of the north-east Asian region and indeed of the whole world. It is especially in this situation that encounter and dialogue is even more urgently needed.

Accordingly, we are deeply concerned and disappointed by the decision of the government of the Republic of Korea to impose sanctions and fines on Dr. Noh Jungsun, Rev. Jeon Yongho, Rev. Cho Hungjung, Rev. Han Giyang and Rev. Shin Seungmin – representatives of the NCCK Peace and Reunification Committee who participated in a meeting with the KCF leadership in Shenyang, China, on 28-29 February this year.

We do not believe that penalizing encounter and dialogue between South Korean and North Korean Christians is a necessary or effective measure for reducing tensions and advancing the cause of peace; on the contrary. Moreover, such a measure impedes and undermines the longstanding inter-church relationship on the Korean peninsula that the WCC has sought to encourage over more than three decades.

On behalf of the global fellowship of WCC member churches around the world, I respectfully ask your government to reconsider, and to revoke the penalties imposed on the members of the NCCK delegation who attended the meeting with KCF in February.

Further, in the wider context of the long division and dangerous current escalation on the Korean peninsula, I appeal to you not to close channels of communication and encounter, but to intensify efforts to promote dialogue at all levels.

We hope and pray that the cycle of threat and counter-threat can be broken, before the threshold to catastrophic conflict is one day crossed. We ask for your leadership away from this precipice, towards peaceful co-existence and an end to the suspended state of war.

I would be honoured to have an opportunity to discuss these matters with you, and to share more of the WCC’s experiences, perspectives and future plans with regard to our engagement in the common search for peace for all people on the Korean peninsula.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General Secretary

Cc        Mr Hong Yong-pyo
Minister of Unification
Government Complex - Seoul
209 Seong-Daero(Sejong-Ro) Jongno-Gu
Seoul, Republic of Korea
fax: +82-2-2100-5759

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