June 10, 2013
After several years of acute animosity, the two sides of Korea will give a try at dialog, again. The two sides have agreed to hold a ministerial meeting on June 12 to discuss ways to reboot the inter-Korea economic ventures (Kaesung factory complex and Mout Keumgang tourism) and resume inter-Korea civilian exchanges. Hopefully the dialog this time around can give a fresh re-start on promised inter-Korea reconciliation and exchanges geared to promote lasting peace and cooperation in the Korean Peninsula. [The photo shows representatives of the two sides meeting for a preparatory meeting at Panmunjeom.]
[Follow-Up] Was it too good to be true? The ministerial meeting has failed to materialize as the two sides disagreed on who would head each side's delegation. This may be symptomatic of the up-and-down history of inter-Korea dialog.
Labels: Inter-Korea relations
May 7, 2013
Oh Jong-Ryol (photo above), who is the leader of the delegation from a South Korean peace coalition, Citizen's Solidarity for Antiwar Peace Movement, was en route to the U.S. on a public speaking tour. On April 30 at the Tokyo airport while he was changing planes to go to the U.S., he was approached by a staff of the U.S. Embassy in Japan who informed him that he is being denied entry into the U.S. and Mr. Oh had to return to South Korea.
Mr. Oh and three others were planning to travel to the U.S. on a speaking tour to share their messages for a peaceful resolution of the current crisis in the Korean Peninsula. Mr. Oh had visited the U.S. several times before without any incidents or denial of entry. Mr. Oh is a veteran elder activist who has promoted peace and justice in nonviolent ways. There is no reason to deny his visit to the U.S., where public events were planned in New York City, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles with Korean-American and American organizations.
There is no valid reason why Mr. Oh was denied entry into the U.S. this time. Most likely, the South Korean authorities tipped the U.S. authorities about the activists' plans in the U.S., which coincided with the visit by President Park Geun-hye. This kind of maneuvering by South Korean government is like reverting to the authoritarian days of Park's father, dictator Park Chung Hee, when political opponents and activists were blacklisted and denied freedom of speech and movement, and contradicts President Park's promise of openness in governance. This regretable, arbitrary and unjust measure and complicity by the U.S. Government is a violation of Mr. Oh's human rights and affront to democratic ideals and processes.
April 5, 2013
U.S. flies nuclear capable B2 Stealth bombers in practice bombing run over South Korea.
Statement in Response to U.S. Simulated Nuclear Attacks on North Korea
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has long opposed military actions on the Korean peninsula that serve to deepen and prolong a conflict that has persisted since the Korean War. This month another round of military actions and escalations by all parties are now underway in the region, including repeated simulated U.S. nuclear attacks against North Korea by B-2 and B-52 bombers in the midst of ongoing U.S.-South Korean war games. We call once again for an end to such provocative actions and a concerted effort to de-escalate and resolve the longstanding regional conflict that has taken a deep, generations-long toll on the region.
Such simulations and the history of U.S. nuclear threats during past Korean crises contributed to the development of North Korea's nuclear arsenal and its recent nuclear test, threatening to ignite a regional nuclear arms race. Military threats made routinely by North and South Korea as well as recent and possibly related cyber-attacks against North Korean media outlets and against South Korean broadcasters and banks further escalate the conflict.
Provocations of this sort - routine or otherwise - can too easily lead to miscalculations, and generate fears and passions that make it difficult for political leaders to respond with necessary caution. We are sobered by the memory of how such miscalculations have triggered cataclysmic wars in the past and even brought nuclear powers to the brink of all-out war.
The escalation of tensions and confrontations needs to be halted:
- AFSC urges all parties to step back from further provocations.
- AFSC further calls for the suspension of war games and military exercises on all sides. In particular, the U.S. should halt its provocative simulated nuclear attacks which are more likely to reinforce the DPRK's commitment to its incipient nuclear arsenal, rather than to open a constructive dialogue.
- AFSC urges renewed diplomatic engagement and negotiations between the North and South Korean Governments.
- Echoing the views of former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg, AFSC reminds the U.S. government that sanctions and military threats will not succeed in ending decades of militarized tensions. The Obama Administration should reach out to North Korea with the goal of negotiating a peace agreement to finally end the Korean War.
March 10, 2013
Open Letter to President Barack Obama on the Urgent Situation in the Korean Peninsula
March 10, 2013
Dear President Obama,
At this moment, the Korean Peninsula is facing the most serious danger of possible outbreak of war since the Korean War. It is not an exaggeration that the United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 2094 (tighter sanctions against North Korea following North Korea’s third nuclear weapon testing) has brought the matters to hair trigger situation. North Korea, in response, has announced the renouncement of nonaggression agreements between the two sides of Korea and the cessation of the hot line between the two governments.
Moreover, North Korea has already declared its abandonment of the Korean War Armistice Agreement starting on March 11, to coincide with the start of the Key Resolve/Foal Eagle joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises. All these ominous developments are leading the Korean Peninsula closer to war.
Through these years, we have seen that sanctions and pressures against North Korea are not realistic approaches towards peaceful resolution; rather they have brought more tension and crisis. All nations -- the U.S., North Korea, South Korea, and the U.N. Security Council member nations – will surely want a peaceful resolution and not resort to another war. Indeed, a peaceful resolution is the only viable road for peace and security in the peninsula and the region.
We respectfully ask the following:
First, initiate dialogue with North Korea on the road to peaceful resolution, culminating in theformulation of peace treaty. The replacement of the Korean War armistice agreement with a peace treaty is the only way to move away from the current crisis. You have pursued a policy of strategic patience towards North Korea through these years, but this path has not succeeded. Under current armistice mechanism, this kind of crisis will repeat itself constantly. The only way is to convert temporary armistice to real and lasting peace, guaranteed by a peace treaty.
Second, we ask the repeal of the Resolution No. 2094 as it is a catalyst of bringing the Korean Peninsula closer to war.
Third, we ask the end of Key Resolve/Foal Eagle military exercises. As the cessation of the Team Spirits exercises in 1992 brought about the start of dialog between Washington and Pyongyang, dialog can restart with the end of Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercises.
Concerned Korean Americans, Koreans in the U.S., and Americans:
June 15 Joint Committee for One Korea – U.S. Committee
Channing and Popai Liem Education Foundation
Congress for Korean Reunification
Korean American Women of Peace
Korea Policy Institute
Korea Project/Center for Process Studies, Claremont Lincoln University, Claremont, CA
National Association of Korean Americans
National Campaign to End the Korean War
National Committee for Peace in Korea
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, NY
Pan-Korean Alliance for Reunification in U.S.A
Korean American National Coordinating Council
Korean American Support Committee for UPP
SASASE in US (LA, DC, Phila., NY, San Jose, Seattle, Chicago)
and concerned individuals...
March 1, 2013
Park Geun-hye, the eldest daughter of the late dictator Park Chung-hee (18 years of iron-fisted, repressive rule), has assumed the presidency of South Korea. She has returned to the Blue House (South Korea's presidential residence/office) after 34 years, having served as the First Lady after her mother was assassinated.
South Korea has changed drastically since her last stay in the Blue House, as hard-earned democratization took a firm hold on the Korean society and politics, with a 5-year, single-term presidency in place. She has been elected in a free election, thanks to the conservative base, with a promise to rejuvenate the economy and implement some welfare programs, despite her being the most conservative candiate of the presidency. She has also promised to pursue a different approach to North Korea than the confrontational approach of her predecessor Lee Myung-bak -- this will be tested in coming days as tensions mount with North Korea.
Much are expected from her presidency, as she needs to shed the legacy of her father's authoritarian rule in order to avoid the label "daughter of dictator" and pursue receptive policies that will bring together the fragmented and politically polarized South Korean populace.
February 28, 2013
Who would have thought -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un laughing side-by-side with Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls fame, at a friendly basketball match in Pyongyang. Rodman is travelling in North Korea with members of the Harlem Globetrotters and a US cable news team. And one of the first tweets coming out of North Korea now that North Korean authorities have allowed the use of smartphones by foreigners, with internet access: "Um ... so Kim Jong Un just got the [cable news team] crew wasted ... no really, that happened" came out of the reception given by Kim to American visitors. Fun respites amidst war games and counter threats between the U.S. and North Korea -- sort of reminds of the song by the group War, "Why Can't We Be Friends?"
January 10, 2013
Of all the unusual and unexpected foreign visitors to North Korea, Google's executive chairman and tech guru Eric Schmidt's visit this week to Pyongyang has raised a plenty of questions. Though this is not portrayed as a Google company trip, the very presence of high-profile Schmidt (and his interest and willingness to personally visit North Korea) highlights the growth and potentials of cyber technology in North Korea.
Schmidt is accompaying veteran diplomat and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, on a humanitarian trip. The trip clearly perturbed the U.S. State Department, which maintains a rigid policy of isolating North Korea as punishments for long-range missile/rocket testings. But there are also benefits to this kind of civilian-initiated diplomacy as wider contacts with North Korea will likely bring new avenues and opportunities of mutual cooperation and a path of understanding towards resolutions of contending political and military issues.