May 1, 2019

New Documentary: Korea -- The Never-Ending War

This is the most comprehensive and insightful film documentary on the Korean War, covering its origins and its aftermath, with focus not only on the historical and geopolitical perspectives, but on its impact on ordinary civilians (refugees, separated families, the No Gun Ri Incident of massacre of civilians by US soldiers), and the legacy of the “unending war” on current tensions in the peninsula, including the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear program.

February 26, 2019

Congressional Resolution Calling for Formal End to Korean War

Reps. Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee and Andy Kim Introduce Resolution Calling for Formal End to Korean War

PRESS RELEASE: February 26, 2019

Washington, DC – As President Trump arrives to Hanoi, Vietnam, Rep. Ro Khanna, along with eighteen Democratic Members of Congress, have introduced a resolution calling for a final settlement of the Korean War, now officially in its 69th year.

The resolution -- which is backed by former President and Nobel Peace Laureate Jimmy Carter and a range of Korean-American and pro-diplomacy organizations -- urges the Trump Administration to provide a clear roadmap to achieve a final peace settlement while highlighting the importance of reciprocal actions and confidence-building measures between the parties.

“Historic engagement between South and North Korea has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to formally end this war,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “President Trump must not squander this rare chance for peace. He should work hand in hand with our ally, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, to bring the war to a close and advance toward the denuclearization of the peninsula.”

“I commend this important resolution that will help bring this nearly 70 year conflict to a close,” said President Jimmy Carter. “I have visited North Korea several times to talk with their leadership and study the best path forward for peace. Ending the threat of war is the only way to ensure true security for both the Korean and American people and will create the conditions to alleviate the suffering of the ordinary North Koreans who are most harmed by ongoing tensions.”

Co-led by prominent progressive Reps. Andy Kim, Barbara Lee, Pramila Jayapal, Deb Haaland, and Jan Schakowsky, the resolution calls on the Trump Administration to make greater efforts to include women in the peace process, citing the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 which Trump signed into law. Women’s rights icon Gloria Steinem, founder of the peace group Women Cross DMZ, published an op-ed in the Washington Post on Sunday in support of the resolution.

The resolution clarifies that ending the war does not necessitate a withdrawal of US troops from Korea or an acceptance of North Korea as a legitimate nuclear power. The resolution calls on the Administration to continue the repatriation of servicemember remains, and expand cooperation to achieve reunions of divided Korean and Korean-American families and facilitate people-to-people exchanges and humanitarian cooperation.

Rep. Khanna has been a consistent voice for diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula. Shortly after Trump threatened “fire and fury” against North Korea, Khanna was joined by over 70 Congressmembers on his bipartisan “No Unconstitutional Strike on North Korea Act”, which would reinforce existing law prohibiting an unauthorized and unprovoked strike on North Korea. He has also been critical of those in both parties who have sought to restrict flexibility in negotiations, instead urging support for the diplomatic approach of our South Korean ally and its President, Moon Jae-in.

Rep. Khanna will travel to Atlanta next week to sit down with Pres. Carter to discuss developments on the Korean Peninsula and solicit guidance from the Nobel Laureate about how the next generation of policymakers can best pursue a pro-diplomacy agenda for America.

Current original cosponsors (18): Pramila Jayapal, Mark Pocan, Barbara Lee, Deb Haaland, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jan Schakowsky, Raúl Grijalva, Bobby Rush, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Tulsi Gabbard, Adriano Espaillat, Andy Kim, Rashida Tlaib, Judy Chu, José Serrano, Gwen Moore

The resolution is endorsed by organizations including the National Association of Korean Americans, Ploughshares Fund, Women Cross DMZ, Korean Americans in Action, United Methodist Church – Global Ministries, Win Without War, Peace Action, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Just Foreign Policy, Beyond the Bomb, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

February 25, 2019

From Pyongyang and Washington to Hanoi

The second US-NK summit is taking place -- of all places in the world -- Hanoi, Vietnam, where the US intervened and fought a brutal war, made peace, and then normalized relations. The US fought in Korea too, more than six decades ago, but never made peace with North Korea.

We now have a rare window of opportunity to move forward with a peace settlement in Korea and new relations. A cliche it may be, but let's "Give Peace a Chance."

(Photo courtesy of Nobel Women's Iniative which sent a delegation to Hanoi in support of peace settlement in Korea.)

February 15, 2019

Seoul selected as S. Korean city to co-host 2032 Olympics with North Korea’s Pyongyang

Seoul has been selected as South Korea’s candidate city to bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics jointly with North Korea. On the afternoon of Feb. 11, the city of Seoul announced that it had been selected at a general meeting of Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) representatives at the Jincheon National Training Center in North Chungcheong Province as the South Korean city that will bid for the 35th Summer Olympics in 2032. Seoul had been in competition with Busan, but persuaded the representatives to favor it based on its symbolism as South Korea’s leading city, the competitiveness of its urban infrastructure, and its international capacity. READ MORE

South Korea to spend $16 billion in border areas with North Korea for next decade

South Korea's government said on Feb 7 that it will spend 13.2 trillion won (S$15.9 billion) in border areas with North Korea for the next decade. The money, including 5.4 trillion won from the central government, 2.2 trillion won from local governments and 5.6 trillion won from the private sector each, will be spent on 225 projects in inter-Korea border areas by 2030.

The projects were aimed to establish foundation for inter-Korea exchange and cooperation, lay the groundwork for a balanced regional development, stimulate ecological peace tourism in border areas and expand social infrastructure, according to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety. READ MORE

[Obituary] Former "Comfort Woman" and Human Rights Activist Kim Bok-dong

Kim Bok-dong was born in 1926 in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province. After completing the fourth grade of elementary school, she helped out with household chores until the age of 15. Her mother had told her stay close to home because “the times were strange.”

One day in 1941 – she can’t remember if it was the spring or the fall – Japanese people in yellow uniforms without rank badges came to her house, accompanied by her village leader and another official. Kim was told she needed to work for three years at a factory making army uniforms – and if she didn’t go, her family would be kicked out of their house and their property seized.

Figuring that it wouldn’t kill her to work at a factory, Kim told her mother she would go. At the age of 15, she was taken to Taiwan and then on to a Japanese military unit based in China’s Guangdong Province. How different her life would have been if she hadn’t gone with the Japanese back in 1941!

December 12, 2018

Soldiers Shake Hands in the DMZ

Instead of pointing guns at each other, soldiers from North and South Korea shook hands at the demarcation line in the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two sides of Korea. These sort of things happened only in imaginative Korean movies, but is now a solid reality. Hope this welcoming momentum of genuine peace continues and spills over to multilateral negotiations, agreements and implementations to ensure lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula.

Fact Check: This piece erroneously says the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was created in 1948. Actually, the 38th Parallel was the arbitrary boundary proposed by the U.S. for zonal occupation of liberated Korea at the end of WWII and accepted by the USSR in 1945 that remained as a boundary until the war broke out in 1950. The DMZ was created in 1953 as a part of the Korean War armistice agreement, which still is in effect pending a long-promised peace treaty.