The National Council of Churches in Korea has been exerting their strength on behalf of peace and reconciliation for the Korean peninsula along with churches and peace-loving forces around the world. This year, 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the independence and division of the Korean peninsula as well as the end of World War II. Even though seventy years have passed, the geo-political situation in North East Asia is still very explosive. Military tension between North and South Korea has escalated as the daily reality of Cold War rhetoric between two Koreas continues. Pain and suffering among the North Koreans have been aggravated by the decades-long sanctions against the North and the intensified pressure on the North from the international community. Furthermore the Korean peninsula could be a flashpoint at any time due to the recent amendment of the “Guidelines for Japan-US Defense Cooperation”, the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) deployment plan and the Anthrax scandal of the US military forces in Korea. This will certainly threaten peace and security in the entire region beyond the Korean peninsula.
In 2007 at a South-North Joint Summit the two leaders of South and North agreed to “end military hostilities and cooperate closely to ensure detente and peace on the Korean peninsula.” Furthermore the summit delegates agreed “to cooperate in order to push through the issue of declaring a formal end to the war.” Also the participating countries of the Six-Party Talks for denuclearization declared in the September 19th, 2005 joint statement, “The direct parties, in a separate and appropriate platform, will proceed with negotiations to establish a permanent peace regime on the Chosun [Korean] Peninsula.”
In order to urge the South and North and other participating nations of the Six-Party Talks to abide by these commitments, and especially the four countries of South Korea, North Korea, USA, and China to embark on peace treaty negotiations in order to help establish a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, in 2013 the NCCK initiated a signature campaign that calls for the signing of a peace treaty. As of June, 2015, 13,000 people all around the world had joined the signature campaign. The signature campaign for a peace treaty culminated in a press conference outside Korea’s Blue House on July 27th with participation from the NCCK, the Young Men’s Christian Association of Korea (YMCA Korea) and the Young Women’s Christian Association of Korea (YWCA Korea). As July 27th, 2015 marked the 62nd anniversary of the Korean armistice agreement, the aforementioned three organizations chose this day to deliver the campaign signatures to President Park Geun Hye calling for a peace treaty to replace the armistice.
The NCCK continues to collect signatures domestically and globally as the NCCK has decided to extend the signature campaign on the global level in consideration of the fact that the settlement of a permanent peace system in the Korean peninsula depends not only on the North and South but also on the international community. The global signature campaign for a peace treaty, we believe, is a meaningful initiative to eliminate the hostility between two Koreas and between the North and international community. Furthermore, this campaign will provide a platform on which the global ecumenical communities work together for the cause of peace in Korea as well as in the world.