HISTORY OF THE CAMPAIGN
The National Council of Churches in Korea has worked for decades to exert their strength on behalf of peace and reconciliation for the Korean peninsula along with churches and peace-loving forces around the world. The year 2015 marked 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 geopolitical situation in Northeast Asia is still very explosive. Military tension between North and South Korea has escalated as the daily reality of Cold War rhetoric between the two Koreas continues. The pain and suffering that North Koreans face has been aggravated by the decades-long sanctions against the North and by intensified pressure on the North from the international community.
Furthermore, the Korean peninsula could become a flash-point at any moment due to recent policies and events: the amendments of the “Guidelines for Japan-US Defense Cooperation” and the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) deployment plan, as well as the anthrax scandal caused by US military forces in Korea. These factors certainly threaten the peace and security not only of the Korean peninsula, but of the whole of Northeast Asia.
At a South-North Joint Summit in 2007, the leaders of both Korean nations agreed to “end military hostilities and cooperate closely to ensure detente and peace on the Korean peninsula.” The summit delegates agreed “to cooperate in order to push through the issue of declaring a formal end to the war.” Additionally, participating countries of the Six-Party Talks for denuclearization declared in a September 19th, 2005 joint statement that, “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 2013, the NCCK initiated a signature campaign that calls for the adoption of a peace treaty. By gathering global support, this campaign aims to urge the South and North and other participating nations of the Six-Party Talks to honor their commitments to one another. It especially aims to urge 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. As of June 2015, 13,000 people worldwide had joined the signature campaign.
The campaign culminated in a press conference on July 27th, 2015, the 62nd anniversary of the Korean armistice agreement that the peace treaty is intended to replace. Members of the NCCK, the Young Men’s Christian Association of Korea (YMCA Korea) and the Young Women’s Christian Association of Korea (YWCA Korea) assembled outside of Korea’s Blue House to deliver the campaign signatures to President Park Geun Hye.
The NCCK decided to extend the signature campaign beyond national borders in consideration of the fact that the settlement of a permanent peace system on the Korean peninsula depends not only on the North and South, but also on the international community. This global signature campaign, we believe, would be a meaningful initiative to eliminate the hostility between the two Koreas, and between the North and the international community. Furthermore, this campaign would provide a platform on which the global ecumenical communities can work together for the cause of peace in Korea as well as in the world. Based on this belief, we conducted tours for a global campaign for a Korea peace treaty from 2016 to 2019 to the USA, Europe, Japan and Russia, Constantinople and Greece.
Motivated by the last 7 years’ peace treaty campaign, we, the NCCK, together with civil society in Korea and abroad, launched a Korea Peace Appeal (KPA) in the summer of 2020. This campaign will last until July 27, 2023, the 70th anniversary of the Korea Armistice, and aims to collect 100 million signatures. The NCCK has pledged to gather 1 million signatures from our Christian partners around the world to reach the overall goal. At this moment, more than 350 South Korean civil society and religious organizations as well as international partner organizations are participating in the Korea Peace Appeal. The NCCK has decided to prolong this KPA to 2025, because we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NCCK in 2024 and commemorate the 80th anniversary of Liberation Day (Aug. 15th).