An invitation to gather and our note of gratitude

Dear friend,

What an incredible year we’ve had! Join us for our last Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network gathering of 2023 on Thursday December 14, 5pm PT / 7 pm ET. Zoom here.

We’ll take some time to reflect on this past year and shower you all with appreciation for dedicating hearts and energy to Korea peace. In July, we gathered for a historic national mobilization in DC. Our deepest bows of gratitude to all who made this gathering a powerful, resounding call for peace in Korea. Over 500 of us spoke truth to power in many forms: from contacting congressional representatives to protesting in DC’s streets. We also tended to our selves and communities by tapping into intergenerational dialogue and healing through the Unbind Your Heart: Korean Han / Grief Transmutation Ceremony.

Throughout the year we continued our public and internal political education through webinars on environmental justice and militarized spaces in Korea with Tony Cho and Juneseo Hwang; cultural organizing across borders with filmmaker Yoon Ra; busting harmful myths about the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act; and the history of the Korean American peace movement and looking forward to 2024 with Kapsong Kim.

We also advocated for Korea peace in full force! In this year’s Korea Peace Advocacy Week, we met with 82 offices in 19 states to advocate for the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act. We now have 35 Korea Peace Champions in Congress! Many of us also canvassed and advocated at local events all across the country. And last month, we hosted a joint advocacy training with our partner organizations to call congressional representatives for the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act (H.R. 1369) and the Ceasefire Resolution (H.Res. 786).

In addition to electoral advocacy, we collectively worked to shift the dominant state narrative about the Korean War. This narrative change work is only possible with mass grassroots efforts. Thank you to all who raised your voices in all forms – from op-eds to social media posts and everything in between. And finally, thank you to all who hosted screenings of Crossings and other important films about Korea peace.

In recent weeks we have been especially heartened by the acts of solidarity undertaken by many of you, weaving the movement for Korea peace with other movements for liberation across the globe. You are all lighting the path for the next phase of this Korea peace movement. Read more about all of these collective accomplishments and what we’re planning for the year ahead in Women Cross DMZ’s Annual Report.

Together, we will change the narrative on the Korean War and see peace in our lifetime!

All our best,

Cathi & Echo

Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network Newsletter | November 2023

Dear friend,

Like many of you, we have been devastated by the Israeli military’s attacks on Gaza in recent weeks. We applaud the many Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network members taking action to confront U.S. complicity in Israel’s actions, including Hawai’i chapter leader and Women Cross DMZ Board Member Ann Wright, who this week protested U.S. support of Israel’s genocide of Gaza and called for a ceasefire at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the Biden administration’s request for $106 billion in military funding.

It’s worth noting that Biden’s request not only seeks $106 billion in military funds to send to Israel, but also to send military funds to Ukraine, the U.S.-Mexico border, and the “Indo-Pacific” region. In particular, the funds allocated for the Indo-Pacific seek to bolster the “American submarine industrial base to increase [the U.S.] ability to build and sustain attack submarines.” The request also allots $50 billion to invest in “the American defense industrial base—ensuring [the U.S.] military continues to be the most ready, capable, and best equipped fighting force the world has ever seen.”

Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee Senator Patty Murray said, “Make no mistake: we need to address all of these priorities as part of one package—because the reality is these issues are all connected.”

As the highest-ranking U.S. government officials waste no time tying together military spending across the globe, we must also undertake global acts of solidarity. As Korea peace advocates based in the U.S., we know all too well the costs of U.S. warmaking. The Korean War quadrupled U.S. military spending, inaugurated the U.S. military industrial complex, and set the U.S. on the course to become the world’s military police. An estimated four million people were killed—more than half of them Korean civilians. Seventy years later, the war has not ended. Since World War II, the U.S. has also doled out more funds to Israel than to any other country, totaling at nearly $300 billion. With this U.S. backing, the Israeli government has imposed an apartheid system on Palestinians for 75 years, forcibly removed Palestinians from their land, and now levels collective punishment against Palestinians in Gaza. This history informs solidarity across our movements and why our movement for Korea peace is tied to the movement for a free Palestine.

Women Cross DMZ issued this statement a few weeks ago:

As a feminist peace organization that advocates for ending war and militarism, we mourn for the Israelis and Palestinians who have been needlessly killed, oppose violence against civilians, and condemn the collective punishment that Israel is inflicting on Palestinians in Gaza. We join global calls for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire, an end to violence in Israel and occupied Palestine, and the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid and assistance to Palestinians in Gaza.

As advocates for peace in Korea, we know that violence leads to suffering and deep, lasting trauma, especially for those made most vulnerable in society. True peace can only be achieved by addressing the root causes of violence and tensions, and ensuring justice, equality, and freedom for all people. In this case, it means ending the apartheid system that Israel has imposed — with the backing of the U.S. government — on Palestinians for 75 years. The U.S. government provides $3.8 billion annually in military aid to Israel, which it uses to forcibly remove Palestinians from their land. Furthermore, we denounce the racist, Islamophobic backlash against Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims in the U.S., including the tragic stabbing death of six-year-old Palestinian American Wadea Al Fayoume. As an organization based in the U.S., we recognize the foreign and domestic consequences of aggressive militarized policy, which leads to brutal consequences and more violence far beyond Israel and Palestine.  

We urge the U.S. government, as the most powerful supporter of Israel, to call for a ceasefire, to stop sending military aid to Israel, and to pursue policies that end the occupation so that Palestinians and Israelis can peacefully coexist.  

WCDMZ also joined partner organizations in endorsing the Ceasefire Resolution upon its introduction and signed on to the Joint statement on challenging the appropriation of feminism: A call to action on Palestine and Genuine Feminist Foreign Policies, challenging the appropriation of feminism by international foreign policy makers in the Hague, which also outlines the numbers of pregnant women in besieged Gaza unable to access maternal health or reproductive health services, and face increased risks of sexual violence.

We would like to uplift several actions you can take:

  • “Stop Gaza Genocide, Ceasefire Now”: Take any of the actions listed here by the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
  • Organize a Gaza Solidarity Action Pod: KPNGN New York member Jungwon Kim co-hosted this webinar on how to form pods to take collective congressional action for Gaza while grounded in community practices of meditation, care, and compassion. Collective action is the most sustainable path; organize a pod, take action, and take care of each other!
  • Join the Korean Contingent at the DC Palestine March on November 4. Read here for more information. If you plan to attend, please get in touch with Jeongyi (Janis.jin@proton.me) or HK (hksuh2003@yahoo.com).
  • Sign on to this Open Statement: US Koreans for Palestine. You can sign on as an individual or as a Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network chapter. If you have questions about signing on as a chapter, please be in touch with your regional leader, or contact Cathi (cathi@womencrossdmz.org).
  • Share this statement from the Heung Coalition addressed to Koreans on solidarity with the struggle for Palestinian self-determination and decolonization.

A reminder our national meetings are the second Thursday of every month. Our next gathering will be Thursday, November 9, 2023 at 5pm PT / 8 pm ET. Register here. We will be joined by  partner organizations American Friends Service Committee and Mennonite Central Committee to make calls to our Representatives in support of the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act and discuss further actions for solidarity with Palestine.

Additionally, join the Christian Caucus of Korea Peace Now Grassroots Network (KPNGN) for a presentation on Christian Nationalism and Imperialism in the U.S. and Southern Korea, and Their Impacts on Peacemaking on the Korean Peninsula on Thursday, November 30, at 5pm PT / 8 pm ET. Zoom here.

Cathi Choi

Director of Policy and Organizing

Women Cross DMZ

JOIN US – Teach-In on the Korean American Peace Movement and Community Action

Dear friend,

Thanks to everyone who joined our September national meeting! Echo and Cathi co-presented on “Busting Myths About the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act.” We dispelled pernicious falsehoods about H.R.1369 and offered instead the real facts about why we urgently need peace in Korea. It’s clear that our movement is vibrant and growing – over 50 grassroots members participated! Check out a recap of our points here.

Join our next national meeting for a Teach-In on the Korean American Peace Movement and Community Action on Thursday, October 12, at 5pm PT / 8pm ET. We’ll be joined by Kapsong Kim (he/him), the Korean American Community Development Director at the MinKwon Center for Community Action. Kapsong is a longtime community leader, journalist, organizer, and mentor. Join via Zoom here.

Kapsong will present on the history of Korean American organizing — from Young Koreans United to present day — and will provide a roadmap for Korean American and Asian American voter engagement as we look to the 2024 election. We’re so excited that he will be joining our grassroots national meeting!  

Reminder: Our national calls take place every second Thursday of the month! Add them to your calendars here.  

Advocate for Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act

We are targeting a group of congressional representatives from now until the end of the year. We need all your support to reach our goal! We are targeting districts in CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, IL, ME, NM, OR, NY, PA, VT, WI. Check to see if your representative is listed, sign on, and share far and wide!

Upcoming Events

  • New York 10/7, 7-8:30 pm ET – Korea Peace Appeal Roundtable with Korean Americans at Glow Cultural Center, 133-29 41st Ave Floor 1, Flushing, NY. For more information contact Minkwon Center at 201-546-4657
  • DC 10/8, 3pm ET – Rally at the White House & 5 pm Roundtable at William Cho Peace Center. For more information, contact Echo at echo@womencrossdmz.org or 703-606-6115.
  • Online 10/10, 11am PT / 2pm ET – “A Sanctioned World: A Crime Normalized: Voices from Sanctioned Nations,” hosted by World BEYOND War. Cathi Choi (Women Cross DMZ) will be speaking about the impact of sanctions on North Korea, alongside speakers from Venezuela, Iran, Palestine, and Cuba. Register here.
  • Seattle 10/11, 6:30pm – Crossings screening and Q&A with director Deann Borshay Liem and Christine Ahn. University of Washington, 120 Communications Building, 2023 King Ln NE, Seattle, WA. Register here.
  • New Jersey 10/13, 3pm – Crossings screening and panel discussion with director Deann Borshay Liem, Christine Ahn, Women Cross DMZ Board Chair Aiyoung Choi, and Rutgers Professor of Korean History Suzy Kim. Rutgers University, Alexander Library Teleconference Lecture Hall, 4th Floor, 169 College Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ. Click here for more info.
  • Online 10/13, 7:30pm ETThe LIFT (Let Individuals Freely Travel) campaign will kick off its film series with a screening and discussion of People Are the Sky, the 2015 documentary by filmmaker Dai Sil Kim-Gibson that “offers some of the best political and social history of the relations between North and South Korea, and also a contemplative exploration of the meaning of home.” The screening is being co-hosted by the Korea Peace Now! Study Group and the Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network New York/New Jersey Chapter. Register here to watch online.
  • Indiana 10/16, 7pm – Crossings screening and Q&A with director Deann Borshay Liem and Christine Ahn. Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, Shreve Auditorium, 355 N Eagleson Ave., Bloomington, IN. Click here for more info.
  • Los Angeles 10/16, 7pm – Join the Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network Los Angeles chapter and GYOPO for a conversation around “how we strengthen our social change roles, practices, and ecosystems.” Deepa Iyer, author of Social Change Now: A Guide for Reflection and Connection, will be in dialogue with Cathi Choi (Women Cross DMZ, Korea Peace Now!) and Alex Paik (Tiger Strikes Asteroid). The conversation will be followed by an exercise facilitated by Deepa Iyer where you’ll have a chance to map your own social change roles and strengthen your solidarity practices. At GYOPO, 801 S. Vermont Ave. #201, Los Angeles, CA.
  • Michigan 10/17, 4pm – Crossings screening and Q&A with director Deann Borshay Liem and Christine Ahn. The State Theatre, 233 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI. Click here for more info.

Stay tuned for more Crossings screenings in San Diego, at Duke University, and at UNC Chapel Hill in November.

KPNGN on the Streets

Members of the SF Bay Area chapter (Yungsu, Sheen, E Ju, and Kathleen) tabled at the Bay Area Chuseok Festival in San Francisco on September 30, selling T-shirts from our Korea Peace Action and sharing information about our work. It was a great turnout, and dozens of new people signed up to join our movement!

Also that day, East Coast members rallied in New York City for the Korea peace march & rally organized by members of the Korea Peace Appeal.

Check out more photos from Sally Jones (NY Chapter), YoungSoo Choi (the lead singer at the rally), and HK Suh & Echo (DC Chapter). Video of Korea Peace Rally in NYC ????️

We hope to see you at one of these upcoming events!

Crossings Fall Tour + Korea Peace Rally in NYC

Dear friend,

Since debuting at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival in November 2021, Crossings has screened more than 75 times to audiences around the world. Now, having finishing the film festival circuit, Crossings will embark on an educational tour this fall at universities around the country. Screenings will include:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 11, 6:30pm – University of Washington, 120 Communications Building, 2023 King Ln NE – Seattle, WA. Register here.
  • Friday, Oct. 13, 3pm – Rutgers University, Alexander Library Teleconference Lecture Hall, 4th Floor, 169 College Avenue – New Brunswick, NJ* . Click here for more info.
  • Monday, Oct. 16, 7pm – Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, Shreve Auditorium, 355 N Eagleson Avenue – Bloomington, IN. Click here for more info.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 17, 4pm – The State Theatre, 233 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI. Click here for more info.

Each screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Deann Borshay Liem and Christine Ahn, and the event at Rutgers will be followed by a panel discussion with additional guests Women Cross DMZ Board Chair Aiyoung Choi and Rutgers Professor of Korean History Suzy Kim. Stay tuned for more Crossings screenings in San Diego, at Duke University, and at UNC Chapel Hill in November.

Upcoming Korea Peace events

This Saturday, Sept. 30, 2-4pm, join members of the Korea Peace Appeal campaign for a march and rally in New York City at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza and Ralph Bunche Park. For the past three years, the Korea Peace Appeal has been collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures calling for an official end to the Korean War. They plan to deliver the signatures to the United Nations Secretary-General and the UN Missions of the two Koreas, the US, and China. The rally will include speeches, performances, Korean traditional folk music (pungmul), and marches.

Also on Saturday, Sept. 30, members of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network will be tabling at the 5th Annual Bay Area Chuseok Festival at the Presidio in San Francisco. Click here for more information.

On Sunday, Oct. 1, the Korea Peace Appeal will hold a Civil Society Workshop from 3-7pm at the Episcopal Church’s National Office in NYC. They’ll share achievements and evaluations of the various movements and campaigns for Korea peace in South Korea, the US and internationally over the past few years and discuss strategies for future collaboration. All activists and colleagues who have been working for peace are invited to join. Please register in advance here.

Then on Friday, Oct. 13, at 7:30pm ET, the LIFT (Let Individuals Freely Travel) campaign will kick off its film series with a screening and discussion of People Are the Sky, the 2015 documentary by filmmaker Dai Sil Kim-Gibson that “offers some of the best political and social history of the relations
between North and South Korea, and also a contemplative exploration of
the meaning of home.” The screening is being co-hosted by the Korea Peace Now! Study Group and the Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network New York/New Jersey Chapter. Register here to watch online. Watch a clip below.

Finally, join the Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network Los Angeles chapter and GYOPO on Monday, Oct. 16 at 7pm for a conversation around “how we strengthen our social change roles, practices, and ecosystems.” Deepa Iyer, author of Social Change Now: A Guide for Reflection and Connection, will be in dialogue with Cathi Choi (Women Cross DMZ, Korea Peace Now!) and Alex Paik (Tiger Strikes Asteroid). The conversation will be followed by an exercise facilitated by Deepa Iyer where you’ll have a chance to map your own social change roles and strengthen your solidarity practices. At GYOPO, 801 S. Vermont Ave. #201, Los Angeles, CA.

We hope to see you at one of these upcoming events!

P.S. Here is some recent media coverage:

US-based Korean activists call for peace after 70 years of war [Peoples Dispatch, August 1, 2023]

Faith leaders join call of peace treaty to end Korean War [The Christian Century, August 2, 2023]

After 70 years of war, it’s time for peace in Korea [Real Change News, August 2, 2023]

Activists demand Biden and Congress end war on Korea [Workers World, August 3, 2023]

[Interview] Christine Ahn/ Women Cross DMZ [Open Forum, August 8, 2023]

Peace advocates: It’s time to end the Korean War — the longest war in US history [Chicago Tribune, August 8, 2023]

Letter: Koreans deserve peace, reunions across border [Honolulu Star-Advertiser, August 9, 2023]

Barbara Lee and Other U.S. Congresswomen Call For End to Korean War as Part of Peace Mobilization Marking 70th Anniversary of Armistice [CovertAction Magazine, August 14, 2023]

Korea Peace Conference Urges End to Longest War in U.S. History [CovertAction Magazine, August 15, 2023]

On a 70th anniversary,”han,” joy, and a history lesson [Korean Quarterly, Summer 2023]

On Korean War Anniversary, Activists Seek Formal Peace [Arms Control Association, September 2023]

VIDEO: Korea Peace Now & End the Korean War [Open Forum, August 23, 2023]

Opinion: I’m banned from visiting my family in North Korea. When will the U.S. change this policy? [Cathi Choi op-ed in The Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2023]

US extends ban on citizens’ travel to North Korea for seventh year [NK News, August 24, 2023]

The Korean War continues with Biden’s renewal of travel ban to North Korea [Peoples Dispatch, September 2, 2023]

Amanda Yee on Korean Travel Ban, Hyun Lee on Korea History [FAIR, September 8, 2023]

JOIN US: Teach-In on the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act

Dear friend,

Thanks to all of your hard work and brilliant advocacy, we have seven new Korea Peace Champions! This movement in Congress signals the growing strength and power of our Korea peace movement.

But as our movement grows, we must stay vigilant. Last month, we opened the Honolulu Star-Advertiser to find a giant ad warning that H.R.1369, the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act, is “dangerous.” The person behind this ad is Annie M.H. Chan, the secretive oligarch that bankrolls right-wing organizations attacking our Korea peace movement.

While this right-wing network may have tons of corporate money, we have grassroots people power! Join us for our National Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network Meeting on Thursday, September 14, 2023, at 5pm PT/8pm ET (click here to join by Zoom) for a political teach-in on countering false narratives about the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act. We will also brainstorm strategies to increase the number of congressional sign-ons.  

As always, we appreciate your support of this work! Click here to donate.

Other Upcoming KPNGN Events:

All our best,

Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network Organizing Team (Cathi and Echo)

Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network Newsletter | August 2023

Dear friend,

Next week, join our national monthly call on Thursday, Aug. 24 at 5pm PT/8pm ET as we share highlights and reflections of our time in Washington, DC, for Korea Peace Action: National Mobilization to End the Korean War! Considering the significance and historic nature of our gathering, we think it is important to contextualize our action in the history of Korea peace organizing in the United States. Along those lines, our national organizer Echo will give a brief history of the Korea peace movement in the US. Join the call here.

These calls will resume their regular schedule (second Thursday of every month) starting in September. Add these calls to your calendar here.

In other news…

  • TODAY, August 18, at 7pm ET, Axis of War: The Japan – Korea – US Trilateral Alliance. Learn about the dangerous implications of the new US-South Korea-Japan trilateral alliance for the Korean Peninsula and the Asia-Pacific region. Korea Peace Now!’s Cathi Choi will be among the speakers. Register here to participate or watch on YouTube.
  • Korea Peace Action merch is still available! See below for shirts sported by chapter members in LA. Although we have sold out of visors, you can still purchase our limited-edition jogakbo T-shirts here.

Our Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network members have been busy!

  • New England chapter member and 30 Under 30 Activist Hayden Smith gave a presentation to New Hampshire Peace Action on the impact of the Korean War on his family and the importance of ending the war. Watch it here.

  • Chicago members Inhe Choi (HANA Center, Executive Director), Becky Belcore (National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, Co-Director), Youngju Ji (Korean American Peace Fund), and JeeYeun Lee (Korean American Peace Fund) wrote a compelling op-ed about the need to end the Korean War. Read it here.

  • Chicago member and 30 Under 30 Activist Alison Choi reflected on the DC mobilization, weaving together personal story and legislative advocacy. Read it here.

  • Hawaii chapter member Ann Wright responded to red-baiting attacks on our Korea peace movement. Read it here.

  • NorCal chapter member and Crossings filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem was interviewed in Berkeleyside. Read the interview here.

  • SoCal chapter coordinator Helen Kim wrote about a moving account about why she traveled to DC for Korea Peace Action in LA Progressive. Read it here.

  • SoCal member and national coordinator Cathi Choi explained why the Korean War must end for OtherWords. Read it here.

  • SoCal members Helen Kim, Yungsu Kim, Phillip Kim, Iris Kim, Julie Guaglianono, and Sheen Kim shared the work of our movement in LA last weekend at Maum Market’s Liberation Day Fair. See photos here.

  • Texas chapter member and 30 Under 30 Activist Jamie Kim and DC chapter member Cale Holmes published an article on our 70th anniversary of the armistice conference at George Washington University in CovertAction Magazine. Read it here.

  • Pennsylvania chapter member Joe Piette wrote about our Korea Peace Action in Mundo Obrero/Workers World. Read it here.

  • Pacific Northwest chapter members organized a screening of Free Chol Soo Lee in Olympia Washington, in partnership with the Olympia Film Society.

Other noteworthy media coverage of DC:

Upcoming events:

  • Saturday, Sept. 30: The San Francisco Bay Area chapter will be tabling at the Bay Area Chuseok Festival in the Presidio. Click here for more info. Contact Cathi (cathi@womencrossdmz.org) if you would like to volunteer!

All our best,

Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network Organizing Team (Cathi and Echo)

PEOPLE POWER!!!!! (and some terrific photos)

Dear friend,

THANK YOU for coming to Washington, D.C., to join Korea Peace Action: National Mobilization to End the Korean War on the 70th anniversary of the Korean armistice. Together, we made history!!!

We
are still riding high from our time together (and recovering from the
scorching heat!). Like many of you have expressed in your beautiful
emails, text messages, and social media posts, we, too, are overcome
with emotion after the incredible experience of being among 500+ people
who gathered in the heart of U.S. government power to call for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

 

Our action showcased the spectacular diversity of our movement: Korean Americans from divided families, Gen M/Z activists, elders who have dedicated their lives to the vision of peace in Korea, humanitarian aid workers, military experts and veterans, scholars, faith groups, writers, artists, filmmakers, and anti-war activists making important connections between our exorbitant defense budget and our urgent domestic human rights crises.

We are so grateful to you all for showing up as your full selves to connect and collaborate with other people, groups, and organizations. It was heartening to experience the vibrancy and range of strategies within our Korea peace ecosystem. Several veterans of the movement told us this historic convening made them feel hopeful about the possibility of achieving peace in our lifetime, for the first time in decades.

Here are some of the highlights, followed by some gorgeous photos by Constance Faulk. In addition, we encourage you to check out Korea Peace Now and Women Cross DMZ on Instagram for more photos, videos, and crowdsourced captures (in stories).

  • We met with Congressional offices asking them to support — or thanking them for supporting — H.R.1369, the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act.
  • We also met with State Department officials to urge them to lift the US travel ban to the DPRK to allow family reunions, humanitarian activities, the repatriation of US servicemember remains, and peace-building initiatives.

 

  • We held a press conference in front of the Capitol building with Korea Peace Champions Representatives Barbara Lee, Judy Chu, and Delia Ramirez; Joy Gebhard, a member of a divided family; Rick Downes of the Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIAs; Dan Leaf, a retired three-star general and former acting commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command; Joyce Ajlouny, Secretary General of AFSC; and 14-year-old Hana de Vitton, a fifth-generation member of a divided family. Members of the media — including from the Washington Post and PBS Newshour — were in attendance. Watch the video of our press conference here.
  • We held an event called Unbind Your Heart: Korean Han / Grief Transmutation Ceremony, in which we wailed, wept, and danced through our Han (generational grief/rage). It included an interfaith prayer by Sulkiro, pastor of Han Church; a participatory writing exercise led by acclaimed author Joseph Han; and traditional Korean grief rituals led by renowned multidisciplinary artist and shaman Dohee Lee. It was a moving and cathartic experience that transformed our collective grief and rage into strength and resilience.
  • From there, our 500-strong group marched through a gentle summer rain shower to the Lincoln Memorial, led by the rousing rhythms of Baltimore Han Pan youth percussion group. There, we held an interfaith vigil that included prayers, a powerful chant for peace by a Buddhist monk, and an unforgettable gang gang sullae circle dance on the national mall.
  • We wrapped up our three-day convening with an all-day conference at George Washington University to learn from experts and those with lived experience about the impact of the unresolved war and what’s at stake, and share strategies to move toward peace. Preeminent Korea historian Bruce Cumings gave the keynote address, followed by panel discussions: The Human Costs of Unending War and Peace to Prevent Nuclear War. Speakers included divided family member Joy Lee Gebhard; Rick Downes of the Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIAs; Dr. Kee Park, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Harvard University Department of Global Health and Social Medicine; Prof. Siegfried Hecker, former Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory; retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright; and Dan Leaf, retired Lieutenant General of the U.S. Air Force and former Acting Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. A few striking moments from the conference:

 

“The odds of North Korea’s denuclearization absent a peace treaty are zero. That’s why starting with denuclearization is such a nonstarter.”

— Dan Leaf

“Sanctions kill. We know it and we should not excuse it. We have allowed our leaders and our morals to deteriorate. We have become barbarians because we have accepted deaths of women and children in the name of national security.”

— Dr. Kee Park, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Harvard University Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, who has visited DPRK over 20 times  

 

One of the most meaningful outcomes of this gathering was the opportunity to weave together an inter-generational, culturally grounded tapestry of resistance to the ongoing Korean War.

Our movement is powerful, and our voices are growing louder. Our calls are being heard. We know we’re making a difference because our action got plenty of media coverage, and we even got attacked by right-wing, pro-war media!

We want to extend our deepest gratitude to all our co-convenors: American Friends Service Committee, Korean American Peace Fund, Mennonite Central Committee, National Association of Korean Americans, The United Methodist Church (Global Ministries and Church & Societies), and Veterans for Peace — and all 27 co-sponsors, our fabulous 30 Under 30 cohort, Rep. Barbara Lee who hosted our press conference, and everyone who contributed to help make this action so successful and meaningful.

Together, we can and will see an end to the Korean War. To do this, we need YOU! There are so many ways to take action, following this historic gathering:

 

Peace in Korea! Peace in our Lifetime!

In gratitude and solidarity,

The Korea Peace Action organizing team:

Cathi Choi, Christine Ahn, Echo, Jungwon Kim, Kathleen Richardson, Susan Yohn and Una Kim

 

Grassroots members and 30 Under 30 Activists thanking Rep. Judy Chu for being a Korea Peace Champion.

Meeting with the State Department: (l-r): AFSC’s Jennifer Deibert, Zachary Barter of State Dept., Rick Downes, Dan Leaf, Zachary Murray of Mennonite Central Committee, Christine Ahn, Alison Kahn of AFSC, Joy Lee Gebhard, Women Cross DMZ’s Cathi Choi, and Joy Lee Gebhard’s daughter, MiRan Powell.

“This legislation [H.R.1369] offers a transformative peace-first approach to ending the Korean War, finally. The Korean War is known as the forgotten war in the United States. Most people think the war officially has ended so this is unacceptable. It’s time that we wake up from our collective amnesia to remember the death and destruction that this war entailed and chart a new path forward, one based on global peace and security and rooted in human security.” — Rep. Barbara Lee

Dohee Lee, a Jeju Island-born and raised shaman and ritual performance artist, led a communal grief ritual along with Nuclear Family author Joseph Han.

Echo of Women Cross DMZ leads the rally in front of the White House on July 27, 2023.

 

An incredible three days in DC

Dear Friend,

Wow. We are still riding high from our Korea Peace Action, held last week in Washington, DC. Hundreds of people — including Korean Americans from divided families, Gen M/Z activists, humanitarian aid workers, experts, scholars, and peace-loving people — traveled from across the country to join our Korea Peace Action: National Mobilization to End the Korean War on the 70th anniversary of the Korean armistice.

Held over three, scorching-hot days in Washington, DC, Korea Peace Action fortified the Korea peace movement by fostering connection and collaboration between organizations, groups, and individuals—a diverse ecosystem of changemakers who share the vision of peace on the Korean Peninsula in our lifetime. Several veterans of the movement told us this historic convening made them feel hopeful about the possibility of achieving peace in our lifetime, for the first time in decades.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • We met with Congressional offices asking them to support — or thanking them for supporting — H.R.1369, the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act.
  • We also met with State Department officials to urge them to lift the US travel ban to the DPRK to allow family reunions, humanitarian activities, the repatriation of US servicemember remains, and peacebuilding initiatives.

Grassroots members and 30 Under 30 Activists thanking Rep. Judy Chu for being a Korea Peace Champion.

Meeting with the State Department: (l-r): AFSC’s Jennifer Deibert, Zachary Barter of State Dept., Rick Downes, Dan Leaf, Zachary Murray of Mennonite Central Committee, Christine Ahn, Alison Kahn of AFSC, Joy Lee Gebhard, Women Cross DMZ’s Cathi Choi, and Joy Lee Gebhard’s daughter, MiRan Powell.

  • We held a press conference in front of the Capitol building with Korea Peace Champions Representatives Barbara Lee, Judy Chu, and Delia Ramirez; Joy Gebhard, a member of a divided family; Rick Downes of the Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIAs; Dan Leaf, a retired three-star general and former acting commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command; Joyce Ajlouny, Secretary General of AFSC; and 14-year-old Hana de Vitton, a fifth-generation member of a divided family. Members of the media — including from The Washington Post and PBS Newshour — were in attendance. Watch the video of our press conference here.

Rep. Barbara Lee speaks at our press conference.

“This legislation [H.R.1369] offers a transformative peace-first approach to ending the Korean War, finally. The Korean War is known as the forgotten war in the United States. Most people think the war officially has ended so this is unacceptable. It’s time that we wake up from our collective amnesia to remember the death and destruction that this war entailed and chart a new path forward, one based on global peace and security and rooted in human security.” — Rep. Barbara Lee


  • We held an event called Unbind Your Heart: Korean Han / Grief Transmutation Ceremony, in which we wailed, wept, and danced through our Han (generational grief/rage). It included an interfaith prayer by Sulkiro, pastor of Han Church; a participatory writing prompt and construction of a community altar led by acclaimed author Joseph Han; and traditional Korean grief rituals led by renowned multidisciplinary artist and shaman Dohee Lee. It was an incredibly moving and cathartic experience that transformed our collective grief and rage into strength and resilience.

Dohee Lee, who is from Jeju, Korea, led a communal grief ritual.

  • We ended the day in the fierce DC sun in front of the White House for a rousing rally with Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, Nick Cho (@YourKoreanDad), and David Kim (CA-34 candidate), and a deeply moving performance of “Arirang” by Josephine Lee of the Chicago Children’s Choir.

Echo of Women Cross DMZ leads the rally in front of the White House on July 27, 2023.

  • From there, our 500-strong group marched through a gorgeous summer shower to the Lincoln Memorial, led by the rousing rhythms of Baltimore Han Pan youth percussion group. There, we held an interfaith vigil that included prayers, a powerful chant for peace by a Buddhist monk, and an unforgettable gang gang sullae circle dance on the national mall.

  • We wrapped up our three-day convening with an all-day conference at George Washington University to learn from experts and those with lived experience about the impact of the unresolved war and what’s at stake, and share strategies to move toward peace. Preeminent Korea historian Bruce Cumings gave the keynote address, followed by panel discussions: “The Human Costs of Unending War” and “Peace to Prevent Nuclear War.” Watch the conference here.

Korea historian Bruce Cumings

  • Speakers included divided family member Joy Lee Gebhard; Rick Downes of the Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIAs; Dr. Kee Park, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Harvard University Department of Global Health and Social Medicine; Prof. Siegfried Hecker, former Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory; retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright; and Dan Leaf, retired Lieutenant General of the U.S. Air Force and former Acting Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

“The odds of North Korea’s denuclearization absent a peace treaty are zero. That’s why starting with denuclearization is such a nonstarter.” — Dan Leaf

“Sanctions kill. We know it and we should not excuse it. We have allowed our leaders and our morals to deteriorate. We have become barbarians because we have accepted deaths of women and children in the name of national security.” — Dr. Kee Park, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Harvard University Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, who has visited DPRK over 20 times

Of all the events over those eventful three days, perhaps the most meaningful was the opportunity to connect with one another to weave an intergenerational tapestry of resistance to the ongoing Korean War.
Our movement is powerful, and our voices are growing louder. Our calls are being heard. We know we’re making a difference because we even got attacked by right-wing, pro-war media!

 

On behalf of Women Cross DMZ and Korea Peace Now!, I’d like to thank all our co-convenors — American Friends Service Committee, Korean American Peace Fund, Mennonite Central Committee, National Association of Korean Americans, The United Methodist Church, and Veterans for Peace — and 27 co-sponsors, our 30 Under 30 cohort, Rep. Barbara Lee who hosted our press conference, and everyone who contributed to help make this action so successful and meaningful.

Finally, if you haven’t already, please sign up to join our Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network. Our next national meeting will be on August 24 at 5pm PT / 8 pm ET. Join here.

Together, we can and will see an end to the Korean War!

In peace,

 

Christine Ahn

P.S. Here is a roundup of the media coverage of our Korea Peace Action and the armistice anniversary:

Deep Freeze: Ending Korea’s Armistice Agony [Cape Breton Spectator, July 12, 2023]

A Journey Across the Korean DMZ [WGBH, July 17, 2023]

Protests to call for end of Korean War, 70 years after 1953 ceasefire [Workers World, July 17, 2023]

Berkeley filmmaker crossed the Korean DMZ for her new documentary [Berkeleyside, July 21, 2023]

When the River Roars: 70 Years of Confusion [Helen Kim op-ed in LA Progressive, July 22, 2023]

Peace, Reunification, and Healing: an Interview with Crossings Director Deann Borshay Liem on the two Koreas and Hopes for Resolution after Seventy Years [Sampan, July 22, 2023]

70 years have passed since Korean cease-fire. It’s time to end American’s longest war. [Christine Ahn op-ed in USA Today, July 24, 2023]

Why can’t we just talk? [Colleen Moore op-ed in Responsible Statecraft, 7/25/23]

Activists Demand U.S. End Korean War After 70 Years as Biden Admin Ramps Up “Nuclear Blackmail” [Democracy Now, 7/26/23]

Hawaii activists to attend event promoting peace in Korea [Honolulu Star Advertiser, July 26, 2023]

It’s Time to Recalibrate the U.S. Alliance with South Korea [Christine Ahn op-ed in In These Times, July 27, 2023]

70 years later, Koreans are still working to formally end the Korean War [NBC Asian America, July 27, 2023]

70 Years Later, the Korean War Must End [Cathi Choi op-ed in OtherWords, July 27, 2023]

Seventy Years Too Long—It’s Time To Finally End the Korean War [Barbara Lee op-ed in Newsweek, July 27, 2023]

WATCH LIVE: Members of Congress hold event for 70th anniversary of armistice ending Korean War [PBS Newshour, July 27, 2023]

Christine Ahn on Al Jazeera English TV [July 27, 2023]

Korea: Rally to End an Unresolved War in an Effort for Peace [Countercurrents, July 28, 2023]

70 years later the Korean War is still not officially over [AsAmNews, July 28, 2023]

Activists demand formal peace plan to end 70-year long Korean War [The Washington Post, July 28, 2023]

The legacy of the Korean war, the export of 200,000 children [Interview with Deann Borshay Liem on The World, July 28, 2023]

Disney and Steinem Respond on Korean Peace [Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2023]

70 years after the Korean Armistice, hundreds gather to advocate peace [Hawaii Public Radio, July 31, 2023]

 

Not coming to DC? How you can participate in Korea Peace Action

Dear Friend,

We’re just days away from our Korea Peace Action: National Mobilization to End the Korean War in Washington, DC.

If you can’t come to DC, you can still be part of this historic action. Here are five ways to participate:

1. Watch the livestream of our “70th Anniversary of the Armistice on the Korean Peninsula” conference: Top military and nuclear experts, scholars, activists, and humanitarian aid workers will discuss the human impacts of the unresolved war and how peace can advance denuclearization. Plus a keynote address by noted Korea historian Bruce Cumings. Register here.

2. Urge your Representative to co-sponsor the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act: We need more support for this bill calling for diplomatic solutions to the security crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Contact your Representative here.

3. Follow us on social media: We’ll be sharing images and videos from our three-day gathering in DC. Please share our posts with your family, friends, and followers to amplify our message of peace to the wider public. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

4. Watch Crossings: We’re excited to announce that you can now stream Crossings online! Deann Borshay Liem’s powerful film documents our 2015 journey from North to South Korea across the DMZ and provides an urgent and critical counter to the mainstream narrative of the Korean War and North Korea. Here are three ways to watch:

5. Donate: We’re still shy of our goal to raise $30,000 to help support 30 young Korea peace activists to attend our DC event. But it’s not too late to donate! Click here to pledge your support. 100% of the proceeds will go to supporting event costs.

Our Message of Peace In the News

Finally, I’m excited to announce that USA Today has just published my op-ed about why I started Women Cross DMZ and the importance of ending America’s “forgotten war.”

My parents, like many of their generation who lived through Japanese occupation and the devastating Korean War, came to the conclusion that in order to survive, it was best to stay silent. As a result, I knew almost nothing about my birth country or the forces that shaped it.

Read it here.

Here are other recent articles about Korea peace and Women Cross DMZ:

Deep Freeze: Ending Korea’s Armistice Agony [Cape Breton Spectator, July 12, 2023]

American nuclearization of the South set in motion the North’s long journey to the Bomb. It also revealed the peninsula as a local pawn in a global game, with Washington’s warheads pointed not just at Pyongyang but Moscow and Beijing, integrated into the Pentagon’s elaborately delusional plans to wage and win World War Three.

A Journey Across the Korean DMZ [WGBH, July 17, 2023]

Every film that [Deann Borshay] Liem has made touches on the war. “It’s the singular trauma for my generation and for the preceding generation that survived the war,” she said. “The war is what shaped me, it’s what shaped the Korean American community.”

Protests to call for end of Korean War, 70 years after 1953 ceasefire [Workers World, July 17, 2023]

The still-unresolved status of the war in Korea could result in a major military confrontation at any moment as the geopolitical situation in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia rapidly deteriorates. Korea is on the frontline of the U.S.’s new Cold War against China — and the steady drumbeat for war shows no signs of letting up.

Berkeley filmmaker crossed the Korean DMZ for her new documentary [Berkeleyside, July 21, 2023]

“You can also see why crossing the DMZ holds such deep symbolic and emotional significance for Koreans,” Liem wrote. “To step across the DMZ represents a yearning to restore the wholeness of a nation with two millennia of common history, language and culture, and the integrity of countless numbers of families still torn apart by un-ended war.”

When the River Roars: 70 Years of Confusion [LA Progressive, July 22, 2023]

Doing peace work is an evolution of my grief for my ancestors whose lives were utterly destroyed by the war. Grief is an expression of my love, and that love never goes away.

In peace,

Christine Ahn

Register today! 70th Anniversary of the Armistice on the Korean Peninsula

Dear Friend,

The date is fast approaching for our Korea Peace Action: National Mobilization to End the Korean War, July 26-28, in Washington, DC. If you’re not able to make it in person, you can watch the livestream of our conference “70th Anniversary of the Armistice on the Korean Peninsula,” which will feature notable historians, key military and denuclearization experts, members of divided families, peace activists, and humanitarian workers discussing the prospects and challenges of ending the Korean War with a peace agreement.

Here is the full schedule for the conference:

Introduction: 9am-9:15am

  • Linda Yarr, Director of Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia, George Washington University
  • Christine Ahn, Women Cross DMZ Founder and Executive Director

Keynote: 9:15am-10am

  • Bruce Cumings, Center for East Asian Studies, University of Chicago

Panel 1: Human Costs of Unending War: 10:10am-11:30am

  • Kee Park, M.D., Harvard University Department of Global Health and Social Medicine
  • Joy Gebhart, divided family member
  • Rick Downes, Executive Director, Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs
  • moderated by Jennifer Deibert, DPRK Program Director, American Friends Service Committee

Panel 2: Peace to Prevent Nuclear War: 1pm-2:20pm

  • Dan Leaf, retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General
  • Siegfried Hecker, nuclear scientist, former Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Professor of Practice at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and at Texas A&M University
  • Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Colonel, Veterans for Peace
  • moderated by Ji-Yeon Yuh of Northwestern University

Closing remarks: 2:20pm

  • Cathi Choi, Director of Policy and Organizing at Women Cross DMZ

We hope you can join us for this important event either in-person or virtually.