South Korean Women’s Peace Organizations Launch the Korean Women’s Movement for Peace

For immediate release:

A coalition of South Korean women’s peace organizations will hold a press conference and symposium in Seoul on May 24 to officially launch the Korean Women’s Movement for Peace. The launch also marks International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament. 

The women activists will discuss the role of women working for peace on the Korean Peninsula and the future direction of the women’s peace movement. Korean women’s voices are vital to the conversation on peace, and they must have a seat at the table. 

Korean Women’s Movement for Peace consists of Korean Women’s Association United, Women Making Peace, National YWCA of Korea, and Korea Women’s Alliance, and is a founding partner of Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War, a global campaign to educate, advocate, and organize for a Korea peace agreement by 2020, and to push for women’s inclusion in the peace process.

What: Korea Peace Now! Campaign Launch, Press Conference, and Symposium

Where: Franciscan Education Center, Room 211, 9 Jungdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

When: Friday, May 24, 2019

1-1:30 p.m. – Press Conference

1:30-3 p.m. – Symposium

Press Conference Moderator: Youngmi Cho, executive director, Korean Women’s Movement for Peace

Press Conference Speakers: Mimi Han, vice president, World YWCA; Misun Baek, standing representative, Korean Women’s Association United; Mi-ran Chang, chairperson, Committee for Peace and Reunification; Mi-kyung Han, standing representative, Korea Women’s Alliance

Symposium Moderator: Misun Baek, standing representative, Korean Women’s Association United

Symposium Speakers: Young-soo Han, president, National YWCA of Korea; Seung-eun Kim, chairperson, Women Making Peace; Jeongsoo Kim, standing representative, Women Making Peace; Young-sook Cho, director, Korean Women’s Association United International Solidarity Center; Hyun Lee, US national organizer, Women Cross DMZ; Youkyoung Ko, WILPF consultant; Youngmi Cho, executive director, KWMP; Susannah Choi, director, National YWCA of Korea

For more information on Korean Women’s Movement for Peace, please contact: Youngmi Cho, youngmicho@protonmail.com

On International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, Global Coalition of Women’s Peace Organizations Calls on Trump, Moon, and Kim to End the Korean War

A Letter Jointly Addressed to:
Donald Trump, President of the United States of America 
Moon Jae-In, President of the Republic of Korea
Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

May 24, 2019

Dear Presidents Trump and Moon and Chairman Kim:

We are from Korea Peace Now: Women Mobilizing to End the War, a global coalition of women’s peace organizations working for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. On International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, we are writing to urge you to resume dialogue toward ending 70 years of war. Ending the most dangerous conflict in the world today will not only usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for Koreans and Americans, but for all those living in the Northeast Asia region.

However, this historic opportunity is presently threatened by rapidly escalating tensions resulting from recent military exercises and weapons testing. These events threaten to revive the acute risk of nuclear war that we faced in 2017. 

We urge you to take these three concrete steps immediately:

  1. End the Korean War and declare a new era of peace. The failure to agree on a peaceful settlement to the war is the root cause of conflict today. Taking military conflict off the table is the single most effective trust-building measure you can take. 
  2. Halt all escalatory military exercises and weapons testing. Contrary to commitments made in Panmunjom and Singapore, US-ROK war drills have resumed, and the DPRK has subsequently engaged in weapons testing. Such measures are destabilizing and directly undermine the necessary conditions for dialogue.
  3. Resume dialogue toward the demilitarization of the Korean Peninsula and region, and the removal of sanctions, which harm vulnerable citizens and threaten future generations.

Decades of studies have shown that peace agreements are more likely to be signed and succeed when there is meaningful participation by civil society representatives, including women’s groups. With decades of experience working with women in the Koreas and worldwide for peace, we offer our insight and expertise. We urge you to realize the people’s long-held desires for lasting peace on the Korean peninsula and to include women in the peace process. 

With hope in peace,

Women Cross DMZ
Nobel Women’s Initiative
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Korean Women’s Movement for Peace

Download a PDF copy of this letter here.

Coalition of South Korean Women’s Organizations Demand an Immediate Response to the Food Crisis in North Korea


May 16, 2019

For immediate release:

A Coalition of South Korean Women’s Organizations Demand an Immediate Response to the Food Crisis in North Korea

Seoul, South Korea—A coalition of South Korean women’s organizations are demanding that the South Korean government authorize the immediate delivery of food aid to North Korea. The demand comes after a May 3 report released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) warned of a food crisis in North Korea.

According to the report, last year North Korea’s food production fell to its lowest levels since the 2008/2009 season, with food shortages affecting 10.1 million people, or 43% of North Koreans. Only one-third of North Korean children receive the minimum amount of food needed for survival. One in five children suffers from chronic malnutrition and is at risk of underdevelopment.

In response to the report, the South Korean Ministry of Unification declared that it would address the issue of food aid to the North Korean people “on the basis of brotherly and humanitarian principles.” Yet it added that the food aid plan would be “implemented in full conformity with national opinions” and therefore hinged on “national sympathy and support for aid to North Korea.” 

As women, we fully support food aid to North Korea and demand the following:

  1. Immediately send food aid to North Korea. The report warned that the situation could further deteriorate during the lean season, between May and September. Time is running out. The Ministry of Unification said even an immediate decision on food aid would take at least two months to implement procedurally. We urge the Ministry to press the central government for a swift decision on food aid, and to help local governments and civil organizations deliver food to North Korea quickly and effectively.
  2. Create a plan to regularly send aid to help overcome North Korea’s recurrent food crises. North Korea suffers from recurrent food shortages, and it is expected that food production will continue to decline this year due to drought. Therefore, the central government, local governments, and humanitarian aid organizations should plan for regular and institutionalized food aid. The government also should take concrete steps to establish a life community on the Korean Peninsula based on mutual benefit and confidence-building.
  3. The South Korean government should separate the issue of humanitarian assistance from political discussions. With 43% of North Koreans suffering from food shortages and one-third of children receiving only the minimal amount of food for survival, it would be inhumane to prevent food aid from reaching the North Korean people because of the political conditions set by the United States and South Korea related to the denuclearization process. “We must separate humanitarianism and politics,” urged David Beasley, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), on May 13. The South Korean government should make its own decision, free from politics, to send humanitarian aid to North Korea.

Kyunggi Women’s Association United

Kyungnam Women’s Association United

Daegu Kyungbuk Women’s Association United

Daegu Women’s Association

Busan Women’s Association United

National Solidarity Against Sexual Exploitation of Women

Suwon Women’s Association

Korea Women’s Center for Social Research

Ulsan Women’s Association

Korea Women’s Alliance

Justice Party Women Committee

Jeju Association for Women’s Rights

Women Making Peace

Pohang Women’s Association

Korean Women Workers Association

Korean Women’s Association United

Korean Womenlink

Korea Women’s Hot Line

Korean Hanbumo Association

House Wives Meeting Together

National YWCA of Korea

Korean Women’s Movement for Peace

Joining Hands with Half a Million South Koreans to Call for Peace

April 27, 2019 was a memorable anniversary. It had been one year since Kim Jong Un of North Korea and Moon Jae-in of South Korea joined hands and crossed the demarcation line to sign the Panmunjom Declaration, agreeing to work together to bring a formal end to the Korean War. Exactly one year after that 2018 declaration, 500,000 South Koreans and people from all over the world joined hands at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to call for an end to the war. 

The role of the United States in the Korean War

I participated in this action because I feel a moral responsibility as an American to correct our past wrongdoings and support the will of the Korean people for peace.

The US carries a certain burden of responsibility for the conflict between the Koreas: as Christine Ahn said at the March 12 Congressional briefing in Washington, DC, US bombs destroyed 80% of North Korean cities during the Korean War. The US is partially implicated in the fact that peace has not yet been reached on the Korean peninsula. Americans should not lead the charge to inflict even more damage on the peninsula, but rather should support Korea in diplomatic pathways toward peace.

Supporting the will of the people

9 in 10 South Koreans want peace. The leaders of both South Korea and North Korea have outrightly stated their desire for a peace agreement, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in stating, “The era of no war has started.” Above all, Koreans are determining their own destiny, and it is up to the US to support what the people of Korea want.

Koreans face the consequences of US policy decisions toward the peninsula and the broader region. Resorting to military provocations instead of pursuing true diplomacy could inflame a conventional war on the peninsula that would kill hundreds of thousands of people — and it could easily go nuclear. A peace agreement that formally ends the Korean War is the first and foremost step to guaranteeing security for both North Korea and South Korea and decreasing the likelihood of war. 

Intersectionality

For me, the hand-in-hand action at the DMZ solidified the importance of the intersectional fight for peace and social justice around the globe. Koreans are advocating for peace on the peninsula alongside activists who are leading the effort against climate change, alongside women around the world who are at the forefront of ending violent conflict in their countries, alongside American activists who want to end disastrous American involvement in Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We are all fighting different fights around the world, but we are unified in our quest for global peace.

Conclusion: The significance of holding hands

Why holding hands? The physical act of holding hands is significant; it’s personal and intimate, and it forces that person to connect with someone that they may not know or understand. That’s exactly why the 2018 Panmunjom Declaration and Kim and Moon’s shaking hands over the demarcation line is historically significant. That is what it will take to reach peace on the Korean peninsula: Two people making an unprecedented connection and realizing that there is something bigger than themselves. 

Similarly, we sent a message to the world on April 27, 2019: despite our different backgrounds, we are all here at the DMZ to advocate for an end to the Korean War and peace on the Korean peninsula. 

Colleen Moore is a peace activist from upstate New York currently living in Washington, DC. You can follow her on Twitter at cmoo11_.

Women Peacebuilders Launch Global Campaign Korea Peace Now!

In March, an international delegation of women peacebuilders traveled to Washington, D.C., New York, and Ottawa to officially launch the women-led global campaign Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War. 

In Washington, D.C., the delegation of women — which included three Parliamentarians from South Korea (R.O.K) — met with members of Congress to discuss how to advance a new U.S. policy on North Korea that improves security for everyone. This included a breakfast roundtable with Reps. Barbara Lee and Jan Schakowsky, both co-sponsors of HR 152, which calls for an end to the Korean War, and the discussion of a possible joint commission of U.S. and R.O.K. lawmakers and civil society. The delegation also met with Sen. Bernie Sanders and urged him to introduce a Senate companion bill to HR 152.

Also in D.C., two of the Parliamentarians, Kwon Mi Hyuk and Lee Jae Jung, both members of the South Korean National Assembly, spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations on the importance of pushing the Korea peace process forward. Among the attendees were employees of the Department of Homeland Security, the RAND Corporation, and the Federation of American Scientists.

In New York, the delegation held a side event during the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN that attracted more than 200 participants. Members of the international media attended a Korea Peace Now press conference held at the UN Correspondents Association, which was also livestreamed to thousands of people. (You can watch it here.) The delegation gathered before a meeting at the U.S. Mission to the UN attended by Stephen Biegun, U.S. special representative for North Korea, to deliver its message: We want peace and we want women to be included in the process. 

Korea Peace Now’s media and communications coordinator Kathleen Richards, Christine Ahn of Women Cross DMZ, and Jody Williams of Nobel Women’s Initiative at the Korea Peace Now! press conference at the UN Correspondents Association on March 14, 2019. (photo by Constance Faulk)

The delegation of South Korean leaders then made their way to Ottawato call on the Canadian government to take a leadership role in setting the table for peace on the Korean Peninsula. 

Mimi Han, the vice president of World YWCA and an executive board member of the National YWCA of Korea, speaks about the impact of war on Koreans at the Korea Peace Now! parliamentary breakfast in Ottawa on March 18, 2019.

The day began with a breakfast briefing co-hosted by Sen. Marilou McPhederan, Sen. Yonah Martin, and the Women, Peace and Security Network of Canada. “This is a longstanding 70-year conflict,” said Sen. McPhederan. “In the past year and a half we have seen momentum build toward peace. It is key for Canada to take a leadership role.” 

The delegation also held meetings with government officials and hosted a press conferencewith Canadian MPs, senators, and civil society partners. They called on the Canadian government to restore diplomatic relations with North Korea and ease restrictions on humanitarian aid, as well as to ensure that women are part of the peace process. 

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