NEW YORK—As talks between the United States and North Korea remain at an impasse, a new report shows that sanctions imposed on North Korea are having adverse consequences on humanitarian aid and economic development in the country, with a disproportionate impact on women.
The Human Costs and Gendered Impact of Sanctions on North Korea (PDF), which was produced by an international and multidisciplinary panel of independent experts, is the first comprehensive assessment of the human impact of sanctions against North Korea. Drawing on often neglected information from UN agencies on the ground as well as the authors’ combined expertise in public health, law, economics, history, and gender studies, the report also shows that existing UN mechanisms to exempt humanitarian-related items are insufficient to prevent these negative impacts, and, in fact, delays and funding shortfalls may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.
“As one of the few American physicians who has worked to
deliver humanitarian aid and improve health care in North Korea, I have seen
how sanctions have restricted the access to the most basic medicines and
medical equipment in the isolated country,” said Kee Park, a lecturer at
Harvard Medical School, the director of the DPRK Program at the Korean American
Medical Association, and one of seven authors of the report. “This has made treating
infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and injuries much more difficult.”
delayed the delivery of life-saving treatment for children with disabilities due
to the ban on importing metal in medical and rehabilitation equipment,” added Joy
Yoon, a co-author of the report and co-founder of the nonprofit organization
Ignis Community, which treats children with developmental disabilities such as
cerebral palsy and autism at its Pyongyang Spine Rehabilitation Center. “Without
immediate and timely medical intervention, many North Korean children with
cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities do not survive.”
Henri Feron, a
co-author of the report and a senior
fellow at the Center for International Policy, said, “The findings in this report raise concerns that
sanctions in their current form may be contrary to international law, in
particular humanitarian and human rights norms. Sanctions also raise moral questions, as they effectively take the
entire country’s population hostage.”
Our delegation of women leaders from the United States, South Korea, and Japan — including feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem — just returned from South Korea, where we attended the DMZ peace forum, visited the DMZ, and demanded an end to the Korean War and women’s inclusion in the peace process outside the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.
We began our trip with a tour of the DMZ — the so-called “demilitarized zone” — that separates North and South Korea. In reality, this narrow strip of land has one of the highest concentrations of landmines on earth; is flanked by barbed wire, explosives, and armed soldiers on both sides; and divides tens of thousands of families. Among the attendees were Siegfried Hecker, a nuclear scientist and foremost expert on North Korea’s nuclear program.
Our first stop was Imjingak Resort, located just 7 km from the Military Demarcation Line — the actual line dividing the two countries, which is surrounded by the DMZ — where we met with officials from the local government. A barbed-wire fence has become a living memorial to loved ones in North Korea. Christine Ahn, executive director of Women Cross DMZ and international coordinator of Korea Peace Now!, and Gloria Steinem wrote their own message of peace and tied it among the thousands of ribbons adorning the fence. Waving in the wind, the ribbons are a heartbreaking and sobering reminder of the painful division caused by the ongoing war.
Next we traveled to Camp Greaves, a former U.S. military base that was turned over to the Korean government in 2007 and is now the site of a youth hostel and a museum. Displayed inside the Quonset huts dotting the hillsides are remnants and reminders of the human impact of this long war — for example, photos of thriving communities in Pyongyang before the war, portraits of Korean War orphans, recreated military quarters, and factoids on the legacy of the war:
25,288: Number of days since the outbreak of the Korean War, aka “The War That Never Ends”
132,124: Number of separated family members in South Korea
990,968: Number of South Korean civilian casualties during the Korean War
For our last stop, we traveled past the barbed wire to go inside the DMZ to Daeseong. As part of the Armistice Agreement that temporarily halted the Korean War, two villages — one in South Korea and one in North Korea — were allowed to remain inside this heavily fortified area. Fewer than 200 people live in Daeseong today, and they must pass through military checkpoints whenever they want to leave and return. They must also adhere to a strict curfew. At a lookout point inside this eerily peaceful village, binoculars allow visitors to look northward, where people can be seen riding bicycles and motorbikes through the fields.
The following day was the start of the DMZ peace forum organized by the Gyeonggi Research Institute in Goyang City. Hundreds of people attended the conference, and many more watched via ample coverage by the South Korean media. In the morning, Gloria Steinem delivered one of three keynote speeches.
“The United States must respect the wishes of the Korean people and their governments by negotiating a peace agreement, which would take the threat of war off the table and improve the security of Koreans, Americans and the world. It’s time to declare an end to the Korean War and replace the temporary Armistice with a peace agreement.”
— Gloria Steinem at the DMZ peace forum
That afternoon, members of the Korea Peace Now! delegation participated in a session titled “Women Crossing Borders: From the DMZ to the women’s peace movement.” The speakers included Christine Ahn (Women Cross DMZ), Jung-soo Kim (Women Making Peace), Kozue Akibayashi (Doshisha University/WILPF), Gloria Steinem, Hyun Lee (Women Cross DMZ), and Jung-ah Lee (Gyeonggi Women’s Association). We discussed the gender implications of the unresolved war and how women’s inclusion is vital for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. We also shared the goals of our Korea Peace Now! campaign:
A formal ending of the Korean War, a Korea peace agreement, and normalized relations.
Tangible de-militarization: denuclearization, landmines, reduction of bases/troops.
Women’s leadership and gender-based analysis (government and civil society) in peace processes.
Lift sanctions against North Korea, especially those impacting humanitarian conditions.
Redefine security from national security based on war and militarism to a feminist understanding of security centered on basic human needs and ecological sustainability.
The next day we traveled to Seoul to deliver a message of peace across from the U.S. Embassy. We demanded that the United States must get out of the way of inter-Korean cooperation, move forward on ending the war, and work toward a peace agreement. And for the Korea peace process to be successful, women must be involved.
“Seventy years later, the Korean War has not ended, and despite the efforts of Korean peoples’ movements and our governments — including two signed agreements in Panmunjom and Pyongyang declaring an end to the Korean War — we still do not have peace,” said Mimi Han, an Executive Board Member of The National YWCA of Korea. “We want peace but we cannot do it. We need approval. We are here to say, enough is enough.”
“I am one of the many Japanese people who hope for amicable relations between Japan and the Koreas,” said Kozue Akibayashi, the former international president of WILPF and a professor at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. “The ongoing Korean War is used by the Japanese government to justify militarization of Okinawa, in Japan, and other places. I am here to say, no more.”
“Women are disproportionately impacted by war,” said Christine Ahn, executive director of Women Cross DMZ. “Women have endured sexual violence at the hands of soldiers, including in South Korea around U.S. military ‘camptowns.’ And due to crushing sanctions, North Korean women are unable to access the healthcare, food, and jobs they need to survive…. We can’t on one hand call for greater economic freedom for women as key to advancing human rights, while also supporting policies that directly harm North Korean women.”
“…[R]ight now, there are very few women involved in the official Korea peace process,” said Gloria Steinem. “Yet there are tens of thousands of women — here on the peninsula and around the world — who are already working together to support this historic peace process. We know that unless we act, from taking to the streets to lobbying members of Congress and ourselves crossing the DMZ, there will be no durable, lasting peace. Peace is like a tree. It does not grow from the top down, it grows from the bottom up.”
We ended the day with a sit-down dinner featuring a who’s-who of South Korean women leaders who have long been active in calling for peace. Among the attendees were:
Han Young Soo (President of the National YWCA of Korea)
Lee Hyun Sook (Chairperson of Central Committee, National Council of Unification Education)
Chung Hyun Baek (Former Minister, Ministry of Gender Equality and Family)
Moon Mi Ran (Assistant Mayor, Women and Family Affairs, Seoul Metropolitan Government)
Kwon In Sook (Director, Korea Women’s Development Institute)
Lee Jae Jung (Member of National Assembly, Democratic Party of Korea)
Chang Young Hee (Democratic Party of Korea)
Choi Susannah (Director, National YWCA of Korea)
It was an evening of celebration and solidarity, as well as a recognition of how far we’ve come and how much more we still need to accomplish. But together, it felt like we could take on the world.
Seoul, South Korea — Feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem and a delegation of women leaders from the United States, South Korea, and Japan will deliver a message of peace across from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Their demands are that the U.S. must get out of the way of inter-Korean economic cooperation, move forward on ending the war, and work toward a peace agreement. And for the Korea peace process to be successful, women must be involved.
“As one of the thirty women from around the world who defied naysayers by crossing the DMZ in 2015, I witnessed the impact of this unresolved war on Korean lives,” said Gloria Steinem. “We need a peace process to end this longest war, and we know from every example that peace is more likely and lasting if women are at the table.”
“As talks appear to advance between the United States and North Korea, it’s crucial that women play a central role in the peace process,” said Christine Ahn, Executive Director of U.S.-based Women Cross DMZ. “Women are disproportionately impacted by this ongoing conflict — from sanctions that harm North Korean women’s health and livelihoods to sexual violence against South Korean women around U.S. military bases. Women must have a say in how to end it.” In 2015, Women Cross DMZ organized a crossing of the DMZ with 30 women peacemakers, including Steinem and two Nobel Peace laureates.
“It is well substantiated that women’s participation leads to more durable peace agreements,” said Mimi Han, an Executive Board Member of The National YWCA of Korea. “The United States and South Korea have national laws committing to women’s inclusion in conflict management and resolution. Now is the time for implementation and action.”
“What’s at stake is the security of those living on the Korean Peninsula and all of Northeast Asia,” said Kozue Akibayashi, the former international President of WILPF and a researcher and activist who specializes in a feminist analysis of peace and security. “The current tensions between Japan and South Korea are rooted in Japanese colonial rule, so a peace agreement will go a long way toward healing decades of pain and mistrust.”
The delegation of women leaders will be in South Korea for “Let’s DMZ,” a peace forum in Gyeonggi, South Korea to commemorate the first anniversary of the Pyongyang Joint Statement between North Korea and South Korea. Steinem will deliver one of three keynote speeches.
In a session titled “Women Crossing Borders: From the DMZ to the women’s peace movement,” Steinem and leaders from Korea Peace Now! — a global campaign of women mobilizing end the Korean War — will discuss the gender implications of the unresolved war and how women’s inclusion is vital for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The first summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore resulted in a joint declaration that constructively called for new relations based on peace, the establishment of a peace regime, and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But actually achieving those goals will require specific, concrete next steps.
The next administration will have to pick up where this one leaves off, and will have an urgent responsibility to make progress with North Korea. Make no mistake: the failure to find diplomatic solutions could result in an escalation (intentional or accidental) that triggers a full-scale — potentially nuclear — war, endangering us all.
With this in mind, the undersigned organizations urge all presidential candidates to embrace the following principles as they formulate policy on North Korea:
Agree to step-by-step, reciprocal, verifiable actions to advance denuclearization and peace. “All or nothing” demands are a recipe for failure. In other words, the United States cannot realistically expect North Korea to unilaterally disarm before providing any sanctions relief, security guarantees, or other incentives. The two sides should build trust and work jointly toward shared goals.
Build confidence and reduce tensions. There are many interim steps that the United States and North Korea can take to shore up the potential for successful peace and denuclearization. These steps include, but are not limited to:
Opening liaison offices in Washington and Pyongyang and taking other steps toward normalized relations
Facilitating reunions between long-divided North Korean and Korean American families, and granting any necessary sanctions waivers for in-person or video reunions between separated South Korean and North Korean families.
End the Korean War. Even though active hostilities between the United States and North Korea ended 66 years ago with an Armistice Agreement, there was never a formal end of the war with a peace agreement. This continued state of war is not a mere technicality — it’s the root cause of militarism and tensions that must be resolved if there is to be real progress with North Korea. Formally ending the Korean War is the most effective trust-building mechanism available. It costs zero dollars, removes North Korea’s stated justification for nuclear weapons, and does not undermine the U.S.-South Korea alliance. This is an essential element of the next administration’s success on the Korean Peninsula.
Support our ally South Korea: South Korean President Moon Jae-In has used the mandate from the South Korean people who elected him in 2017 to conduct diplomacy that lays the foundation for new relations with North Korea. His meeting with Kim Jong Un in April 2018 produced the Panmunjom Declaration, which calls for, among other things, inter-Korean economic and civic projects, and replacing the Armistice Agreement with a peace agreement. The United States should stopimpeding inter-Korean cooperation, and should instead support the South Korean government in working toward these goals.
Make the negotiating table more inclusive. It is imperative that those impacted by current policies have a seat at the table. Including the views and recommendations of women, youth, and other members of civil society will improve the chances that a peace agreement lasts longer and is more durable.
Reject the framing that diplomacy is a gift to North Korea. Too often, we see public figures suggest that talking to North Korea in some way disproportionately benefits Kim Jong Un. By definition, diplomacy involves talking to, meeting with, and making deals with friends and adversarial actors alike. In this way, talking and negotiating with North Korea should not be viewed differently than doing so with any other authoritarian powers — which the United States does regularly. Additionally, ignoring North Korea will just leave it a hostile and growing nuclear power with acute risk of arms proliferation. The status quo means more nuclear weapons, more human rights violations, more separated families, more suffering from sanctions, and, at worst, nuclear war. It is in everyone’s interest to change course with a concrete plan toward peace and denuclearization.
American Friends Service Committee About Face: Veterans Against the War Arms Control Association Beyond the Bomb Center for International Policy Foreign Policy For America Franciscan Action Network Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project Just Foreign Policy Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Peace Action WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions) Win Without War Women Cross DMZ
Job Description: U.S. National Organizer Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War
Women Cross DMZ (WCDMZ) is recruiting a part-time consultant for the position of a U.S. National Organizer with Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War. Start date October 1, 2019 for a period of one year.
Four prominent feminist peace organizations—Women Cross DMZ (WCDMZ), Nobel Women’s Initiative, Korean Women’s Movement for Peace, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)—have jointly launched Korea Peace Now–a campaign to formally end the Korean War between the United States and North Korea. Through education, advocacy and organizing, the campaign focuses on the United States, United Nations and select countries to urge them to shift their policies of “maximum pressure” against North Korea towards one of engagement, genuine diplomacy, and lasting peace. Our campaign presents a critical opportunity to advance peace on the Korean Peninsula and also to redefine the U.S. national security discourse from a militarized one towards a feminist foreign policy built on genuine human security.
WCDMZ was founded in 2015 when it led an international delegation of 30 prominent women peace activists including Gloria Steinem and Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Maguire (N. Ireland) and Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) across the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) from North to South Korea. WCDMZ walked with 10,000 Korean women on both sides of the DMZ on the streets of Pyongyang, Kaesong and Paju, and held women’s peace symposiums in Pyongyang and Seoul on the urgency to end the Korean War. The Nobel Women’s Initiative is a decade-old organization founded by six women Nobel Peace Laureates. Korean Women’s Movement for Peace consists of four prominent women’s organizations in South Korea–Korean Women’s Association United, Women Making Peace, National YWCA of Korea, and Korea Women’s Alliance. And Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is the oldest women’s peace organization in the world, dating from 1915.
The successful applicant will lead organizing efforts of key constituencies across the United States to advocate for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. This includes: Korean-American organizations; grassroots peace/anti-militarism organizations; and people of color-led social justice organizations challenging war and militarism. This person will also work with the US, North and South Korea, regional and international peace movements working to end the Korean War with a peace agreement.
The U.S. National Organizer will work under the direct supervision of and report to the WCDMZ Lead Organizer. This person will work collaboratively as part of a staff collective and coordinate the Korea Peace Now Grassroots Network.
Specific Results and Outputs of the U.S. National Organizer Position
A) Coordination and Communication
Develop a six-month/one-year work plan in close coordination with the Lead Organizer
Closely coordinate and communicate with the Lead Organizer, Executive Director, WCDMZ staff collective and the Korea Peace Now Grassroots Network.
Produce monthly report for WCDMZ Board of Directors on progress in building key constituencies for action and key activities (to be included in monthly WCDMZ e-newsletter and for donor reports)
Attend weekly staff calls to give updates on the campaign.
B) Organizing and Advocacy
Work with the Lead Organizer to coordinate the organizing and advocacy strategies for the U.S. campaign for peace in Korea–including organizing strategic events, letter campaigns, and lobby days.
Assist in coordinating the Korea Peace Now Grassroots Network and cultivating grassroots base by providing strategic direction.
Work with the legislative consultant to coordinate advocacy for a peace agreement ending the Korean War.
Organize activities to cultivate younger generation activists.
Travel and/or attend U.S. national and international meetings and maintain contacts to advance advocacy strategy.
C) Analysis and Media
Keep abreast of relevant political developments related to Korea peace process and contribute to developing a shared analysis among the WCDMZ staff and campaign partners
Participate in trainings to develop media skills–including social media, radio/TV interviews, writing op-eds, etc.
D) Project management, planning and reporting
With guidance from the Lead Organizer, develop U.S. national organizing strategy and six-month/annual work plan.
Track project activities, communications, tasks and progress in key objectives.
Update and assess progress made in accordance with work plan.
Provide monthly progress reports on campaign.
Manage project budget and other expenses with monthly submissions for reimbursements to Peace Development Fund finance team.
Adhere to administrative and record-keeping guidelines to support Finance/Admin.
E) Other: Carry out other duties as required
Contract and Work schedule
Duration of consultancy contract: October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020
The contract is three-quarters time: the consultant will work an average of 30 hours/wk (Option to start at 10 hours/wk in October 2019, then increase to 30 hours/wk starting in November 2019)
Travel is required and coordinated in agreement with supervisor and project team.
Conditions This is a 1-year consultancy contract with some travel nationally and internationally.
Reporting line: Lead Organizer supported by the Executive Director, WCDMZ Staff and Board of Directors
Remuneration: $50,000/year paid in monthly payments of $4166 upon the receipt of invoice. The consultant will be responsible for acquiring their own social benefits.
Start date: October 1, 2019
Excellent written and spoken fluency in both English and Korea
A degree in the humanities or social sciences, politics, international relations, law, gender, Korean or East Asian studies, or a similar field
At least five years’ work experience related to Korea with civil society or women’s organization
Savvy media communication skills, written/oral or social media experience a plus
Excellent organizational skills, inter-personal communication, and sound political judgment
Motivated self-starter, comfortable working independently and remotely and capable of managing multiple tasks simultaneously while meeting tight deadlines
Administrative and IT skills
A feminist understanding of the social, political, economic, cultural and development/humanitarian landscapes in Korea
How to Apply – Deadline for application September 8, 2019 Send your cover letter and CV, in Word or PDF format, to email@example.com with “U.S. National Organizer” in the subject line. Include names and contact information for 3 people who can provide references. We only receive applications by email. Only shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview.
July 27, 2019 marked the 66th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that halted the Korean War — a reminder that this conflict never ended and that we need to replace the Armistice with a peace agreement.
More than 80 organizations signed our letter to U.S. President Donald Trump urging him to end the longest standing U.S. conflict and to include women in the peace process. You can read it here.
Meanwhile, Korea Peace Now! regional groups, activists, and other peace-loving folks across the U.S. and around the world held events calling for an end to the Korean War and peace on the Korean Peninsula. They rallied, danced, sang, held film screenings, gave talks, and gathered signatures in support of H.Res. 152, which calls for a formal end to the Korean War.
Here’s a recap of some of the events that happened on and around July 27:
In New York, on July 25, more than 60 people attended a film screening of the documentary Memory of Forgotten War and a panel discussion on the current situation on the Korean Peninsula. Speakers included Women Cross DMZ/Korea Peace Now!’s Hyun Lee and Yuni Chang from War Resisters League, who shared their experiences working on anti-war and anti-colonial struggles and peace at home and abroad.
Two days later, volunteers from June 15 Committee for Peace and Unification New York and Veterans for Peace gathered dozens of signatures for postcards to send to their local Representatives urging them to support H.Res. 152. And on Sunday, about 50 activists gathered at a private home in Great Neck, NY, for presentations, conversations, and delicious Korean food. Speakers included Iksoo Han of Minjung Solidarity of New York and Hyun Lee of Women Cross DMZ, moderated by Alex Choi of Heemang Saesang (Hope Alliance).
Over on the West Coast, about 40 people gathered for a July 27 rally organized by the LA Progressive Koreans’ Network in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, chanting “End Korean War now,” “Peace in Korea now,” and “No war, yes peace” and singing Korean peace songs.
At a forum later that day, Christine Ahn, executive director of Women Cross DMZ and international coordinator of Korea Peace Now!, and humanitarian worker Joy Yoon, who is one of the few Americans to have lived and worked extensively in North Korea, spoke to a group of about 80 people in Culver City about the efforts of women to build peace with North Korea. Yoon spoke about her experiences to help disabled children in North Korea, and how that has been made more difficult with economic and financial sanctions imposed on North Korea. Ahn talked about the 2015 DMZ crossing she helped organize with other women peacebuilders and efforts to mobilize support for H.Res. 152.
In Washington DC, organizers from NAKA (National Association of Korean Americans), Korean Citizens Academy, Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, Beyond the Bomb, among others held a Korea peace rally in front of the White House on July 27.
In Boston, the Massachusetts Korea Peace Campaign and Massachusetts Peace Action handed out literature and collected signatures on Korea, Iran, Palestine, Middle East wars, and nuclear weapons at the Lowell Folk Festival.
Members of Korea Peace Now! in Philadelphia canvassed at a local Asian grocery store where they talked to diverse community members and helped educate people about the unresolved Korean War. About 33 people signed postcards asking their local Representatives to co-sponsor H.Res. 152.
Down south in Atlanta, about 70 people — including one state Senator and three state Representatives — attended the July 27 event “From Armistice to Peace: Ending the 70-Year-Old Korean War” at the Korean American Association of Atlanta. The event — which was organized by the Georgia Korea Peace Campaign — featured Rep. Sam Park of the Georgia State Assembly, Dr. Yusun Chang of the Georgia Korea Peace Campaign, Lindsay Harper of Georgia WAND, James Woo of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Hyun Lee of Women Cross DMZ.
Over in Pusan, South Korea, the Korea Women’s Alliance held a rally and released a statement on the anniversary of the Armistice. Their list of demands included: 1) that the R.O.K., D.P.R.K., and U.S. declare an end to the war and sign a peace agreement 2) that the U.S. withdraw sanctions against D.P.R.K. that block inter-Korean women exchanges and 3) that the U.S. stop biochemical weapons tests.
There was even a rally in Berlin, Germany!
And that’s not all. Online, an #EndKoreanWar Twitter hangout had more than 1 million impressions and reached almost 700,000 users!
Clearly, there’s support around the world for ending the Korean War and working toward a peace agreement. You can get involved, too. If you live in the United States, you can help support peace by sending a message to your local Congressperson here. Folks all around the U.S. (a few in Canada, too!) joined our social media campaign to #EndKoreanWar on Saturday. Hold up a sign with your name, location, and tag us with the hashtag #KoreaPeaceNow.
On June 30, 2019, the eyes and ears of the world have been turned into Panmunjom, the symbol of the division of the Korean Peninsula. It is the first time in 66 years that the President of the South Korea and the President of the United States visited Panmunjom together. In addition, President Trump traveled across the border with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to take pictures together, and came down to the South again for talks at Freedom House. It is a world historical event shown to the whole world that Panmunjom is being transformed from the field of division and conflict to the field of peace.
At the Panmunjom, President Moon Jae-in, Chairman Kim Jong Un, and President Trump together made a handshake for peace. It is the first meeting of the South-North-US leaders since the division, and we women strongly welcome and support the progress for peace through the historical meeting of Panmunjom that integrates inter-Korean and North Korea-US relations.
We welcome the third meeting and talks between the Chairman Kim Jong Un and the President Trump. On June 12 last year in Singapore, the two leaders agreed to end their long hostile relationship and move to a new relationship. At the second Hanoi North Korea-US Summit, the denuclearization negotiations ended without much success, but at the third summit of Panmunjom yesterday, the two leaders agreed to resume denuclearization negotiations through working-level talks.
In order to achieve permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, common trust should be established between two Koreas and between the North Korea and US. We believe that this trust building will achieve tangible results when progressive and simultaneous denuclearization negotiations between the North Korea and the US and the development of inter-Korean relations are both attained in a virtuous cycle. In particular, the expansion of socio-cultural exchanges for a lessening of military tension, reciprocal economic cooperation, and people to people encounters is essential for the sustained development of the North Korea-US denuclearization negotiations in which mutual trust is a prerequisite
In this sense, inter-Korean women’s exchanges and cooperation for sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula is more necessary than ever. The inter-Korean authorities should support the resumption of inter-Korean women’s exchanges to involve women who want to actively participate in the peace process on the Korean peninsula. In this historic period of long transition from division and conflict to peace, inter-Korean women will make various efforts to implement the Panmunjom Declaration on Peace, Prosperity and Reunification on the Korean Peninsula.
July 1, 2019
Kyungnam Women’s Association United (WAU), Gwangju WAU, Daegu Women’s Association, Busan WAU, National Solidarity against Sexual Exploitation of Women, Suwon Women’s Association, Korea Women’s Political Solidarity, Women Making Peace, Pohang Women’s Association, Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, Korean Women’s Association United, Korea Women’s Hot Line
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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_.
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 H.Res. 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 H.Res. 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.
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.
The day began with a breakfast briefing co-hosted by Sen. Marilou McPhedran, Sen. Yonah Martin, and the Women, Peace and Security Network of Canada. “This is a longstanding 70-year conflict,” said Sen. McPhedran. “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 conference with 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.