Prominent Feminist Gloria Steinem and Women Leaders to Call for an End to the Korean War at the DMZ and Near U.S. Embassy in Seoul

For immediate release
September 16, 2019

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. 

This delegation of women is part of Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War, a global campaign to educate, organize, and advocate for a Korea peace agreement by 2020. Women Cross DMZNobel Women’s InitiativeWomen’s International League for Peace and Freedom(WILPF), and Korean Women’s Movement for Peacelaunched the campaign in March 2019.

Schedule of events:

To schedule an in-person interview and/or obtain photos, please contact Kathleen Richards.

WHAT: Press conference featuring women leaders calling for an end to the Korean War and the creation of a peace process that includes women

WHEN: Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, 11:30 a.m.

WHERE: Across the street from the U.S. Embassy in Gwanghwamun Plaza, 172 Sejong-daero, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

SPEAKERS:

  • Christine Ahn (Executive Director of Women Cross DMZ)
  • Kozue Akibayashi (Doshisha University/Former President of WILPF)
  • Mimi Han (Executive Board Member, The National YWCA of Korea; Vice President, World YWCA)
  • Gloria Steinem (Feminist scholar activist)
  • Moderated by Mi-kyung Han (Standing Representative, Korea Women’s Alliance)

WHAT: Gloria Steinem Keynote Speech at Let’s DMZ

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, from 11 a.m.-noon

WHERE: KINTEX Exhibition Center, 217-60, Kintex-ro, Ilsanseo-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea

WHAT: “Women Crossing Borders: From the DMZ to the women’s peace movement”

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, from 3:10-4:30 p.m.

WHERE: KINTEX Exhibition Center, 217-60, Kintex-ro, Ilsanseo-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea

SPEAKERS: 

  • Christine Ahn (Executive Director of Women Cross DMZ)
  • Kozue Akibayashi (Doshisha University/Former President of WILPF)
  • Jung-soo Kim (Standing Representative, Women Making Peace)
  • Hyun Lee (US National Organizer, Women Cross DMZ)
  • Jung-ah Lee (Standing Representative, Gyeonggi Women’s Association)
  • Gloria Steinem (Feminist scholar activist)
  • Moderated by Young-mi Cho (Executive Director of Korean Women’s Movement for Peace, Chung-Ang University)

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Pro-Diplomacy, Pro-Peace Principles to Guide Presidential Campaigns on North Korea

This memo contains principles to guide presidential campaigns as they formulate pro-peace, pro-diplomacy policy on North Korea. Download this as a PDF here.

The current moment: Recent U.S.-North Korea relations have ranged from intense military tensions in 2017 to highly publicized summits in 2018. Looking forward to 2020 and beyond, the focus turns to the hard work of sustained diplomacy.

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:

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 stop impeding 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 UnBy 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.

Signatories:

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

We’re hiring: U.S. National Organizer

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.

Background

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. 

Objectives

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. 

Location: flexible

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 

Requirements

  • 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
  • Strong organizing, advocacy and/or campaigning experience
  • 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 info@womencrossdmz.org 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. 

People Around the World Called for Peace on the 66th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice

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.

Attendees at a film screening and panel discussion in New York on July 25, 2019.

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).  

Activists gathered in Great Neck, NY, for a barbecue and discussion.

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. 

Korean American activists gathered for a rally in Los Angeles’ Koreatown on July 27, 2019.

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.

Joy Yoon and Christine Ahn (front row, holding scarf) spoke to dozens of people about women’s efforts to build peace in North Korea at an event in Culver City, Calif.

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.

Activists rallied for peace in front of the White House on July 27, 2019.

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. 

Philadelphia resident Clemencia Rodriguez supports an end to the Korean War.

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. 

One state Senator and three state Representatives were among the attendees at “From Armistice to Peace: Ending the 70-Year-Old Korean War” in Atlanta, Ga.

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.

Figure 8: The Korea Women’s Alliance held a women’s rally on the anniversary of the Armistice signing, calling for an end to the war.

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.

Commentary by South Korean Organizations on the Third Panmunjom North Korea-United States Summit

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

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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