I just got back from the DMZ with Nobel Peace Laureates
I just got back from a trip to South Korea for the 18th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates Gangwon in Pyeongchang, where I was awarded the 2022 Peace Summit Medal for Social Activism by the Nobel Peace Laureates.
While there, I traveled with a group of 10 Nobel Peace Laureates to Gosung along the DMZ to learn about the ongoing Korean War, including hearing from a member of a separated family. The Korea Peace Now! campaign partnered with the Korea Peace Appeal campaign to help these international peacemakers understand the importance of ending the Korean War by replacing the Armistice with a peace agreement, especially as tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain dangerously high.
Pictured above: Nobel Peace Laureates and civil society leaders at the DMZ call for peace on December 11, 2022.
The following day, on December 12, Nobel Peace Laureates and South Korean civil society leaders held a press conference in Pyeongchang to call for an immediate de-escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, a return to diplomatic talks, and, most crucially, replacing the 1953 Korean War Armistice with a formal peace agreement.
Speakers included Nobel Peace Laureate Ouided Bouchamaoui, whose organization National Dialogue Quartet won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 for helping to halt a civil war in Tunisia; Ira Hefland, MD, chair of the Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee; Ruth Mitchell, of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War; Yoon Jung Sook of the Korea Peace Appeal (ROK); and Ann Wright, a Board Member of Women Cross DMZ (USA) who crossed the DMZ in 2015 and a former U.S. Army Colonel and U.S. Diplomat who resigned in protest of the U.S. war on Iraq.
At the press conference, which was hosted by Korea Peace Appeal and the Korea Peace Now! Campaign (Women Cross DMZ, WILPF, and Korean Women’s Movement for Peace), the speakers announced a letter signed by civil society groups in the United States, South Korea, and around the world to be sent to President Joseph Biden, Chairman Kim Jong Un, and President Yoon Seok-Yeol urging them to stop the destructive arms race, take steps now to prevent a potentially catastrophic war, and set the table for peace talks. You can read the statement here.
You can watch the press conference here:
I was a featured speaker on a panel discussion, “Open Scars of War,” featuring Korea Peace Now! and WILPF Representative Youkyoung Ko. You can read my speech here.
Afterward, I was extremely honored to be presented with the 2022 Peace Summit Medal for Social Activism by my dear friend Leymah Gbowee. I’m grateful to the Nobel Peace committee for giving me this recognition, and all Korean women who have been boldly crossing boundaries for decades before me for peace in Korea. You can watch the award presentation here.
Pictured above: Christine Ahn receives the Peace Summit Medal for Social Activism, which is awarded every year during the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates to a human rights activist in recognition of the positive impact of social activism generated in communities throughout the world.
Another plenary session, “Women In Need / Need for Women,” included discussion with Nobel Peace Laureates and Dr. Chung Hyun-baek, former ROK Minister of Gender Equality, moderated by Youngmi Cho, Executive Director of Korean Women’s Movement for Peace.
After the Nobel Peace conference, we headed to Seoul for a packed screening of Crossings hosted by National Assembly Member Lee Jae-Jung, the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party Women’s Committee at CINE-Q.
In other news…
Earlier this month, Women Cross DMZ Advocacy Director Colleen Moore participated in a series of events in Washington, DC, attended by members of a South Korean delegation. On December 6, at a plenary hosted by the National Committee on North Korea (NCNK) and United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Colleen discussed our perspectives on peace and development on the Korean Peninsula: She talked about H.R.3446 and other Congressional work on the North Korea travel ban and recovery missions of US service member remains, the Biden administration’s Korea policy, our peace-first approach and the need to end the Korean War, and the uniqueness of our women-led movement.
Pictured above: US and South Korean civil society leaders met at Ploughshares Fund in Washington, DC, to share about their work and improve collaboration.
On December 7, ten members from the South Korean delegation (representing Korean Sharing Movement, KNCCK, Korea Women’s Movement for Peace, and Gyeonggi Province) and eight members of the DC North Korea Legislative coalition (Women Cross DMZ, Ploughshares Fund, ReThink Media, Win Without War, Council for a Livable World, American Friends Service Committee, Foreign Policy 4 America) held a meeting to increase understanding of each other’s activities and strengthen cooperation between South Korean and U.S. civil society working for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Afterward, we met with the House Foreign Affairs Committee where the South Korean delegation shared how US sanctions have created an enormous barrier to providing humanitarian assistance.
Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the armistice.
We aim to garner more support for peace and normalizing relations with North Korea by educating the public, building and leading coalitions, and strengthening our grassroots chapters. We plan to organize 100 screenings of Crossings by the end of 2023 to mobilize grassroots communities and campus chapters in the work to motivate policymakers to support ending the Korean War. We will continue to work with Congressional Korea peace champions to reintroduce the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act in spring 2023. And we will launch several new campus chapters nationwide, including at Boston College, University of California at Santa Cruz, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and Spelman College.
Our ability to advocate for a peace-first approach to resolve the seven decade Korean War takes hard work, courage, perseverance and new thinking. It takes many hands working together to break through the inertia that justifies the dangerous stalemate. And our ability to continue to lead, in the United States and across the world, depends on donations from people like you to keep our work going. If you haven’t done so already, we hope you will consider donating to Women Cross DMZ before the end of the year. Click here to donate.
Thank you for your support, and happy holidays,