As tensions increase between the United States and North Korea, more than 170 people across the country — mostly Korean Americans — will participate in Korea Peace Advocacy Week, June 13-17, 2022.
This nationally coordinated action is particularly timely as North Korea has ramped up testing of ballistic missiles, and South Korea elected a hawkish president who is further inflaming tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Talks between the United States and North Korea have been stalled since 2019, with no progress on denuclearization. Many experts are concerned that the risk of renewed military conflict remains high due to the lack of a formal resolution to the Korean War and increasing military tensions between the US and China.
Korea Peace Advocacy Week will consist of virtual lobby visits with 139 Congressional offices in 28 states to advocate for H.R.3446, the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act, which calls for serious, urgent diplomacy in pursuit of a binding peace agreement to formally end the Korean War, and H.R.1504/S.690, the Enhancing North Korean Humanitarian Assistance Act, which aims to ease the impact of sanctions on much-needed humanitarian aid to North Korea. Constituents will also encourage their Senators to support S.2688, the Korean War Divided Families Reunification Act, to facilitate the reunion of Korean Americans and their family members in North Korea.
This year marks the seventh year of coordinated advocacy days for the cause of peace in Korea, and the third year of it being online due to the pandemic. When it first started in 2015, just 12 people participated; the effort has now grown to include nearly 200 people. The Korean War was only halted by an armistice in 1953, and constituents participating in this action see it as the root cause of ongoing tensions between the United States and North Korea, fueling the extreme militarization of the Korean Peninsula.
“With negotiations stalled between the United States and North Korea, and increasing military tensions on the Korean Peninsula, it’s time for members of Congress to step up and let the Biden administration know that it’s time for a bold new approach — a peace-first approach — to engage Pyongyang,” said Christine Ahn, Executive Director of Women Cross DMZ.
“The COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea underscores the urgency for Congress to pass the Enhancing North Korea Humanitarian Assistance Act (ENKHA), which will address many key hurdles for humanitarian aid programs,” said Dan Jasper with the American Friends Service Committee. “Given the country’s borders have largely been closed for over two years, supplies are running low and aid workers may need to respond quickly when the borders do re-open. ENKHA will set aid workers up to act fast.”
“Too often, strict sanctions impact the flow of humanitarian aid to the North Korean people,” said Katerina Parsons, Legislative Associate for Mennonite Central Committee, “As humanitarians and peacebuilders, we want to ensure that U.S. policy is not an obstacle to meeting human need or to the engagement and dialogue that contributes to peace.”
Korea Peace Advocacy Week is organized by the Korea Peace Partnership, which consists of the Korea Peace Network (which includes American Friends Service Committee, Peace Action, Mennonite Central Committee, and others), Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network (led by Women Cross DMZ), and Peace Treaty Now.