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Church call for appeasement of North Korea to prevent war: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 3, 2010 p 7. December 8, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Korea, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper.

Kim Jong Il

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in Korea have issued a statement condemning the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island by North Korea, but have warned the US and South Korean governments not to antagonize the unstable regime of Chairman Kim Jong Il and provoke a full scale war with the North.

On Nov 23, North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island, located seven miles south of the Demilitarized Zone, and 50 miles from the city of Inchon.  Two civilians and two Korean marines were killed and a number of homes were destroyed.

Korea’s largest Protestant federation, representing the Anglican, Presbyterian, and Free Churches: the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK), on Nov 26 said it “mourns with the surviving victims and the families of those whose lives were so senselessly taken.  It deplores the North Korean military for using powerful weapons against the civilian community in the most serious incident since the signing of the Armistice in 1953.”

However, the attack came amidst joint US-South Korean war games, the NCCK noted.  It challenged the “governments of South Korea, USA and Japan to refrain from upgrading these joint military exercises under an umbrella of the USA’s respective ‘security alliances’ because they appear to have provoked North Korea and led to its strong reaction.”

The NCCK said joint military exercises with the US and Japan “served no purpose other than to escalate tensions in Korea and to threaten the peace in the whole Northeast Asian region.  The presence of a great number of nuclear weapons on land and on the surrounding seas makes Korea a tinderbox that threatens the peace of the whole world.”

The way forward through the crisis was for the Christian “ecumenical family to pray for peace in our land and to urge all governments to exercise caution, to refrain from further inflaming the political atmosphere and to exercise the maximum restraint so that reason and diplomacy can prevail over narrow self-serving military, strategic or political interests.”

However, U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak agreed last week to stage joint naval exercises as a first response and the aircraft carrier USS George Washington was dispatched to the Yellow Sea.

A foreign ministry spokesman in Pyongyang said the North had responded in “self-defense” and accused the South of “reckless military provocation” that was bringing the Korean peninsula to the “brink of war,” the official KCNA news agency said.

In March, a North Korean submarine sank a South Korean warship in the same area, killing 46 sailors, but last week’s attack was the first to involve civilian deaths since the bombing of a South Korean airliner in 1987.  Conservative political leaders in Japan and South Korea have urged their governments to take a strong line in response to this latest attack, while China has been pressed to use its influence to rein in North Korea.

However, the Rev. YJ Kim, general secretary of the NCCK, argued that a military solution would not resolve the Korean conflict.  “Faith is the foundation of peace, not force,” he said.

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