Tag Archives: Korea

#DMZpeacechain – New York

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In solidarity with seekers of peace in Korea and around the world, more than 300 people gathered in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza to witness for one Korea living in peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Songs were sung. Words were said. A human chain was created stretching from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the UN to the Permanent Mission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The Rev. Won Tae Cho, on the right of the photo, served as the chair for the event.

May peace pervail.

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Filed under Current Events, New York, Photo, United Nations

Act for peace for Korea

Act for peace on the Korean Peninsula – sign the petition asking the U.S. government to enter negotiations for a peace treaty. 0001-42

On July 27, 1953, the guns fell silent on the Korean peninsula. An armistice brought three years of war to an end. However, a peace treaty has never replaced this cease fire.

Tensions remain between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. At times tensions heighten. Periodically they boil over into violent clashes. The continuing conflict diverts precious resources from the welfare of the people on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone.

The United States holds a special responsibility for a peaceful resolution of the conflict as it occupied the southern part of the peninsula in 1945 and signed the armistice in 1953. The United States maintains a military presence in the Republic of Korea. Joint military exercises fuel the tension with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Churches in the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korean, the United States, and around the world have joined a campaign to call President Obama and Congress to enter negotiations now for a Korean peace treaty, without conditions, to replace the armistice agreement.

The Korean Peninsula has known separation and conflict since 1945. It is time, it is past time, for peace for Korea.

Sign the petition asking the U.S. government to enter negotiations for a peace treaty. Invite your friends to join you. Let’s give peace a chance.

 

 

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2015 Joint North-South Prayer and Worship Liturgy (8.15 Anniversary)

From my friends Kurt Esslinger and Hyeyoung Lee comes an opportunity to pray and witness for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Hyeyoung and Kurt's Korean Adventure

ncck peace campaignThis coming August 15th, 2015 will mark 70 years since Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial control as well as Korea’s division into two zones based on the decision of US and Soviet Union officials (with Koreans conspicuously absent). Thus began a cycle of conflict and violence that Korea has yet to escape. Christians in South Korea first learned that Christians still lived in the open North despite severe restrictions on the practice of their faith. South and North Christians met face to face for the first time in 1988, despite it being illegal with participants risking arrest upon return to the South. Since then, South Koreans and Christians of the world helped convince the North to give Christians some breathing room to worship and practice in public, although full freedom to practice is still restricted. Since 1988, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK – South) and the Korean…

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Kenneth Bae is Released

Great news! Delighted to share this from my friend Grace Ji-Sun Kim.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim

kenneth_bae_ap_imgSo excited and happy that Kenneth Bae is on his way home. He will be reunited with his sister, Terri Chung, his mother, family and friends in Seattle tonight.

We praise God for his release.

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Joint Prayer for Peace and Reunification

IMG_0172The people of the Korean peninsula will mark August 15 as Liberation Day. This day of mixed emotions celebrates the end of Japanese colonial rule and the time when two other foreign powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, decided to divide the peninsula. Kurt Esslinger and Hyeyoung Lee, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission coworkers, reflect on this moment and provide prayer and worship resources from the National Council of Churches of Korea.

Hyeyoung and Kurt's Korean Adventure

In a few weeks the entire peninsula of Korea will honor the memory of Liberation Day from Japanese Colonialism on August 15th, 1945. This will be a celebration full of mixed feelings as this day also marks the moment when two foreign powers, the Soviet Union and the United States made the decision without Korean authority to divide the peninsula into two zones. The a long that generally follows the 38th Parallel became the line of division. Upon the Korean War, it also became an impassable wall separating families and independence partners who happened to be on the wrong side.

My new partner organization, the National Council of Churches of Korea is calling upon churches around the world to join them in praying for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. They have joined together with the Korean Christian Federation that represents Christians in North Korea to write a Joint…

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Advent 22: Sign

Sign

31 May 2013
Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

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Reflections on the World Council of Churches General Assembly

The World Council of Churches recently concluded their 10th Assembly. The Assembly met in Busan, Republic of Korea.

When I traveled to Korea this spring, I had the privilege to address the Busan WCC Preparatory Committee.

I did not return for the Assembly. Part of me wishes I had. A large group of Presbyterians attended, including colleagues and friends. Hearing of their experiences reminded me of my Korean connections.

In addition to the news accounts from the WCC and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), many of the participants wrote and blogged about the Assembly. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly, wrote several reflections

For analysis of the Assembly through the lens of gender and racial justice, check out the blog of my friend Laura Mariko Cheifetz. Here are her current postings along with some teasers.

I know, I should really appreciate everyone’s voices being shared. I should make sure that any decision-making process allows for all voices. But consensus is just as complicated a process as is Robert’s Rules/parliamentary procedure, and the process combined with limited time allowed for discussion really can quash serious disagreement and discussion (unless you’re a dude, according to this meeting).

We have theological and Biblical reasons for our long-standing ecumenical activity. Succumbing to our desire to hoard our diminishing resources and the influence of the isolationist/conservative element in the PC(USA) would be a theological statement – that we believe we do not have enough. We believe in scarcity. We believe that our own institutional preservation is of greater theological value and import than our commitment to being part of the larger Christian family.

There is a line between tokenizing and fetishizing young people’s voices, and genuinely holding up their leadership. Let’s be clear, the church is usually behind other social institutions in giving young people real responsibilities and taking them seriously.

And a highlight of my day, besides the mens’ statement, was going to the steps outside the convention center with hundreds of other participants in the pre-assembly for a group picture, with women from all over the world singing “We Shall Overcome.” This, from women who had just been discussing trafficking of women and children, and sexual violence. There is plenty of hope here. I can’t wait for tomorrow, for the beginning of the assembly.

A woman selling food by the beach gave me a look when I said I was American. I took that to mean that she didn’t quite believe me because of my looks (this is a frequent problem I have when traveling in other countries – I don’t look white, don’t have blond hair or blue eyes, and I like spicy food, so I do not seem very American to some). I said my mother’s family was Japanese, and she walked away. I know that just because my family wasn’t in Japan, and spent a few years locked up in concentration camps in the U.S. for being Japanese, does not make much of a difference to a people who were systematically terrorized by a brutal and dehumanizing regime.

Like many with privilege, I want to squeeze myself into a corner and not take up too much space out of an awareness of that privilege. Of course, as an under-40 woman of color, there is another part of me that knows disappearing is not the answer. Making myself small and withholding my contributions to the work is just another way to exercise privilege, or to allow those from my denomination and country with more personal privilege to dominate. So I will participate. In fact, I think I’ll be working my ass off, dancing between contributing the appropriate amount and making sure my contributions are not dominant over the contributions of others with less economic and social power in this religious world. At least I’m aware that I should not dominate the conversation.

Laura also posts a number of photo blogs:

If you want to learn more about the WCC General Assembly, check out Laura’s work. She says more will follow.

See you along the Trail.

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WCC Assemby in Korea to Urge Pursuit of Peace, Justice

My friend Grace Ji-Sun Kim recently went to a planning meeting for the World Council of Churches Assembly that will take place in Korea in October. I wish I were going to the Assembly – I have fond memories of Korea.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim

This is my latest post for Ethicsdaily.com.  It is a reflection of my recent participation at a World Council of Churches Meeting in Geneva.

Many mainline denominational churches, such as the Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Methodists, are struggling to survive in North America.

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Not the same

Watching movies on a plane usually does not work for me. I fall asleep or just give up from boredom.

But Asiana flight 222 from Incheon to New York takes a long time. Long time. I decided to give it a try.

I went with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I had seen it at Christmas with Tricia and Eric. I knew the plot, more or less, and I will buy a copy when it comes out on DVD. If I fell asleep, little would be lost.

It worked. I watched the whole movie. Some of the special effects and scenery were a bit lost on the small airplane seat screen, but it held my attention. I enjoyed it.

A snippet of dialogue from a scene where Gandalf urges Bilbo to journey with Thorin Oakenshield and the others on their adventure to the Lonely Mountain stood out for me:

Bilbo: Can you promise that I will come back?

Gandalf: No. And if you do , you’ll not be the same.

That is the way of adventures in fiction and in the real world. Whatever else happens, we are changed. The change may be obvious. We may have to ponder long and discern carefully the change. But change there is.

I have had adventures in the Republic of Korea. I have, in the words of Tolkien, gone there and back again.

I have new knowledge. I have made new friends. I am not the same. Of course I am still processing the knowledge and I need to discern what other changes there may be. Interesting days lie ahead.

See you along the Trail.

 

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28 March 2013, Republic of Korea

The Rev. JC Lee and I spent most of the day in the Gimhae area.

We started with a visit to the royal tomb of King Suro who founded the Gaya Kingdom. The tomb is located right next to the guesthouse where I stayed.

HousesOur journey then took us to Bonghwangdong – this historic site includes an important shell mound from the Gaya period, and the remains of raised houses (the sea-line was different during the Gaya period) and a residential site from that time. The Official Site of Korean Tourism reports this was the first archeological site excavated in Korea.

The Daeseong-Dong Tombs Museum was next on the list. This presents information about the number of tombs, probably of the elite, discovered and excavated in the area.

We visited the royal tomb of Queen Heo, King Suro’s wife. Two fishes facing each other is her symbol. After visiting the queen’s tomb, we went up on Gujibong Peak. It provides a wonderful view of Gimhae. The local people consider this a sacred place. From the Official Site of Korean Tourism:

… according to legend, it is the place where the creation of the Gaya Kingdom took place. During the Japanese colonial rule, the “neck” of the turtle was destroyed by the construction of a mountain road. Years later, a pedestrian road was built to rejoin the neck and restore the feng shui of the mountain.

Lunch followed.

TempleWe then drove to Eunhaesa Buddhist Temple. Located high in the mountains, it is interesting to compare the lines of the temple to those of the mountain.

Down the mountain we came to have tea at a tea house near the Nakdong River. We then drove back to Gimhae where we picked up the Rev. Dr. Hyunju Bae. Together we road the KTX Bullet Train to Seoul. We ate at the Seoul Train Station (a Korean restaurant, not Bennigan’s) and then my friends drove me to my hotel for my last night in Korea.

Tomorrow I rise at 5:00 in the blessed AM to meet the Rev. Dr. Lee at 6:00 to go to the Inchon Airport.

See you along the Trail.

 

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