Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Korean churches challenge S. Korea, the U.S. & Japan to end provocative war games; urge prayers for peace

(In recent months, the United States and South Korea have conducted several massive joint sea and air war games in the waters east of the Korean peninsula.

Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo have ushered in the Christmas Season in the Asia-Pacific with massive war games. On top of this, the South Korean government erected a Christmas tree on the border of North Korea as a provocation instead of a symbol of festivity.

In counterpoint, Korean churches have been calling for prayers for peace:
Korea churches urge prayers for peace
2 Dec 2010
Church leaders in Korea have put out a call to prayer in the wake of military violence which they have branded "all too reminiscent" of the pain inflicted by the Korean war more than 50 years ago.

The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) said it deplored the North Korean military for targeting the civilian community of Yeonpyeong Island and challenged government chiefs in South Korea, Japan and the USA for "provoking" North Korea with joint naval exercises off the coast and "war games" on the Peninsula.

"Yet again, only months after the sinking of a South Korean warship, Cheonan, the fragile peace along the dividing line between the two Koreas has been broken," NCCK general secretary Rev Kim Young Ju said in a statement.

"The fighting and the mass exodus of residents from the island that is home to a fishing community and military bases is all too reminiscent of the Korean War that inflicted pain on the Korean people that none can forget. The National Council of Churches in Korea 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. Yet again the Peninsula and its people are gripped by the fear of an escalation of ideologically-inspired violence."

The NCCK has been part of a global ecumenical fellowship working towards building bridges with North Korea and establishing regular, productive contact with the Korean Christians Federation (KCF) in the North. It has shared common prayers for peace and reunification of the Korean peninsula with the global fellowship of Christian churches through the World Council of Churches.

On 15 August this year, the NCCK, the KCF and churches in other parts of the world simultaneously prayed for peace and the reunification of Korea. Now it is calling for Christians worldwide to pray for a peaceful end to the military conflict that threatens to jeopardise church peace-building efforts.

Mr Kim said: "As we have so often repeated in the past, these exercises of political and military brinksmanship serve 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.

"We therefore call on the 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. The fundamental interests of the people must prevail: mutual respect and peace with justice for all.

"We also appeal to all nations to reject any attempt to cheapen life by treating Korea as a pawn in diplomatic gamesmanship, while ignoring the welfare of the people."

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