Christine Ahn https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/18879/all cached version 16/07/2018 01:25:59 en Walking together: imagining a new chapter in Korean history https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/christine-ahn/walking-together-imagining-new-chapter-in-korean-history <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The goal of the international women's walk across the De-Militarized Zone is to help bring peace and reunification to Korea, and to open a new dialogue marked by understanding, and -&nbsp; ultimately - forgiveness.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This is the second of a two-part article on the international women's walk for peace and the reunification of Korea. Read <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/christine-ahn/peace-and-reunification-in-korea-in-our-life-time">part one</a></em> </p> <p>The Korean War Armistice Agreement in 1953 temporarily halted the Korean War. It has never been replaced with a peace treaty. </p> <p>“Contrary to conventional understanding, the armistice has <em>not</em> been an instrument of maintaining an uneasy peace,” says Rutgers University Korea history professor <a href="http://asianlanguages.rutgers.edu/menu-i/41-faculty-profiles/108-suzy-kim15">Suzy Kim</a>. “In fact, it has been repeatedly violated, by both sides, most egregiously by the introduction of atomic weapons into South Korea in 1958 by the United States, violating Article 2 Paragraph 13d of the armistice which stipulated that no new weapons be introduced into the peninsula.” Suzy argues that the “current tensions and military buildup, including North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, have been the <em>result </em>of the armistice, a temporary military cease-fire that saw the need for a political settlement to achieve peace in Korea, and stipulated exactly that.” </p> <p>In the fall of 2013, I began reaching out to a network of prominent women, including the renowned American feminist author Gloria Steinem asking if she would consider crossing the 2 mile-wide and 155 mile-long De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea with other women peacemakers to help bring peace to Korea. Steinem promptly replied, <em>“</em>Yes. My high school classmates went to war there.”<em> </em>&nbsp;According to Gloria, one of her classmate’s father had returned from the Korean War deeply traumatized, and instead of allowing his son who was drafted in the Korean War, he “killed himself rather than see his son go to war. I never forgot that.”</p><p>On the 70th anniversary of Korea’s division, <a href="https://www.womencrossdmz.org/">30 women peacemakers will walk for peace in Korea</a>. Our delegation includes two Nobel Peace Laureates, authors, artists, academics, humanitarian aid workers, faith leaders, mothers and grandmothers from a dozen countries, including several nations that fought in the 1950-53 Korean War. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/UNCSW2015.jpeg" alt="Posed photo of 11 women" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women Demilitarize the Zone panellists at the UN CSW this week</span></span></span>We are walking to invite all concerned to imagine a new chapter in Korean history, marked by dialogue, understanding, and -&nbsp; ultimately - forgiveness.&nbsp; </p><p>We are walking to help unite Korean families tragically separated by an artificial, man-made division. </p> <p>We are walking to lessen military tensions on the Korean peninsula, which have ramifications for peace and security throughout the world. </p> <p>We are walking to urge our leaders to re-direct funds devoted to armaments towards improving people’s welfare and protecting the environment. </p> <p>We are walking to end the Korean War by replacing the 1953 Armistice Agreement with a permanent peace treaty. </p> <p>We are walking to ensure that women are involved at all levels of the peacebuilding process, including at the peacemaking table when that historic peace treaty is negotiated and finally signed. </p><p>This women’s peace walk will take place on the 20th anniversary of the <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015">Beijing Conference on Women</a> and the 15th anniversary of <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/wps/#resolution">UNSC Resolution 1325</a>, ushering in a new set of global standards ensuring women’s role in peacebuilding.&nbsp; </p><p>Our tentative plan is to meet with North Korean women in Pyongyang for an International Peace Symposium and to walk with them to the DMZ. On May 24, <a href="https://www.womenpeacemakersprogram.org/events/international-womens-day-for-peace-and-disarmament/">International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament</a>, we hope to cross the DMZ and to be greeted by South Korean women.Together, we will walk for peace and hold a second International Peace Symposium in South Korea. Our delegation hopes to hear from both North and South Korean women on how the division and state of war has impacted their lives and their dreams for a united Korea.&nbsp; Two Nobel Peace Laureates, Mairead Maguire from Northern Ireland and Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, will share how they galvanized women to bring an end to violent conflict within their countries. </p> <p>We realize that crossing the most militarized border in the world is no simple task. We are seeking approval from both Korean governments and the UN Command. We received a letter of intent last year from Pyongyang supporting our event, with a stern caveat: if conditions are ripe. Given this tense moment on the Korean peninsula, they may not be. However, we are in the process of negotiating with organizers who have conveyed to us that they “understand the significance of this occasion and the important peacemaking role that women have played throughout history.” </p><p>On Christmas Eve, we received the best gift we could have imagined through our advisor Governor Bill Richardson, when we were informed by the UN Command that, upon receiving confirmation from South Korea, they would be prepared to faciliatate our DMZ crossing. We hope to have favourable news soon from both Korean governments; however, we are prepared to make alternate plans to ensure that women walk for peace in Korea this year. We remain hopeful because in addition to the five New Zealanders who crossed the DMZ by motorbike in 2013, thirty two Korean Russians also crossed the DMZ by motorcade in 2014 - with both President Park's and Chairman Kim's blessing.&nbsp;</p><p>At a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/world/asia/women-aim-for-peace-in-korea-with-plan-to-walk-across-Demilitarized-Zone.html?_r=2">press conference</a> on 11th March at the United Nations Correspondents Association earlier this month, several women peacemakers participating in the peace walk spoke about why they were walking for Korea’s peace and reunification. <a href="https://utsnyc.edu/academics/faculty/chung-hyun-kyung-89/">Hyun-Kyung Chung</a>, a South Korean citizen who is a professor of Interfaith Engagement at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, said the division of Korea has “produced a divided psyche and personality, which makes it so easy to accuse our opponent as the enemy.” She said that she grew up in South Korea with an “enemy making mentality” which has been institutionalized from both sides of the DMZ. Ending the Korean War with a peace treaty, Hyun-Kyung said “will bring deeper democracy, sustainable peace, and flourishing Salim (life giving) culture on the Korean peninsula and with neighboring countries.” </p> <p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Wright">Ann Wright</a>, a retired US Army Reserve Colonel who served for 29 years, and as a U.S. diplomat and deputy ambassador in eight countries, said that she is participating in the women’s peace delegation to Korea because “I believe my government should support the peaceful reunification of the two Koreas by de-escalating military tensions.” In 2013, former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted that the United States was “within an inch of war” with North Korea. Wright said of the joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises and North Korea’s nuclear programme, “although both sides claim defense, when there is no communication and just a show of force, the chances for 'miscalculation' are unimaginably high and very dangerous.”&nbsp; </p> <p>Filmmaker <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abigail_Disney">Abigail Disney</a>, who produced the award-winning documentary <a href="http://praythedevilbacktohell.com/">Pray the Devil Back to Hell</a> about Liberian women whose nonviolent direct action stopped civil war in their country and ushered in democratic elections, said that “American women have a very important role to play in this... because of the role our country played in drawing the line and now very aggressively plays in enforcing it. We have a very important obligation to step forward and take responsibility for what our ancestors have done and for what we now actively do in terms of filling the world with more weapons and bringing countries around the world closer and closer to conflict.”&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="http://www.genuinesecurity.org/partners/okinawa.html">Suzuyo Takazato</a>, of <a href="http://www.genuinesecurity.org/partners/okinawa.html">Okinawan Women Act Against Military Violence</a> from southern Japan, said that she is walking for peace in Korea because “the Japanese government uses the unresolved Korean conflict and possible threat of North Korea to justify the continued U.S. military presence in Okinawa.” She said that Okinawan people “have suffered numerous cases of accidents and crimes, violence against women, and environmental destruction by the U.S. military stationed in Okinawa. Without a peace treaty ending the Korean War, the Asia-Pacific region is plagued by insecurity, which underlies this military build-up.” </p> <p>Gloria Steinem, who has visited the DMZ from South Korea says of the DMZ, “there is no other strip of land more symbolic of long-term division.” We hope to cross the DMZ to renew Korean people’s hope that the DMZ can and must be crossed to reunify families and to begin to heal the divided peninsula.&nbsp; </p><p><em><strong>Christine Ahn will be speaking a</strong>t</em> <strong><em>the </em></strong><strong><em><a href="http://nobelwomensinitiative.org/">Nobel Women’s Initiative</a><em> </em>conference on the Defence of Women Human Rights Defenders, 24-26 April.&nbsp; 50.50 will be reporting live from the conference.&nbsp; Read more <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nobel-women%27s-initiative/nobel-women%27s-initiative-2015">articles by participants and speakers.</a>&nbsp;</em></strong><strong><em> </em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/christine-ahn/peace-and-reunification-in-korea-in-our-life-time">Peace and reunification in Korea: in our life time</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yifat-susskind/salaam-and-paz-word-for-peace-is-women">Salaam and Paz: the word for Peace is Women</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/liz-khan-sue-finch/peacework-women-in-action-across-europe">Peacework: women in action across Europe </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/peacework-lessons-we-have-failed-to-learn">Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/feast-with-your-enemies-dekha-ibrahim-abdi">&quot;Feast with your enemies&quot; - Dekha Ibrahim Abdi</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> North Korea </div> <div class="field-item even"> South Korea </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 South Korea North Korea Civil society Conflict Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick UN Resolution 1325 - 15 years on women's movements women and power women and militarism everyday feminism 50.50 newsletter Christine Ahn Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:18:33 +0000 Christine Ahn 91282 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Peace and reunification in Korea: in our life time https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/christine-ahn/peace-and-reunification-in-korea-in-our-life-time <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women peacemakers are planning a peace walk across the De-Militarized Zone to bring global attention to the unresolved Korean War and amplify women’s leadership to help reunify the country.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/KoreanWarRefugeeWithBaby.jpeg" alt="Black and white photo" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A war-weary refugee carrying their younger brother</span></span></span>The year 2013 marked the sixtieth anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War. The temporary ceasefire has never been replaced with a peace treaty, and the 2 mile-wide and 155 mile-long demilitarized zone (DMZ) continues to divide the Korean peninsula with recurring tensions that serve as a sobering reminder of the possibility of renewed war. </p><p>Traversing the seemingly impermeable border, five New Zealanders crossed the DMZ in August 2013. They rode their motorbikes from Mt. Paekdu on the northern border with China all the way down the peninsula to Mt. Halla on the southernmost island of Jeju. This inspired me to begin imagining a women’s peace walk across the DMZ by international women peacemakers - many from countries that fought in the Korean War - to bring global attention to the unresolved Korean War and amplify women’s leadership to help reunify the country. After talking to one of the organizers of the August 2013 crossing, I decided to sequentially follow their blueprint and reached out first to the North Korean government</p> <p>A year ago, I went on this peacebuilding mission to Pyongyang to discuss an international women’s peace walk across the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas. To my relief, Pyongyang responded very favourably towards our proposal, but with a stern caveat: only if the conditions were favourable. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/US_Air_Force_B-2_Spirit.jpeg" alt="Sleak, black fighter jet" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>B-2 US fighter jet, as flown over Korean skies during the 2013 military exercises with South Korea</span></span></span>Today, despite New Year calls for engagement by both Korean leaders, tensions remain very high. And this month, the United States and South Korea are conducting a two-month long period of military exercises called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which the <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/24/us-northkorea-southkorea-drills-idUSKBN0LS0FZ20150224">North Korean Rodong Sinmun</a> believes are “aimed to occupy the DPRK through pre-emptive strikes.” </p> <p>The conditions are not favourable, but we are still planning the women’s peace walk across the DMZ this May. We have formed an organization called &nbsp;<a href="https://www.womencrossdmz.org/">Women De-Militarize the Zone</a>, and thirty women from more than a dozen countries have signed dup to walk for peace and the reunification of Korea. They range from Nobel peace laureates to artists, academics, humanitarian aid workers, and faith leaders. </p> <p>This year marks the 70th anniversary of the division of Korea by the United States and the former Soviet Union. For nearly seven decades, Koreans on both sides of the DMZ have long awaited a peace treaty to formally resolve the 1950-53 Korean War that only ended with a ceasefire agreement. Instead, 70 million Koreans across the peninsula, from the northern border of China down to the southern-most Jeju Island, have endured political repression and an endless arms race. </p> <p>In 1945, after Japan’s defeat in WWII, the United States landed in Korea, which had been under brutal Japanese colonization for 35 years. Without the consent of Koreans, who were awaiting its liberation and sovereignty after an entire generation under Japanese occupation, the two Cold War powers - Washington and Moscow - divided the peninsula along the 38th parallel. It was supposed to be a temporary division, but instead the creation of two separate states precipitated the 1950-53 Korean War. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/PyongyangFalls.jpeg" alt="People surrounded by a devastated city." title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The fall of Pyongyang. Getty images, all rights reserved.</span></span></span>Despite the massive loss of human life and destruction, the Korean War has come to be known as the "forgotten war." More bombs were dropped on Korea from 1950 to 1953 than on all of Asia and the Pacific islands during World War II, and President Truman came seriously close to deploying an atomic bomb. One year into the Korean War, US Major General Emmett O'Donnell Jr. testified before the Senate, "I would say that the entire, almost the entire Korean Peninsula is just a terrible mess. Everything is destroyed. There is nothing standing worthy of the name . . . There [are] no more targets in Korea." According to University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings, during the Korean War, U.S. airstrikes led to the destruction of 18 of 22 major North Korean cities. Cumings <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christine-ahn/Air%20Pollution,%20China,%20Kim%20Jong%20Il,%20korean%20war,%20militarism,%20Military%20Intervention,%20military%20spending,%20national%20security%20law,%20North%20Korea,%20pacific%20pivot,%20Park%20Geun-hye,%20Pyongyang,%20Regime%20Change,%20repression,%20Responsibility%20To%20Protect,%20sanctions,%20SIPRI,%20South%20Korea,%20UN%20Commission%20of%20Inquiry%20on%20Human%20Rights%20in%20North%20Korea,%20war%20games">cites</a> Hungarian journalist Tibor Meray, who recalled, "I saw destruction and horrible things committed by American forces... Everything which moved in North Korea is a military target, peasants in the field often were machine gunned by pilots, who, this was my impression, amused themselves to shoot targets which moved." </p><p>In 1953, after nearly 4 million people were killed, mostly Korean civilians, North Korea, China and the United States, representing the United Nations Command, signed the armistice agreement with a promise within three months to sign a peace treaty. Over 60 years later, we are still waiting for a peace treaty to end war. </p> <p>What has ensued instead for the past six decades is an endless arms race between North and South Korea. Whether we like it or not, the fact that the Korean War ended with a temporary cease-fire rather than a permanent peace treaty gives both Korean governments justification to invest heavily in the country's militarization. According to the <a href="http://www.ploughshares.org/world-nuclear-stockpile-report">Ploughshares Fund</a> World Nuclear Stockpile Report, North Korea possesses less than 10 nuclear weapons of the 16,300 worldwide that are predominantly held by Russia and the United States. North Korea invests approximately $8.7 billion -- significantly higher than the $570 million Pyongyang claims -- or one-third of its GDP in the military, according to the South Korean government-run Korea Institute of Defense Analyses. In 2013, to great surprise, Pyongyang acknowledged how the un-ended war has forced it "to divert large human and material resources to bolstering up the armed forces though they should have been directed to the economic development and improvement of people's living standards." </p> <p>But it’s not just North Korea. According to the <a title="Stockholm International Peace Research Institute" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures">Stockholm International Peace Research Institute</a> (SIPRI) 2014 Yearbook, South Korea was the world's 10th highest military spender, with its expenditures reaching $34 billion for the year. World Bank data <a href="http://www.tradingeconomics.com/south-korea/military-expenditure-percent-of-gdp-wb-data.html">shows</a> that in 2012, 13.6 percent of the central government's expenditures in South Korea went towards defence spending. According to a North Korea expert at Seoul National University, <a href="http://criticalasianstudies.org/authors.html?tags=suh+bo-hyuk">Suh Bohyuk</a>, in 2011, South Korea became the world's number-two weapons importer. In September 2014, South Korea spent $7 billion for 40 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets. “The reason that we are building up our military is to counter North Korea’s attacks and provocations,” <a href="http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2015/02/24/South-Korea-building-up-military-rising-as-arms-exporter/3551424741710/">said</a> a South Korean military official. According to political science professor <a href="http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2015/02/24/South-Korea-building-up-military-rising-as-arms-exporter/3551424741710/">Yang Seung-ham</a> of Yonsei University, “The Park administration is rapidly purchasing many advanced weaponry for military security, which does not help in easing inter-Korea tensions.” Conservative hawks in Washington are also pushing South Korea’s militarization. According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, although Washington withdrew 11 types of nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, hawks in U.S. Congress are now advocating for the return of U.S. nukes. </p> <p>North Korea's heavy military spending isn't just to defend against South Korea, but against the world's most powerful military in the world: the United States, which has since it landed on Korean soil in 1945 maintained thousands of soldiers and bases throughout the southern half of the peninsula. Washington regularly conducts military exercises with Seoul, simulating the invasion of North Korea. In January, in order to promote dialogue on the Korean peninsula, Pyongyang offered a moratorium on nuclear testing in exchange for the United States to postpone war game exercises with South Korea. The olive branch came a day after the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Years Day speech in which he offered to meet President Park if <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/world/asia/north-korea-offers-us-deal-to-halt-nuclear-test-.html">“the mood was right”</a> and that the two Koreas should promote reconciliation on the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule. North Korea’s gesture to lessen tensions was rebuffed by Washington, which recently passed another round of sanctions against North Korea for its alleged hacking of the corporation, Sony. </p> <p>In 2012, Washington <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures">spent</a> $682 billion on its military, or <a href="http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/milex-graphs-for-data-launch-2013/States-with-the-highest-military-expenditure-in-2012.png">39 percent</a> of the world's total spending. While the Pentagon uses China's military spending, which has grown annually in the double digits, to justify Washington's <a href="http://fpif.org/open-fire-open-markets-asia-pacific-pivot-trans-pacific-partnership/">Asia-Pacific Pivot, </a>the unresolved Korean War gives regional powers such as the United States, China, and Japan justification to further militarize, including expanding missile defence systems and building new military bases, as they continually lack funds for social welfare, such as education or childcare. Last year, at a March 25 Senate Defense Committee hearing on the 2015 budget, the commander of the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK), General Curtis Scaparrotti, <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/us-military-budget-cuts-hurt-readiness-asia-23052651">argued</a> that while the 28,500 U.S. troops based in South Korea were "fully resourced," he was concerned about the readiness of "follow-on" forces needed if fighting erupted. According to investigative journalist <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/04/05/north_korea_whats_really_happening/">Tim Shorrock</a>, during heightened tensions with Pyongyang in 2013, Washington deployed a new THAAD portable defense system to Guam and that plans are underway for a massive expansion of the U.S. missile defense system in Alaska and along the west coast as a “precautionary” measure against a possible North Korean missile strike.&nbsp; </p> <p>Since military intervention is not an option, the Obama administration has used sanctions to pressure North Korea to de-nuclearize. Instead, North Korea has since conducted three nuclear tests, calling sanctions “an act of war”. That is because sanctions have had deleterious effects on the day-to-day lives of ordinary North Korean people. “In almost any case when there are sanctions against an entire people, the people suffer the most and the leaders suffer least,” <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/25/us-korea-north-carter-idUSTRE73O0W620110425">said</a> former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on his last visit to North Korea. </p> <p>International sanctions have made it extremely difficult for North Koreans to access basic necessities, such as food, seeds, medicine and technology. Felix Abt, a Swiss entrepreneur who has conducted business in North Korea for over a decade says that it is “the most heavily sanctioned nation in the world, and no other people have had to deal with the massive quarantines that Western and Asian powers have enclosed around its economy.”<strong>&nbsp;</strong> </p> <p>A less obvious legacy of the Korean War is how governments use the state of war to justify repression in the name of preserving national security. Whether in Pyongyang, Seoul or Washington, the threat of war or terrorism is used to justify government repression and overreach, such as warrantless surveillance, imprisonment and torture in the name of preserving national security. </p> <p>While repression in North Korea is widely known, less known is how the South Korean government uses the antiquated 1948-enacted National Security Law (NSL) to prosecute political dissidents, particularly those sympathetic towards or seeking to engage North Korea. In South Korea, the Constitutional Court recently abolished the Unified Progressive Party, a liberal opposition party, on charges of being pro-North. Amnesty International <a href="http://www.globalresearch.ca/worldwide-campaign-to-defend-democracy-in-south-korea/5413710">says</a> that this case “has seriously damaged the human rights improvement of South Korean society which has struggled and fought for freedom of thoughts and conscience and freedom of expression.” And in January, the South Korean government used the NSL to deport and ban for five years Shin Eun-mi, a 54-year old Korean-American housewife who had written about her travels to North Korea, including describing North Koreans as warm-hearted and urging Korean reunification. </p> <p>There is wide consensus that replacing the temporary armistice agreement with a permanent peace treaty would go a long way towards de-escalating tensions that have long plagued Korea and the region. In a 2011 paper, the U.S. Army War College warns that the only way to avert a catastrophic confrontation is to “reach agreement on ending the armistice from the Korean War” and “giv[e] a formal security guarantee to North Korea tied to nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” U.S. Ambassadors to Korea since the 1980s have argued for engagement and a formalized peace process. James Laney, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea in the Clinton administration prescribed, “to remove all unnecessary obstacles to progress, is the establishment of a peace treaty to replace the truce that has been in place since 1953. One of the things that have bedeviled all talks until now is the unresolved status of the Korean War…. Absent such a peace treaty, every dispute presents afresh the question of the other side’s legitimacy.”</p> <p>Perhaps most tragic about Korea’s division is the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone that separates millions of Korean families. In April 2014, South Korean President Park said in her Dresden speech on Korean reunification that in 2013, <em>“some 3,800 people who have yearned a lifetime just to be able to hold their sons’ and daughters’ hands -- just to know whether they’re alive - passed away with their unfulfilled dreams.”</em></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/Christine.jpeg" alt="Woman and child surrounded by children" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The author and her daughter visiting a North Korean daycare centre</span></span></span>To end the state of war and help reunite families, international women peacemakers have come together to form <a href="https://www.womencrossdmz.org/">Women De-Militarize the Zone</a>, an organization dedicated to promoting the peaceful reunification of Korea through women’s leadership. From Northern Ireland to Liberia, we have seen how women’s participation in peace negotiations makes peace attainable, and that peace itself is inextricably linked with the advancement of women. We will work towards seeing the passage of a peace treaty to defuse dangerous tensions in Northeast Asia and de-militarizing our world. We must act now to give hope to Koreans that peace and reunification is tenable in their lifetimes and to the thousands of Korean elders that they will be able to embrace their loved ones across the DMZ before they pass away.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/beyond-war-women-transforming-militarism-building-nonviolent-world">Beyond war: women transforming militarism, building a nonviolent world</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/feast-with-your-enemies-dekha-ibrahim-abdi">&quot;Feast with your enemies&quot; - Dekha Ibrahim Abdi</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/feminist-peacebuilding-courageous-intelligence">Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/kathryn-stone/dealing-with-past-there-must-never-be-hierarchy-of-pain">Dealing with the past: &quot;There must never be a hierarchy of pain&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/is-it-time-for-worldwide-strategy-for-building-of-peace">Is it time for a worldwide strategy for the building of peace?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jessica-horn/every-act-of-violence-is-choice">Every act of violence is a choice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/dekha-ibrahim-abdi/transforming-our-woundedness-for-peace">Transforming our woundedness for peace</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nada-mustafa-ali/mighty-be-our-powers-peaceful-women-and-global-south">&quot;Mighty be our powers&quot;: peaceful women and the global south</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/what-kind-of-feminism-does-war-provoke">What kind of feminism does war provoke?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/peacework-lessons-we-have-failed-to-learn">Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/content/meaning-of-peace-in-21st-century">The meaning of peace in the 21st century</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> North Korea </div> <div class="field-item even"> South Korea </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 South Korea North Korea Civil society Conflict 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women and militarism feminism young feminists Christine Ahn Fri, 06 Mar 2015 19:30:33 +0000 Christine Ahn 90985 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Christine Ahn https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/christine-ahn <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Christine Ahn </div> </div> </div> <p>Christine Ahn is the founder of <a href="https://www.womencrossdmz.org/">Women De-Militarize the Zone</a>, which is spearheading the 2015 International Women’s Walk for Peace in Korea</p> Christine Ahn Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:43:33 +0000 Christine Ahn 90986 at https://www.opendemocracy.net