By Rev. Hyok In Kwon
Pastor, Berkeley Korean UMC in Oakland
Executive Director, Peace Committee, the Korean Association of The UMC
The fateful dice have been cast for the second summit of the US and North Korea. According to Pres. Trump’s announcement during his State of the Union address on Feb. 5, he will be meeting Kim Jong-un in Vietnam on Feb. 27 and 28. This second summit was arranged to break through a long impasse for achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. During their first summit on June 12, 2018, the US president and North Korean leader released a joint statement in which they agreed on four things: establishing a new relationship between their two countries, building a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, striving for the denuclearization of the peninsula, and repatriating POW/MIA remains.
Even though the negotiation between the United States and North Korea yielded meaningful moments of cooperation, none of the concrete agreements have been implemented yet. In light of past history, I have concerns about whether an agreement produced by the upcoming US-North Korea summit will actually be honored by both countries. I hope, however, that both parties will approach the upcoming summit with sincerity and a commitment to carrying out whatever agreement is reached. The US Congress must put aside partisan interests if the historic result of achieving peace in Korea and the world is to be met. This is not North Korea’s obligation alone; both countries must carry out the agreement faithfully.
The significance of the first summit largely might be derived from the fact that Pres. Trump and Kim actually met to talk with each other. The second summit should pose the challenge of reaching an agreement to exchange progress toward denuclearization for corresponding measures. The US is reportedly considering options such as resuming humanitarian aid and making an end-of-war declaration.
It is time to declare an end to the Korean War and to replace the armistice with a peace treaty to build a stable and lasting peace system on the Korean Peninsula. Only a peace treaty will prevent further threats of nuclear and conventional war on the Korean Peninsula.
The United States and North Korea should take immediate mutual steps to prevent military conflict and alleviate tensions. I hope the scheduled U.S.-North Korea summit will end seven decades of hostile relations between the two countries and usher in a new era of peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia, and in the rest of the world.
I stand with people of conscience everywhere who defend peace, self-determination, and justice. It is my hope that the Korean Peninsula – once a land of strife, division, and war – will become a source of strength and inspiration for all as a beacon for peace, reconciliation, and unification in the 21st century.
I invite all churches and all people of good will around the world to join in working for the realization of the objectives of the Peaceful Agreement.