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Korean partners call for end to war of words

By Ed Evans - Global Ministries Committee

Global Ministries partners with the church in South Korea are saying the need has become urgent for the escalating war of words to be ended between North Korean Leader Kim Jung Un and President Donald Trump, and ways found for dialogue to occur to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, throughout Asia and the world. 

Rev Han Sung Soo, Seoul East Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) speaking with Ed Evans via Skype. Photos courtesy of Ed Evans

In Skype conversations with Pacific Northwest Conference Global Ministries Committee co-chair Ed Evans, Rev. Han Sung Soo of the Seoul East Presbytery of the PROK said the people of South Korea “feel that Kim Jung Un wants to negotiate with the United States, but the US won’t negotiate yet.”

Han suggested many people feel that Kim Jung Un would like to imitate the model of India and Pakistan, both countries armed with nuclear weapons. 

He noted concerns are growing from European nations, as well as the China and Russia. 

 “Generally, Korean people are peaceful in these situations. But this time, Kim Jung Un is not reasonable.  However most Korean people think that Kim Jung Un will not shoot a bomb toward South Korea,” he said.  “There would not be any winners in a nuclear war.”

Jeffrey Mensendiek talking about missiles launched from North Korea flying overhead, speaking via Skype from Kobe, Japan

Common Global Ministries mission co-worker Jeffrey Mensendiek, serving as a UCC chaplain at Kwansei Gakuin University in Kobe, says there is fear and uncertainty in Japan about how prepared Japan is every time a North Korean missile flies overhead.

“Part of the fear is not knowing what America is going to do, because there is a man in the office of President who nobody knows what he’s going to do,” he said.

When the missiles fly over Japan a national emergency alert system is activated called a “J” Alert. People are warned to take cover.

However, the people don’t really know what to do, where to go, or what’s safe. Since the “J” alerts began in recent weeks there has been an increase in schools and public offices practicing emergency drills. 

As a result of the uncertainty and fear because Donald Trump is in office, Jeffrey says people in Japan are shaking their heads.

“There is a growing sense that maybe it’s time for the Japanese government to take matters into their own hands and begin the process to militarize because they can’t really be sure what America is going to do,” Jeffrey said. 

That would require a change in Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, known as the Peace, or Pacifist Constitution. 

Jeffrey said a series of laws passed two years allowed national defense forces of Japan to join military maneuvers with the United States. With the escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for an early special election next month so he can push a revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution.

The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) has maintained that the only thing that will solve the conflict is dialogue.

Kurt Esslinger of NCCK

Mission co-worker Kurt Esslinger, working with the Reconciliation and Unification Department of the NCCK recently said: “Since the Korean War there have been constant hostile and military threats. Even at times where there has been dialogue, the hostile and military threats have never actually stopped. They’ve been a part of the diplomacy.”

He said the NCCK is continuing its Peace Treaty Campaign reaching out to international church partners. 

“The NCCK is saying the only real chance for peace or resolving the conflict is to sign a peace treaty to end the technical state of war so that it gives North Korea a better sense, something that they can trust to say that some new president isn’t going to step into the U.S. presidency and then suddenly decide that they need to launch a pre-emptive attack in order to change out the regime because they’ve decided that this line is apparently too far to cross,” Kurt said.

The NCCK, in partnership with the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches in the United States have initiated a worldwide campaign to create a Peace Treaty to replace the Armistice Agreement of 1953, bringing an end to the state of war on the Korean Peninsula. A petition gathering signatures to urge establishment of a peace treaty is online at









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