Kirk hears of Korean churches' determination for peace

By staff writers
May 24, 2018

Though US President Donald Trump has cancelled a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, churches in the region say that they will continue to work for peace with urgency and determination.

In particular, they dispute the President's claim that the world had "lost a great opportunity for lasting peace".

At the Church of Scotland's General Assembly meeting in Edinburgh this week, a South Korean churchman has called for the "immediate" removal of all nuclear weapons across the world.

The Rev Dr Lee Jae Cheon of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PCOK), told Kirk delegates (called 'commissioners') that PCOK would not have been able to pursue its agenda for peace on the Korean peninsula over the last 38-years without the support of the Church of Scotland.

Dr Lee said the war between North and South Korea was not over, merely suspended, and stressed that peace “is not optional”.

The Korean War 1950-53 devastated the Korean Peninsula, reinforcing the division between the North and South that had been in place since the end of World War II.

The PCOK is observing events unfolding on the peninsular with great interest as the leaders of North and South Korea have promised to bring “lasting peace” with a commitment to denuclearisation and to ending decades of hostilities.

North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, recently issued a joint statement that offered cause for optimism, though President Trump's latest volte face has considerably dented this. 

Referring to the partnership formed between the Kirk and PCOK in 1980, Dr Lee said: “Since then your Church has always been with us and has never hesitated to support our peace movements.

“Because you have been with us as an ecumenical friend, PCOK could sustain our long march towards peace and reunification of Korea.”

Dr Lee said competition for arms must stop. “All kinds of nuclear weapons have to be removed immediately,” he added. “Unwanted armistice agreements should be traded for peace treaties.”

Former Moderator of the National Youth Assembly, Andrew MacPherson, is travelling to the Korean peninsula next month to attend a series of events.

“It was very encouraging to hear the impact that the Church of Scotland has had on an important issue in the Korea peninsula,” he said.

“Although actions are maybe difficult from so far away, our words have been a positive encouragement to the churches in that area and the work they are doing for peace.”

Korean Christians have a special connection to Scotland because it was Balintore-born missionary, the Rev Dr John Ross, who translated the New Testament into Korean and helped establish Christianity in Korea.

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