The Methodist Church in Britain has expressed solidarity with the people of Korea after Churches distributing food aid were threatened with legal action by the South Korean government.
The Rev Alison Tomlin, President of the Methodist Conference, sent a letter to the President of South Korea this week urging the government to resume food aid.
The Methodist World Mission Fund has issued a £10,000 grant to the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) in response to the crisis.
The NCCK sent 172 tons of flour to the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) on 18 May through the Amity Foundation, an organisation that receives funding from the Methodist Church’s World Mission Fund. The flour was sent in response to food shortages in North Korea reported by the World Food Programme and the NCCK. The emergency supply was distributed by the KCF in North Korea to kindergartens in three towns, reaching around 31,400 children. The Rev Kang Young Sup, Chairman of the KCF, expressed his thanks and indicated that another eight towns were in need. But the South Korean Government has threatened to take the NCCK to court for distributing the emergency supplies via China without its consent.
Steve Pearce, partnership coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, asked people to pray for Korea. “This is a terrible situation,” he said. “People are starving in North Korea. We urge people to help support the food relief effort through The World Mission Fund and to pray for peace and justice in Korea. The Methodist Church will continue its membership of the NCCK partners group and stand in solidarity with its actions.”
The Rev Heawon Chae, executive coordinator for Peace, Reunification and Development Cooperation on the Korean peninsula, said: “It took almost two months for the Amity Foundation to purchase the flour and transport it in trucks to Shineuijoo, a city at the border. The Korean government is now very angry at the NCCK’s activity and it’s going to take this to court as an illegal activity.”
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s government ended donations of food and medicine to the North when he took up office three years ago. In a statement, the NCCK affirmed that “Christians in South Korea firmly believe that supporting food aid to our brothers and sisters in the North who are faced with starving is to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ.”
People can donate to the food relief effort in North Korea via the Methodist Church by visiting www.justgiving.com  or sending a cheque payable to the World Mission Fund to Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, at Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR. Postal donations should be labelled ‘North Korea Appeal’. For further information visit www.methodist.org.uk  or contact Steve Pearce on 020 7467 5161.