Maximum engagement for peace in Korea.

That was the commitment of the International Women Peacemakers Delegation made at the end of the January 2018 Vancouver Foreign Ministers Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula co-hosted by Canada and the U.S. Nothing like the U.S.-led focus on “maximum pressure” and increased sanctions against North Korea. Instead, we wanted to maximize efforts to reduce tension, promote people-to-people contact, and enable humanitarian and sustainable development efforts in North Korea. I was in Vancouver, representing the United Church, and wrote about the summit and the amazing delegation of 16 women representing peace movements, women’s networks, and faith-based groups in Vancouver. The Rev Moon-sook Lee represented the National Council of Churches in Korea, a United Church partner.

On April 27, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un, signed a historic agreement seeking to formally end the Korean War. The intra-Korea talks herald the possibility of a denuclearized Korean peninsula, reconciliation between North and South, and progress toward real peace—all goals United Church partners in Korea have been seeking for decades. We are in an exciting moment, but also a fragile one.

Patti Talbot, who leads the Global Partnership staff team at the General Council,  holds a sign saying "I support peace in Korea."
Author Patti Talbot
Credit: 
Courtesy Patti Talbot / The United Church of Canada

That’s why from May 23 to 26, 2018, I will represent the United Church as part of an international delegation of 30 peace activists, security experts and civil society leaders in South Korea. The purpose of the delegation is to listen and learn from women in South Korea so we can support their efforts for genuine peace on the Korean peninsula, strategize together, and continue to build a global feminist peace movement. Our goal is to press for the inclusion of civil society women and peace experts in the Korean peace process. We will be led by Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire, WomenCrossDMZ, and Women’s Peace Walk, a coalition of more than 30 women’s peace organizations in South Korea.

What can you do?

  • The North-South Koreas Panmunjom Declaration has meant that the prospect of peace on the Korean Peninsula is closer than at any time the past 50 years. Support these inter-Korean efforts, the prayer and vision of United Church partners, civil society, and people’s movements in Korea and around the world.
  • Tweet a photo: Join me by tweeting a picture of yourself with one of these posters and showing your support with the hashtag #WomenPeaceKorea. You’ll be in good company!
  • Join me in signing this petition: We know that to create durable peace agreements, women must be involved in the process. Remind world leaders of importance of women’s movement in Korean peace process!
  • Watch for updates from me and #WomenPeaceKorea: A New Era.
  • Pray for peace.

—Patti Talbot leads the Global Partnership staff team in the General Council’s Church in Mission Unit.

The United Church of Canada has engaged with the people of Korea for close to 120 years, supporting their desire for health, education, training, independence, democratization, and human rights. We stand with partners today in efforts for reconciliation and reunification between North and South Korea. Join with partners in Korea and the global ecumenical family, in continued commitment to promote engagement and dialogue, challenge sanctions, work toward a peace treaty to end the Korean War, and strengthen the global movement to build peace, not conflict.