SEOUL, Korea, June 11, 2017 -— A peace treaty needs to replace the truce between North and South Korea, ending a situation where the two countries remain technically at war was the theme put forward by a symposium organized by the Korean bishops.
Kim Hak-jae, researcher at the Unification and Peace Institute of Seoul National University, told the symposium, hosted by the Korean bishops’ Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People, that a peace accord would help usher in better relations with the North.
Kim said it is a shocking situation that Koreans still live under a truce put in place at the end of the Korean War in 1953. The truce was originally seen only as temporary measure.
“For a peace treaty, the first thing we need to do is to recognize North Korea as an independent country,” said Kim.
The North and the South have been divided since Korea’s liberation from the Japanese at the end of World War II. The Korean War (1950-53) made them bitter enemies.
In recent months, tensions have been high over North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile development.
Peter Lim Eul-chul, researcher at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies under Kyungnam University, said: “It will take long time to be reunified even if we settle the peace in the peninsula.”
During the symposium, Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon, president of the bishops’ committee, said that the past two South Korean administrations had suppressed the Catholic Church’s activities for the reconciliation of the Korean people.
“We could do nearly nothing,” said Bishop Lee. “I hope new government led by Timothy Moon Jae-in solve the inter-Korean problems very well,” he added.
The symposium — which commemorated the Month of National Reconciliation and Unity — was held at the Ilsan Church in the Uijeongbu Diocese. (UCAN)