By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
On the historic day that leaders of both North and South Korea called for peace that will lead to the end of the Korean Cold War, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Korean and Christian leaders Friday said they are praying for a permanent peace.
Rev. Jackson was joined by Korean Consul General Jong-Kook Lee, Bishop Sally Dyck, who oversees the Northern Illinois annual conference and head of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Martin Lee from the Peace Committee and a member of Bishop Dyck’s conference; Rev. Janette Wilson, from Rainbow PUSH; Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, associate professor of theology, Earlham School of religion; and other leaders.
Jackson, Jong-Kook Lee, Bishop Sally Dyck and others made their remarks during a press conference held April 27 at the Chicago Korean Consulate, NBC Tower, 455 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive in Chicago.
Jackson said he has been working with Korean leaders over the past few months planning a trip to North Korea because there are some Korean children and Americans held captive there. “We plan to make an appeal for their freedom,” said Jackson.
“There is a sign of tremendous hope and optimism over fear and pessimism,” Jackson said. “One of our aims was family reunification.” Referring to the DMZ zone, Jackson said, “We said over the years that one day it would become a peace zone, a passageway from one country to another and that has come to fruition today.
“The implication for the world is so huge…,” Jackson said explaining that half of the human race is Asian and Chinese. “When China is at peace with the Koreas as one, if affects Japan. It affects Indonesia; trade… The whole world will be affected by this accord. It’s not just North Korea and South Korea. It’s the gaping hole in the process of peace. I hope we will do all we can to assure that the follow-up (of peace) continues.”
Bishop Dyck said people of North Korea need food and to live without fear. “I see this day as like planting a seedling” that needs to be nurtured to fruition, Bishop Dyck said. She asked for prayer to ensure that “seedling of possibility is able to come into full fruition between the North and the South.”
Rev. Jackson said he plans to go to North Korea because “we think that removing those fears, opening those doors is key to making this plan work.”
The press conference was held on the same day that President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea held an inter-Korean summit meeting at the “Peace House” at Panmunjeom where they declared there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula which brings forth a new era of peace, reconciliation and prosperity.
“For the very first time since the Korean War in 1953, those Koreans leaders stepped on South Korea,” said Rev. Lee. “Leader Kim Jong-Un crossed the demarcation line of the DMZ separating the war that continually divided the nations form the Cold War era.”
Consul General Jong-Kook Lee said, “Technically, the Korea is still at war since the end of the Korean War; so we have to have this…into permanent and genuine peace regime…. This process of reconciliation…will not stop here.” He said the U.S. and North Korean leaders would meet in mid-June. “This is really critical and meaningful….”
They vowed to reconnect the blood relations of the people and bring forward the future of co-prosperity and unification, to allow visits between South and North Korea, to end the threat of war on the Korean Peninsula and to cease all hostile acts against each other. Rev. Lee said, “Prayer works.”
Saying it will take some time to “unravel the war machine that we’ve built in the area, Rev. Jackson” said. “There has been a half century preparing to kill each other. They must learn to live together and they must unlearn some fear and learn some hope. “When people are separated by walls, on one side there is ignorance, fear, hatred and violence and that destroys both sides of the walls,” Jackson. “When the walls come down and bridges are built, you see things quite differently.
“The leaders have been driven by fear to mobilize their politics. When leaders decide to trust each other and to give peace a chance…. I think the fruits of peace are so sweet and so nutritional that they would not go back. That is our prayer,” said Jackson.
Asked about the human rights violations that are occurring in North Korea, Jackson said it would take time given the nuclear buildup. “At this time to attack North Korea in anyway would be to disturb the peace we want to happen.”