June 25 marks the beginning of the Korea War—in 1950—as understood in South Korea. For the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) it also marks the beginning of the “Season of Prayer and Reflection in the Korean Peninsula,” which runs until August 15, the day in 1945 when Korea was liberated from the Japanese occupation of WWII.
For a number of years, leaders from the PC(USA) and the Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK) have called on members and friends of both churches to pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula and to engage in a season of prayer and reflection from the key historic dates of June 25 through August 15.
The Season of Prayer emphasizes that:
- “For the people of the PCK, this season of prayer will be a time to remember the suffering of separated families on the Korean Peninsula; and to acknowledge that, since the partition of the peninsula, the Christian commitment to reconciliation has been compromised by the trauma of a fratricidal war; discipleship compromised by bitterness; and faithfulness compromised by fear and hostility.”
- “For the people of the PC(USA), this season of prayer will be a time to reflect critically on how the division of the Korean Peninsula, the unended Korean War, and the separation of families have harmed the Korean people and on what the historical roles of the United States have been in relation to the Korean Peninsula; and to call the United States government to implement a policy of peaceful engagement in relation to Korea.”
- “For the people of both churches, this will be a time to deepen their commitment to work for healing, reconciliation, and peaceful reunification that will create a culture of peace in Korea and all of North East Asia.”
Last summer, the 222nd General Assembly (2016) approved an overture from the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse acknowledging and seeking reconciliation for U.S. military actions in the early days of the Korean War that resulted in the deaths of as many as 250–300 Korean civilians.
Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II, has made plans to visit South Korea this November to officially ask for the reconciliation. A copy of his letter to Chung Sye-kyun, the Speaker of the National Assembly, can be found below.
This week the Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study featured a reflection on Korea by Choon Lim, regional liaison for East Asia, and Yen Hee Lim.
Resources to guide prayers and to learn about partnership between Presbyterians in Korea and the United States include:
- Partnerships with South Korea
- Hyeyoung and Kurt’s Korean Adventure—the blog of the PC(USA) YAV site coordinators Kurt Esslinger and Hyeyoung Lee in Daejeon, Korea
- https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/choon-and-yen-hee-lim/—Choon and Yen Hee Lim, mission co-workers in South Korea
Letter to Chung Sye-kyun
9 June 2017
Mr. Chung Sye-kyun
The Speaker of the National Assembly
1 Uisadang-daero Yeongdeungpo-gu Seoul, 07233 Republic of Korea
Dear Speaker Chung Sye-kyun of the Korean National Assembly,
On behalf of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I am bringing a Peace Delegation to the Republic of Korea this coming November and would make myself available November 6 or 7, 2017. Our trip will focus primarily on how our Church in the United States may continue to nurture the relationships with global partners that were established approximately one hundred eighty years ago.
To that effect, our delegation of approximately four members respectfully requests a chance to meet with you along with representatives of our partners, the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK), the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), and the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK). We would like to share with you a recent resolution we approved at our 222nd General Assembly (2016). That resolution expresses our support for the victims of the No Gun Ri incident during the Korean War and their families. It also requires me to apologize for the harm done to noncombatants at the hands of the U.S. military. That is why we will come to deliver this apology in person. I would also like to share this act of contrition with you because it relates to our relationship with the entire Republic of Korea.
We are allies. Therefore we believe that we must take necessary responsibility for harm done, especially to our ally. We believe that we must uphold human rights, and that means we should confess when we have failed to do so, particularly with our allies. We must also increase our vigilance to make sure such mistakes do not occur again, so we will pledge to uphold human rights around the world.
Thus, our resolution also requires us to ask our U.S. government to seek a full apology for the mistakes it made in the loss of civilian life. We hope to share with you our intent to make this request of our own government so that they can go beyond expressing “regret” to restore the honor of the victims and their families.
We appreciate your hospitality.
In the faith we share,
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)