The Seoul-based National Council of Churches in Korea on April 30 noted that tensions between North and South Korea are rising following Pyongyang’s failed rocket-launching on April 12, and held an “urgent prayer meeting” for peace.

“We, all people of North and South, should keep ourselves awake and pray for peace on the Korean peninsula and do every effort to accomplish it,” said a statement released by participants at the meeting.

The council gathered at the meeting urged “all the people in different areas to work together for peace, and prayed for its realization,” said the Rev. Heawon Chae, executive coordinator of the Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification, and Development Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula, which is linked to the council.

North Korea attempted to launch an Unha-3 rocket, which the U.S. claimed was cover for a ballistic missile test, but it exploded into about 20 pieces shortly after takeoff and fell into the Yellow Sea. On April 16, the U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the act, stressing that it and any other use of ballistic missile technology is a serious violation of U.N. resolutions.

The church statement said that the tension “has been ... increasing more than ever before,” adding that “each [government] expresses outrage, irritating the other rather than making an effort toward dialogue, compromise, reconciliation and being together.” It also said that “people are shaking with anxiety” about the possibility of war.

They asked that both governments “restrain words and actions heightening tension and conflict in the Korean peninsula and should do every effort to achieve peace through dialogue.”