Update on the Situation in Korea

Dear friends,
Greetings from the National Council of Churches in Korea.

As you are aware, the landmine explosion in the DMZ (Aug. 4th) has aggravated the already deteriorated North/South relations. North and South have blamed each other even though the whole truth of the tragic accident is still in mystery. The South alleged that the landmines had been planted by the North, but the North insisted that the explosion was a manipulation of the South and urged to stop war games. To retaliate the landmine attack of the North, on Aug. 10th the South Korean military resumed the propaganda broadcast to North Korea using giant speakers. In turn the North gave strong warning against the broadcast condemning it as a psychological warfare. Actually the broadcast to North Korea stopped 11 years ago during Noh’s administration as it had antagonized the North: Even in the time of Cheoan warship crisis, the South did not broadcast against the North as it provokes extreme hostility. Meanwhile on Aug. 17 the US and the South began the UFG military drill.

Yesterday, around 4:00 pm the South Korean military agency reported that there was an artillery attack targeting the giant speakers at Yunchun-gun area. About two hours later the South Korean forces fired artillery in response to the attack. In the early morning today, the central new agency in the North declared that the artillery attack was not conducted by them and thus the broadcast must stop immediately. Furthermore they warned that if the South does not stop the broadcast, there will be a substantial military action within 48 hours. With this warning the North sent the fax message to the South, saying that “the current crisis can be peacefully resolved if the South stops the broadcast immediately.” However, the South responded that they would continue the broadcast as well as the joint military drill at any cost. Right now, villagers at Yunchun-gun were evacuated and the military forces in both Koreas were put on the high emergency alert.
The root-cause of yesterday’s artillery exchanges between North and South Korea is the landmine accident. A few people in the South have raised questions about the announcement of the South Korean government and say that this will be another Cheonan warship case. They also suspect that Park administration is creating the crisis to break the current political crisis in the domestic affairs including the Sewolho tragedy, MERS outbreak and the NIS hacking case.
In the beginning of this year leaders of both Koreas announced openly that they would open a new era for reconciliation and reunification as two Koreas celebrate 70th anniversary of liberation this year. But the reality we face now is that we are moving from the cold war to a hot war. In order to respond to this quasi-war situation, the Reunification Committee of the NCCK had an emergency meeting yesterday and decided to demand both Koreas to resolve the present crisis with peaceful means. The Committee said one of the immediate actions for the South is to stop the broadcast as the North already expressed their willingness to a peaceful approach as long as the South stops the broadcast.
In this time of crisis, please remember us and our people in your prayers.

National Council of Churches in Korea

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