INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS IN DOWNWARD SPIRAL
Relations between North and South Korea continue to deteriorate following the demolition of a jointly operated liaison office on Tuesday 16 June. According to an Associated Press source, North Korea issued a statement saying: “All hope for peace along the Korean peninsula has faded away into a dark nightmare.” The latest battle between the Koreas stemmed from the South sending anti-North propaganda leaflets over the border via balloons. North Korea has threatened retaliation by means of its own leaflets. This latest exchange puts both Koreas in violation of a deal signed in 2018 in which both sides agreed to stop all hostile acts against each other, including psychological warfare such as dispersing propaganda. South Korea has urged the North to scrap its plan to send retaliation balloons, saying its military response would depend on the method used to send the leaflets over the border. Since the demolition of the joint liaison building, North Korea sent troops to the now-closed joint cooperation sites on its side, to reinstall guard posts, and to resume military drills at front-line locations. The South Korean defence minister said South Korea will respond with “immediate, swift, and corresponding steps” to any North Korean provocation.
From a Christian perspective, the rapidly deteriorating inter-Korean relationship has quickly unravelled any progress made towards peace in the last couple of years. Many viewed South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump’s meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as bold steps towards peace, however, true peace requires consistent effort, something that has been lacking in recent inter-Korean relations. Rather than continuing, and building on what was already achieved, both Koreas have fallen back into the old, habitual cycle of hostility. If there is to be any hope of lasting peace in Korea, each side will need to put forth a consistent effort towards open communication and reconciliation. Lasting, Biblical peace is a process, and will not be achieved through singular meetings or ceasefire agreements. All is not lost, but a decisive move is needed to propel relations towards a peaceful outcome.
Pray with us for the following:
- For the Lord to raise up leaders to take the peace process forward
- For a softening of hearts on both sides of the border and a return to meaningful dialogue
- For the Korean Church not to lose heart, but to persevere
Image: REUTERS/YONHAP NEWS AGENCY