During the month of June, Catholics will be asked to pray for reconciliation and unification. This year, marking the 60th since the end of the Korean War, each diocese will set aside days to form a chain of prayer for the country.
journalist of the Catholic Times recalls that during her first three
years in grammar school, when the "Defense of the Country Month" came
along, she often felt stressed because of the anti-Communist posters
that seemed to be everywhere. She was too young to understand what
happened during that war, she said, and being asked to draw pictures of
North Korean soldiers captured by the South was difficult.
had never seen a North Korean soldier, but in her drawings she
remembers drawing dog-like teeth and horns coming out of their heads,
making them look like monsters on a blood-red background. Her
imagination or creativity, she said, had little to do with what was
drawn; the pictures were similar to what the other students had drawn
because of the intense anti-communist school programs. It was only later
that she realized that those in the North had the same facial features
as the Koreans in the South. The shock in learning this, she says, is
still with her today.
that time, rather than peace, it was confrontation that she and her
classmates were being taught. The anti-communist programs have ceased
but our understanding of the North, she says, has not changed very much.
There are many who feel no need for unification and still harbor
feelings of hostility toward the North. Those that feel this way would
be considered the normal ones. Those that feel unification is a task for
others to pursue would be large, since most Koreans have no interest in
the unification project.
Bishops National Reconciliation Committee has a number of different
programs to help change this thinking: prayer meetings, symposiums,
pilgrimages to the demilitarized areas, and the like. If, as Christians,
we remember that the North Koreans are our brothers and sisters, our
efforts are more likely to lay a solid foundation for reconciliation.
Koreans, the bishop-president of the committee says we want to
reconcile. As Christians, being brothers and sisters in Christ, we want
to show magnanimity. And the journalist adds that like the times we made
posters against the North, now is the time for making posters for
When we use propaganda to achieve a goal without a proper regard for the truth, the results often come back to haunt us. The
efforts in the past to manipulate the thinking of the South toward the
North may now be a stumbling block for many South Koreans who are
finding it difficult to give up the old stereotypes of the past.