Sunday, June 21, 2015

Prayers for a United Korea

Today, in many of the Masses throughout the country we prayed for reconciliation and unity on the peninsula. The division of the country came after the end of the Second World War in 1945-- ending the colonial rule of  the Japanese, and turning over the peninsula to the trusteeship of  the United States and the Soviet Union, in time to become independent, which never happened. On  June 25th 1950, we had the  civil war between the two  divisions where two million died, and 10 million were separated from their homes and relatives, and in 2015, still without an armistice. 

Catholic media has visited the problems that we have with the divisions of the country and asking for prayers for the unification of the country.Kyeongyang magazine, has a number of articles that give the readers an understanding of the problems and  difficulties that are faced.    

The North has changed much during the 70 years of separation. Hunger has brought change and the movement away from some of their socialist principles have been adapted as we have seen in China and Russia. North Koreans are open to information from the outside world and one of the articles mentions they enjoy watching some of the  dramas from the South. Also, free to purchase many  products in the market even those from the South. This will  continue to bring change to the political structures.

National Security Law  in the eyes of many is a big stumbling block preventing steps for unification. In the world today freedom of thought and speech is understood and  Korea is still under the National Security Law.  One of the articles mentions how the political parties and even academia are not speaking out. From the time of President Syngman Rhee it continues to do great harm to the process for unification. "Any person who praises, incites or propagates the activities of an anti government organization, a member thereof or of the person who has received an order from it, or who acts in concert with it, or propagates or instigates a rebellion against the State, with the knowledge of the fact that it may endanger the existence and security of the State or democratic fundamental order, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than seven years ( taken from Wikipedia).

How do we work for unification and peace on the Peninsula? One article reports the agreement between the North and South in the Kaesong Industrial Region which is operated with the North. South Korean companies employ North Korean labor in a joint  venture, but there continues to be squabbles, and it has never reached the potential that was envisioned when they started in 2002. Efforts expended for unification by organizations and religious groups are many, but they do not last long because of the political reality.

One of the most serious obstacles is the way the citizens see the situation with the North. You have the humanitarian position that wants to help the North to raise their economic level and make the transition to unification easy, while the second group waits for the North to collapse, and then will help them to unite with the South. The Church is very much on the  side of the first group, but not all the Catholics would agree. We need to have a win-win scenario but this is not easily achieved.

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