Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Peaceful Co-existence of North and South Korea

In the fall of 2015 the 30th Human Rights Council met at the  Headquarters of the UN in Switzerland. A peace activist  writing in the Catholic Times on issues dealing with unification writes  about her attendance at this meeting. She was apparently a leader of one of the  small civic group discussions.

An organization in Japan came to the writer to ask  for an opportunity to speak at the plenary meeting. It was her task to facilitate the speaking in one of these  small groups. They sought to make a statement about the Japanese military comfort women at that time. She was saddened that the meeting ended in the morning and time would not be given in the afternoon. 

Civil groups were grateful that the Japanese organizations had come from afar to deliver the truth about the comfort women of the Japanese military. They were promoting justice and human rights, rather than giving  opinions and directions of the state. During a break she greeted them warmly and shared talk about their remarks.

However, she was confused and embarrassed on hearing what they were going to say. At that time in Korea  demonstrations against demolition of areas of Seoul where prostitution was extensive were items in the news. Korean comfort women were in the work for the money just like these prostitutes now in Seoul,was the opinion expressed by the Japanese contingent. Our writer was overcome with resentment and was asked where was she from. When she answered Korea, the spirit of the group changed quickly. She could no longer continue to objectively lead the group.

In the  afternoon session the Japanese group sent their statement to the plenary session and this time not as civil group but as official representatives of Japan. Our writer feels this should have been rejected but they were allowed to talk. Representatives of the comfort women of Korea because of sickness  weren't  able to attend.

This was the time  of contact between the Japanese and Korean government authorities on the Korea-Japan comfort women agreement which was released on December 28, 2015. The Korean delegation kept silent during the discussion. It was only North Korea that strongly criticized the Japanese Administration as distorting history and refusing to apologize in making sexual slaves of so many women. 

We are one people. We share a long history, suffered pain together and have the same wounds. Our body is divided but the heart is that of brothers and sisters. We have come together in harmony for the Olympic Peace Festival. Our co-existence needs to be prioritized so that we may be part of the open world. We pray that our encounter will be a step to a world of peaceful co-existence.   

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