PSPD in English Peace/Disarmament 2015-06-11   2987

[Joint Statement] Inappropriate President Park Geun-hye’s Planned Visit to the United States:

Joint Statement of Nongovernmental Organizations in Korea Regarding President Park Geun-hye’s Planned Visit to the United States:

Overturn the Visit Plan and Focus Instead on Transforming the Policy on North Korea

 

>>> To see the statement in Korean
 

President Park Geun-hye of South Korea has recently announced that she plans to pay a visit to the United States from June 14 to 19. The announcement has raised serious concerns in the Korean civil society, particularly over the appropriateness of the visit schedule and also the policy issues likely to be discussed by the leaders of the two countries.
 
First and foremost, it would be extremely inappropriate of President Park to proceed with her visit schedule when the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) threatens to turn into a national crisis in Korea. Her plan also coincides with the 15th anniversary of the historic Joint North-South Korean Statement of June 15, 2001, which has marked a turning point in the relations on the Korean Peninsula. If President Park pushes her visit plan in the face of the growing pressure, both at home and abroad, to use the anniversary as an occasion for normalizing the sour relations between the two Koreas, she will serve no purpose other than confirming her commitment to sanctioning North Korea instead of improving relations with it.
 
President Park and Washington therefore ought to revisit and overturn their plan of another summitry. President Park ought instead to focus all her energy on solving the MERS crisis in Korea and improving relations with the North.
 
We should also point out the growing public indignation over the recent turns in the Korea-US relations. During the visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in April, Washington seemingly endorsed Japan’s continued attempt to distort history and movement toward the extreme right, demanding Korea and other countries victimized by Japan’s colonialism to forget the past and move forward into the future. High-ranking US officials, such as State Secretary John Kerry, also provoked Koreans with their mentions of the need to station the THAAD system in Korea, thus raising worries that the Korean Peninsula may yet again turn into a battleground for proxy wars. The United States Army has also recently been found to have conducted a clandestine and extremely dangerous experiment of anthrax, a fatal bioweapon, at the US Air Force Base in Osanwithout even bothering to inform the Korean government. The United States, having served long as a self-appointed guardian of justice and democracy worldwide, has thwarted Koreans’ aspirations toward correcting historical mistakes and envisioning a better future by endorsing Japan’s policy on history when Koreans should be celebrating the 70th anniversary of their national liberation. The US government ought to apologize for this situation and join the efforts worldwide to correct Japan’s historical distortion.
 
Moreover, Washington should abandon its pursuit of stationing a THAAD system in Korea, which may escalate the tension over the Korean Peninsula and the arms race in Northeast Asia to unprecedented heights. As a signatory to the Biological Weapons Convention, the US government ought also officially acknowledge its attempt to deliver anthrax into Korea and apologize to the Korean public. In doing so, Washington ought to abandon its program of relocating toxic bacteria overseas and also abandon its biological weapons programs.
 
The United States ought to quit its habit of enforcing strict international norms and law against enemy states, while it also ignores and violates such norms and laws when its own interests are concerned. It is this double standard of Washington that continues to frustrate the international effort to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
 
Finally, we exhort policymakers of South Korea and the United States to shift their policy regarding North Korea from the current position of “strategic patience” to that of active dialogue and negotiation. The Korean Peninsula is the only country in the world that remains divided, despite the single national origin, since the end of World War II seven decades ago. The current division can be overcome only by declaring the end of the war on the peninsula and changing the course of the peninsula toward a more cooperative partnership.
 
The governments of South Korea and the United States ought also to launch negotiations for converting the ceasefire agreement between the two Koreas into a peace treaty, with the participation of not only the two Koreas, but also of other parties to the Korean War, including China. Meaningful efforts need to be made to change the policy of confrontation and antagonism toward North Korea into a policy of peace and cooperation. That is the only way we can begin to find a solution to the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula.
 
The United States, the major victor of World War II, bears the responsibility to bring the war on the Korean Peninsula to a conclusion and thereby end the enduring legacy of World War II. The Obama administration needs to reflect honestly upon, and find a new approach, to the pain and suffering of separation that has persisted on the Korean Peninsula over the last seven decades.
 
Only when the governments of South Korea and the United States are ready to embrace genuine change, they may begin a new summitry.
 

 

June 10, 2015

Signed by:
Civil Peace Forum
Daegu Citizens Union for Peaceful Reunification
Daejeon Women’s Association for Peace
Goyang Peace Nuri
Korea Alliance For Progressive Movement
Korea Peace Foundation
Korea Young Man’s Christian Association
Korean Sharing Movement, Korean Veterans For Peace
Korean Women’s Association United
Lawyers for a Democratic Society
Life Peace Solidarity
Minkahyup Human Rights Group
Movement for One Corea
Peace Network
People’s Solidarity for Amendment of Unequal US-ROK SOFA
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
Pyeongtaek Peace Center
Solidarity for Democracy People’s Livelihood, Peaceful Reunification, and the Sovereignty of Korea
Tongilmaji
Women Making Peace
Young Korean Academy

 

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