PSPD in English Peace/Disarmament 2024-03-04   1317

Cease All Military Actions and Hostilities and Restore Channels of Communication!

💥De-escalate the war crisis and restore dialogue channels!
🙏We want peace

The war crisis on the Korean Peninsula has reached a peak. A large-scale ROK-U.S. combined military exercise called Freedom Shield (FS) is scheduled for March 4-14, and an anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflet campaign is expected in March and April along the border. All channels of dialogue between the two Koreas, and the DPRK and the U.S. have been cut off.  Even the 9.19 inter-Korean military agreement has been neutralized, and the buffer space has disappeared. In this situation, an accidental clash could easily lead to an actual military armed conflict. In response, the Korea Peace Appeal held a press conference on Wednesday, February 28, at 11:00 a.m., titled “Cease All Military Actions and Hostilities and Restore Channels of Communication!”

Feb.28, 2024, Press Conference <Cease All Military Actions and Hostilities and Restore Channels of Communication!> photo by the Korea Peace Appeal

Cease All Military Actions and Hostilities and Restore Channels of Communication!

February 28, 2024

The war crisis on the Korean Peninsula has reached a boiling point. All channels of dialogue between South and North Korea, including those between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea(DPRK) and the United States(U.S.), have been cut off, and the two sides have labeled each other as enemies, resulting in a prolonged confrontation. The inter-Korean military agreement, which was the minimum mechanism for building trust, has ceased to function at all. Since the start of the inter-Korean dialogue, there has never been such a prolonged period of disconnection in communication. Large and small joint ROK-U.S. military exercises continue without interruption, while the DPRK persists in test-firing strategic cruise missiles. It is urgent to find ways to manage the crisis and prevent armed conflict. However, the intensity of provocative rhetoric and military actions threatening each other is only increasing. We are deeply concerned by these developments and demand the following:

Cease all military actions and hostile rhetoric that threaten the other side. A policy of hostility that seeks to mistrust and subjugate the other side has so far failed to resolve the conflict on the Korean Peninsula and has only exacerbated it. The situation on the Korean Peninsula is now so precarious that armed conflict could break out at any moment. Even the 9.19 inter-Korean military agreement has been neutralized, and the buffer space has disappeared. In such a situation, it is risky to continue with the military actions and hostile rhetoric that are provoking the other side. Such actions could endanger at the risk of nuclear war not only the people living along the border but also the entire Korean peninsula. Therefore, it is crucial for both the South and the North to return to the spirit of the September 19 Military Agreement and stop acting and threatening militarily that could lead to an accidental conflict.

Restore a minimum number of communication channels for crisis management. The most urgent need right now is to manage the crisis. Especially in regions where there is no agreed border between South and North Korea, such as the area around the 5-degree line in the West Sea, one side insists on conducting military exercises along the “de facto maritime boundary” and warns of “the end of the river” if provoked by the other side. On the other hand, the other side argues that “even a violation as small as 0.001 mm would be regarded as an act of war”. Therefore, even the slightest misunderstanding or mistake could be the trigger for a full-scale war. It is of vital importance to first cease hostilities and to establish channels of communication to prevent armed conflicts. It is better to have a thousand conversations than a single war.

Stop the distribution of anti-North Korean leaflets and flyers. A large-scale anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflet campaign is expected in March and April when the wind direction on the Korean Peninsula changes. Border residents and South Korean civil society have consistently opposed the use of leafleting due to increased military tensions along the border and threatening the rights of border residents to live in peace. Since the Cold War, leaflets have been considered a form of “psychological warfare” and the DPRK has warned of a military response. Although anti-North Korea’s leafleting law was struck down as unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, it recognized leafleting problems and the need for restrictions, citing excessive punishment. It is imperative that the ROK government and local authorities take active measures to crack down on these groups and ensure that they cease their activities. This is essential for reducing anxiety and preventing armed conflicts.

The ROK-U.S. combined military exercises should be suspended, and efforts to establish a military alliance between the ROK and Japan should be halted. A large-scale combined military exercise called Freedom Shield (FS) is scheduled for March 4-14. Although the details and scope of the exercise have yet to be announced, the exercise is expected to be the largest ever and will involve substantial deployment of U.S. strategic assets, including strategic bombing and nuclear aircraft. The military exercises will be designed to practice operational scenarios, including pre-emptive strikes against the DPRK, leadership removal operations, and post-conflict stabilization operations. These exercises have been viewed as a hostile policy toward the DPRK and have been a major contributor to the escalation of military and political tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Since the Camp David statement, the three countries have stepped up their military cooperation. This increased cooperation among the ROK, the U.S., and Japan could worsen relations not only with the DPRK but also with China. This could deepen the confrontational dynamic in Northeast Asia and make a peaceful resolution of the Korean Peninsula conflict more difficult.

A peaceful solution must be found to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. The situation has worsened due to the failure to implement confidence-building measures, such as the suspension of joint military exercises, even though they have agreed to a new relationship. There has been a decline in the effectiveness of sanctions and pressure measures. Hostile policies and show of force will only exacerbate the vicious cycle and will not help to resolve. The idea of ‘peace through strength’ is a fallacy. Negotiating and improving relations is the only realistic and correct way to achieve peaceful coexistence.

We want peace. We want a government capable of crisis management and conflict prevention. It is of vital importance to avoid a new war on the Korean peninsula. The South Korean civil society organizations and religious groups that have been working for peace on the Korean peninsula will make every effort, starting with today’s press conference, to resolve the war crisis and reopen the path to peace. We will keep a watchful eye on the military actions and hostilities that could lead to war and will consistently call for their cessation. We are committed to promoting peace and paving the way for peace.


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