The Road to Peace in the Korean Peninsula: US/Korea Summit Recap

Columbans have lived and served in Korea since 1933. Our history in the Korean peninsula spans major wars, foreign occupation, dictatorships, and the militarization of the region.

You can read more about the history and work of the Columbans in Korea here.

Throughout this history, Columbans have been committed to the people of Korea and to lasting peace in the region. Through work like pastoral ministry, programs for the intellectually impaired and elderly, and solidarity action with South Koreans resisting the militarization of their country, Columbans, along with many others, have worked for peace for decades.

Monday’s summit between the United States and North Korea was a major moment within a long, complicated history. The summit produced a statement from the leaders of both countries declaring their commitment to peace and denuclearization. The lack of more specific commitments toward those goals indicates that this is only the beginning of the process.

For more context on Monday’s summit, check out our recent “From the Hill” article!

As members of Pax Christi International, the Columbans echo the call for certain steps to ensure lasting and sustainable peace. These include:

  • Both countries should take conclusive steps towards complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, not only North Korea. The peninsula is not denuclearized if it remains under threat from U.S. nuclear weapons.
  • Both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and North Korea should rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This is part of a five-step proposal for disarmament issued by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which includes Pax Christi International.
  • The U.S. and North Korea should pursue the successful completion of a peace treaty between both Koreas to replace the armistice from the Korean War, also as a follow-up of the historic Panmunjom Declaration of 27 April 2018.
  • The U.S. should raise concerns for human rights in North Korea as a condition to lift economic sanctions. Amongst other human rights abuses, up to 120,000 people continue to be arbitrarily detained in political prison camps. It is imperative that human rights are taken up in future talks, as their protection is intrinsically linked to peace and security.

Read Pax Christi’s full statement here.

Our proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus challenges us to build communities of peace. The Beatitudes remind us that peacemakers “will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9). The work for peace through concrete and mutually beneficial action must be based in diplomacy and bridge building.

We invite you to pray this Columban prayer for peace as this peace process continues.