Holding Hands for Peace

A Letter from Choon and Yen Hee Lim, with Choon serving as Regional Liaison for East Asia, based in South Korea

May 2019

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To celebrate the first anniversary of the Panmunjom Declaration for the Peace, Prosperity, and Unification of the Korean Peninsula that was signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea, on April 27 people in support of inter-Korean peace reconciliation formed a “Human Chain” along the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). It stretched from Gahng-Hwa, Gyeonggi Province to Goseong, Gangwon Province. Participants initiated the chain at 2:27 p.m. and read aloud parts of the Panmunjom Declaration to express their desire for peace on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

After World War II, the Korean Peninsula was divided into South and North. Each side was occupied by foreign powers: Russia in the North, and the U.S. in the South. The Korean War broke out June 25, 1950 and ended July 27, 1953. The Armistice Agreement signed by the U.S., North Korea and China (without South Korea) left the north and south division at the 38th parallel on the Korean Peninsula. The Korean War was one of the most brutal conflicts, producing indescribable human tragedies: millions died, were injured, or became refugees. The Armistice Agreement created the DMZ, a 2.5-mile-wide and 160-mile-long zone separating the South from the North. The DMZ is one of the places where the most military power is concentrated in the world today.

After 66 years, the division still exists, and millions of lives and families have been torn apart. We can hardly imagine the heartache, pain and suffering of those who have been separated from their loved ones. Husbands and wives, parents and children, siblings, relatives and friends separated in their twenties are now in their nineties. If they are still alive, they wonder what happened to their loved ones. While they assumed that the separation would last for a few weeks or months, they still are waiting to reunite with those they love.

At the beginning of October 2018, the committee of the DMZ Peace Human Chain Movement met in its headquarters in Seoul at our PC(USA) office and made plans to celebrate the first anniversary of the Panmunjom Declaration on April 27 by holding hands at the DMZ. The organization needed an office for its cause. I offered our office free of charge until the end of the event and became one of the committee members myself. We met every Monday to pray and tried to connect with other organizations and find volunteers who want to work for peace on the Korean Peninsula. The committee in Seoul instituted an important policy — we would not seek support from the Korean government but would rely solely on the people’s support.

Finally, the headquarters in Seoul began to work together with 47 other Peace Human Chain chapters across the country to organize this seemingly impossible event. For six months, we had many meetings in the office with the representatives of local headquarters and visited the DMZ sites many times to set up 10 communication stations with the people in those areas. It was very hard and difficult work in the beginning, but we all focused our hearts on peace on the Korean Peninsula and were steadfast in pursuing our goal. When we were discouraged by some unexpected issues, we encouraged each other to think of our final goal, holding hands to end the Korean War by replacing the Armistice Agreement with a permanent peace treaty.

On April 27, 2019, about 200,000 people came to the DMZ by bus, car, tractor, bicycle, motorcycle, etc. Participants came from Busan (7 hours to the DMZ by bus), Kwangju (4 hours to the DMZ by train), Jeju Island by plane, and even from other countries. On April 26, it was cold and rainy with strong winds, but on April 27, it was warm with sunshine. Skies were clear on this beautiful Saturday. What a blessed day it was! Thank the Lord!

The day before the anniversary celebration, Yen Hee and I were in Cheorwan in Gangwon Province attending a special International Peace Conference at the Border Peace School. One of two main speakers was Christine Ahn, who founded “Women Cross DMZ,” a group of women peace advocates from around the world who made history in 2015 when they joined Korean women from the North and South to successfully cross the DMZ in a call for peaceful reunification of the Koreas. When I attended a peace conference in Atlanta hosted by the United Methodist Church in November 2018, I met her there and asked her to support the Human Chain Movement. She not only supported it but also traveled to join the event in person.

There were many beautiful stories that made this event possible, like a high school boy who raised $1,500 in the U.S. and sent it to us. Many soldiers in the DMZ offered a cup of tea to the participants. A man donated hundreds of flags with images of the Korean Peninsula without North/South divisions to give participants. A farmer offered his farm as a shelter for 100 participants who had arrived a day earlier. There are surely more unknown angels who made this event successful.

People from 23 countries participated in this event, including three chapters in New York, Paris, and Berlin. There were many members of the Korean Diaspora who participated in their homes, churches, and meeting places at the same time on that Saturday, holding hands and singing the song “Woo Ri E So-won En Tong-il, Our Wish is Reunification.” Many people cried while holding hands and singing. This is the spirit we want to see, the spirit that is necessary to make peace happen.

Waiting 66 years for reunification is too long to wait. There must be a breakthrough. Please join us in the ardent prayer that the Lord will have mercy and keep peace on the Korean Peninsula and hasten the day of reunification through peaceful means. Please support our ministry not only through prayers, but also through financial gifts.

We send you the peaceful spirit exemplified in the DMZ Peace Human Chain Movement. Peace be with you and with everyone in the world.

Grace and peace in Christ,

Yen Hee and Choon Lim

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