The executive committee members of the World Council of Churches (WCC) were warmly greeted to South Korea by the nation’s president Roh Mooh Hyun, on Tuesday, August 24, 2004. The international executive committee members were specifically applauded for their ongoing efforts for unity and peace and were encouraged to continue striving for democracy, justice and human rights worldwide.
President Roh said he supported the ecumenical movement for its “fundamental assistance” in supporting the human rights and democratization in the nation. According to his speech, President Roh had worked as a human rights lawyer defending pro-democracy and labour rights activists before entering the political arena. President Roh said his contact with the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) “opened my eyes to human rights and justice issues.”
The WCC worked closely with the NCCK during the 1970s and 1980s to support the “nascent human rights movement” that went against the military dictatorship during that era.
In terms of a reunified Korea, the president thanked the WCC members for their ongoing contribution to bringing about peaceful means for unity between the North and the South – the two nations has been at war since 1950, although they signed a shaky cease-fire in 1954.
At that end, the WCC moderator Catholicos Aram I stated his belief that the ecumenical movement was closely linked to reconciliation and unity.
"We are called by God in Jesus Christ to strive for reconciliation and unity in all its forms. WCC is committed to working with all people of goodwill to overcome the barriers which divide our societies", he said.
WCC General Secretary Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia also commented on the efforts to reunify the separated nations.
“WCC stands for de-nuclearisation and disarmament in the Korean peninsula based on a negotiated agreement by all parties as a foundation of peace, and will continue to promote a policy of dialogue and exchange", said Kobia.
According to the WCC, the executive committee will release a statement on Korea by the end of the week concerning the human rights and humanitarian situation in North Korea.
North Korea, known as the ultimate hermetic nation, has been on the top of the “Humanitarian disaster” list for decades. The communist government of North Korea has starved millions of its own people while feeding and maintaining its military, and have been involved in drug trafficking and nuclear weapons production; the nation’s dictator has been caught performing numerous obscene acts "ncluding “kidnapping” South Korean and Japanese movie stars, spreading propagandistic messages and torturing political prisoners.
The WCC statement will express the “serious concern” about these violations of human rights, and will outline the ongoing ecumenical efforts for the peaceful reunification of the divided country.
The WCC executive committee is meeting in Seoul 24-27 August on the invitation of NCCK and the Korean churches.