Religious Leaders Need to Work Together to Rebuild Trust in N. Korea, Says Ambassador

During an international peace conference in Seoul, South Korea, ''seven avenues of hope'' were suggested for how to approach North Korea
( [email protected] ) Oct 26, 2004 07:39 PM EDT

During an international peace conference in Seoul, South Korea, “seven avenues of hope” were suggested for how to establish better relationships with North Korea. The suggestions by World Evangelical Alliance Goodwill Ambassador Johan Candelin of Finland came after a presentation by former South Korean Minister of Unification Lim Dong-wok to political and religious leaders during the Oct. 21-23 Conference.

According to an Oct. 26 news release by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Lim said that at least five hundred thousand Korean soldiers, fifty thousand US military personnel and some one hundred thousand Korean citizens will die in the first three months if war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula. He said that the possibility of war exists much more today than five or six years ago.

“If North Korea is backed into a corner or is on the verge of collapse, it may engage in a reckless and risky war, according to the all-or-nothing principle,” said Lim, who is one of the world’s leading experts on North Korea.

“The other scenario is that if the U.S. launches ‘preemptive attacks’ or adopts a military strategy to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, a full scale war may erupt,” the minister added.

According to Candelin, all religious leaders now need to work together with the Korea Peace Forum to rebuild trust between North Korea and South Korea and between North Korea and the United States.

As the six party talks are dysfunctional, Candelin suggested closer contact with the European Union, the use of diplomatic channels via former communist countries in East Europe, scholarship programs for young North Koreans and meetings between the Peace Forum as a spokesman for South Korea and “ friends of the U.S. President” in the United States.

Religious leaders need to show that religion can be a bridge builder in a situation of great concern, Candelin said.

The Forum was highlighted in the South Korean media, and observers estimate that the speeches will be closely observed also in North Korea.