BPF Supports Statement For Peace on the Korean Peninsula
Amidst the recent US-Korean tensions, which stretch back a long time, with many causes and conditions, BPF would like to share this letter, forwarded to us from our friends and colleagues at the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. Although we feel ill equipped to comment meaningfully on many geopolitical issues, we support the letter and hope to learn more about how anti-imperialists in Korea and the U.S. envision a path to peace.
Statement for Peace on the Korean Peninsula
The International Buddhist Community
We are deeply concerned at the escalated tensions and the current crisis on the brinks of war on the Korean peninsula. The crisis on the Korean Peninsula is increasingly heightened by DPRK’s development of nuclear weapons and inter-continental ballistic missile test, and ROK-US’s joint response with large-scale military exercises to DPRK’s nuclear development. Unfortunately, Gaesong industrial complex in the North, a symbol of inter-Korean cooperation, funded and managed by South Korean companies was recently closed by North Korea amid the escalating tensions. We, the Buddhists who are very concerned with the growing tensions and hope for peace on the Korean peninsula, express our standpoints on the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula as follows.
War will destroy not only invaluable human lives and nature but also all the things including cultural heritage, property, etc that human beings have created and accumulated through long history. Korea has a painful history of the Korean War, which broke out 60 years ago and ended up killing over three million people and devastating the whole country.
South Korean people achieved remarkably rapid economic growth and development of democracy in war-torn country in 60 years. We believe that the war, which can destroy such precious achievements made by Korean people, cannot be justified by any cause or pretext.
If the war breaks out again in the only divided country left in the world, it would bring distress and despair to the citizens of the world as well as the people of both North and South Koreas.
We call on authorities of both Koreas to resolve the crisis by means of khanti, patient endurance and dialogue in order to prevent the war. If both side’s hostile actions and arguing againsteach other to determine which one is right is to be stopped, they should have patient endurance in their minds. One’s patience doesn’t mean its surrender to either side, rather patience is one of the most responsible and affirmative mindset to avoid conflicts and disputes among different communities and even individuals whose interests are diversified.
In the meantime, both Koreas should resume talks immediately without conditions. We believe that talking face-to-face is itself a positive action for peace. According to the Nibbana Sutta, the Buddha said that there will be no causes to enter the quarrels when one attributes a great virtue to others while ascribe faults to oneself. The South and North Koreas from a racially homogeneous country. When the two Koreas continue to maintain hostile policy to each other and don’t return to the talks, even a small problem can become a big crisis. On the other hand, the both Koreas can overcome the crisis no matter how urgent its surrounding situation is if they resume and continue inter-Korean dialogues with endurance.
We sincerely hope that nuclear weapon programs and military confrontation including arms race will be stopped on the Korean peninsula. Nuclear weapons will lead to horrific disaster and tragedy that humanity can’t handle. The claim that nuclear weapons can’t be appropriate means to restrain the war was proved as true in the midst of the current tensions. Both Koreas should stop arms race at the same time. Peace achieved by military power is not sustainable as a fire can’t be put out by a fire.
We also hope that North Korea will give up nuclear development policy and South Korea will stop arms buildup in order to promote mutual trust and positive mood to guarantee peace.
Role and responsibility of neighboring countries including U.S to promote peace on the Korean peninsula are significant. They should take active steps so that North Korea can come to the dialogue table without uneasiness. We urge that the president of U.S., Mr. Barack Obama make efforts to send a special envoy to North Korea and return to the talks with North Korea. The other countries like China, Japan and Russia should also adopt diplomatic policies and approaches to prioritize peace of the Korean peninsula rather than their own interests. The South and North are not enemies to each other. The war is a genuine enemy to not only both North and South Korea but also international community.
We Buddhists pray that both governments and citizens of South and North Korea will make every effort to peacefully break through the risk of the war which can bring about violent, bloody and tragic results.
Let’s make all the endeavors for not only peace of the Korea peninsula but also world peace.
April 13, 2013
Proposed by Ven. Do Bup sunim (Chairperson, Association for Reflection and Innovation of Jogye Order)
Ven. Pomnyun sunim (JTS)
Ven. Toe Hyu sunim (Standing-representative, Korean Buddhist Civil Society Network)