Christians in Asia are praying for the success of talks involving the leaders of North and South Korea. The talks are due to take place at 10.30 am tomorrow (Friday) KST (1.30 am GMT) in Panmunjom, a village in the demilitarised zone between the two countries. The Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Kim Jong-un, will become the first leader from the north to cross into the south since the end of hostilities in 1953 when he arrives in Panmunjom for tomorrow’s talks with the President of the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Moon Jae-in.
It is expected that the two leaders will hold two rounds of talks during the day, with a break for lunch, during which the leaders will consult privately with their own delegations. Before the afternoon round of talks, the leaders will plant a pine tree using soil and water from both sides, as a symbol of “peace and prosperity”. It is hoped that the leaders will issue a joint statement in the evening ahead of a formal dinner.
The talks follow a dramatic easing of tensions on the peninsula since officials from both sides met at the margins of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in January. It will be the third such summit between leaders from the two Koreas since hostilities ended. Previous talks were held in 2000 and 2007. Formally, the two countries remain at war. Kim Jong-un is due to hold an unprecedented meeting with US President Donald Trump in June. Last week, in an unexpected announcement, the Korean Central News Agency – the North Korean state agency – announced that the country would stop nuclear tests and missile launches; and said that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site would close. This week, the underground test site collapsed.
“It is our fervent prayer and hope that the North and South Korean leaders will work out a suitable solution based on equality, mutual respect, mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence,” the Christian Conference of Asia’s General Secretary, Dr Mathews George Chunakara, said. “It is also our sincere hope that a successful inter-Korean meeting will pave the way for a highly anticipated encounter between the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the US President Donald Trump”.
Dr Chunakara added: “President Trump’s support to North and South Korea ‘to discuss the end of the war’ is a significant turning point in international relations and diplomacy. However, sustained efforts to keep the momentum of the new enthusiasm are vital to pursue the spirit of the new initiative.
“CCA and its member constituencies in Asia are encouraged that the two Koreas are forging a path towards peace. The CCA unswervingly reiterates its support to the call by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and member churches to replace the 1953 Armistice Agreement with a Peace Treaty”.
CCA staff held a prayer meeting at their headquarters in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to pray for the success of the summit. The ecumenical body – which includes most Anglican provinces in Asia – is urging its members “and all peace-loving people around the world to pray for the success of the inter-Korean summit, as the leaders of both Koreas are committed to work together this week towards reconciliation and peaceful coexistence in the Peninsula.”