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PROK E-NEWS/ January 2007

관리자 2010-04-26 (월) 16:02 13년전 5855  

January 2007

1. Protecting Kyeyang Mountain

In winter temperatures dropping to minus 10 degrees (Celsius) and lower, Rev. Yoon In-Joong of Pyongwha Church in Incheon Presbytery of the PROK sits, sleeps and eats 12 metres above the ground in the high branches of a 20-metre pine tree on the slopes of Kyeyang Mountain in Incheon City on the west coast of Korea. With no shelter around him and only boards on which to sleep, Rev. Mr. Yoon has held this position since December 20 of last year, when local ministers and lay people of the PROK joined the struggle to preserve the natural beauty of Kyeyang Mountain. In October 2006, members of several NGOs launched a protest against the plan of the Lotte Construction Company, a sub-company of the Lotte Group whose President personally owns over 80% of the mountain land, to convert a large area of this beautiful mountain sanctuary into a golf course, ripping out trees and leveling the lower hills of the mountainside. In the initial stages of the protest, a woman activist of one of the NGOs occupied the upper heights of the pine tree for over a month, climbing down only when the Incheon City Council announced its rejection of the Lotte Construction Company’s application to build the golf course. However, the Lotte Construction Company subsequently revised its plan, reducing the size of the intended golf course, and re-submitted its application which Incheon City Council is still considering.

Consequently, last month on December 20 Rev. Yoon In-Joong assumed his position in the upper branches of the tree, supported by fellow protesters camping in tents beside the tree. On a rotating basis, representatives of NGOs and of local PROK churches camp by the tree and send up food, drink, hot packs and encouragement to Rev. Yoon who remains undaunted by the bitter cold and by the threats of some local residents who, supporting the Lotte plan in anticipation of the rising value of their property around the base of the mountain, come to shake the tree and hurl abuse. Encouraged by the support of his fellow protesters and mountain trekkers who pass by on the nearby hiking trail, Rev. Yoon holds fast to this shared vision of preserving this part of God’s sacred gift of creation.

On January 9 of this year, the Chair and several members of the PROK Church and Society Committee joined the protesters and led a prayer meeting in support of their protest, subsequently issuing a statement. Some of the main points they made were that: At this time when all the world knows that humankind faces a crisis of possible environmental calamity, we all know what folly it is to destroy one more piece of nature. We feel deep shame that the Lotte Construction Company, without the consensus of area citizens and others, plans to build a golf course on Kyeyang Mountain, destroying this beautiful shelter of trees and animals living together, and enjoyed by so many people. We urge the Company to take democratic procedure, listening to the view of the public. We ask the Incheon City government to adopt a long-term perspective for development, and make Kyeyang Mountain into a public natural park where forest and wildlife are preserved and people can live in harmony with and respect for nature. We strongly insist that Kyeyang Mountain is not to be the object of people’s commercial gain. The PROK will make every effort to protect this mountain as an ecological sanctuary, and will never cease to work towards a world where all creation may know peace and life.

2. Consultation on Peace and Reunification Mission Policy

On January 18 of this year, instead of going to their respective work places, a PROK group of forty- five women and men travelled to the Keumgang Mountains in North Korea for a two-day Consultation on Peace and Reunification Mission Policy, organized by the Peace and Reunification Committee of the PROK. The event had two parts: the consultation itself, and the trek up the steep mountain slopes. After four hours on the road from Seoul to Kosong in Kangwon Province, the group finally reached Keumgangsan Condominium, just south of the dividing line between North and South, for the first part of the Consultation. In the Opening Worship at 4:30pm Rev. Yoon Kil-Soo, PROK General Secretary, gave the meditation. The worship service was followed by the key-note lecture given by Mr. Lee Dae-Hoon, Director of the Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives (ARENA), situated in the Anglican University in Seoul. Mr. Lee’s topic was “The Peace Movement in the World and Faith in Peace”.

In his vividly presented lecture Mr. Lee Dae-Hoon cited the seeming weakness of the peace movement in South Korea. This weakness, he said, is due to South Koreans’ collective memory of the Korean War in the early 1950’s and the subsequent fascist and dictatorial regimes that dampened the truest expression of people’s resolute faith and hope to live in peace. Furthermore, he said, Koreans somehow fail to participate in the broader international peace movement because they are cannot move beyond the national struggle for cultural and economic identity as a people. To overcome this, he encouraged the participants to broaden their perspective on justice and peace by forging unity with civil liberty movements in the Korean Peninsula and to look beyond the peninsula to network with peace movements around the world for exchange of perspectives and collaborative work for peace. His presentation provided sociological and theological insights for the participants in their involvement in the programs of the PROK Peace Community Movement Centre (PCMC).

In the panel discussion following the lecture, Rev. Rah Haek-Jib, Chairperson of the PCMC Steering Committee, outlined the history of the PROK peace movement and the consequent creation of the PCMC in 2004. He stressed the need to strengthen the PROK peace program through effective organizing, peace education and international networking. Rev. Cho Hun-Jung of Hyangrin Church in Seoul and Mr. Kim Ban-Seok, General Secretary of the PROK National Youth Association, responded to the presentation. Both responders suggested that in order for the PROK peace movement to flourish, it should continue to nurture the church’s progressive theological orientation and increase its generosity in extending material and spiritual support to the North Korean people.

After dinner, Rev. Park Sung-Ryul and Rev. Dr. Lee Choon-Sun, both PCMC Board members, led the evening worship, in which Rev. Suh Jae-Il of Yongang Church in Wonju City gave the meditation. The participants all pledged to be actively involved in peacemaking, and shared the sacrament of bread and wine. The PCMC Steering Committee then met to accept the 2006 PCMC report and to discuss and approve the 2007 plan of action. The plan to extend financial support to North Korea was concretized by the decision of the Peace and Reunification Committee to approve the immediate release of financial assistance amounting to 100,000,000 Won, approximately US$100,000, to supply flour to communities in the North. On the following day, January 19, the group crossed into the North to hike up the breathtakingly beautiful Mt. Keumgang. In the late afternoon the group returned to Seoul, with renewed faith in the growth of peace in the world.

3. PROK lauds court decision on “People’s Revolutionary Party” (PRP) case

On the same day as the Seoul Central District Court issued its verdict acquitting eight dissident activists of conspiracy and treason 32 years after they were executed under the dictatorial regime of President Park Chung-Hee, the PROK Church and Society Committee issued a statement welcoming this long-awaited and sought-after verdict. The ruling of the Seoul court on January 23, 2007 posthumously cleared the executed dissidents of all charges, restoring their honour, to the sorrow-filled joy of their family members and supporters.

In 1974 then-President Park Chung-Hee outlawed the “Minchonghangnyon”, or National Federation of Democratic Youths and Students, branding the group as a North-Korean intelligence network; hundreds of its members were detained and arrested. Among them, 23 were accused of conspiring to re-establish the pro-North Korean “Inhyokdang” or “People’s Revolutionary Party” which the Park government claimed aimed to overthrow the ROK government. Eight of these were convicted and, only 18 hours after the Supreme Court upheld their conviction, were executed in the early morning of April 9, 1975. The others accused were sentenced to harsh prison terms. The lightning speed of the conviction and execution of the eight activists was condemned both within and beyond Korea. The PROK was among those struggling for justice in this case; mission co-workers serving with the PROK, other Christians from overseas, and overseas partners also actively engaged in the struggle. In December 2005 the Seoul court ordered a retrial of the case after the presidential Truth and Reconciliation Commission established that the eight dissidents were tortured into making false confessions, and found no evidence of their guilt; at the same time, an internal National Intelligence Service investigation concluded that its predecessor, the Korea Central Intelligence Agency, had fabricated the charges against the eight men.

In its statement issued on January 23, 2007 the PROK Church and Society Committee declared: This case of political murder by a military dictatorship intent on preserving its power, this killing of ordinary, innocent citizens who only dreamed of creating a beautiful world for those they love, has deeply hurt us all. We confess that we used those who loved their neighbours and their nation, and the suffering of their families, to advance the movement for democratization. We are grateful that now, even 32 long years after these eight people were killed on the basis of false charges, the truth has been revealed and their honour restored. We commit ourselves to working for a re-trial for the other 16 people related to the case, so that the truth may again come to light and history be made straight. Further, we take this opportunity to commit our utmost to correcting the many fabrications and distortions and violations of human rights enacted under the Japanese occupation, the Korean War, and the military dictatorships, so that the truth may be known and history made straight. In this we follow God’s will and God’s justice which flows like a mighty river. And we pray that God’s immeasurable grace and peace fill the hearts of the families of the eight dissidents, who turned their sorrow to anger, and their grief to strength for their struggle for justice for 32 years.

PROK E-News is a publication of The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK).
Editor: Rev. Yoon Kil-Soo, General Secretary

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