70 years after the Korean Armistice, hundreds gather to advocate peace
Hundreds gathered in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement last week.
They were also there to advocate for House Resolution 1369, the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act, which calls to review travel restrictions to North Korea and to formally end the Korean War.
Hawaiʻi's Christine Ahn — a Nobel Peace Summit Prize winner, leader ofKorean Peace Now!, and the founder and executive director of Women Cross DMZ — is a major supporter of the proposed Act. She attended the marches and conferences in D.C. over the week.
"We want peace. We don't want the threat of nuclear war," Ahn said. "And the best way to do so is actually through diplomacy and negotiating a peace settlement."
Ten years ago, on the 60th anniversary of the Korean Armistice, only two members of Congress wanted a peace treaty between North and South Korea, but the movement is gaining political momentum.
This year, the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act was reintroduced and has support from 33 co-sponsors.
In March 2023, the Act was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Those who oppose the Act say Kim Jong Un has proven to be an unreliable negotiator and leads an untrustworthy regime.
They also argue that a peace treaty without concrete guarantees of peaceful North Korean behavior will not lead to real peace.
A supporter of the Act is California Congressperson Barbara Lee, whose father fought in the Korean War. In 2001, Lee was the sole member of Congress to vote against giving President Bush authority to use armed forces to punish those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
Young people, such as Jun Shin of Honolulu, are getting involved for reasons that many locals understand.
"A lot of people remember the nuclear incident," Shin said, referring to the false missile alert in 2018. "The more we spend on capabilities to cause harm to others, the less we spend on education and housing and health care."
Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Leaf, former deputy and acting commander of the United States Pacific Command wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times on why he supports peace in the peninsula.
"I'm here because I believe that a peace treaty replacing the Korean War Armistice is a necessary first step, even zero step, to prevent nuclear conflict with North Korea and set the conditions for eventual denuclearization and improvement of the human rights and human condition of North Korean citizens," Leaf said.
There are 50,000 people of Korean descent living in Hawaiʻi. So far, Hawaiʻi's congressional delegation has not taken a position on the Peace in the Korean Peninsula Act.
This interview aired on The Conversation on July 31, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1. This interview was adapted for the web by Emily Tom.