Korea Peace Now!Korea Peace Now
The Korean Women’s Association United, Women Making Peace, National YWCA of Korea and Korea Women’s Alliance undertook great efforts to unite their voices and officially launched their coalition, Korean Women’s Movement for Peace and launched the Korea Peace Now Campaign! on May 24th, the International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, to at last achieve a peace treaty, end a 70 year old war that has caused countless deaths, injury, destruction and left divided families and began the most heavily militarized place on earth, the DMZ, and, as Eisenhower noted, launched ‘the military-industrial complex’. This alliance is the product of tireless efforts from its members, in a dangerous and complex context of US-North Korea relations, and is a testament to their courageous and powerful commitment to peace on the Korean Peninsula. Although South Korea is among the most vibrant democracies in Asia and around the world, the National Security Law which was put into place to quash progressive voices, has been used to redbait pro-peace voices and activists. While the political space has considerably opened up in the era of President Moon, a decade before of conservative regimes repressed the pro-peace and reunification movements, including the KWMP, many of whom were fined and threatened with imprisonment for meeting North Korean counterparts in neutral third-party countries. Their resistance and resilience in the face so much of government repression definitely contributed to the growing tide during the candlelight revolution which led to the conservative Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and the sweeping in of President Moon on a pro-peace and engagement platform. The coalition brings together the grassroots voices of Korean women to advocate for peace, gender equality, and a world without war. They are developing an agenda for public governance with specific goals such as disarmament, demilitarization, humanitarianism, reconciliation, healing, welfare, internal integration and coexistence in the peace process on the Korean Peninsula through women’s solidarity. In addition, they are strengthening the leadership of women peace activists, and building a peace culture (through the Northeast Asian Women’s Peace Conference in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.)
These visionary women have not hesitated to make courageous calls for humanitarian assistance to North Korea to address chronic food shortages –free from U.S. constraints and influence — at a time when it is risky and controversial for the government to do so without aligning closely with the Trump administration. They have been instrumental in breaking the war narrative in the Korean Peninsula, broadening the vision of peace beyond national borders, and building bridges between women in Seoul, Pyongyang and Tokyo who would never have been together in the previous years. Despite years of threats, harassment and accusations of violating security laws while working for peace, they immediately seized the window of democratic political space that opened to make the most of it, without fear of consequences should it turn out to be shortlived. It is for this reason we believe they are worthy of the Women Have Wings award. It may seem odd that we nominate a relatively new coalition, but it is their strategic foresight and creativity, their persistent, commitment to peace in the face of the context described above, which led them to come together in new ways to seize the opportunity to build a new global women-led movement for peace on the Korean Peninsula that inspires us. While they are building on previous efforts of feminist peacebuilding of their members and others, they are committed to truly movement building in new innovative ways, and it is not an individual but the collective movement that also inspires.