SOUTH KOREA: Churches urge unconditional support of children in North

June 22, 2009

A South Korean grouping of churches is urging its member churches and organizations to join a campaign to give North Korean children milk and bread "without any precondition."

In a June 16 statement, the National Council of Churches in Korea said it would start "to advocate the necessity of urgent support to people in North Korea in the situation of the present critical antagonistic political arrangement on the Korean peninsula, and to mobilize its member churches."

The council explained the decision for the campaign came as the result of discussions with its North Korean counterpart, the Korean Christian Federation held at Beijing in March. The decision to launch a campaign follows a resolution of the council's executive committee meeting on April 23.

The campaign includes a Week of National Reconciliation in June that encourages churches to have special worship services with prayers for the people of North Korea. The campaign will send to North Korea packs of flour weighing 20 kilograms and worth US$10 a pack, and 8,000 cans of powdered milk worth $8 a can.

Tensions around the Korean Peninsula and neighboring Japan in North Asia have heightened in recent months. North Korea on April 5 launched a long-range rocket and on May 25 engaged in a second nuclear test, an action that has led to tougher United Nations' sanctions on the isolated state.

The South Korean church council noted, "Any humanitarian assistance from South Korea has completely ceased because of the stringent relationship between the North and the South and 330,000 tons of expected assistance from the U.S.A. was stopped" due to matters related to the nuclear situation.

The statement said that, due to the lack of food, children, pregnant women, and the elderly, who are the most vulnerable in the society, have been the hardest hit. It noted that the undernourishment of North Korean children "will cause a problem of vicious circle, downgrading their physical growth as well as their ability to study and learning quality."

The South Korean church council groups the Presbyterian Church of Korea, the Korean Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, the Salvation Army in Korea, the Anglican Church of Korea, the Evangelical Church of Korea, the Korean Orthodox Church and the Korean Assemblies of God.

The English statement of the council is available here.