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South Korean Women's Voice for Peace and Denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula

 

 

 

Gyung-Lan Jung(Chairperson of Policy Committee of Women Making Peace)

 

 

 

 

We hoped to start with <Women's Six-Party Talks> when we started this conference. We would like to find our hope again. We would like to live in a nuclear free Korean Peninsula. Our journey will not be short and easy. But we are proud of choosing this Journey and have met women who will make it with us.

  

 

The critical mind of the Northeast Asian Women's Peace Conference

 

 

It has been more than 5 years since we first prepared and organized the Northeast Asian Women's Peace Conference. When we first had the idea for the conference, we planned it to be a <Women's Six-Party Talks>. As the 6 countries held Six-Party Talks in Northeast Asia, discussion focused on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the normalization of relations between the DPRK and the US, and between the DPRK and Japan, cooperation on economy and energy, and the Northeast Asian peace and security system; however women could not be found in the Six Party Talks. Where are women at the negotiating table which will decide the peace and destiny of the Korean Peninsula and furthermore of all of Northeast Asia? What can women do to change this situation? This critical mind was our motivation for holding the Women's Six Party Talks. However, as North Korean women did not participate, we had to change the title to the Northeast Asian Women's Peace Conference. Our conference began as a field for building mutual understanding and trust among Northeast Asian women as steps in the process of peace making and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and peacebuilding for Northeast Asia. We hope that North Korean women will participate in it as soon as possible.   

 

 

Peacemaking and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and peacebuilding in Northeast Asia

 

 

The theme of the 2012 Northeast Asia Women's Peace Conference is Nuclear Free World and Women's lives in Northeast Asia. This theme is very urgent for the Korean Peninsula's situation today. 

Over 70,000 Koreans were exposed to radiation in Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945. Many people were killed, skin melting and being blasted by the heat of the two atomic bombs. The pain of the victims of the atomic bombs who returned to the Korean Peninsula continues even now, especially as second and third generations have suffered from diseases caused by radiation because of the aftereffects of exposure. The North of the Korean Peninsula is a nuclear power, while the South  has the densest pack deployment of nuclear power plants in the world. North Korea is a de-facto nuclear weapon state. South Korea is under the nuclear umbrella of the US, with 21 nuclear power plants.

The September 19th Joint Statement in 2005 and Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement in 2007 were adopted to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. However the Six-Party Talks stalled, because of conflicts over the sampling issue in Octorber 2008. And the Lee Myung-bak administration of South Korea denied the past administrations' policy of engagement with North Korea. The South Korean government refused to implement the June 15 North and South Korean Joint Declaration in 2000, and the Declaration on the Advancement of South-North Korean Relations, Peace and Prosperity in 2007.  Instead, the administration's policy towards North Korea  proposed “Vision 3000: Denuclearization and Openness”. It aimed at denuclearizing North Korea while improving inter-Korean relations and urging North  Korea to adopt an open-door policy. However, North Korea actually drastically strengthened its nuclear ability by carrying out a second nuclear test in 2009 and disclosing its uranium enrichment program in 2010, as South-North relations was worsened. Since the Six-Party Talks have stalled, tension has grown and the North Korean nuclear ability has also strengthened.

The basic reason that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has not progressed smoothly is serious distrust and hostility between South Korea and North Korea, and North Korea and the US. South Korea realized the normalization of relations with Russia and China respectively within the Cold War system, yet North Korea has not been able to normalize relations with the US or Japan, and still maintains hostile relations.

Generally, possession of nuclear weapons by small nations acts to have a military effect of a sense of safety and security, and an internal pride which raises nationalism. As the balance of power has been broken, North Korea is deeply worried about the system's safety and is sticking much more strongly to develop nuclear weapons. Conflicts over North Korean nuclear development include the nuclear threat of the US, and the nuclear umbrella over South Korea. The US Bush administration included North Korea in its hit list in OPLAN 8044. According to the Nuclear Posture Review in April 2010, the US excluded North Korea from the countries to which the US would not use nuclear weapons becase it found that North Korea did not implement its duties according to the NPT and pursued nuclear development. Responding to this, North Korea argues that it should strengthen its nuclear deterrence to respond to nuclear threats and preemptive strikes of South Korea and the US.

As long as there is no trust between North Korea and the US, North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons program easily. As the US pursued irreversible disuse of North Korean nuclear weapons in the Six-Party Talks, North Korea requires a device to secure its safety which corresponds to denuclearization. That is, it requires the guarantee of an irreversible peace regime.

North Korea says that denuclearization could be promoted faster when the basic issue of security is first solved through the change of order from confidence building through denuclearization to confidence building between North Korea and the US by entering into an peace agreement.

In the situation that the nuclear ability of North Korea is being strengthened, the Six-Party Talks should be restarted with building mutual confidence between North Korea and the US. The Six-Party Talks pursue denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the normalization of relations between North Korea and the US, forming of separate forums for the peace regime of the Korean Peninsula, and peacebuilding in Northeast Asia. These talks should start discussion on the peace regime for the Korean Peninsula by forming a separate forum for this purpose, with discussion on the denuclearization of North Korea. 

Fortunately, North Korea and the US announced an agreement on Feb. 29th, after the third senior-talks held in Beijing on Feb. 23rd - 24th, 2012. After this agreement, expectations about the trial of various talks between North Korea and the US and resumption of the Six-Party Talks are increasing.

The progress of the Six-Party Talks means forming a new environment ending the remnant Cold War frameworks, coming to a resolution for peace and providing an opportunity to form a new peace and cooperative structure in the Northeast Asian region.

 

 

In addition, South Korean government’s “Vision 3000: Denuclearization and Openness” policy has effect on the humanitarian aid towards North Korean vulnerable people.  The Lee Myung?bak Administration’s aid for North Korea dropped by 20% over 3 years after the previous Roh Moo?hyun Administration, and was reduced sharply to around 5% in 2011. While the annual average amount of aid to the North by the Roh Moo?hyun Administration for 5 years was 160.5 billion KRW (USD 145 million), the annual average for the Lee Myung?bak Administration is only 7.8312 billion KRW (USD 7.1 million) for 4 years (2008 ~ Sept. 2011).  Furthermore, the current government has controlled humanitarian assistance for North Korea at the civilian level. Therefore, the amount of civilian aid to North Korea dropped significantly from 72.5 billion KRW (USD 66 million) in 2008 to 20 billion KRW (USD 18 million) in 2010.

 

 

 

<<Current Status of Aid to North Korea by the South Korean Government and NGOs>>

As of end of September 2011 (Unit:100 mil.won)

Classification

'99

'00

'01

'02

'03

'04

'05

'06

'07

'08

'09

'10

'11.9

Kim Adminstration

Roh Administration

Lee Administration

G

O

V

E

R

N

M

E

N

T

Free support

`Authority

339

944

684

832

811

949

1221

2000

1,432

 

 

183

 

Aid throughCivilian groups

 

34

62

65

81

102

120

134

216

241

77

21

 

Aid through Int'l Oranization

 

 

229

243

205

262

19

139

335

197

217

 

 

Total

339

978

746

897

892

1051

1341

2134

1648

241

77

204

 

Food Loans(rice)

 

1057

 

1510

1510

1359

1737

 

1505

 

 

 

 

Total

339

978

975

1140

1097

1313

1360

2273

1983

438

294

204

 

Civilian 

223

387

782

576

766

1558

779

709

909

725

377

200

84

Total

562

2422

1757

3226

3373

4230

3926

2982

4397

1163

671

404

84

<Source>Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea

Kang Youngsik, 2011: Korea’s Humanitarian Aid to the North, led by South Korean NGOs,Citizens’ Dialogue on Peace, Civil Peace Forum, 2011, p 53 

         

 

 

 

North Korea has serious food shortage and food distribution system is not working well due to long-time food shortage. In particular, children, pregnant women, mothers, and the aged have been suffered more due to food shortage. They need international food aid.

The South Korean government should not stick to Vision 3000: Denuclearization and Openness and should instead pursue South-North dialogue and send humanitarian aid to North Korea, playing a leading role in the Six-Party Talks.

 

 

2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit

 

 

The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, in which more than 50 heads of state and representatives of international organizations from around the world will participate and discuss issues of nuclear security including the prevention of nuclear terrorism and the safe management of nuclear materials will be held on Mar. 26th - 27th, 2012.

President Lee Myung-bak clarifies that the nuclear security system to be established through the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit will contribute to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, as a valuable asset for human welfare and green growth.

The government evaluates that the election of South Korea as the chair country is very meaningful, pointing out that South Korea with its leading atomic technologies is a country which exemplifies the promotion of the use of nuclear energy for civilian demands, using nuclear technology peacefully following the NPT standards including its will towards denuclearization and the Korean Peninsula.

There are several fears with reference to the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. First is the relationship with nuclear disarmament. Second is regarding the issue of nuclear power generation. Third is the issue of participation of civil society in nuclear policy, including women. And fourth is the government's attitude to the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. The women's position with reference to the official line is as follow.1)

 

 

 

1. Nuclear security must start with the elimination of nuclear weapons.

 

 

At the 2010 Washington Nuclear Security Summit, leaders focused on the security of nuclear materials, but did not discuss the reduction or elimination of nuclear weapons or reactors, which should be the core issues of any nuclear talks. Consequently, participating 5 nuclear-weapon states (NWS) were criticized for imposing non-proliferation and nuclear security regulations on non-NWS, while NWS themselves did not carry out their responsibility of eliminating nuclear weapons. Although non-NPT nuclear weapon states (Israel, India and Pakistan) participated in the 2010 Summit, Iran (a member of the NPT) and North Korea (seceded from the NPT) were not invited. The world witnessed the double standards of the international community during the 2010 Summit, where discrimination was seen between NWS and non-NWS and even within the nuclear weapon countries.

We South Korean women call all nuclear weapon countries including the US, Russia, the UK, China, France, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea to eliminate their nuclear weapons and to show consistency in principle and position on these weapons at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. We believe this is the only way that nuclear security is possible.

 

 

2. Nuclear power generators must be phased out and their export must be suspended.

 

 

The South Korean government has announced that the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit will promote nuclear energy safety and its peaceful use, and that the Nuclear Industry Summit, preceding the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, will provide a place to formulate measures for safe use of nuclear power. However, we believe that the government sees the Summit as an opportunity to establish nuclear power as the next generation's power source, despite the risks demonstrated by the Fukushima disaster.

The Summit steering committee must understand that many countries around the world are reconsidering their nuclear power generation policy after the Fukushima disaster. The Summit participants must accept the collapse of the nuclear safety myth, agree the policy to abolish nuclear reactors, suspend nuclear reactor exports and eliminate plans for new reactor construction.

 

 

 

3. To build a nuclear-free world, governments must cooperate with the women and civil society.

A nuclear-free world is possible only when governments around the world walk in step with their citizens, including women. The South Korean government has announced that it will consult its people in preparation for the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. So far, however, the government has cooperated with those from industry, academia and social organizations which support nuclear energy. The South Korean government must listen to the voices of all those in society who are interested in a nuclear-free world. We call the government to build a mechanism for cooperation with the women and civil society on peace-related issues, including nuclear issues, as called for by the UN Security Council's Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

 

 

4. In preparation for the Summit, we call the international community to take a more thoughtful approach to North Korean nuclear issues, which stem from the Cold War regime still prevailing in Northeast Asia. Resolution of these issues is closely tied to the establishment of a peaceful regime on the Korean Peninsula and the normalization of US-North Korean relations. It is impossible to realize peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia without solving North Korean nuclear issues. Proactive negotiations by the six-party nations, including the US, are needed to solve these issues. We Korean women believe that it is crucial to hold the six-party talks as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

Women's participation towards a peaceful, nuclear-free world

 

 

The Global Gender Gap Report 2011 said that South Korean women's status is 107th place in 135 countries. The gender gap index announced annually by the World Economic Forum shows clearly women's status compared to men's. This surveys the gap between men and women based on participation in and opportunities of economy, educational accomplishment, health and survival, reinforcement of the political right.

Women's status is also very low in the policy fields such as peace, reunification and international relations. Vision 3000: Denuclearization and Openness, the Six-Party Talks, and the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit are  very important political issues to decide the policy which will shape peace on the Korean Peninsula, the sustainability of society, and the nuclear situation on the Korean Peninsula. Women's participation in the process to decide policies on peace, reunification and international relations is very low. There are no women of cabinet and subcabinet ministerial level and for the rate of the female public officials with more than class 5, the Ministry of National Defense is 11.7%, and the Ministry of Unification is 14% in 2009, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is 18.3% as of Jun. 2011. But for the rate of the female bureaucrat groups which have great effect on policy decisions, the Ministry of Unification is 4.8%, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is 1.2%, and the Ministry of National Defense is 0%. Building of a civilian and governmental cooperation framework in which women's organizations can participate is required, along with the expansion of the number of female public officials who participate in policy decisions.

Women should actively participate in issues relating to the issue of peace and safety of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, not only the government or men. Sustainable peace cannot be possible just through acts of the government or men only. Sustainable peace is possible when women feel that it is their own pending issue.

South Korean women have promoted exchange between women in North Korea and South Korea for mutual understanding and for recovery of trust between them, even within the situation where phones, fax, and communication are not possible. Women's exchange was intermittently conducted on topics including the Japanese former “comfort women” issues and the seminars on “the Peace in Asia and Womens Role which were held before the Inter-Korea Summit Talks in 2000. After this summit, women's exchange became more active. Women in South Korea and North Korea met each other through joint South-North events, including especially Women’s Division of South Korean committee for Implementation of the June 15th Joint Declaration and its North Korean counterpart which held regular events every year since 2005. The government did not approve South and North Korean Women’s gatherings including  meetings for the resolution of the sex slavery issues of the Japanese military. The government should recognize that women's exchange between South Korea and North Korea contributes to reconciliation and cooperation between the two countries and their peoples, and should promote policies to support them.

Women in churches have also conducted activities to help Korean victims of the atomic bomb. These women researched their actual conditions, and provided medical support and living expenses for them. Recently, they helped the opening of the "Peaceful House in Hapcheon" for second generation patients of the atomic bomb, and meet and support them through peace tours every year.

Women in the Consumer Cooperative, the environmental and peace movements which belong to the 'Joint actions for a nuclear-free world', gather with women's organizations, to actively promote nuclear power plant abolition. These women are seeking activities that they can practice in their daily lives with children and adolescents, proposal of policies, presentation of a vision about future societies, and movements to oppose nuclear power plants.  

The slogan of the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit is 'A more peaceful and safer world, global Korea will lead to it' (in Korean). Yet this cannot be done in South Korea, whose index of gender gap is 107th in the world. It will be done in a society with gender equality. The government should adopt a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security as soon as possible to accomplish this.

The nuclear issue is one that currently affects our daily lives, and those of our next generations. The South Korean government should change its policies, and women's more active participation and practice is needed for a society without nuclear weapons or nuclear power plants. The South Korean government should pursue a policy of reconciliation and cooperation with North Korea, and the resumption of the Six Party Talks. It also should be independent from nuclear energy combining saving electricity, improvement of efficiency, and renewable energy with each other, trying to change to a more sustainable energy system at the governmental level.

We, women need to take part in achieving a peace regime and the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula more actively. Women also can play active roles to abolishing nuclear power plants by raising energy efficiency, reducing consumption and campaigning against nulcear power plants. Women should work together with other women and like-minded people, and seek for a new partnership with the government to realise a sustainable society which is peaceful and safe, and so that we can breathe comfortably, eat safe food, and give hope to children. Let's start the age that women can become hope.

 

 

1) “South Korean women's statement on the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit- Women want a nuclear-free peaceful world.” Jan. 13th, 2012.

 

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