1. Introduction First of all, I am delighted to have this opportunity today for the Catholic Church of South Korea and the United States to come together and share discussions about peace on the Korean Peninsula. Every corner of the world we live in is helplessly exposed to threats of war. With the never-ending development of weapons including nuclear weapons, the cutting-edge weapons systems increase risk against human society, and this gives rise to a growing need for voicing opinions on war and peace. I believe this Forum will serve as one of the channels to present and share these different opinions. World peace is under a constant threat in the current political climate full of uncertainties where no place is immune to the possibilities of another war like that of Ukraine. Korean Peninsula is considered one of the representative places subject to a constant threat. The reality we need to face is that North Korea is unwilling to end its nuclear programs on the pretext of regime integrity and stability and the nuclear tests pose a danger to not only South Korea but also Northeast Asia and the U.S. Setting aside some time to share and exchange thoughts on what roles a church can play for peace on the Korean Peninsula and furthermore, peace in Northeast Asia and the world. I would like to introduce you a part of the message by Cardinal Robert W. McElroy (then a bishop) who spoke at the past CINAP International Conference on the theme of “The Role of Catholic Church in Promoting Peace on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia” held in our diocese (Diocese of Uijeongbu) in December 2017. “It will be important to resist the strong temptation to approach the Korean peace issue from an American perspective, and instead, take a view from the perspective of ethics of peace proclaimed by the Church in relation to war and peace and the international common good.” I think this message gives us useful insight for our meeting on this occasion. CINAP International Conference in 2017.Cardinal Robert W. McElroy stands fifth from right in the front row. 2. The present reality of the Korean Peninsula 1) When World War II ended with the victory of the Allied Forces, Korea was liberated to become an independent nation, but due to the intervention of two rival superpowers in the name of a temporary arrangement after the war, the Korean Peninsula has been divided for 70 years. After the division, South and North Korea continued to face ideological conflicts, and the years of simmering tensions eventually led to huge sacrifices of war between their own peoples. However, the Korean Peninsula technically remains in a state of war, since an armistice agreement instead of a peace treaty was signed, posing daunting security risks ever since. An end-of-war declaration and signing a peace treaty are necessary steps for bringing peace on the Korean Peninsula. 2) The Korean Peninsula without the peace treaty signed has been left to face a range of unending conflicts and confrontations. Since the 1980s, North Korea has insisted on a nuclear weapons program in the name of regime stability and national security, and their provocations with nuclear tests and missile launches have continued, and the Korean Peninsula has never been free from a fear of war. The two Koreas have come to live with the unfortunate burdens of hostility and hatred, despite being the same people. Although South Korea has accomplished remarkable economic development, the division of South and North Korea is considered to be one of the main reasons for their emotional impoverishment and ongoing divisions and conflicts in society. 3) Amid long-standing conflict and confrontation, the two Koreas made several sporadic attempts for reconciliation and peace. There were inter-Korean summits and several inter-Korean Joint Statements. However, none of these succeeded in producing lasting progress in the true sense. 4) The two Koreas seemed to have properly embarked on a journey of peace on the Korean Peninsula in 2018, with the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics as a starting point. North Korea participated in the Olympics, followed by the inter-Korean summit and the U.S.-North Korea summit in January 2018. Unfortunately, however, these attempts were also not successful in the end. In particular, after the abrupt end of the 2019 U.S.-North Korea Hanoi Summit, North Korea has cut off all forms of relations with the South as well as dialogues with South Korea and the United States. The simple congratulatory messages that used to be exchanged through the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) at Christmas and Easter have not been returned for several years. It must have left a huge scratch for North Korea, which values its pride the most. It seems that the ending of the Hanoi Summit left a huge scratch for North Korea and its leader, considering how they value personal and national pride. Furthermore, there has been a recent change in the South Korean government from an administration with more friendly stance to North Korea to the one with a conservative stance. Since the transition to a new conservative administration, North Korea has announced more threatening statements about South Korea, even mentioning the possibility of using nuclear weapons. 3. Exchanges with North Korean churches 1) Before the Korean War, there were two dioceses and one territorial abbacy in North Korea. When the communist regime came into power in the North, religious persecution of the Church began. In 1949, before the outbreak of the Korean War, almost all pastors were arrested and martyred. In fact, the North Korean Catholic Church has no resident priests, unable to celebrate mass or the sacraments. However, even under such extreme circumstances, a small number of Catholic believers did not give up practicing their faith by praying in secret. 2) Church in North Korea, with not a single residing priest in the country, remained as the “silent church” for a long time, and in 1988, the authorities in the North built Changchung Cathedral. This was built for young foreign visitors who participated in the World Festival of Youth and Students held in Pyongyang at a time around the time of the Seoul Olympics. Also, around the time of the construction of the cathedral, North Korea established an organization called the Chosun Catholic Association for external representation of Catholic presence in the country. The Association serves as a counterpart in North Korea in meetings with the Catholic Church of South Korea, the Korean Catholic Church in the U.S. and that in Japan, and also attends world religious meetings. 3) Despite situations strained by political tensions between South and North Korea, South Korean faith communities continued exchanges with North Korea, and the Catholic Church has been actively involved in such interactions. In particular, in the 1990s when North Korea was undergoing extreme economic hardship, the Catholic Church of South Korea provided a wide range of support. In addition, many organizations and monastic groups within the South Korean Catholic Church continued to engage in exchanges with North Korea. However, as already mentioned, after the abrupt ending of the Hanoi Summit, there have been no exchanges of any form. 4) The first official visit of the South Korean Catholic Church to the North Korean Church took place in 1998, a visit by the Archdiocese of Seoul Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People (CRKP) – I was also a part of the delegation. Since then, there have been several visits, but one of the major visits was that of the CBCK to North Korea in 2015. This was the visit by the bishops of the CBCK Special Episcopal Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People, of which the bishops who visited the U.S. on this occasion are members. During their visits, the bishops held mass with the North Korean believers and had some time to chat with the believers. At this time, North Korean believers also suggested that Changchung Cathedral was aging and needed to be rebuilt.The bishops also had talks with high-level officials of North Korea during their visit. There has been some controversy on the authenticity of the church about Changchung Cathedral in North Korea, but I believe the Catholic Church of South Korea ought to help the church grow in the North through the Changchung Cathedral as the channel. 4. Historical roles of the Korean Catholic Church for Inter-Korean Reconciliation and Peace 1) Prayer movement Since the end of the Korean War, with lessons learned from the brutal reality of war, anti-communism has been one of the top priorities in South Korean society both on national and personal levels. The overall atmosphere of the Catholic Church of South Korea was no exception to this trend. Pope St John Paul II's memorable visit to South Korea in 1984, celebrating the bicentenary of the establishment of the Catholic Church in Korea, provided a trigger for the start of active engagement of the Catholic Church in South Korea for reconciliation and peace between the two Koreas. At that time, the motto of the bicentenary was 'A Light to this Land', and the word “this land” included the land of North Korea. Prior to the occasion, there were prayer gatherings for the “silent church” in North Korea and the establishment of the North Korean Missions Committee, but it was at this time that the CBCK assumed an active role and established the Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People (CRKP). In recent years, the Catholic Church of South Korea has once again emphasized the necessity and importance of prayers above all else. At 9 p.m., Catholic believers from all over the country pray for reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula, and every 9 p.m., we can see that the alarms on people’s cell phones are ringing to inform them it is time for prayer. 2) Education for Peace and Reconciliation Along with the prayer movement, what the Catholic Church emphasized was the importance of peace education. To this end, each diocese has established CRKP to run a peace school for peace education. In addition, a division for national reconciliation has been established under the parish pastoral organization to hold masses and prayers for peace on the Korean Peninsula and to help North Korean defectors living in the region. At the level of CBCK, “peace textbooks” are published for all believers, and research institutes established in several dioceses hold symposiums for peace and inter-Korean reconciliation to help believers raise their awareness on the issue of peace and reconciliation. 3) Solidarity for peace and expression of the Catholic Church’s position One of the most important roles the South Korean Catholic Church plays for peace is solidarity actions with other religions and other countries. The Archdiocese of Seoul often invites Catholic churches of other countries to hold events related to peace on the Korean Peninsula, and some dioceses including the Diocese of Uijeongbu are also building links with other countries through conferences. In addition, we have formed solidarity networks with the seven representative religious groups in South Korea for peace on the Korean Peninsula, and recently, we are holding a peace campaign (signature-collecting) for end-of-war declaration and signing of a peace treaty. In addition, the CRKP of CBCK, together with the Justice & Peace Committee, presents the position of the Catholic Church, such as opposition to the nuclear weapons program of North Korea and to an arms race in the form of an official statement. Concluding remarks 1) This opportunity of holding a meeting for peace with the Catholic Church of the U.S. standing in solidarity is meaningful not only for the Catholic Church of South Korea but also for Korean society. Building solidarity is important for peace. I hope this opportunity of solidarity will serve as an opportunity for Catholic believers in the U.S. to share empathy with the pain that Koreans are going through. I was born in Pyongyang in 1947. Many members of the separated families, including my family, who came down to seek religious freedom, have now passed away after 70 years of not being able to return to their hometown or see their parents and siblings. The division inflicts great pain on the Korean people. The problems of persistent conflicts and divisions in South Korean society cannot be regarded as unrelated to the division of the Korean Peninsula. The Catholic Institute for Northeast Asia Peace (CINAP), established by our diocese at a time when the Korean Peninsula was undergoing times of uncertainty due to the threat from the North Korean nuclear program, has been holding an international conference every year since 2017. During this time, bishops and lay members of the Catholic Church of the U.S. have participated in the conference several times in solidarity, which boosted our courage to carry on, and I believe that this meeting can also be attributed to the support and solidarity over the years. Our hope for the future is that just as South Korea, the U.S., and Japan are currently working in trilateral security cooperation, solidarity networks between the bishops of South Korea, the U.S., and Japan, all of whom play an important role for peace on the Korean Peninsula, will also be materialized soon. 2) In preparation for this forum, the bishops of the CBCK Special Episcopal Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People have put together their opinions on the end-of-war declaration and economic sanctions, among many issues related to the peace situation on the Korean Peninsula.First of all, although it is true that there are mixed opinions among politicians and the general public about the end-of-war declaration, the bishops agreed that the current “armistice” is an obstacle to the further progress of peace on the Korean Peninsula. Efforts to end the war and to normalize relations among countries involved in the Korean War will mark a real start for a permanent peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula. We also shared views on the economic sanctions currently imposed against North Korea. Above all, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, the bishops of the CBCK are deeply concerned about the difficulties faced by the vulnerable in North Korea. Economic sanctions aimed at correcting the wrongdoing of the North Korean dictator should not end up with putting the lives of young children, the elderly, and the poor in North Korea at risk. It is also necessary to learn from historical examples of economic sanctions. In the case of Iraq and Cuba, the sanctions have never served their purpose properly, even leading to criticisms that those measures have actually strengthened the foundations of the dictator's rule and tight control over the people. 3) I would like to express my deep gratitude to Pope Francis, who himself served as a light for peace on the Korean Peninsula and world peace, for always giving us encouragement and praying for peace on the Korean Peninsula. I sincerely hope that the Pope will show us his great strides as an apostle of peace for the sake of bringing peace on the Korean Peninsula. 4) Finally, I would like to thank those who gave presentations for this Forum, those who served in the working group, translators, and others for their hard work, especially Ms. Virginia Farris of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Rev. Peter Ju-Seok Kang, Direcor of CINAP, who are hidden contributors to this Forum.