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Kim Jong-un

When Kim meets Trump, ending the pain of the Korean war must top the agenda

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 June, 2018, 7:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 June, 2018, 9:27pm

The Singapore summit is on. US President Donald Trump has announced that “the process will begin” on June 12 in Singapore, where he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. While most focused on the key word “process” and the size of the letter North Korean envoy Kim Yong-chol delivered to Trump at the White House, most significant to 80 million Koreans on the peninsula was the prospect of declaring the end of the Korean war.

“Can you believe that we’re talking about the ending of the Korean war?” President Trump told reporters. “We’re talking about 70 years.”

Indeed, the Korean war is the longest-standing US conflict. In three years, approximately 4 million people were killed, mostly Korean civilians. As the United States and North Korea negotiate the path towards denuclearisation and a peace treaty, what must not be forgotten is the urgent need to end a war that has divided the Korean people.

Watch: Leaders of North and South Korea meet on May 26

On May 26, as South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un were meeting in Panmunjom, I was just a few miles away – at the Odusan Unification Observatory – peering into the telescope across the Imjin River onto North Korean rice fields.

I overheard a father explain to his young son, “We are the same people, but we cannot see each other.”

Earlier that day, I and 30 women from around the world walked with 1,200 South Korean women in the demilitarised zone (DMZ), calling for an end to the Korean war.

We were the first civilians to walk across the Unification Bridge. As I took my first step onto the bridge, tears streamed down my face as I thought about how Korea was divided by the US and the former Soviet Union after 35 years of Japanese colonial occupation.

US-North Korea summit can undo mistakes that led to division

With each step, my heart ached for millions of separated families, like the 75-year-old woman by my side, Han Young-soo, president of the National YWCA of Korea, who left Hamgyong in the North as a young girl with her family as the war broke out.

As the world watches the Kim-Trump summit, we must not forget the Korean people and families on both sides of the DMZ who so long for peace, reconciliation and healing.

Christine Ahn, founder and international coordinator, Women Cross DMZ