Thursday, 25. June 2020

“Healing, Reconciliation and No More War”

Thoughts on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War


The 25th of June 2020 marks 70 years since the start of the Korean War (1950 – 1953). Since that time, the Korean people have lived separately in North and South Korea, in two different systems and forms of government - and they are still suffering from the aftermath of the war.

The Korean churches are commemorating 2020 as an “anniversary year”. This new initiative aims at intensifying the renewed commitment towards peace and reconciliation in both parts of the country.  On 20 June, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) set a further sign for peace by holding a Peace Convocation in the Demilitarised Zone under the motto “Healing, reconciliation and no more war”.

At the end of World War II, the superpowers split the Korean peninsula into two countries. Families were torn apart and many people lost their homeland. This split led to the outbreak of the Korean War which cost the lives of around four million people. After the war, all efforts to reunify the divided country failed. To this day, no peace agreement has been signed.

“Healing, reconciliation and no more war” – these are the key points of reference for the Korean people on the path to a joint future. Certainly, history has shown time and again that this path is often strewn with rocks and sometimes there is even a violent headwind blowing. However, it is worthwhile to build on reconciliation and to pursue common aims.

Carsten Rostalsky, Acting Chairperson of the German East Asia Mission (DOAM), shares his thoughts with us on this special day and demonstrates his solidarity with his Korean brothers and sisters.

“My life story starts in the east of Germany, in the GDR. I spent the first half of my life in the GDR and the second half in a reunified Germany. I studied theology in the GDR where I was ordained a pastor. Together with my congregations, we experienced the peaceful revolution in the autumn of 1989 and we also played an active part in it. It was a very formative and intense time for me and I am grateful for this experience to this day.

Later, we often travelled with our children to the place where the border ran between East and West. In the meantime, nature has regained its hold over this death strip and has covered it in greenery, in other words it has healed it. Our children asked: ‘Well, where is this terrible border now? We can’t see anything here.‘ And that’s exactly what I wish from the bottom of my heart for the people on the Korean peninsula.

I wish them all – both in the South and in the North – that their children and grandchildren will one day ask about the Demilitarised Zone that no longer exists: ‘Well, where is this terrible border now? We can’t see anything here.‘ When that happens, the war will be a long way away, healing will have started and reconciliation will be within reach."

In a prayer by Lutz Drescher (DOAM Chairperson) and as a sign of solidarity with the suffering of the Korean people, the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) prays for reconciliation and reunification between the two parts of Korea which are still divided.

A Prayer and a Poster for Peace and Reunification


God of Love,
we praise you because your compassion and mercy has no limits and is able to cross all borders.

God of Mercy,
we thank you that you love both, the people in North Korea and in South Korea.

God of Compassion,
you know how much people in the North and in the South have suffered during the Korean War and are still suffering.

God of Healing,
you know about the trauma of the Korean War, the devastating effects of which are still felt.

God of Reconciliation,
you can forgive guilt and your love is stronger than all hatred.

God of Peace,
we praise you because the day will come
when the people in North and South will accept themselves as brothers and sisters, will embrace each other, and will be one people.