According to peace activist Christine Ahn, the “job” of pushing leaders to move towards formally ending the Korean War was, in fact, accomplished by dogged Korean anti-war activists who helped oust former South Korean President Park Geun-hye in 2017 and gave Moon Jae-in a mandate for peace. Ahn says that it was these movements, supported by international activists, that forced the North and South Korean leaders to release a statement that declares the “new era of peace” will include steps towards family reunification, denuclearization and cessation of all hostile acts.
Ahn is in a position to know. The South Korea-born, Hawaii-based peace activist has been organizing to end the Korean war under the administrations of Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. She founded and coordinates Women Cross DMZ, which describes itself as “a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War, reunite families, and ensure women’s leadership in peace building.”
The 1950-1953 Korean War left up to three-million Koreans dead, wounded or missing, thanks in part to a vicious bombing campaign perpetrated by the United States. While a 1953 agreement put an armistice in place, the war has still not been formally ended. The recent peace declaration is the most meaningful development to date to officially end the conflict.
Ahn tells In These Times about the significance of Friday’s summit, the peace movements that made the announcement possible and how people in the United States can show solidarity—in contrast to their president.