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칼럼[한국복음주의협의회 2020.01.10] Let the Republic of Korea be Filled with Freedom and Democracy!

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2020-03-09
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Let the Republic of Korea be Filled with Freedom and Democracy!


A declaration on the current situation and future of the Korean Peninsula



   The Republic of Korea of today is severely divided, as if two countries at odds are existing on the southern side of the Korean Peninsula. The severe political divide in the South is inducing concerns for many and is considered one of the greatest divisions in Korean history, following the North and South divide upon liberation. Amid this situation, we, the Korea Evangelical Fellowship, composed of various Korean Christian leaders, wish to make a prognosis on today's Korean society and reveal our position on the matter to the Christian and Korean society.


   First, we deeply thank our God for raising Korea to what it is today. Since Korea has opened its borders to foreign trade, democracy has entered the land along with Christianity. Christians, with other leaders during Korea’s modernization period, strove to create the Independent Club and the New People's Association for a democratic state where all the people of the land own their country. With these roots, on the 1st of March 1919, representatives of Christianity, Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way) and Buddhism declared with their 20 million compatriots that the Korean people were a “sovereign people” of an "independent nation", liberated from Japanese imperialism and feudal society. On April 11th of the same year, they declared the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea as a liberal democratic republic. After that, the Korean people achieved liberation without being swayed by the harsh oppression of Japanese colonial rule and all kinds of interference from communism. After the liberation, the spirit of the Provisional Government and of the March First Independence Movement succeeded through the Constitutional Council in 1948, creating a liberal democracy in both name and reality as the Republic of Korea.


   The Republic of Korea, which began this way, is considered one of the most successful developed countries among those established after World War II. Politically, South Korea has achieved an exemplary democratization. Economically, it has become the world’s 10th richest country. Spiritually, the people of the Republic of Korea have enjoyed great religious freedom among those in Asia and the nation has flourished through cultivating a variety of cultures. This is the country that our people dreamed of since the opening of the borders in the late 19th century. We Christians are proud to have taken part in the process of building and developing the Republic of Korea.


   However, we the Christians of Korea have seen that light and darkness have coexisted in the development of the Republic of Korea. President Rhee Syngman was a great founding president who founded Korea’s liberal democracy, but he soon tried to overthrow democratic principles through dictatorship. President Park Chung Hee rejected the liberal democracy and advocated for what he called “the Korean version of democracy."


   On the other hand, some leaders who have led Korea’s democratization have disparaged the achievements of the birth and modernization of the Republic of Korea. And some activists, while saying they were fighting against the regime of dictatorship, committed the error of overlooking the tyranny of the North Korean regime and took a pro-North Korean stance.


   The Constitution of the Republic of Korea, based on the liberal democracy, rejects the dictatorship of the North's communist regime, which created the Kim Il-sung dynasty by falsely representing the laborers and farmers. It also renounces far-rightist authoritarian regime that restricts individual freedom under the guise of anti-communism and economic development and turn a blind eye to fair competition. South Korean Church must confess its wrongdoing for being tolerant of those who oppose the liberal democracy or even supporting them. Conservative churches were tolerant of authoritarian governments, while progressive churches turned a blind eye to the misery experienced by the North Korean people. Both conservatives and liberals in the Korean Church need to repent that they were not faithful to the constitutional spirit of liberal democracy that values individual human rights and freedom.


   We have no choice but to boldly speak up and provide constructive feedback to the current administration regarding its management of state affairs. Most Koreans would acknowledge that in the Korean society, it is imperative to eliminate deep-rooted corruptions and promote peace in inter-Korean relations. Through this process in all areas of society, including politics, economy, education, and law, Korea can become politically mature in its liberal democracy. Economically, a market economy can operate for the prosperity of all. Spiritually, Korean culture can positively influence the world. However, we need a wise approach and an inclusive policy in clearing deep-rooted corruptions and promoting reconciliation between the two Koreas, considering social development and cooperation among the Korean people.


   It is necessary to publicly announce that the current administration has firm faith in the basic order and central values of the liberal democracy as stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. The people entrusted the government with the responsibility of overcoming current conflicts and divisions and of developing the country both economically and diplomatically by bringing together the earnest needs and sincere requests of people gathered in Gwanghwamun and Seocho-dong. Although the demands of the people with sovereignty over the Republic of Korea are sometimes at odds, most Koreans do not want either extreme conservatism or extreme liberalism. Since the people, the owners of Korea, have entrusted the present government with the responsibility of state affairs, we ask the government to make their best effort for harmony and development of Korea.


   We have celebrated the 100th anniversary of the March 1st Independence Movement in 2019 and this year, 2020, marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War. The Korean War was caused by the ambition of Democratic People's Republic of Korea to overthrow the Republic of Korea and unify the Korean Peninsula under communism. The Republic of Korea, led by numerous Christians, has worked with the U.S. and other allies to protect the liberal democracy and set the pillars for a proud nation.



   Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, we, the Christians of Korea, believe that close cooperation with the U.S. and other allies will continue to protect the Republic of Korea from communist threat and create a society where individual freedom and human dignity will be further enhanced.


   As we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the March 1st Independence Movement and approach the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, we cannot help but think about the unification of the Korean Peninsula, where Koreans have lived together for nearly five thousand years. Before the Korean Liberation, the center for Korean Christianity was in the North Korean territory, Pyongyang, and most of those Christians in Pyongyang came to the South in search of religious freedom and contributed greatly to the revival of Korean Christianity. Therefore, more than any other group, the Christian community in Korea desires unification. Furthermore, Korean Christianity wishes that unification will be achieved peacefully based on the liberal democracy in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. In other words, it is important to create a unified nation in which individual freedom and human dignity are guaranteed. We believe that unification should proceed under a system that guarantees the freedom of the people. We aim to achieve a “proper unification” in which individual freedom and human dignity are truly guaranteed, rather than a "hasty unification" just for the sake of it.


   Democracy has entered the Korean Peninsula along with Christianity, and many Christians, including great democratic Christian leaders such as Seo Jae-pil, Rhee Syngman, Kim Koo, and Ahn Chang-ho, have helped set the cornerstones of Republic of Korea. We believe that Christians are the driving force behind the founding of the nation, and that Christians, along with other patriotic citizens, are responsible for safeguarding the liberal democracy and guaranteeing individual freedom and happiness to their North Korean compatriots.


   We, Christians, believe that the only way to resolve the divisions and confusion in our society today lies in returning to the spirit of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea and clarifying its national identity of the liberal democracy. Based on this, we oppose any kind of political dictatorship, whether it’s conservative or progressive, and oppose privileged chaebol that justify economic monopoly or unyielding union barons. True sovereignty in politics and economics should work for the well-being of all the citizens, to whom belong sovereignty. And this spirit should spread to the land of North Korea, to create a new world in which our compatriots, who cannot enjoy freedom and are suffering, can worship God with us. This is the peaceful unification defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Korea as the basic order of liberal democracy and the unification through the gospel for which the Korean Church prays.


   We, the Korea Evangelical Fellowship and the 10 million Christians across the nation, pray for such unification and its subsequent contribution to freedom, democracy, welfare, and friendship in Asia. We would like to outline eight points to express our hope for positive change this year in many areas, including churches and the society.


   First, we pledge to repent and strive to become a trusted religion in Korean society again, as a driving force that has served the Korean society since its opening of the borders.

   With a keen heart, we call once again for the Korean Church to examine itself. The Korean Church has a proud tradition of contributing to the independence and foundation, modernization and industrialization, democratization and welfare of the nation. The Korean Church is eager to regain the trust of the nation by reflecting on what caused it to lose public confidence and come under much criticism and by launching a sincere repentance movement.


   Second, we declare that we will serve the Korean Church, so that it can do its best to overcome the present crisis as a responsible member of Korean society.

   South Korea is suffering from internal division as well as the inter-Korean conflict. In order to unite our society, the Korean church should first affirm the providence of God and present it to Korean society. To that end, the Korean Church must pray deeply, earnestly reflect on history, speak carefully, and act boldly.


   Third, we request that the current government publicly proclaim the legitimacy of the Republic of Korea, respect the basic order of liberal democracy in inter-Korean affairs, and strengthen solidarity with the United States of America and the free world.

   We think many of the causes of the current social conflict lie in the fact that the government does not clarify the identity of the Republic of Korea, inter-Korean relations, and its position in the international community. We urge the government to proclaim the respect for the basic order of liberal democracy as stipulated in the Constitution, thereby embracing both liberals and conservatives, promoting inter-Korean relations peacefully, and cooperating with the international community.


   Fourth, we hope that the Korean society will overcome the severe conflicts in the South and develop into a liberal democratic society, based on the constitutional order of the Republic of Korea.

   We believe that the Republic of Korea should return to the spirit of the Constitution and advance towards a society where ordinary people are guaranteed freedom and happiness, not privileged chaebol (family-owned conglomerate) or unyielding union barons. To this end, Korea’s reckless conservatives should reflect on its compromise with authoritarian governments, while extreme liberals should reflect on its denial of the legitimacy of the Republic of Korea and its undemocratic pro-North Korean behavior.


   Fifth, we hope for the North Korean regime to conduct politics for the sake of its people and especially urge the North to become a society which respects individual human rights, including religious freedom.

   North Korea, which is annually cited as the country with highest level of religious persecution, should enhance religious freedom. We sincerely hope, among other things, that those detained for a long time in North Korea, including missionaries Kim Jong Uk, Kim Kook Kie, and Choi Chun Kil, will be returned to their families as soon as possible. North Korea should also give up its nuclear weapons and try to make a Korean Peninsula where the people of the two Koreas may coexist and prosper.



   Sixth, we ask the international community to help us overcome the current crisis unfolding on the Korean Peninsula and to work together in order to achieve a peaceful unification based on freedom and human rights.

   This year, marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, we grieve over the division of the Korean Peninsula and earnestly request that the international community to cooperate in the way to the unification of Korea. Especially, we ask the neighboring powers to be steppingstones, not impediments to the unification. We appeal to the Christians of the US, Japan, China, and Russia to take part in the peaceful and gospel-centered unification of the Korean Peninsula and in the peace and evangelization of East Asia.  


   Seventh, we hope that the next generation of Koreans will realize its historic mission and develop the abilities to implement the mission for the unification of the Korean Peninsula.

   The youth and young people of the land are the generation that will reap the fruit of unification. Thus, the next generation must be focused on and prepared for the nearing unification, psychologically and socially. We earnestly pray and fully support the next generation to grow up with healthy values and ethics, while keeping genuineness and purity to lead the nation properly.


   Eighth, we sincerely hope that the South Korean government and society will help North Korean defectors settle in the liberal democratic society and foster them as leaders of a unified nation.

   The fact that many North Korean defectors enter the Republic of Korea in search of freedom is proof that the Republic of Korea has stayed on the right path. The Republic of Korea should ensure that our compatriots who have come in search of freedom can proudly enjoy freedom and happiness as citizens and hold the values of the spirit of liberal democracy. As such, they will become great leaders of the Unified Korea.


January 10th, 2020

Members of the Korea Evangelical Fellowship

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