The successors to last year’s WomenCross DMZ event will walk along the Southern side of the border on May 28, organizers said at the press conference on Tuesday in Seoul.
Last year the international team of the organizing committee held a border-crossing event with renowned female activists that received international attention. This year the group, calling itself the, will involve 32 women’s organizations based in South Korea who are leading the event in cooperation with the international team.
At a press event on Tuesday to discuss their plans for this year, the organizing committee emphasized a mission of peace, including the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue, a peace treaty to end the possibility of war, and the leadership of women in the peace-building process on the Korean Peninsula.
“Women and children are the biggest victims on the battlefield and in the conflict zone,” Ahn Kim Jeong-ae, representative of the Women Making Peace NGO said.
People who walked last year from North to South will join the event as well, including retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright and Meri Joyce from the Japan-based NGO Peace Boat.
Unlike last year, when participants crossed from North to South Korea via Gyungui line, the event will be held entirely on the Southern part of the border, considering the suspension of inter-Korean relations. This year’s event will be more culture-focused, and include performances.
Last year the event raised controversy inside and out of the Korean Peninsula, as conservative protesters argued the event created a false image that North Korea is favorably disposed toward peace.
Also, Pyongyang’s state newspaper the Rodong Sinmun quoted organizing committee member Christine Ahn as saying that the “Dear Leader (Kim Il Sung) devoted everything for the people’s freedom and liberation” during her visit to Kim’s birth place. The remark was seized upon by critics of the event, and Ahn and others involved denied that she ever made it.
This is one reason why Ahn decided not to join this year’s event.
“Later the Rodong Sinmun apologized to our international team,” Ahn Kim told NK News. “She won’t come so as not to be involved in an ideological dispute, which is a part of the pain originating from the division.”
The organizers on Tuesday insisted that peace doesn’t have any political implications.
“We don’t represent the interest of any countries. The call for a peace treaty is spoken of by other nations other than North Korea,” said Lee Jeong-ah from Women Link, based in Paju city. “We are afraid of attacks before the event but are convinced that our mission is correct.”
They are aiming to cross the border from South to North through Panmunjeom in 2018, on the occasion of the 70th year of national division. The Republic of (South) Korea was declared on August 15, 1948, with the Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea declared that September 9.
Panmunjeom located in the Joint Security Area is the place where the Armistice Agreement to halt the Korean War was signed in 1953.
The event application will available at the website of the committee by May 20, they said.
There will be a symposium on May 24, mainly to discuss UN Resolution 1325, which reaffirms the important role of women during conflict and in the peace-building process.
Featured Image: Leo Byrne
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