51 US congressmen support resolution to ending Korean War

Posted on : 2020-10-28 18:23 KST Modified on : 2020-10-28 18:23 KST
Peace resolution likely to become major agenda item for US Committee on Foreign Affairs next year
Members of the Korea Peace Now Grassroots Network in the office of Democratic congressman Ro Khanna in 2019. (Lee Cheol-ho)
Members of the Korea Peace Now Grassroots Network in the office of Democratic congressman Ro Khanna in 2019. (Lee Cheol-ho)

As of Oct. 23, the number of US congressmen who support a resolution calling for the official end of the Korean War and the adoption of a peace treaty with North Korea increased to 51. Al Green, a Democrat from Texas, and Katie Porter, a Democrat from California, became the 50th and 51st members of congress to sign the resolution.

Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California; Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas; and Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York, the nominees for the next chair of the US Committee on Foreign Affairs, have all voiced support for the resolution. That makes it more likely that the resolution will be a major agenda item for the committee, no matter which of the three ends up as its chair.

“While North Korea and the US aren’t currently engaged in dialogue, this kind of progress speaks volumes. It’s notable that more and more people want North Korea-US issues to be tackled through peace and diplomacy rather than through tension and pressure,” said Hyun Lee, US national organizer for Women Cross DMZ.

While there’s still a long way to go before the resolution can be adopted, the Korean American community is delighted by the process made on the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, regarding this as a major step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Growing support for the resolution is the signature achievement of global campaigns led by female advocates of peace, including Women Cross DMZ and Korea Peace Now, after back-to-back inter-Korean and North Korea-US summits set the mood for peace in 2018. These groups launched their campaigns based on their conviction that American politicians and civic groups need to be persuaded to join the fight for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Activists met with Ro Khanna, Democratic congressman in California representing Silicon Valley, and helped him with the peace resolution that was submitted shortly before the North Korea-US summit in Hanoi in February 2019. Khanna co-chaired Bernie Sanders’ campaign in the 2020 Democratic primaries.

After the resolution was submitted, the Korea Peace Now Grassroots Network set up 12 local branches, and Peace Treaty Now, a group of overseas Koreans who support peace on the Korean Peninsula, joined the campaign. For nearly two years, members have worked to win congressmen’s support for the resolution, visiting their offices and attending meetings with them.

A campaign for officially ending the Korean War had been scheduled to be held in Washington, DC, this past March, but it had to be called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, activists organized online meetings with staffers of 84 US representatives in June.

Such efforts have borne fruit, recruiting prominent congress members to the cause. Two such representatives are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York and a darling of young progressives in the Democratic Party, and Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota and one of the country’s best-known female Muslim politicians.

Democrats largely supportive of peace resolution despite their opposition to Trump’s talks with N. Korea

Even though the leaders of the Democratic Party have been critical of North Korea-US dialogue, partly because of their backlash to Republican President Donald Trump’s heavy-handed attempts to improve relations with the North, all 51 lawmakers who have signed the resolution are members of the Democratic Party.

With Democratic candidate Joe Biden likely to emerge victorious from the US presidential election on Nov. 3, there are growing hopes about the next administration’s North Korean policy.

“I think the next US administration has both an opportunity and a responsibility to improve relations with North Korea. The best course that the next administration can take for the security of the US and for peace on the Korean Peninsula is to officially end the Korean War and to sign a peace treaty to bring about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” said Park Yeong-jun, chair of Peace Treaty Now.

“The increasing number of lawmakers who are signing the resolution are an important sign of progress since they represent a new group inside the Democratic Party that supports a different approach to peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Park said.

Civic groups that have campaigned for the adoption of the resolution said that they’ll keep working to boost support for the resolution in the next session of Congress, which begins in 2021.

By Lee Cheol-ho, Los Angeles correspondent

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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