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Diplomatic Breakthrough between North and South Korea? Open Letter to President Trump

Kevin Martin

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With this week’s tremendous diplomatic breakthrough between North and South Korea, the Korea Peace Network, a grassroots coalition of peace activists, scholars and Korean-American leaders, sent an Open Letter on March 8 to President Donald Trump urging his support for peace and diplomacy. The letter was signed by representatives of 58 organizations, and by 143 other Korean-American, peace, faith and academic leaders.

Specifically, the letter asks Trump to again postpone the massive U.S.-South Korea military exercises as a gesture of good faith, as North Korea has stated it will not conduct any further nuclear or missile tests while negotiating with South Korea. The military exercises were scheduled to be held in February, but were postponed until after the Winter Olympics and Paralympics when Trump agreed to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s request to do so.

Kevin Martin, President of Peace Action and convener of the Korea Peace Network, said,

“The United States has a rare opportunity to help resolve longstanding tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and this chance must not be missed. Further postponement or cancellation of the massive war exercises, which North Korea understandably loathes and fears, makes all the sense in the world at this time when South and North Korea are negotiating on so many crucial issues.”

Commenting on the letter to Trump, signed by dozens of Korean-American organizations and individuals, Martin noted,

“It is great to see so many Korean-Americans speaking out for peace and diplomacy and against war. We need to follow their leadership and amplify their voices.”

As the Korean War ended with the signing of an armistice agreement rather than a peace treaty, the two Koreas technically remain in a state of war. Many hope this budding diplomatic engagement can be the first step to finally signing a peace treaty to formally end the war.

Simone Chun, who serves on the steering committee of the Alliance of Scholars Concerned About Korea, remarked,

“The recent dramatic breakthrough in North-South relations reverses a dangerous pattern of animosity and aggression that has driven the two Koreas further apart and brought the peninsula dangerously to the brink of war. We now have a historic opportunity to begin to put an end to the longest-running war in modern history.”

Read the Open Letter to President Trump advocating continuing the Olympic Truce and suspension of US/ROK war exercises below.

President Donald Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C. 20500

March 8, 2018

Re: Continuing the Peace Momentum in Korea after the Winter Olympics

Dear Mr. President:

As U.S. civil society groups and individuals deeply concerned with the future course of our policy in Korea, we urge you to support the current momentum for peace and dialogue in Korea, far beyond the end of the Winter Olympic Truce in late March.

We thank you for your decision to postpone the winter U.S.-South Korea joint military drills at the request of South Korean President Moon. Such a positive move made it possible for North Korean athletes to participate in this year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Moreover, it also paved the way for the recent visit of high-level delegates from North Korea to South Korea and subsequent talks with President Moon. These encouraging steps, along with the re-connection of the military hotlines between the South and North, have contributed greatly to a significant reduction in military tensions on the Korean Peninsula at this time.

We urge you to maintain this diplomatic progress beyond the end of the Olympic Truce. In order to continue the current peace momentum and engage in serious talks with North Korea, we urge you to suspend the pending large-scale U.S.-South Korea joint war drills (“Key Resolve/Foal Eagle”) indefinitely, or reduce the scale of such drills significantly, without dispatching aircraft carriers, strategic bombers or any “operation decapitation” forces which will be perceived by North Korea as a threat to its national security. These joint war drills are militarily unnecessary, diplomatically counterproductive, and far more likely to enhance rather than diminish the possibility of an armed clash on the Korean Peninsula.

In fact, past U.S. administrations suspended large-scale joint war drills in 1992, 1994 and 1995 as confidence-building measures. Putting off the military exercises indefinitely will give more time for North-South diplomacy, with U.S. support, and allow the initiation of U.S.-North Korea talks, as both the North Korean and South Korean governments now advocate.

We believe the current U.S. campaign of “maximum pressure” against the North is both provocative and dangerous. The tougher sanctions announced recently — almost amounting to an economic blockade — could easily escalate military tensions in Northeast Asia again, and possibly result in a horrific resumption of the Korean War. At a minimum they will exacerbate the misery of ordinary North Koreans and antagonize Russia and China, whose cooperation is needed to resolve the current impasse.

We agree with the majority of Americans who, according to recent polls, solidly support negotiations, not war. We strongly urge you to pursue a “maximum engagement” policy with North Korea, which is the only way to achieve permanent peace and nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula.


Organizational Signers

Enhee Ahn, The National Institute of Hahm Seok Hon’s Philosophy

Robin Alexander, Remembering Hiroshima, Imagining Peace

Jim Anderson, Peace Action New York State

Earl Arnold, Presbyterian Peace Network for Korea

Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project

Blaise Bonpane, Office of the Americas

John Burroughs, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy

Jacqueline Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation

Michael Carrigan, Community Alliance of Lane County (Eugene, OR)

Jeff Carter, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Kay Kyungmi Cho, Korea Neutralized Unification Movement, LA One Corea Now

Citizens Fighting for Justice

Gerry Condon, Veterans for Peace

Joseph Essertier, World Beyond War

David Gibson, Peace, Justice, Sustainability Florida

Myung Ji Cho, Kancc-North Central Area

Robert Gould, MD, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Bay Area Chapter

David Hartsough, Peaceworkers

Cole Harrison, Massachusetts Peace Action

Mark Harrison, United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

Patrick Hiller, Oregon Peace Institute

Mary Hladky, Military Families Speak Out

Madelyn Hoffman, New Jersey Peace Action

Duane Johansen, Alliance of Scholars Concerned About Korea

John Kim, Veterans For Peace-Korea Peace Campaign

Peter Kim, Support committee for Korean Prisoners of Conscience in US

Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)

Tong-Kyun Kim, TLtC Justice & Peace Committee

Michael Klare, Professor of Peace & World Security Studies, Hampshire College

Dr. Roger Kotila , Democratic World Federalists

Yali Lee, Yali Tour

Henry Lowendorf, Greater New Haven Peace Council

Dughong Min, JTS America

Soonyoung Min-Kim, Good Friends USA

Tony Langbehn, Maryland United for Peace and Justice

Alabama Lee, NUAC

Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action, Convener, Korea Peace Network

Duncan McFarland, United for Justice with Peace, Boston

Linda Moh, Action One Korea Indianapolis

The Rev. Robert Moore, Coalition for Peace Action, PA and NJ

Kwan Nam, One Corea Now

Misuk Nam, One Heart for Justice

Richard Ochs, Peace Action Baltimore

Guy Quinlan, All Souls Nuclear Disarmament Task Force. NYC

Thea Paneth, United for Peace and Justice

Rev. Rich Peacock, Peace Action of Michigan

Terry Rockefeller, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Roxanne, Minnesota Peace Project

Kristina Romines, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)

Carolyn Scarr, Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC

Kate Shim, Naka

H. K. Suh, National Association of Korean Americans

Nancy C. Tate, LEPOCO Peace Center (Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern), Bethlehem, PA

Aaron Tovish, Zona Libre

Prof. Rene Wadlow, Association of World Citizens

Rick Wayman, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Prof. Lawrence Wittner, Emeritus, SUNY-Albany, Solidarity Committee of the Capital District (Albany, NY)

Kil Sang Yoon, Korean American National Coordinating Council, Inc.

Individual Signers

Chunghyun Ahn

Charles Armstrong

Jane Baker

Don Baker

Keith Brooks


Christine Brunner

Lynn Cardiff

Sylvia Rodriguez Case

Myung Ji Cho

David Choi

Kyeong-Hee Choi

Joseph Choe

Sunjung Choh

Alex Choi

Young Choi

Michael Chwe

Tracy Comstock

K Chung

Chuck Churchill

Nicolas J S Davies

Anthony Del Plato


Henry Em

Charles Fredricks

Bonnie Gorman

Richard Greve

Daniel Guy

Si Han

Steve Harrison

Cheehyung Harrison Kim

Martin Hart-Landsberg

Vana Kim Hansen

Lee Doo Hee

Jeffrey Herold

Carol Ho

Sepk Hong

Bryce Hutchinson

Kyo J. Hyun

Kim Iksoo

Michael Jeon

Kelly Jeong

Sug Jeonv

Christopher Joonmoo Lee

Youngju Jun

Sookeung Jung


Tae Ho Kang

Walter L. Keats

Larry Kerschner

Sun-Chul Ki

Heang Ki Paik

Carl J. Kilgore

Gyung Jin Kim

Daniel Y. Kim

Debbie Kim

Jieun Kim

Eric Kim

Eunjung Kim

Eva C. Kim

Grace Kim


Haing Kim

Il-sun Kim

Hyoungkeun Kim

Hongkyung Kim

Jonathan J Kim

Joshua Taebog Kim

Jinseob Kim

Kevin Kim

Michael Kim

Myung K. Kim

Shawn Kim

Sung Kwon Kim

Suzy Kim

Yu Jin Kim

Yeun Moon Kim

Yeong Kim

Chang Ku Kang

Sungju Park-Kang

Lina Koleilat

Roger Kotila

Catherine Kreuter

Dasol Lee

Jiyoung Lee

Ki-chan Lee

Lea Lee

Myungza Lee

Namhee Lee

Samuel Lee

Sharon W.Lee

Steven Lee

Yinsook Lee

Young Lee

Yoojin Lee

Yuna Lee

Ramsay Liem

Lee Tinker Loe

Jean Michel Lorne

John Marciano

Arnold Matlin, M.D.

Joshua McHugh

Yong Soon Min

Caroline Norma

Mark Nyhan

Joseph S. Onello

Moon J. Pak

Sung u Pak

Jin Park

EunJin Park

Shin-Hwa Park

Fritz H. Pointer

Charles Reitz

Pyongwon Rhoe

Ken Kilnam Roh

CB Saeji

Matthew Shapiro

Louise Shawkat

June Kim

Il Oh

Ashley Santangelo

Deb Sawyer

Edward J. Shultz

Rudy Simons

Jungran Shin

Iksoo Shin

Alice Slater

Hyongtae Son

Seung Woo Son

Young Song


Thomas Stinnett

HK Suh

J.J. Suh

Travis Wagner

Andrea Watson

Gail Whang

Michael Wong

Col. Ann Wright (ret.)

Mili Yoon

Jong-sung You

Jaek Young

Jasmine Zulaikha


Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson

Secretary of Defense James Mattis