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NORTH, SOUTH KOREAN WOMEN ATTEND REUNIFICATION CONFERENCE

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada -- Twenty-eight women, including four from North Korea and seven from South Korea, participated in a September 23-29, 2001, conference on "Women in Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea." Held near Toronto, it was the first-ever international ecumenical women’s conference to work for peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula.

The conference was sponsored by the Partnership with Korean Women Task Group of Church World Service, the global service and witness ministry of the National Council of Churches (U.S.), with the involvement of the United Church of Canada.

The conference’s purpose was to increase contacts among women leaders from South and North Korea, North America and Asia and to enable them to affirm their contributions in their own societies and in efforts for Korean reunification. It also sought to develop an ecumenical women’s agenda in support of the churches’ mission for justice, peace and reconciliation in the Korean context.

Among the group’s 15 concluding recommendations aimed at fostering Korean reunification: that the U.S. government re-open high-level talks with the North Korean government and reconsider its decision to build a missile defense system, which they said they believe would stimulate an increased arms race in Asia and divert valuable resources from programs benefiting women and children in the U.S. and abroad.

They affirmed the common prayer and worship programs developed by the Korean Christians Federation (Pyongyang) and National Council of Churches in Korea (Seoul) and determined to develop a common prayer, confession and worship program for use by women in Korea and around the world.

They urged development of new educational resources on Korean reunification issues and supported exchanges among women and new programs of visitation to and from North Korea. And they expressed their intention to meet again within the coming year, either in Asia or North America.

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