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Ecumenical Consultation on the Korea Crisis June 16-18, Washington, D.C.


Peggy Billings served as a Methodist missionary in Korea from 1953 to 1963. She worked in Pusan as a relief worker and youth worker, and was Director of Tai Wha Christian Social Center in downtown Seoul. Back in the U.S. she served from 1975 until 1991 as the chairperson of the North American Coalition for Human Rights in Korea, a coalition of Canadian and United States churches and ecumenical bodies. During this period she wrote two books concerning human rights, Paradox and Promise in Human Rights and Fire Beneath the Frost. Although Ms. Billings retired from active employment in 1993, her interest in Korea and in peace remains. In the year 2000 she led the first ecumenical delegation of Canadian and U.S. women to both North and South Korea, where groundwork was laid for the first international meeting of North American church women with religious and government women from both North and South, held in Toronto, Canada, in September 2001.

Young I. Chun is President of the International Strategies and Reconciliation Foundation (ISR), a think tank and relief and development organization seeking to restore reconciliation in conflict regions with current focus on the Korean peninsula. The ISR, established on Christian faith, has sent since 1999 over $17 million worth of medicine and medical supplies to children, pregnant/nursing mothers, and the disabled in DPR Korea, and is currently expanding programs in computer education for teens, programs for the disabled and children, and a pilot program in micro-credit. Chun has led several missions to visit DPRK for the oversight ISR programs. A social psychologist and survey research methodologist by training, Chun is also Senior Research Scientist with the American Institutes for Research, specializing in education, public health and international policy. Chun earned an B.A. and M.A. in Communication Studies at the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Sociology at University of Maryland.

Gail V. Coulson has since June 2000 served as Executive Secretary for Asia Pacific Region in Mission Contexts and Relationships of the General Board of Global Ministries. With Korea within her new area of responsibility, Gail was part of a GBGM delegation to Pyongyang at the invitation of the Korean Christians Federation in 2002. She has served on the Ecumenical Partnership with Korean Women Task Group of Church World Service and Witness. Earlier, she was China Program Liaison for the GBGM for 20 years with 18 of those years based in Hong Kong. Currently a Ph.D. candidate at Syracuse University, Coulson holds an Ed.M. Columbia University and M.S. (Instructional Technology) and B.A. (Religion) from Syracuse University. Prior to 1980 Gail worked with the Methodist Church of South Africa and the Interchurch Media Program of South Africa where she was born.

Robert Edgar is General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, the leading U.S. organization in the movement for Christian unity. Before joining the NCC staff in January 2000, Dr. Edgar was President of Claremont Theological School in California and was a six-term Congressman representing the 7th district in Pennsylvania. His leadership in calling for alternatives to war on Iraq is widely recognized, and he has continued to speak out for a peace-centered foreign policy. He has led several delegations to the Middle East to demonstrate to the people there that there are alternative voices for peace in the USA. An ordained United Methodist elder, his wide-ranging career also has included pastorates at United Methodist congregations and stints as a teacher, college chaplain, community organizer and director of a "think tank" on national security issues.

Selig S. Harrison is a Senior Scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy. He has specialized in South Asia and East Asia for 50 years as a journalist and scholar and is the author of five books on Asian affairs and U.S. relations with Asia. His latest book, Korean Endgame: A Strategy for Reunification and U.S. Disengagement (Princeton University Press), won the 2002 prize of the Association of American Publishers as the best book in the category of government and political science.

In May 1972, Harrison, representing The Washington Post, and the New York Times became the first Americans to visit North Korea since the Korean War and to interview Kim Il Sung. In 1992, he led a Carnegie Endowment delegation to Pyongyang that learned for the first time that North Korea had reprocessed plutonium. In June, 1994, on his fourth visit, he met the late Kim Il Sung for three hours and won agreement to the concept of a freeze and eventual dismantlement of the North Korean nuclear program in exchange for U.S. political and economic concessions. President Carter, meeting Kim Il Sung a week later, persuaded the North Korean leader to initiate the freeze immediately, opening the way for negotiations with the U.S. that resulted in the U.S. -North Korean nuclear agreement of October 21, 1994.

Victor Hsu serves as Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of Church World Service. Hsu has been instrumental in bringing the voice of advocacy to U.S. government leaders and national and international policy makers. Born in Taiwan he received his theological training at Yale Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary. He began work with Church World Service in 1987. From 1976-1987 he was on the staff of the World Council of Churches coordinating WCC’s activities in the United Nations and with the non-governmental organizations. He served as the First Vice-President of the Conference of NGOs in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. He has been a frequent visitor to North Korea and is a well-known expert on international issues including Korean. He served as the first Convenor of the Steering Committee of the Food Aid Liaison Unit of the World Food Program Country Office in North Korea.

Randall Ireson coordinates the American Friends Service Committee agriculture assistance program in North Korea. In the last five years he has made a dozen trips to the DPRK, and accompanied seven agricultural study delegations in the US and China. Dr. Ireson has worked extensively in various roles on rural development projects, mostly in Southeast Asia, and also taught sociology at Willamette University. He holds a Ph.D. in Development Sociology from Cornell University.

Insik Kim is the Associate for East Asia and the Pacific of the Presbyterian Church USA. He was originally from North Korea and has been a frequent visitor there since 1986.

Karin Lee is the Senior Associate for the East Asia Policy Education Project of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Prior to this position, Karin worked for the American Friends Service Committee for many years, most recently based in Tokyo where she facilitated regional exchanges on topics of peace, reconciliation, and economic transition. She is a regular contributor to The Korea Quarterly, for which she writes a column on US policy toward the Koreas.

Heidi Linton has worked with Christian Friends of Korea since its founding in 1995, and she currently serves as CFK’s Executive Director. She earned a Master’s Degree from New York University, and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Washington in Seattle and has led CFK delegations to North Korea multiple times. She is married to Andrew Linton, a co-founder of CFK whose parents, grandparents and great-grand parents were all lifelong missionaries to Korea.

Betsy Headrick McCrae was born and raised in southeastern Colorado. She graduated from Hesston College, Hesston, KS, and from San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, with a degree in small business management. Her career with the Mennonite Central Committee and related Mennonite organizations has included assignments at MCC headquarters in Pennsylvania, the Congo, Belgium and Vietnam. When Betsy became MCC's Program Director for East Asia in 1998 she took on responsibility for MCC's response to the crisis in the DPRK. Betsy has made two trips to the DPRK (1999 and 2002) and has hosted several delegations of visitors from North Korea. She works closely with others in planning and monitoring MCC's involvement in the DPRK and in advocacy on behalf of the people of North Korea.

John L. McCullough is Executive Director of Church World Service, an international humanitarian agency that provides emergency relief, advocacy, sustainable development support, and refugee assistance in more than 80 countries. Rev. McCullough has been at the forefront of the organization’s expanding role as advocates for human rights and needs and for the empowerment of civil society in developing countries. With global involvements, experience and commitment, Rev. McCullough has been a prime mover in Church World Service’s new, multi-year Africa Initiative. In March 2003, he was invited to present to members of the UN HABITAT community his vision for CWS to guide the establishment of School Safe Zones across Africa. In January 2003 Rev. McCullough served as a member of a high-level humanitarian research mission to Iraq sponsored by the Center for Social and Economic Rights. He has keynoted and introduced a variety of humanitarian conferences and symposia. His broad international experience includes pastorates in the U.S. and Kenya and leadership within the United Methodist Church’s Board of Global Ministries.

K.A. Namkung, Ph.D., is an independent consultant providing advisory services to government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations in East Asia and the United States. In addition, he has long been involved in Track II and other unofficial efforts to help bring about a lasting and secure peace on the Korean peninsula. Dr. Namkung has served as Deputy Director of U.C., Berkeley's Institute of East Asian Studies, Executive Director of the Asia Society, Senior Adviser to Shearman & Sterling, and Director of the Program on Conflict Resolution at the Atlantic Council.

The Reverend Jong-Wha Park, Ph.D., is a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, of the Commission of Peace and Reunification, NCC-Korea, and of the Presidential Advisory Council on Reunification in Korea. He was General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea from 1994 to 1999. Rev. Park was educated at diverse international universities in Seoul, Tubingen, Germany, Budapest, and Debrecen.

The Honourable Maurice F. Strong, P.C., C.C., LL.D. is Special Advisor to the Secretary-General, and Under Secretary-General, of the United Nations. In this capacity he undertakes special private missions for the Secretary-General including monitoring on an informational basis of the humanitarian and development interests of the DPRK.

He also serves as President of the Council, UN University for Peace, and as Chairman, International Advisory Board, CH2M HILL Companies. He has chaired the boards of many Canadian and international organizations and an adviser to many businesses. He was the Secretary-General of the 1992 Earth Summit and was the Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Office for Emergency Operations in Africa. He was the first President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); President, World Federation of United Nations Association; President, National Council of YMCAs of Canada; and the first Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya, He was also a member of Commission on Global Governance, 1992-1996.

Mr. Strong is Canadian with principal residence in Buckhorn, Ontario. He has received many honours and recognition in his illustrious career.

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