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Northeast Asia Peace Initiative

UPF Statement on the Korean Peninsula in the Wake of the Passing of Kim Jong-il

The December 17, 2011, death of North Korean President Kim Jong-il and the current transition of power to a new generation of leadership is a time of great uncertainty for all Koreans and the entire East Asian region. At the same time it also offers an important opportunity to plot a new course of peace and reconciliation that will finally bring to a close more than six decades of division and distrust.

The Universal Peace Federation counsels a course that recognizes the importance of stability on the Korean peninsula. This will require sincere good will from the strategic actors in the region including the US, China, South Korea, and Japan.

For more than two decades, the Founders of the Universal Peace Federation, Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, have reached out to the leaders of North Korea, urging them to bring down the barriers between the two Koreas so that families long separated could at last be reunited.

Twenty years ago, on December 6, 1991, Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon met with President Kim Il-sung, then leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

Symbolically, that meeting took place in Heungnam, where in 1950 Rev. Moon had been imprisoned in a communist labor camp. Yet he came bearing no ill will to his former enemies. As reported in the Pyongyang Worker's Daily News (December 7, 1991), Rev. Moon told the people of North Korea, “The only power that can achieve national reunification is true love.”

Over the years, the relationship deepened through a series of non-governmental exchanges between the two Koreas, including artistic exchanges, the opening of the Mt. Gumgang tourist area, the visit of the Little Angels arts troupe, the establishment of the Pyonghwa Motors Corporation, and most recently a 600-ton donation of wheat flour in response to the famine in DPRK.

From December 9 to 16, Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, youngest son of Rev. and Mrs. Moon and Chairman of the Universal Peace Federation, was in Pyongyang with his wife to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his parents’ 1991 meeting with Kim Il-sung.

The day after their departure, on December 17, Kim Jong-il suddenly passed away leaving his third and youngest son, Kim Jong-un, as the heir apparent to the leadership of the nation. The Washington Times, founded by Rev. Moon in 1982, wrote in a December 19 editorial: 

The death of North Korea's longtime ruler, Kim Jong-il, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to settle the conflict on the Korean Peninsula and bring North Korea into the community of nations.… Mr. Kim's anointed successor, third son Kim Jong-un, faces many challenges in taking over the family leadership post. There is a 40-year age gap between him and the core party and military leaders, who are in their 60s and 70s.… The challenges of dynastic succession provide the young Mr. Kim a historic opportunity to prove his leadership ability by embarking on a bold new course of openness.… The opening is there if Mr. Kim is bold enough to take it.

UPF and its global network of people and resources call for dialogue, confidence-building, and trust-building initiatives to help the new leadership in the DPRK advance the cause of stability and prosperity in the Korean peninsula, build better relations with other nations, and work toward eventual peaceful reunification.

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