The governments of the United States and South Korea will conduct a large-scale ROK-US Combined Military Exercise, Freedom Shield (FS), beginning March 13. According to the media, during this period, the ROK-US Combined Forces Command will practice scenarios such as beheading the North Korean leadership, ousting commanders, and stabilization operations in North Korea, and will also intensively conduct a large-scale field exercise named Warrior Shield (WS). US Strategic assets including strategic bombers are expected to be part of the exercise, and the ROK-US-Japan Ballistic Missile Defence drill has also been announced for later this month.
In response, on 7 March 2023, the <Korea Peace Appeal Campaign> held a press conference <Call to Resolve the Threat of War on the Korean Peninsula and Suspend ROK-US Combined Military Exercises> in front of the Yongsan Presidential Office and issued a joint statement. Military tensions on the Korean Peninsula are very high and are heading toward power-to-power confrontation without any measures to prevent a conflict. The ROK-US Combined Military Exercises must be immediately suspended before they lead to a larger crisis. Suspending the ROK-US Combined Military Exercises could be a decisive step in reopening the door to dialogue and diplomacy between the two Koreas and the US and DPRK.
The joint statement was proposed by the <Korea Peace Appeal Campaign>, <Korea Peace Now Grassroots Network>, <Peace Treaty Now> and was endorsed by 745 South Korean organizations and 99 US and international civil society organizations. The statement was also delivered to the Office of the South Korean President and the US Embassy in Seoul.
ROK·US·International Civil Society Statement
As people who act for peace in South Korea, the US, and worldwide, we are deeply concerned about the elevating military tension on the Korean Peninsula. We must suspend all military actions, including ROK-US Combined Military Exercises.
Despite the opening toward peace through the Inter-Korean and DPRK-US Summits in 2018, the once-discontinued ROK-US Combined Military Exercises resumed in just a year, and the relationship between the two Koreas and the DPRK-US has progressively deteriorated. Last year, North Korea withdrew its four-year commitment to suspend nuclear tests and ICBM test launches because of the US hostile policy and military threats.
The situation is getting worse after the inauguration of the Yoon Suk-yeol government. Both the US and South Korea announced plans to expand the scale of ROK-US Combined Military Exercises and enhance the Extended Deterrence Strategy, and for the first time in 5 years, military exercises with aircraft carriers and strategic bombers have resumed on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has also declared corresponding military operations and started military exercises. Although it was in the open sea, North and South Korea exchanged missile launches close to their rivals’ sea border, causing tensions to ratchet up even further. At that time, a failed missile launch from South Korea crashed in Gangneung, leaving the residents in the dark for hours, terrified. Moreover, North and South Korea have crossed the Military Demarcation Line by deploying unmanned aerial vehicles. At the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, the reality is that the armistice itself is at stake.
ROK and US authorities are claiming that the ROK-US Combined Military Exercises are annual defense drills, but the truth is different. It appears that the drills are based on operation plans that reportedly include pre-emptive strikes and decapitation measures against North Korea, large-scale deployment of US troops and strategic assets assuming an all-out war, etc. Over the last several decades, air force bombers like B-1B, B-2, and B-52 which are nuclear-capable, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines, large-scale deployments of US-ROK troops, etc. were mobilized. Due to their size and character, the ROK-US Combined Military Exercises have intensified the military and political tension on the Korean Peninsula.
The ROK and US governments have given notice that they would carry out the most extensive field exercises in March by mobilizing the largest number of troops and strategic assets ever, and have already started several ROK-US Combined Military Exercises since January. ROK-US-Japan Military Cooperation has also developed to the level of a military alliance. North Korea is also taking military action, including missile drills, warning that “We will respond at all times and take strong overwhelming actions”.
The situation is rapidly moving toward great power confrontation with no countermeasures to prevent conflict. Large-scale military action mobilized with real weapons only increases the risk of accidental clashes. We know well how a show of force has led to war in the case of several countries. It is only a matter of time before an unprecedented military crisis or war transpires.
War exercises that heighten the threat of war on the Korean Peninsula must stop. We must acknowledge that isolation, military pressure, and sanctions have not accomplished peace and denuclearization in Korea but only brought about resistance from North Korea, and we must lay down our hostility.
Today, the entire world, including the Korean Peninsula, is facing complex crises such as climate, infectious disease, food, and economic crises. We cannot solve these crises unless we cooperate and stop blocization and military confrontations. In particular, the reality is that there is no information or controls on the carbon emitted during large-scale military training and war preparations, such as deploying strategic bombers. Military drills threaten the Earth and human beings, and they must stop.
We must end the Korean war that has afflicted all members of the Korean Peninsula for over 70 years, and redirect the cost of destructive weapons to solving inequality and the climate crisis. It is time to end hostility and confrontation and strive for a peaceful and sustainable world through reconciliation and cooperation.
The suspension of the ROK-US combined military exercises will play a decisive role in re-establishing the forum for dialogue and diplomacy between the two Koreas and between the DPRK and the US. We call on the ROK and US governments to choose wisely.
7 March 2023
Korea Peace Appeal Organizations in South Korea (745)
US Civil Society Organizations (48)
Action One Korea
American Peace Information Center
Atlanta Civic Action
Channing and Popai Liem Education Foundation
China-US Solidarity Network
Coalition of Koreans in America (CKA)
Education Center for Tomorrow
Environmentalists Against War
Friends Peace Teams-Asia West Pacific
GA Peace Forum
Gandhi Alliance for Peace
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
HOA--Hawaiʻi Okinawa Alliance
Korea Peace Now Grassroots Network
Korea Peace Now!
Korea Policy Institute
Korean American National Coordinating Council, Inc.
Korean American Public Action Committee (KAPAC)
Korean Americans for the Progressive Party of Korea (KAPP)
Maine Natural Guard
Massachusetts Peace Action
MinKwon Center for Community Action
New England Korea Peace Campaign
NH Peace Action
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development
Peace Action of San Mateo County
Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans For Peace
Presbyterian Peace Network for Korea
Proposition One Campaign for a Nuclear-Free Future
Seattle Evergreen Coalition
Show Up! America
The Least of These Church Justice & Peace Committee
Utah Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (UCAN)
Veterans For Peace, Spokane Chapter #35
Veterans For Peace's Korea Peace Campaign
Washington Butterfly for Hope
Women Against War
Women Cross DMZ
Women for Genuine Security
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) US
International Civil Society Organizations (51)
1923 Korea-Japan Citizens' Solidarity
Blue Banner, Mongolia
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada
Center for Peace Education, Philippines
Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS), Cambodia
Commission 4 of the ILPS, Canada
Coop Anti-War Cafe Berlin, Germany
Freante Antiimperialista Internacionalista, Spain
German East Asia Mission (DOAM), Germany
Ingenieurkonsulent für Kulturtechnik und Wasserwirtschaft, Europe
International Peace Bureau (IPB), Germany
International Women's Network against Militarism
Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI)
Peace Boat, Japan
Peace Depot Inc. Japan
Peace for East Asia (PEASIA), Canada
Peace Treaty Now (PTN)
Peace Women Across The Globe (PWAG), Switzerland
Peace Women Partners, Philippines
Prutehi Litekyan Save Ritidian, Guam
Queen’s Collegiate, Canada
Stop the War Coalition Philippines
The Hwamok Fellowship
The United Church of Canada
Unity of Women for Freedom - Philippines
Women Against Nuclear Power, Finland
Women for Peace, Finland
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Kyoto
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