Monday, November 22, 2010

Archbishop visits DMZ in memory of Anglican martyrs in the Korean War

By Anya Johnson

SEOUL Nov. 22, 2010 (ACNS) – Earlier this month, the Archbishop of the Southwest visited the Demilitarized Zone of Korea (DMZ) in honor of the Anglican martyrs who died in the Korean War. The annals of the Korean War are filled with accounts of atrocities committed by the communists in North Korea. Over 30,000 Americans alone died in the war, but that might be considered lucky compared to the treatment typically received by the prisoners of war. Forced marches, torture, shootings, and horrid conditions were just some of the war crimes POWs had to endure at the hands of the North Koreans.
A rare view into North Korea

The civilian population was not exempt from their brutality either. North Korean communists pitted village residents against each other, expecting them to inform the authorities about their neighbors’ real or imagined anti-communist activities. Civilians were killed and tortured. It was a time of great fear at the hands of the communists.

It was also a time of great heroism. Many stood against the communist forces, no matter the cost. In Seoul Anglican Cathedral, there is a memorial to six such heroes. They are the Anglican martyrs of the Korean War, Father Lee Won-Chang, Father Yoon Dai-Yong, and Father Cho Yong-Ho from Korea; Father Albert W. Lee and Father Charles Hunt from England, and Sister Mary Clare from Ireland. They kept the faith of the Church during the dark days of the Korean War and were killed for it by the communists.

Abp. Johnson prepares to go into one of
the tunnels built by the North Koreans.
Still to this day the Korean peninsula technically remains at war, as the conflicts of over half a century ago have yet to be resolved. The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was formed after the war as a buffer zone between the north and the south. From the south side, you can easily see into the north from many locations. Though people live and work in its midst, it is still a place of great tension and, occasionally, direct confrontation and conflict. Tunnels dug by the North Koreans under the DMZ (at least four that are known) were intended for a surprise attack on Seoul, which is less than an hour’s drive from the North Korean border. The DMZ also has one of the heaviest concentrations of land mines, and each year several people die or are seriously injured from them. 

Still, the DMZ and its surrounding areas remain a place of hope. In some areas, South Koreans and North Koreans are allowed to work side-by-side. Ancient Korean culture and ways of life remain. All that is left is for the fences to come down and the Korean peninsula to be unified as a nation of free people.