A journey through division and hope

Young Christians on a six-day pilgrimage of Korea. Photo: Gregoire de Fombelle/WCC

More than 80 youngsters from WCC member churches and partners around the world continued their Korean pilgrimage of justice and peace on Saturday at the Demilitarized Zone, which has divided the Korean Peninsula since 1953.

Under the theme ”Walking with Peace, Reclaiming Hope” the young pilgrims seek to enhance global solidarity among the youth and inspire them to engage in the ecumencial movement.

The pilgrimage of the Demilitarized Zone was part of an intense six-day programme which also included pilgrimages of Daejon and Nogeun-ri, both places bearing name to massacres of civilians in 1950. Raising attention to the wounds and victims caused by such atrocities, and to learn about peace, healing and reconciliation of Korea, are key issues in this pilgrimage, which is the first of its kind in that country. Along the journey, workshops where participants have reflected together upon what they’ve experienced, have been arranged.

”We want young people to grow and move ahead in their own pilgrimage. This is a way to bring them into the peace discussion, not for the next generation but for us”, explains says Rev. Nam Ki-Pyung, general secretary of Ecumenical Youth Council in Korea (EYCK).EYCK General secretary Nam Ki-Pyung. Photo: Claus Grue/WCC

EYCK is the youth-arm of National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK)together with which the pilgrimage is co-hosted and have been organized.

Ki-Pyung also points out the importance of bringing youths from different corners of the world together with Korean youths, who often have a different perspective on peace in the Korean peninsula.

”We want to raise attention on a global scale”, he says.

Sunday will be another special day for this group of young pilgrims when the yearly Prayer Worship for Peace and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula is held in the Seoul Gospel Church. And on Monday the International Youth Day will be observed and celebrated around the world.

The pilgrimage of Korean Peninsula is followed by the ECHOS Commission meeting held in Seoul. ECHOS Commission is an advisory body within the WCC.

”The depth of division reminds us of our own stories and the need of reconciliation. We come from all over the world and share similar experiences, but in different contexts. Bringing people together has a healing effect and the sharing of stories help healing wounds”, says ECHOS moderator and WCC Central Committee member Rev. Martina Viktorie Kopecka.

WCC, oikoumene.org