On July 23, a U.S. solidarity peace delegation arrived in South Korea to express solidarity with the Korean people fighting the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system and to call for a “fundamental resolution to [the] conflict on the peninsula and in the region.”
The peace delegation includes 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin, U.S. Labor Against the War National Coordinator Reece Chenault, Veterans For Peace representative Will Griffin, and Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific (STIK) Coordinating Committee member Juyeon Rhee. The delegation, organized by STIK and the Channing and Popai Liem Education Foundation (CPLEF), will meet with various organizations, communities, and elected officials committed to peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The delegation will also call on the governments of the U.S. and South Korea to do the following:
- Remove THAAD from South Korea;
- Halt the arms race on the Korean peninsula by ending the U.S.-South Korea war games in favor of an agreement by North Korea to freeze its production of nuclear weapons and missile testing; and
- Engage in diplomacy with North Korea to end the Korean War with a peace treaty, normalize relations with North Korea and support all efforts by the Korean people to achieve the peaceful reunification of their country.
Not all members of the delegation, however, were able to make it into South Korea. Juyeon Rhee, the coordinator of the delegation, was denied entry into South Korea by the South Korean government on July 22. Rhee was blocked from boarding a Delta Airlines flight on her way to South Korea from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. In response to the South Korean government’s entry ban on the peace activist, over 200 supporters sent emails to the Moon Jae-in administration to demand that Rhee’s ban be lifted.
Among the individuals that sent the protest message to President Moon were prominent peace advocates, including:
Chase Iron Eyes, Liberation Alley, Standing Rock Sioux Nation
Chris Hedges, Recipient of Pulitzer Prize and Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism
Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace laureate
Miko Peled, Israeli-American author, Palestinian human rights activist
Jill Stein, 2016 Presidential Candidate, Green Party USA
Alice Walker, American Novelist, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize Winner
Upon their arrival in Seoul, Medea Benjamin and Will Griffin stood with representatives of South Korea’s National Action to Oppose THAAD Deployment for a press conference at Incheon Airport. They demanded the Moon administration take Rhee off South Korea’s entry ban list and announced that the peace delegation’s trip will continue as planned.
An official press conference with all members of the peace delegation who were allowed entry into South Korea will be held in the morning of July 25 (Korea Time).