Refusing to let a chance to achieve lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula slip away and warning against "return to a rhetoric of nuclear annihilation," a group of peace activists, foreign policy experts, and ordinary Koreans gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Seoul on Friday to call on President Donald Trump to reverse his cancellation of the June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and immediately return to the negotiating table.
"I do worry that Mr. Trump has made things more dangerous for us in Korea and I just hope that no-one pushes the button."
—Anonymous North Korean woman
"The people of both North and South Korea, and especially women, have worked too long and have come too close to reaching the first steps towards the signing of a Peace treaty to see the talks collapse," Christine Ahn, Korea expert and founder of Women Cross DMZ, said in a statement on Thursday. "We know that a diplomacy can be difficult. However, peace in the Korean Peninsula cannot have any more setbacks. It's been too long. It has been overdue more than 70 years."
Trump's announcement that the scheduled summit will not take place was met with dismay by both North and South Koreans.
"You can't imagine rooting for peace for so long and then see it being taken away," a woman who fled North Korea in 2006 said in an interview with the BBC on Friday.
Another North Korean, whose name was not revealed to protect her identity, told the BBC "we can't give up on the idea of peace in Korea yet."
"I do worry that Mr. Trump has made things more dangerous for us in Korea and I just hope that no-one pushes the button," she added.
Responding to Trump's abrupt decision cancel to the planned meeting with Kim on Thursday—which many experts blamed on the White House national security adviser and top warmonger John Bolton—North Korean officials signaled once again a willingness to negotiate with the U.S. and said their "commitment to doing our best for the sake of peace and stability for the world and the Korean Peninsula remains unchanged."
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In an appearance on Democracy Now! on Friday, Ahn of Women Cross DMZ said "80 million hearts are broken across the Korean Peninsula" after Trump scrapped the planned summit. As Ahn spoke, Koreans gathered for a candlelight vigil to mourn the faltering peace talks and urge both the U.S. and North Korea to resume diplomatic discussions.
At candlelight vigil in Seoul, #koreans express anger at @realDonaldTrump for cancelling summit and destroying momentum for peace @WomenCrossDMZ @NobelWomen #WomenPeaceKorea pic.twitter.com/bbaiN7QxNM
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) May 25, 2018
"I say to President Trump and Chairman Kim: be courageous and sit down and work for peace and reunification for Korean families and the Korean peninsula," said peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire in a statement on Thursday. "Every day you hesitate, someone dies and will not get a chance to be reunited and to see their families."
Watch the peace rally that took place outside the U.S. Embassy in South Korea on Friday: