South Korean peacemakers meet British peace groups

  • Theresa Alessandro

Bruce Kent with Bargn Nuri group

Bruce Kent with Bargn Nuri group

The Bargn Nuri community is an intentional Christian community living in South Korea. Over a period of 30 years, the community has grown to 300 members. Bargn Nuri means 'bright world'. The community live their values of 'life and peace' making sure these values direct their relationships with each other and with the land. They are also working for harmony and collaboration between North and South Korea, by a combination of the example of their lives as well as speaking against the militarisation they experience in Korea, the unjust consequences of imperialism and nuclear weapons.

In 2017, they embarked on a 1000-day pilgrimage, visiting hundreds of locations in five countries. They pray for victims of war and conflict in each location and meet with local peacebuilders.

On Monday 27 January, Christian CND and the Anglican Pacifist fellowship hosted a meeting at St Ethelburga's in London. The event was co-chaired by Pax Christi Director Theresa Alessandro and Alice Kim of the Bargn Nuri community. There was a Samulnori symbolic drumming presentation, full of sound and energy. Bruce Kent, Vice-President of CND and of Pax Christi, spoke about his own journey to becoming a peacemaker. The Koreans referred to him as 'our grandfather'. A short film was shown and Cheolho Choi, the leader of the Bargn Nuri community, spoke about their vision of a unified Korea in which people will be able to flourish in peace, living the kind of ecologically-balanced village community lifestyles the Bargn Nuri already practice. Cheolho said 'Violence cannot achieve peace. The only way to achieve peace is peace itself'. He spoke of the 'lie of peace based on strong military power': words which resonated with the UK peacemakers present. He then went on to describe a sophisticated, thoroughly-planned vision for a North East Asia peace system in which, starting with re-unification of the Korean peninsula, a neutral, peaceful Korea would provide stability for the whole region. The heavily-militarised, divisive, unjust balance of power between North Korea and China on the one hand and South Korea and America on the other, could be transformed into a balance resting on peace and justice for the benefit of everyone living in the region.

Martin Tiller, Co-Chair of Christian CND and Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND, also addressed the group. Martin said that as Christians we know that hope is stronger than fear and it is our hope that helps us to continue to work for peace despite our fear of nuclear or climate catastrophe. Kate also made links with climate change. She talked about how CND is a founder member of Extinction Rebellion Peace and is working to articulate all the connections between climate and peace.

After lunch, there was a panel discussion. Among other questions, Theresa asked Cheolho about his experience of the peace movement in the UK, compared with other parts of the world that he has visited in the last two years - are we doing enough? Cheolho replied that the peace movement in the UK is 'beautiful'. However he highlighted that the UK has an imperial past and the injustices of our imperialism continue for some people. He said that there is a difference between working for peace in a place of stability and working for peace in places where (military) violence is present. He challenged us to also transform our lifestyles into peaceful ones, in harmony with creation, alongside campaigning on issues such as nuclear weapons.

The group headed to Parliament Square to do some more public drumming, prayer and witness for peace.

See a video about the Bargn Nuri community: and they have a website too:

Tags: Peace, Korea, Bargn Nuri

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