North Korea Working Group

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North Korea Working Group

The Working Group aims to improve relations and understanding between Australians and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Purpose

The North Korea Working Group is helping Sejin Pak of Adelaide Meeting to forward his Concern for better relations with and greater knowledge of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK - North Korea).

Origin of the Working Group

Sejin Pak is an Australian citizen who was born in South Korea, leaving when he was 15 year of age. He then lived in Brazil, Canada, the USA and Japan. His initial studies were in physics but hearing that his lost grandfather was alive in DPRK he was moved to change academic discipline as kinship ties gave him a desire for peace with DPRK.

As a consequence he completed a PhD in Sociology at Harvard and then for 24 years he lectured at the University of Adelaide. His research and teaching was in industrial and development sociology, East Asian political economy, and Japanese society. In 2016 he retired and so he has time to seriously engage in the issue of peace in the Korean Peninsula, an issue close to his heart as like millions of North and South Koreans he too has a wish for peace.

Sejin has visited the DPRK on a couple of occasions. Following discussions with him at Yearly Meeting in 2017 and 2018 a group of 11 other Friends went with him on a study tour to the DPRK for a week in October 2018.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has a long history of involvement in Korea over many years. Their current program helps farmers in the DPRK raise farm productivity. The study group were able to see one of the cooperative farms that American Quakers have helped in the past and to contact senior officials in the DPRK Department of Agriculture.

Following the tour, nine of the Friends formed the North Korea Working Group to forward Sejin’s Concern and to develop further actions relating to the DPRK.

The Tour

The tour took place from 13 to 20 October 2018 and details can be found on the Tour page. Because of the previous humanitarian work carried out by the American Friends Service Committee for several decades, Quakers are known to the DPRK authorities. This meant that we went to a number of non-tourist places and met with officials from the DPRK Ministry of Agriculture. We also realised that thousands of tourists visit the DPRK each year, mainly from China and Taiwan.

Further developments

On their return, nine of the tour group formed the North Korea Working Group to look at further activities. These have included

  • discussions on whether Australian Quakers could assist sustainable agricultural practices, possibly with a farm in the DPRK
  • talking to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about their negative travel warnings on their website and Australia’s attitude to the United Nations sanctions on the DPRK
  • giving talks in Australia about our trip and publicising possible peace activities in the DPRK
  • looking at organising future tourist trips to the DPRK.

At the Standing Committee of Quakers in Australia in January the Group was supported and the Committee is recommending that it become an official Working Group of Australia Yearly Meeting.

Links

Our links page provides more information about the DPRK.

The Members of the Working Group are:

Sejin Pak, Wilma Davidson, Sue Ennis, Adrian Glamorgan, Dale Hess, Rae Litting, Rowe Morrow, Roger Sawkins and David Swain.