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~Scholars Urge Dialogue, Peaceful Resolution to
North Korea Issue

For immediate release:
June 10, 2003

Mary Ann Hill,

STANFORD, Cal.-- A new alliance of scholars today urged the United States to normalize relations with North Korea, saying that current U.S. policies toward the country escalate tensions and undermine U.S. security and economic interests. Katherine Moon, associate professor of political science at Wellesley College who studies US-Korea relations, is a member of the newly formed group.

Current U.S. policies, including threats of military action and increased economic isolation, further alienate a state that needs to be drawn into engagement in order to resolve the nuclear issue, reduce the threat of proliferation, and achieve a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, according to the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea (ASCK). Current U.S. policies escalate tensions and bring the Korean peninsula perilously close to another war. Another Korean war would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and political and economic destabilization throughout Asia, thereby threatening U.S. security and economic interests.

Normalizing relations, on the other hand, would help create a new and more open framework for dialogue and understanding between the U.S. and North Korea, thereby significantly enhancing international stability and U.S. security. The path to normalization will not be easy, the scholarly alliance warned, and will require real "give and take" negotiations with North Korea. The United States must have the patience and the will to work for peace and stability and take a leading role in engaging North Korea.

ASCK will release a more detailed position statement on June 25, the 53rd anniversary of the start of the Korean War. That three-year-long war (1950-53) resulted in a ceasefire but no peace treaty, and an ongoing U.S. military commitment in the Korean peninsula. Some 37,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed in South Korea.

ASCK Steering Committee members emerged from a daylong meeting June 7 with a plan of action to educate policy makers, political leaders and the public about North Korea and U.S.-North Korea relations. Planned activities include publication of analyses and policy recommendations, advertisements in national publications, a day of teach-ins at universities and colleges throughout the United States on Korea Peace Day, November 6, and a day of visiting Capitol Hill.

Founded on March 29, 2003 at a meeting in New York, the alliance now includes 60 scholars, primarily from the United States, but also from Canada, the Netherlands, South Korea, and New Zealand. According to the ASCK mission statement, the members "believe that current problems on the Korean peninsula and between the U.S. and the two Koreas, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, can only be solved through dialogue, cooperation and the active pursuit of peace. We feel the responsibility to speak out against policies that increase tensions in Northeast Asia and may lead to another catastrophic war in Korea. We wish to add our voices to a constructive discussion on how to achieve a peaceful, unified Korea existing in harmony with its neighbors, including the United States."

Members of the alliance include top scholars in the field of Korea Studies, such as Bruce Cumings, Carter Eckert, James Palais, and David Steinberg. The 12 members of the Steering Committee include experts on U.S.-Korea relations, Korean history, and Korean politics. They bring decades of expertise and experience to their analysis of the current situation and the judgment that normalizing relations is the only path to a peaceful resolution.

For the full text of the mission statement, links to reports by alliance members, a history of the alliance, and other information, please visit the ASCK website at

Professor Moon is available for interviews and can be reached at 202-994-8854 until late August. Beginning in September she can be reached at 781-283-2203.


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