U.S. should take small steps toward peace with North Korea

The United States needs to lead the way toward peace with North Korea by lowering hostility and taking small steps toward normalizing the relationship, according to local scholar Linda Lewis.

Conflict between the United States and North Korea seems to defy solution, but that needn’t be the case.

Linda Lewis, who has studied the Korean Peninsula for decades and works with North Koreans regularly, believes that sometimes the path to peace starts with small things — interactions that help people get to know each other and build trust, opportunities to solve everyday problems and discover that it’s possible to work together.

The long enmity between the two countries has devolved into nuclear threats. That false alarm of missiles headed for Hawaii emphasized how believable such an attack has become. We desperately need to step back from that insanity.

“The Korean War is not over,” Lewis said. “I think Americans lose sight of that.” The fighting has been on pause since the 1953 armistice, but the antagonists haven’t gotten to real peace yet.

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Lewis and her husband recently moved to Redmond, where he has family. Until October they’d lived for seven years in Dalian, China, from where she ran an agricultural-assistance program in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as the China/DPRK country representative for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker outreach organization. She now runs the program from here.

Lewis is neither a farmer nor a Quaker but a Korea scholar who shares the values that Quaker international work is built on. Quakers stress the common humanity of all people and “the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.”

Her own interest began when she was a junior in high school. Her father, a chemistry professor, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and took the family to spend a year in India. The program…

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