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Catholics lead in South Korean movement against nuclear power


South Korean Catholics take the lead in protesting against nuclear power, PRI, May 11, 2017, By Matthew Bell Standing up to his own government is nothing new for Moon Kyu-hyun. The 70-year-old Jesuit priest from South Korea made international news back in 1989, when he crossed the border into North Korea illegally.

The Catholic priest’s unsanctioned trip was a political act of defiance against South Korea’s strict National Security Law, which prohibited people in the South from almost any contact with North Korea.

The Rev. Moon was promptly arrested when he returned to the South. And he ended up spending three and a half years in prison.

“Peace and hope is what life is all about,” Moon says, reflecting on lessons learned during his time in jail.

In that same spirit, Moon — whose Christian name is Paul — is part of a group of Catholic clergy taking the lead in a growing anti-nuclear movement in South Korea.  Moon says he is opposed to nuclear weapons, including the North Korean nuclear program that’s been a big part of rising tensions in northeast Asia. But he’s also against recent US actions on the Korean peninsula.

“THAAD is a weapon of war. You can’t be for peace if you’re preparing for war,” Moon says, referring to the anti-missile system recently deployed by the US military in South Korea.

Beyond the nuclear security issue though, Moon and other Catholic leaders are pressuring the South Korean government to rethink the country’s dependence on nuclear power. That is no small order, as this is a country that relies on more than two dozen nuclear power plants for about a third of its electricity.

“Getting rid of nuclear power is the only way to survive, to save ourselves, and save the world,” Moon says during a recent anti-nuclear demonstration in downtown Seoul, where Catholic priests and nuns announced an effort to collect a million signatures in support of their campaign…….

“It’s directly against God’s intention,” Cho says. All Christians, he adds, “believe that God created the universe, and there is the divine order.” Cho says the threat posed by nuclear energy goes against that divine order……..

Catholics here have also forged a somewhat surprising alliance. Japan and Korea have a long and troubled history, to put it mildly. But every year since 2012, Kim Hyun-joo has been part of a group of Korean Catholics who meet up with Japanese Catholics to work together on anti-nuclear protest activities. Kim is an anti-nuclear activist with the Society of Jesus in Seoul……..

Catholic leaders in Korea are following the example of Pope Francis. They say the environment is now a top priority, although they acknowledge the campaign against nuclear power is a going to be a long, uphill struggle……..

the best news for Catholic anti-nuclear activists came when Moon, during the campaign, pledged to cut back drastically on the government’s plans to expand the nuclear power industry. https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-05-11/south-korean-catholics-take-lead-protesting-against-nuclear-power

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May 12, 2017 - Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Religion and ethics, South Korea

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