Providing a reconciliatory presence in a time of hostility is the guiding vision for our work in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK/North Korea) in both program and advocacy work. MCC is uniquely positioned as an organization that offers humanitarian assistance in the DPRK while also advocating for a path towards engagement and dialogue to reduce hostilities at a governmental level.
In 2016, a new coalition of organizations came together to explore strategies and small steps that could be taken to encourage dialogue between the U.S. government and the DPRK. Working closely with other like-minded organizations, MCC promotes the idea of people-to-people exchanges as one possibility. This type of program has been a precursor to diplomacy in many other countries where the U.S. previously withheld diplomatic ties.
Although publicly many policymakers are skeptical about making progress with the DPRK, privately they acknowledge that the current policy of “strategic patience” has not yielded results. We hope to continue promoting exchanges as a way forward, reflecting our organizational commitment to reconciliation, even in places where that is difficult. —Charissa Zehr