top of page

Women Cross DMZ Responds to Newsweek Opinion Column “North Korean Stooges Step Into the Light"

July 25, 2023

NO WAR; YES PEACE - Women Cross DMZ in Seoul, 2018 (Photo Credit: Jeehyun Kwon)

An opinion piece by Lawrence Peck published in Newsweek, July 14, 2023, alleges that events scheduled in Washington DC on July 27 and 28 calling for an end to the Korean War constitute an “exercise in deception” organized by “pro North Korean groups,” Women Cross DMZ,” and their “dupes.” The events are part of the National Mobilization to End the Korean War, organized by a broad coalition of peace groups, including Women Cross DMZ and Nodutdol.

The Korea Policy Institute is pleased to be a co-sponsor of the National Mobilization to End the Korean War and also signatory to a letter from Nodutdol to the Biden administration, “calling for an end to the ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea.” KPI urges its associates and readers to lend their unqualified support to this national mobilization to end the U.S.’ longest ongoing war.

For further information regarding the national mobilization’s efforts to bring an end to the Korean War, see H.R.1369, the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act. See also Crossings which documents the 2015 journey of international women peacemakers across the Korean DMZ, calling for and end to the Korean War. Crossings is screening on the World Channel for 30 days starting July 22, 2023, and is also available with Korean subtitles.

Women Cross DMZ responded to Lawrence Peck’s opinion piece in an email to Newsweek opinion editor, Jason Fields.

NOTE: On July 14, 2023, Newsweek published an opinion column titled “North Korean Stooges Step Into the Light” by Lawrence Peck. This article contains false statements about Women Cross DMZ intended to undermine our reputation and credibility. On July 15, 2023, we sent the following email to Deputy Opinion Editor Jason Fields asking to retract the article. We are posting it here in order to set the record straight.

Dear Jason,

I am writing to you on behalf of Women Cross DMZ in response to the July 14 opinion column “North Korean Stooges Step Into the Light” by Lawrence Peck. We are deeply disturbed that a widely respected journalistic publication such as Newsweek would publish an article containing false, defamatory, and harmful accusations against our organization and other peace advocates, especially without seeking a response from the subjects of such attacks.

Mr. Peck accuses our organization, Women Cross DMZ, of being “pro-North Korean” and our activities to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula as “an exercise in deception” constituting “a foreign influence operation targeting Congress.” He accuses Women Cross DMZ of working in collaboration with the North Korean government to benefit the Kim Jong Un regime.

These are baseless claims. Among the “evidence” Mr. Peck provides to back his claims is an opinion article—although not labeled as such—in the conservative-leaning Washington Examiner noting that Women Cross DMZ Executive Director Christine Ahn met with a diplomat at the DPRK Mission to the United Nations. To attribute nefarious motives to the meeting is both dishonest and irresponsible. The meeting was a necessary procedural step to arrange the 2015 women’s peace symposium, the DMZ crossing, and subsequent efforts to meet and engage with North Korean women—not, as the article suggests, evidence of collaboration or deception. Women Cross DMZ has also met with representatives of the U.S. and South Korean governments, because we believe that face-to-face engagement is essential to fostering dialogue, trust, and understanding—the building blocks for peace and lasting security.

Mr. Peck also points to statements made by Christine Ahn that are critical of the U.S. military presence in South Korea. Being critical of the fact that the U.S. military poisons the water, robs farmers of their land, and destroys ecosystems — not to mention the annual U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises prompt North Korea to react with provocative military actions — is also not evidence of being “pro-North.” Being pro-peace and pro-engagement does not equal supporting any government.

Our work is widely lauded by prominent experts and leaders, including the former UN Special Rapporteur human rights in the DPRK. Among the broad coalition of allies who stand with Women Cross DMZ are Nobel Peace laureates, feminist authors, peace activists, human rights lawyers, professors, former parliamentarians, faith leaders, humanitarian aid workers, filmmakers, artists, a retired Army Colonel, and a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. Nowhere in Women Cross DMZ’s literature, speeches, media, or reports have we praised the North Korean regime. As our financial reporting demonstrates, we are funded entirely by U.S.-based foundations and individual donors, none of whom are based in North Korea or have any ties to the North Korean government.

Sadly, these attacks to discredit our organization and the growing movement for peace on the Korean Peninsula are nothing new. It is worth noting who is funding these attacks and why.

Of note, Lawrence Peck is the managing editor of the One Korea Network, which has espoused conspiracy theories about election interference in the U.S. and South Korea and has routinely attacked our pro-peace message. It is funded by a largely unknown and wealthy oligarch, Honolulu resident Annie M.H. Chan. As noted in a lengthy investigative report published by The Nation last year, Ms. Chan is the chairwoman of both One Korea Network and the Korea Conservative Political Action Conference, the South Korean branch of the Conservative Political Action Conference. In 2021, One Korea Network and the Korea Conservative Political Action Conference paid for fear-mongering advertisements, including full-page ads in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and a Times Square billboard, attacking bills supporting peace on the Korean Peninsula and family reunions with Korean Americans and their loved ones in North Korea.

Ms. Chan appears to have financial motivations for these attacks. She is a director of IP3 International, which markets the export of U.S. nuclear technology around the world in a global energy race against Russia and China. At one point Ms. Chan was also listed as director of “strategy & innovation” at IP3’s subsidiary, Allied Nuclear, which “helps international governments procure U.S. nuclear technology.”

According to investigative reporter Eli Clifton, “Chan’s One Korea Network appears to echo the perspectives of IP3 and Allied Nuclear, cheering South Korea’s plans to export nuclear power technology and to maintain the country’s existing nuclear technology.” Chan is pushing radical conspiracy theories to fan the flames of great power competition between the US and China, which would clearly benefit her business interests.

Mr. Peck must not be given a platform to repeat his conspiracy theories about Korea peace activists without disclosing the financial motives of such attacks. In light of the falsehoods and conspiracies throughout Mr. Peck’s article, as well as the fact that it fails to meet basic journalistic principles of fairness, we request that you retract this article in its entirety. At the very least, in the interest of fairness, we hope you will give us a similar platform to explain why we advocate for peace.

Amid a dangerous escalation in tensions on the Korean Peninsula, we urge Newsweek to refrain from amplifying baseless accusations seeking to discredit the longstanding efforts of organizations and individuals who have dedicated their lives to building lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. In the future, we hope you will invest in nuanced, evidence-based reporting and cover the full diversity of perspectives on this issue. Thank you for your attention.

bottom of page