Three farmers stand in a field. A tractor is in the rows in the distance.
MCC Photo/Colin Vanderberg

Members of a delegation from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) at a research farm in Carman, in the Canadian province of Manitoba. The delegation’s visit in July 2018, accompanied by MCC staff in Canada, focused on agricultural areas of Manitoba and sharing sustainable farming practices.

MCC has provided humanitarian assistance to the people of North Korea for more than 25 years. But this work has always been within the broader context of MCC’s commitment to peace and a recognition that all people are created in God’s image and have dignity.

“We get almost daily messages in the West about why we shouldn’t like and shouldn’t trust the people of North Korea,” says Rick Cober Bauman, Executive Director of MCC Canada. “At MCC we’ve decided not to accept that single, simple narrative.”

The simple narrative can be difficult to challenge. A 2018 Gallup poll found that more than 50% of people in the U.S. considered North Korea to be the United States’ “greatest enemy.”

As tensions have escalated, so has the United States’ isolation of North Korea. The U.S. blocks all its citizens from traveling to North Korea with the exception of humanitarian workers and journalists. U.S. sanctions prohibit all trade and financial transactions with North Korea and require special exemptions for even the most basic humanitarian items.

Unfortunately, hostility between the U.S. and North Korea has translated into fear-based narratives that can dehumanize North Korean people.

MCC has long advocated for greater opportunities for engagement with people in North Korea, believing that peace comes not through isolation or aggression but through personal connections, dialogue and relationships that contribute to mutual understanding.

North Korea’s borders have been closed due to COVID-19 since January 2020. When borders open again, we call on the U.S. government to remove restrictions on travel, partnerships and exchanges, allowing for the sort of connections that MCC has been cultivating for more than 25 years.

The path toward peace on the Korean Peninsula is complex, but it cannot be achieved without the Korean people. We encourage policies of diplomacy, dialogue and humanitarian assistance as we work toward lasting peace.