Welcome to this edition of The Broken Rifle, focusing on the situ­ation of conscientious objectors in South Korea. This is not the first time War Resisters' International produced an issue on South Korea – the last time we did so was for Prisoners for Peace Day 2003. At that time, about 750 con­scientious objectors were serving prison sentences for their con­scientious objection. While this number has gone down now – according to the website of KSCO about 400 conscientious objectors are presently in prison – the legal situation of conscientious objec­tors has not improved conside­rably since November 2003. For this reason, War Resisters' Inter­national and Korea Solidarity for Conscientious Objection decided to have a focus on South Korea for the International Day on Con­scientious Objection on 15 May 2009.

This issue of The Broken Rifle can only serve as an introduction to the situation of conscientious objectors in South Korea. At the same time, War Resisters' Interna­tional and Korea Solidarity for Con­scientious Objection are pub­lishing a documentation (available at http://wri-irg.org/node/7168), which provides much more in depth information.

The material in this issue of The Broken Rifle and in the docu­mentation shows how much the Korean CO movement has achie­ved in only eight years. But it also shows how important international pressure is in order to bring about change in South Korea. The CO movement has done a lot to mo­bilise the international human rights system, with a landmark decision of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on South Korea. We, as the inter­national conscientious objection movement, now need to play our part. International grassroots support for the Korean CO move­ment is now urgently needed. 15 May 2009 is the opportunity to do so.

Andreas Speck

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