Bishops Convey Hope for Peace in Korean Peninsula

North Korean Government Proposes Joint Event That Could Jumpstart Dialogue

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Korean Bishops expressed hope that North Korea’s recent proposal to host a joint event commemorating the inter-Korean Summit of 2001 “is a sign that the door of hope can be re-opened.

The 2000 summit marked the beginning of a detente and rapprochement phase (the so-called «sunshine policy») between the two countries. The summit of 2000 ended with an historic agreement between the leaders Kim Dae-jung (South Korea) and Kim Jong-il (North Korea) which provided for economic cooperation, meetings of separated families, renewed dialogue between the governments.

North Korea proposes to celebrate that event in the town of Kaeseong or Mount Geumgangsan. The two countries held joint annual celebrations in Mount Geumgangsan from 2001 until 2008, when the crisis of the bilateral relations marked the interruption.

The proposal comes at a time when the tension between the two Koreas is high, and after threats of a «nuclear war» launched by Pyongyang. It does however show a willingness by the communist North to resume joint projects with the South.

According to Fides News Agency, Archbishop Igino Kim Hee-joong  of Kwanju, President of the Episcopal Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and of the «Korean Conference Religions for Peace», an organization that brings together Korean religious leaders, hoped that the proposed event will help reduce tensions between both sides.

«Of course, the government of Seoul said it will evaluate the proposal well, since it affects the start of a sincere process of rapprochement,» Archbishop Kim Hee-joong said.

«On our behalf – he continues – we hope to resume the work of interreligious dialogue soon: we sent to Pyongyang the proposal for an inter- Korean meeting of religious leaders, such as those held in previous years. We hope to get a positive response soon.»

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