Seoul Cardinal Visits North Korea

Says Talking to People With Good Will Can Bring Peace to Korean Peninsula

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Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul, Wednesday paid a one-day visited to Kaesong Industrial Complex, marking the first time in history that a Korean Cardinal visited the inter-Korean industrial park in North Korea’s border city of Kaesong.

Accompanied by six priests and two staff members from the Archdiocese of Seoul, Cardinal Yeom met with the South Korean Catholic workers in the factory and toured related facilities.

Considering the current situation, a Holy Mass was not held during the visit.

“I saw hope overcoming the pain and sorrow between North and South Korea,” said the cardinal upon his return from Kaesong. “I believe that peace can be brought to the Korean Peninsula if we talk to people with good will and make sincere effort.”

Cardinal Yeom, being also the Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, has made several attempts to visit North Korea since he was appointed as the Archbishop of Seoul in May 2012.

Catholic workers from Kaesong met with Cardinal Yeom in August 2013, when the complex was closed due to the tension between North and South Korea. Cardinal Yeom promised to visit the complex after it reopened.

The Cardinal initially planned to visit Kaesong last Christmas Day to celebrate Christmas Mass with the workers there, but the serious political tension forced him to cancel the trip. A request to visit was made again this year, and the North Korean government finally approved on May 19.

Fr. Hur Young-yup, the spokesperson of Seoul Archdiocese, explained in a briefing that the cardinal did not meet with any North Korean officials and that the visit “has nothing to do with the upcoming papal visit.”

Fr. Hur also expressed the Church’s desire of continuous exchange with North Korea. “Cardinal Yeom hopes to visit not only Kaesong but also other regions of the North,” he said. “We would like to interact with the Catholic Church of North Korea, if given the chance.”

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