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S. Korean cardinal`s landmark visit to N. Korea

Posted May. 22, 2014 06:28,   


Leipzig, a city in the federal state of Saxony, Germany, which belonged to East Germany before reunification, is a time-honored city famous for commerce and arts. The city has been the venue for commodity fairs since the Middle Age. The arts of Bach, Mendelssohn, Wagner and Goethe blossomed here. Bach wrote the masterpieces of his late life at St. Thomas Church and St. Nicholas Church in the city. St. Nicholas Church was the place where the Monday peace prayers that sparked the German reunification movement. The prayer services began in 1982. From September 1989, many citizens demonstrated for freedom after prayers, spreading the movement to other places. On Nov. 9 in the same year, the Berlin Wall collapsed.

Kaesong might be a North Korean city that resembles Leipzig the most. As the capital city of the ancient Korean Dynasty of Goryeo, the city was opened to the world as a center of international trade. Numerous writers and artists were based in the city, including Seo Gyeong-deok, Hwang Jin-i and Han Seok-bong. Even at a time of escalated confrontation between the two Koreas, more than 50,000 North Korean workers are manufacturing goods for South Korean companies operating at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, dreaming about peace and reunification of the two Koreas.

South Korea`s Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, who is also the designated chief of the Catholic Church`s Pyongyang diocese, paid a landmark visit to North Korea on Wednesday via a land route. Although he paid the visit to meet with South Korean Catholics working at the inter-Korean industrial park, the visit has a significant symbolic meaning. With Pope Francis scheduled to visit Seoul in August, the North`s door opening to the South Korean cardinal has raised expectations that something good can happen between the two Koreas in terms of the Catholic Church.

If the pontiff celebrates Mass to pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula during his visit to the South, the event would draw international attention to the peninsula. Every year, the Catholic Church of South Korea holds various events to pray for peaceful reunification in June, the month when the 1950-1953 Korean War began. The only Catholic church in North Korea is the Jangchung Cathedral, where a pontifical envoy celebrated Mass in October 1988. We hope that the day will come soon when Cardinal Yeom will celebrate Mass at Jangchung Cathedral.