CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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Prayer vigil slated for North Korea

SEOUL (AsiaNews): Leaders of Protestant Churches in Seoul, in the Republic of Korea, have agreed to hold a religious service and a prayer vigil in the Kaesong industrial complex north of the demilitarised zone in the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea.

The prayer service and vigil are scheduled to take place in the chapel of a joint venture between the two Koreas on June 12.

Reverend Han Gie-yang, of the United Church of Korea, confirmed the arrangements for the vigil, but many doubts have been expressed about the faith identity of Christians in the north.

The agreement was reached in Shenyang, China, and is part of a plan to appease relations between Seoul and Pyongyang. The recalcitrant regime in the north plans to launch a missile on April 15 to mark the centennial of the birth of the founder of the state, Kim Il-sung, but South Korea, the United States of America and Japan want to prevent it.

The newly appointed leader of the north, Kim Jong-un, agreed to a moratorium on the country’s nuclear programme in exchange for humanitarian aid for his country, but does not appear willing to back down on the missile launch.

The north has opened its doors to various religious delegations in the past year. South Korean Buddhists have gone on pilgrimage to the north and an inter-confessional Christian group, led by the Catholic bishop of Kwangju, visited Pyongyang in November.

However, the presence of Christians in the north remains doubtful. Despite the existence of two churches in the northern capital, some say that their members are just window dressing for foreigners to look at.

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