South Korean cardinal returns from trip to inter-Korean industrial complexUpdated: 2014-05-22 06:32:54 (KST)
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung became the first Korean Roman Catholic leader to ever cross the inter-Korean border on Wednesday.
The trip comes amid escalating tensions on the peninsula but after touring the factory zone and meeting with South Korean Catholics there, Cardinal Yeom said he saw hope for the two Koreas.
"By visiting the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where the South and the North must live together, I saw hope that the two Koreas can overcome their pain and sadness. If good-willed people try with an honest heart, I think we can secure peace on the peninsula."
While there were questions on whether the trip was political, the cardinal's delegation said they had no contact with North Korean officials.
Cardinal Yeom, who had been vocal about his desire to hold mass at the Kaesong complex, instead prayed with South Korean Catholics for the two Koreas.
He had planned to hold mass at the joint industrial park last December, but it was scrapped at the last minute, following the execution of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, Jang Song-thaek.
The cardinal's trip comes three months before Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in South Korea for a visit, fueling speculation that the Holy Father could also make a stop in the North.
Pope Francis, who has shown a great deal of interest in peace and reconciliation between the two Koreas, is expected to deliver a message for the entire peninsula when he visits Seoul in August.
However, the Korean Catholic Church said the cardinal's visit was arranged upon request by a group of South Korean Catholics last year, and that the pope has no plans to visit North Korea.
"For now, it remains to be seen whether Cardinal Yeom's trip will contribute to thawing inter-Korean relations.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News."
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