Pope Francis, who prayed for peace on the divided Korean peninsula during his first Easter mass last year, has chosen Korea as his first Asian country to visit.
(Italian: YTN 8/9 )
"I will come visit you with happiness to share the Gospel of love and hope in the name of Christ."
The pope's message of peace and reconciliation at the final mass of his trip could offer a breakthrough in strained inter-Korean ties, at a time when the two Koreas are hoping to confirm North Korea's participation at the upcoming Asian Games in the South Korean city of Incheon.
Attention also turns to President Park Geun-hye's Liberation Day speech on Friday.
Having recently launched her reunification preparatory committee, the South Korean president is expected to seek better relations with the North. (and perhaps even propose a new round of inter-Korean family reunions or high-level government talks.)
But Pyongyang's nuclear threats against Seoul and Washington's annual military drills later this month could negatively affect such efforts.
Reflecting his dedication to the marginalized and those who are suffering, Pope Francis plans to console during his trip the aging Korean victims of Japan's forced sexual enslavement during wartime.
Although the pope will refrain from political intervention, his talks with former sex slaves, as well as with President Park, are hoped to renew efforts to better ties between the two regional neighbors.
Choi You-sun, Arirang News.