Rason (AsiaNews) The Rason International Catholic Hospital opened on August 5, 2005, in Rason, Hamgyeongbuk-do province, eastern North Korea. The hospital was built with the assistance of the Catholic International Cooperation Medical Service and thanks to the cooperation between the Congregation of St. Ottilien of the Benedictine Order and the Korean Catholic Church.
The three-story building covers an area of 25,000 sq. metres and is equipped with facilities for medical diagnosis and treatment. It has 100 beds and employs 80 doctors, nurses and medical staff.
"Catholic hospitals give hope for peace and cooperation. I hope that this hospital also can pave a way for further cooperation," St. Ottilien Abbot Notker Wolf (OSB) said.
"It is a happy occasion that a hospital can open in North Korea with the concern and assistance of the Church," said Mgr Paul Ri Moun-hi, Archbishop of Daegu (South Korea) and head of the Catholic Foundation that funded the project.
"The effort of the Catholic Church for the reconciliation and unity of the two Koreas is an important mission not only for the Korean people but also for the peace of all humanity," he added.
There is no religious freedom in North Korea and the food and health situation of the population is disastrous.
Mgr Cheong Jin-suk, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, appealed on August 17 for religious freedom in the North, saying that it would "go along with socio-economic improvements in the country".