Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Christian leaders from South and North Korea will meet in Pyongyang on Oct. 24 to discuss how to promote peace to the Korean Peninsula and exchanges of churches, the South Korean organizer said Friday.
South Korea's National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) said it will visit the North's capital city for seven days together with delegates from the World Council of Churches (WCC), a worldwide inter-church organization.
The Korean Christian Federation from the North will participate in the meeting, which is called the "Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula."
"This meeting, a follow-up to a statement adopted during the WCC Busan assembly in 2013, will discuss ways to settle peace on the Korean Peninsula and promote exchanges and cooperation with North Korean churches," a NCCK official was quoted as saying in a media report.
The forum was launched in 2006 by the three parties under the original title, "A Consortium for the Development of North Korean Society." It was renamed to encourage participation from world churches in inter-Korean peace and reunification efforts.
The North reportedly bans any religious activity because it is deemed by state authorities as a violation of the state leader Kim Jong-un's rule, according to North Korean defectors in South Korea.
Adamant to prove that religious freedom exists in the country, North Korean authorities are quick to point out that religious freedom is guaranteed in the country's constitution.
According to official figures, there are an estimated 10,000 Buddhists, 10,000 Protestants and 4,000 Catholics registered with officially sanctioned religious organisations. In Pyongyang itself there are three churches: two Protestant and one Catholic.
However, according to AsiaNews sources in North Korea, worship in such churches is less than traditional. 'Dear Leader' worship seems to be the main staple in the Protestant churches and in the capital's one Catholic church religious practice involves a once-a-week collective prayer but with no priest.