06/11/2018, 13.49
KOREA-VATICAN
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Msgr. Lazzaro You: South and North Koreans are forcing the great powers to peace

by Lazzaro You Heung Sik

The Bishop of Daejeon says economic and strategic interests involving Japan, Russia, the US and China tend to keep the peninsula divided, but the Korean people want peace. Kim Jong-un's requests: insurances for his safety; aid to the people of the North. Moon has managed to win everyone's trust. For the South Koreans this opening and dialogue was unexpected, perhaps dreamed of. Prepare to evangelize the North.

Daejeon (AsiaNews) - "The Korean people, those from the South and the North, want peace, a just peace. The limitations and delays come from the great powers, which out of their own interests want to keep the Korean peninsula divided. But our desire for peace has pushed them to today's event, the meeting between President Trump and leader Kim Jong-un. " This is the simple analysis that Msgr. Lazzaro You Heung-sik has entrusted to AsiaNews on the eve of the summit between the two leaders in Singapore. Msgr. You is Bishop of Daejeon and President of the Episcopal Commission for Society.

Tomorrow's meeting between President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong-un was almost impossible to imagine until a few months ago. Then, after it was decided, there was a rethink by Trump. But what gave the impetus was the tenacity with which the inter-Korean dialogue was carried out, particularly between President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un.

The Korean people, those from the South and the North, want peace, a just peace. The limitations and delays are the work of the great powers, whose interests lie in keeping the Korean peninsula divided. But our desire for peace has pushed them to today's event, the meeting between President Trump and leader Kim Jong-un.

There is a need to stir hearts and for this reason we have organized some prayer novenas in several dioceses of South Korea, which concluded today, on the eve of the summit. Pope Francis is also close to us and yesterday at the Angelus he prayed that the Singapore talks "can contribute to the development of a positive path, which will ensure a peaceful future for the Korean Peninsula and for the whole world".

Our situation and our future depends on the great powers, on economic and strategic interests involving Japan, Russia, the US and China. But we can overcome these problems by asking God and Mary, Queen of Korea, to change hearts and work for our reconciliation.

The great powers were the ones that have wanted division and war in Korea. This has led to many wounds and hatred among us too. But now, after 65 years, the time has come to find a just peace. By now the relationship between the two Koreas is sincere and on the right track, also thanks to the determined commitment of President Moon.

It must be said that this inter-Korean dialogue - and tomorrow's meeting with Trump - are also important for Kim Jong-un. North Korea is also evolving. We must not forget that Kim Jong-un has done much more than his predecessors for his people. To find solutions to the misery and defeat of the economy, he gave the land to the peasants, asking them for only 10% of their revenues for the State. This has in fact created a free market, through which North Koreans manage to get food and exchange surplus produce with other goods. It must be said that since Kim Jong-un came to power there have been fewer deaths in North Korea and fewer attempts to flee abroad.

Moreover, his predecessors lived like emperors, dominating the population. But now, in Pyongyang and in the North there are at least 4 million smartphones (even if the internet connection is still prohibited) and therefore you can no longer keep people captive and under control for a long time. It is time to expand the network also in the North.

What Kim asks is first of all is security for his own safety and then security and economic aid for his population. The US wants him to renounce nuclear weapons first; in the future then there will be economic aid. Instead, Kim wants the two things to go hand in hand. I hope that in Singapore, the US will accept this latest solution.

A final word must be said about President Moon. He is a great politician who has managed to create trust with everyone: with the North, with Japan, with Russia, with the USA and with China, and also with the people of the South. For us South Koreans this opening and these dialogue were almost unexpected, perhaps dreamed of. And now, the end of an atmosphere of war and division is near.

Finally, I would like to highlight the responsibility of the Church in Korea for the evangelization of the North. As is well known, for 65 years, the Church in North Korea (there are two dioceses and a territorial abbey) has remained as a Church without a shepherd, in total silence. This saddens me deeply. Foreign missionaries came to North Korea before the Korean War and described Pyongyang as the Jerusalem of Asia, because there were so many conversions to Jesus Christ. We, Catholics of the South, must think seriously about our missionary commitment to our brothers and sisters in the North. They too have a right to hear the Gospel and we have the responsibility [to bring it to them]. I believe that this work of evangelization is the best service we can give to our brothers and sisters in the North. This is why we should prepare ourselves well, both spiritually and materially.

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