12/12/2005, 00.00
russia - north korea
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North Korean Orthodox clergy to be trained in Russia

The delegation of 4 clerics will be trained for three months. Archbishop Veniamin of Vladivostok talks about problems the orthodox clergy have to tackle in North Korea.

Vladivostok (AsiaNews) - A delegation of North Korean Orthodox clergy has come to Vladivostok from Pyongyang. The four North Korean clerics will be trained for three months at St. Nicholas's Cathedral, mastering practical skills of conducting the Orthodox liturgy in Church Slavonic.

The delegation is led by Peter Kim Chkher, deputy chairman of the Orthodox Committee in North Korea. It includes two Korean deacons, Theodore and Ioann, and a graduate of the Gnesiny Music School, Kim En Chang, who will study church music in Vladivostok.

The Orthodox Committee has been created in 2002: fr. Dionisy Pozdnyayev, a Russian Orthodox priest from the Moscow Patriarchate invited by the North Korean government to minister to foreign nationals in the North Korean capital said that the creation of an Orthodox Committee "marks the official recognition of Orthodoxy".

Archbishop Veniamin of Vladivostok and Primorye at his meeting with the North Korean brothers talked about the problems the Orthodox clergy have to tackle in their country and was invited to come for the consecration of the Church of the Trinity in Pyongyang. The construction of this church is planned to be completed next August.

The ground for the new church was blessed on June 24, 2003 by Kliment Kapalin, Archbishop of Kaluga and Borovsk: North Korean representatives said that it was important that Orthodox believers in Pyongyang have the opportunity to practise their faith and expressed hope that the church would strengthen ties between Russia and North Korea. For Russian ambassador to North Korea Andrei Karlov the church marks "the return of Orthodoxy to Korea after a long break".

By the early 1900's some 10,000 Koreans converted to Orthodoxy as a result of Russian missioners' work in cities like Seoul (South Korea) and Wonsan (North Korea) and several villages. However, Japanese colonial rule and the Stalinist regime in the north cut short the process of evangelisation.

Missionary activity did start again in South Korea where there are now four Orthodox churches

The Vladivostok's delegation is not the first on Russian ground: four North Koreans are studying at the Moscow Patriarchate's Theological Seminary. Two Russian students from the Moscow Theological Academy are also currently studying the Korean language and culture at Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung University.

Fr. Dionisy said the 4 from Pyongyang are concentrating on the study of Russian (Church Slavonic included) and the catechism to prepare for baptism.

Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia has approved the choice of Vladivostok the Orthodox Committee made for training Korean clergy.

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