03/30/2012, 00.00
KOREA
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"Praying together in North Korea," Korean Christians say

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
The meeting is set for 12 June in the chapel of the Kaesong industrial complex, an inter-Korean joint venture. Tensions remain high on the peninsula because of a missile launch. The presence of Christians in North Korea raises doubts.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - South Korea's Protestant leaders agreed to hold a religious service and a prayer vigil in the North. The event will take place in the chapel of the Kaesong industrial complex, a joint venture between the two Koreas, on 12 June. Rev Han Gie-yang, of the United Church of Korea, confirmed the meeting but many sources have doubts about the identity (and faith) of northern Christians.

The agreement was reached in Shenyang, China, and is part of a plan to appease relations between Seoul and Pyongyang. The Stalinist regime plans to launch a missile on 15 April to mark the centennial of the birth of the founding of the state, Kim Il-sung, but South Korea, the United States and Japan want to prevent it.

North Korea's new dictator, Kim Jong-un, agreed to a moratorium on its nuclear programme in exchange for humanitarian aid for his country, but does not appear willing to back down on the missile launch.

North Korea has opened its doors to various religious delegations in the past year. South Korean Buddhists have gone on pilgrimage to the North. An inter-confessional Christian group, led by the catholic bishop of Gwangju, visited Pyongyang in November.

However, the presence of Christians in the North remains doubtful. Despite the existence of two churches in the northern capital, many believe they (and their members) are a smokescreen for foreign consumption.

 

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