The occasion is the 70th anniversary of relations between the two countries. The announcement came during a meeting at the North Korean embassy with diplomats and representatives of the North Korean Orthodox Committee. As “Church, we would also be ready to develop and strengthen humanitarian ties,” Kirill said.
Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Leader of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) Patriarch Kirill is ready to send a delegation to Pyongyang to celebrate the 70th anniversary of relations between the two countries.
Kirill himself made the announcement two days ago during a meeting with members of the Orthodox Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) in Moscow.
On this occasion, the patriarch thanked North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for his personal "attention" to the ROC presence in Pyongyang, i.e. the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity. He also invited Kim to visit the building.
North Korean Ambassador Kim Hyun-jun and other North Korean diplomats were present at the meeting.
In his address, Kirill called for greater involvement of Russia in the Korean peace talks, adding “for our part, as the Church, we would also be ready to develop and strengthen humanitarian ties, including expanding contacts between believers of our countries.”
Kirill praised North Korea for their participation in the Church, specifically for sending young people to study at the Khabarovsk Theological Seminary.
“I believe that with the advent of the Orthodox clergy in North Korea, the needs of Orthodox believers there will be met,” he explained.
Kirill had previously travelled to Pyongyang when he was a metropolitan bishop to celebrate the opening of the church building in south Pyongyang in 2006.
The Church of the Life-Giving Trinity was built with assistance from the ROC after a 2002 trip to Moscow by the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.
Kirill is not the first religious leader to seek a relationship with believers in North Korea. After the meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un, Card Andrea Yeom Soo-jung expressed his wish to travel to Pyongyang as soon as possible.
In addition to the Orthodox Church, North Korea has three Protestant churches (Bongsu, Chilgol and Jeil) and one Catholic (Jangchung Cathedral).
However, critics note these are a mere " pretence" for outsiders. In fact, although the Constitution recognises religious freedom, people caught handing out sacred texts or involved in the network of underground Churches are arrested or executed.