Maryknoll Superior: there is a new atmosphere of peace in Korea

The expedition of the Eugene Bell Foundation to the North took place in a new "relaxed" atmosphere. In South Korea too, most people trust in peace. The tears of hope of separated families. Moon’s party in crushing victory at local and supplementary elections: "The people of the South want to take the opportunity to get closer to the North"

Seoul (AsiaNews) - A new atmosphere of peace is being breathed in the Korean peninsula. US Maryknoll missionary in South Korea, Fr. Gerard Hammond, has worked for years in the North with the activities of the Eugene Bell Foundation a humanitarian organization.

Every six months, the foundation sends aid to 1,500 North Korean patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis. Fr. Hammond, 84, accompanies the expedition for the distribution of medicines and food rations. The last one was held from April 30 to May 12, a few days after the historical inter-Korean summit in Panmjom.

"People seemed more relaxed - the missionary comments - it was a more peaceful journey, with less tensions. The officials of the Ministry of Public Health met us and listened. I mentioned to them that the Korean peninsula needs three things: peace, reconciliation between the peoples of the South and the North, and dialogue. They agreed".

The more peaceful atmosphere is "without a doubt a first sign of change. I hope there will be more openings, more dialogue between the parties, more opportunities for the Church to bring humanitarian aid ".

The missionary's hopes are shared by the majority of the South Korean people: "They were really frightened of a war. There is much more trust in peace. The people who have separated families were crying, because they feel there is more hope now than before for them.  In general, I believe there is a positive response, especially from the Church. People understand that it is no longer going towards war, but towards concrete acts of peace ".

The confidence of the South Koreans appeared evident from the results of the local elections held on June13. The Democratic Party of President Moon Jae-in won an overwhelming victory, securing 78% of the seats in the provincial councils. The party also won 10 of the 12 parliamentary seats decided by the supplementary elections held in the margins. "It is a positive sign: the people of the South want to take the opportunity to get close to the North in many ways".