04/11/2013, 00.00
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Pope's prayers consoling us as we hope for peace, North Korean Christian says

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
Source tells AsiaNews about an undercover meeting with a Christian who told "me that we heard about" Francis's appeal it. "We do not want to be isolated from the rest of the world," he added. But tensions on the peninsula are rising as Pyongyang gets rocket ready for launch.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis's appeal for peace on the Korean Peninsula "was a consolation for all of us living in North Korea. Even though the government did not give much publicity to the event (Urbi et Orbi blessing on 31 March), we heard about it. Like him, we hope for peace.  We do not want to be isolated from the rest of the world," said a North Korean Christian. Anonymous for security reasons, he spoke to a source working at the border who relayed the information to AsiaNews.

According to the source, "there will be no war. Our bishops are right; it is a matter of political balance in the North and humanitarian aid. Pyongyang cannot lose face, so all these threats have to produce something. But it is hard to know whether there will be a land invasion or an attack against US or South Korean military sites. Whatever the case, we must pray, as the pope said, for there to be peace and a new reconciliation in Korea. "

Tensions continue to rise however. Once the ultimatum on the evacuation of foreigners came and went, North Korea deployed its medium-range rockets and appears ready to launch them, Japanese and South Korean intelligence sources reported.  North Korea moved Musudan rockets to the east coast that can hit "multiple technical, military and even civilian targets." According to sources, "satellites spotted the locations and we are ready to react. But in case of attack, we cannot say what will happen."

In any case, for South Korea's defence, the situation is "strange. Two rockets at an east coast installation were moved out and then back inside their hangar. At the same time, five transporter launchers were also moved. North Korea is trying to confuse US and South Korean officials. "

The Korean Peninsula has more than a 70 per cent chance of war "because North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may want to use this opportunity to force a reunification of the Korean Peninsula," said Zhang Liangui, a Chinese expert on North Korea.

Yet, the Chinese government does not approve of this. Beijing in fact backed United Nations sanctions against North Korea after the latter carried out a nuclear test in February and reduced its humanitarian aid to its neighbour, calling on its leaders to stay calm.

In an indirect but clear reference to North Korea, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday said, "no one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains."

At present, the North's next military provocation is expected to take place before 15 April, anniversary of the birth of the founder of the state, Kim Il-sung, grandfather and inspiration for the current dictator.

Tomorrow's meeting in Seoul between US Secretary of State John Kerry and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se appears to back this theory.

Washington's top diplomat will be in the South Korean capital after a G8 meeting currently underway in London. Immediately afterwards, he will travel to China and Japan on a 10-day visit.

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