Seoul, 'hope and enthusiasm' for the inter-Korean summit
Moon returns to Seoul after having made history: he is the first South Korean leader to address the people of the North: "Koreans are one people". Korea free of nuclear weapons. Before leaving, the two Korean leaders visited Mount Baekdu. The Church celebrates the feast of the Korean martyrs. Fr. Hammond: "An answer to our prayers, now more humanitarian aid".
Seoul (AsiaNews) - Moon Jae-in returns to Seoul, where hope and enthusiasm fill the hearts of South Koreans. The South Korean Christian community is doubly moved as today it celebrates the feast of the Korean martyrs, says Maryknoll superior, Fr. Gerard Hammond, who has been traveling to North Korea with the Eugene Belle Foundation for years, bringing aid to those suffering from drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Today, South Korean President Moon Jae-in left for Seoul, bringing with him a gift from Kim - expensive "songyi" mushrooms - and leaving a sign destined to make history in North Korea. Last night, Moon was the first South Korean leader to address the people of the North directly.
He was present at the "Massa Games", at the Pyongyang stadium - the largest in the world, which can accommodate up to 150 thousand people. Moon addressed the audience, who welcomed him with a standing ovation, in a touching seven-minute speech.
The South Korean president had already shown respect to the people of the North on his arrival, greeting the welcome delegation with a 90-degree bow, which they reserve for their leader. Yesterday, Moon said he was hopeful that the Koreans would once again become "one people", as it was before the war, and that the peninsula could be "permanently" free of all nuclear weapons.
Another unprecedented event took place this morning. The two Korean leaders, accompanied by their respective spouses, walked together on Mount Baekdu. The mountain, with mythological value for the North Koreans (it is said to have given birth to Kim Jong-il), is located on the border with China and is the highest and most famous of the peninsula. South Korean citizens have rarely traveled the paths on the North Korean side, while the Chinese side is often a destination for walks. Today, the two leaders have hoped that in the not so distant future the South Koreans will be freely able to go there.
For Fr. Hammond, all these are signs of great hope. "He is everywhere in the news. People here are very happy because there is a chance for peace. And it so essential. Hopefully, after all these years, there could even be a peace treaty "
The missionary emphasizes that sporting and artistic initiatives also have great value. " I think that it's important because it has to begin with people to people. A cross-relation needs to be established and that's the road I think they're going ".
"Right now, what everyone understands, it's that there is more hope for reconciliation between the people from the North and South ". Right now the people in Seoul are very enthusiastic about these changes that are taking place "little by little", waiting to see what will happen in the coming months, even in the dialogue with President Trump. The US says it is ready to resume dialogue at any time.
If there is great emotion among the citizens of Seoul, the enthusiasm is even more palpable for Christians. The South Korean Church has always prayed for a peaceful future for the peninsula, as shown by the prayer to the Our Lady written by Card. Andrea Yeom (see photo). "September is the month dedicated to martyrs - explains Fr. Hammond - today it's the day of the Martyrs, it seems very providential that all of this excitement will be on this special feast day. For me, it's a great answer to prayer, and from here on it's up to the individual, and especially the Church, to reach to the suffering of North Korean, to do more humanitarian aid to individual North Koreans, especially medical assistance".