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What can the Pope do in North Korea?

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Moon Jae-in visited the Vatican on October 29, 2021, when he met Pope Francis to discuss the possibility of a visit by the pontiff to North Korea, saying the Koreans hope the visit will help strengthen peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Pope Francis responded positively and said he was willing to make the trip if there was a formal offer from Pyongyang.

The idea of showing the pope to North Korea has come up before. For example, in October 2018, amid the Olympic warming, Moon paid a courtesy call to the pope and delivered a verbal invitation from Kim. The pope said at the time he was willing to visit the North if the North Korean regime sends him an official invitation. However, due to the resulting deadlock in inter-Korean and US-North Korean relations, no further progress has been made in arranging the visit.

However, on July 6, 2021, National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Park Jie-won announced during a Catholic event in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province, that he is working to organize a Pyongyang visit by Pope Francis and urged the attendees to “pray for this to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.”. No pontiff has ever visited this country before.

There were some reasons for that. Addressing members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See on February 8, the pope said he was closely monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula and was watching the deterioration in inter-Korean relations with keen interest.

On October 25, shortly before President Moon Jae-in visited Rome, Lee Jong-joo, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea said that South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican would launch a peace process involving North Korea. Another senior presidential administration official claimed that the pope has repeatedly expressed his willingness to visit North Korea.”

Pro-Government experts immediately began talking about how the pope’s visit would affect the situation in the region. According to Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, “While North Korea is rife with........

© New Eastern Outlook

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