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Religious leaders in cross-border meeting

First meeting since attacks on South last year discusses humanitarian aid

The Dandong bridge between North Korea and China (photo: Open Doors Korea)
The Dandong bridge between North Korea and China (photo: Open Doors Korea)
  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • April 28, 2011
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Religious leaders met with their counterparts in North Korea yesterday to discuss details on humanitarian aid for the impoverished communist state.
It was the first such visit since North Korean attacks on the South last year.

Reverend Kim Nam-suc, Stephen Yang Deog-chang of the Korean Catholic bishops' conference and Won Buddhist Jung In-sung, representing the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace (KCRP), met three members of the (North) Korean Council of Religionists in Kaesong, just north of the Demilitarized Zone.

Besides the aid, they also discussed whether a religious delegation could travel north to monitor its distribution, Reverend Kim, secretary general of the KCRP said later in Seoul.

Their people replied positively, Reverend Kim noted, adding that they would invite us “as soon as possible."

KCRP representatives, including its president, Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of Kwangju, met with the Unification Minister Hyun In-taek on April 4 to seek permission for yesterday’s meeting and to supervise future distribution of aid.

Almost all exchanges between the two Korean rivals were put on hold in May last year after South Korea blamed the North for sinking one of its warships on March 26.

A unification ministry official said yesterday that the government still bans South Korean visits to the North but approved the KCRP request because it was for humanitarian purposes.

KCRP comprises Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Protestantism, an association of Korean traditional religions, and Chondogyo and Won-Buddhism, both founded in Korea.

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KCRP wants to visit North Korea soon

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