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Religious leaders visit North Korea

First time heads of all major religions have made joint trip to communist state

Representatives of seven religions of the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace Representatives of seven religions of the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace
  • Korea
  • September 21, 2011
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Leaders of South Korea’s seven major religions left for Pyongyang today in a bid to help improve North-South ties.

It marks the time all seven presidents of the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace (KCRP) have visited North Korea at the same time.

The seven leaders are due to visit Pyongyang and Mount Baekdusan, the highest mountain on the Korean peninsula, during their trip which ends on September 24.

“Our visit will play an important role in improving relations between the two Koreas,” said Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of Gwangju, representative president of the KCRP, before leaving the country.

The South Korean government is looking for an opportunity to reestablish inter-Korean exchanges following a ban imposed in response to two deadly attacks by North Korea last year.

“We hope the South Korean government will continue to support our efforts,” the archbishop added.

In a statement, the religious leaders said: “We will deliver religious people’s wishes for peace to North Korea and contribute to the opening of a channel for reconciliation and cooperation between the two sides.”

After arriving in Pyongyang later today, the delegation was to attend a reception dinner.

Tomorrow they are due to visit Changchung Catholic Church and the Protestant Pongsu Church, and will later meet members of the North Korean Council of Religionists including Samuel Jang Jae-on, its chairperson.

On Friday, they will pray for peace on Mount Baekdusan before returning to Seoul on September 24.

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