ucanews.com reporter, SeoulUpdated: October 10, 2018 10:03 AM GMT
North Korean leader Kim Jung-un has invited Pope Francis to visit Pyongyang. (Photos by AFP)
South Korean Catholic Bishops have welcomed North Korean leader Kim Jung-un's invitation to Pope Francis to visit the communist capital, Pyongyang.
On Oct. 9, the presidential office of South Korea announced that Kim issued the invitation, during an inter-Korean summit held in Pyongyang last month, in response to the idea being raised by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
"Pope Francis is keenly interested in the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula," said Moon. "How about meeting him?"
North Korean leader Kim replied; "I will ardently welcome the pope if he visits Pyongyang."
Archbishop Kim Hee-joong, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK), said he hoped that the invitation meant the relationship between North Korea and the Vatican would "advance and improve".
"The Catholic Church in Korea will keep praying ceaselessly for the authentic peace on the Korean Peninsula," the archbishop added.
Moon will officially visit the Vatican Oct. 17-18 to meet Pope Francis and he will deliver Kim's visit invitation.
Also, now made public are parts of conservations between North Korean leader Kim and Archbishop Kim while they were climbing Mt. Baekdu on Sept. 20, the last day of the summit.
Archbishop Kim told the North Korean leader, "As you studied a long time in Switzerland, you may know very well the importance of tourism. As North Korea has superb natural landscapes, if you take initiatives in the tourism business with your Swiss experience, you will enjoy increasing prosperity." The North Korean leader Kim had nodded with smile.
In response to Archbishop Kim's remark that he would deliver a message to the Vatican that the two Koreas are moving towards reconciliation and peace, the North Korean leader bowed and said, "Yes, please."