Cardinal Andrew Yeom-jung of Seoul with Myanmar students and a worker during a recent meeting where he expressed solidarity with the pro-democracy movement in the Southeast Asian nation. (Photo: Seoul Archdiocese)
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul recently met a group of Myanmar nationals living in South Korea to express his solidarity with attempts to restore democracy and end military rule in their nation.
Cardinal Yeom met the Mynamar students and workers on March 18 to declare the Korean Church's support for the pro-democracy movement, according to an official press release.
The prelate listened as they described the situation in Myanmar and he assured them that he was willing to consider doing anything to help its people bring an end to the military dictatorship of General Min Aung Hlaing.
“I will stand with the people of Myanmar until they achieve full democracy,” Cardinal Yeom said during the meeting.
One of the students vividly described the current situation in Myanmar saying that it is actually far worse than reported in the media. Myanmar’s military junta cut the nation’s internet and deployed troops around the country to crush protests.
“Since the junta declared full martial law in Hlaing Tharyar and other districts of Yangon, they have not warned protesters to disperse before shooting. Despite the escalating military violence against them, we, the people of Myanmar, consider that the pro-democracy movement is the last chance for us to realize democracy in our generation,” the student, who did not wish to be named, said.
Another student added, “I believe the ongoing situation in Myanmar is not merely an internal matter but a global issue which deserves immediate attention and support from the international community. And that is why I am here today, as a citizen of Myanmar, to raise awareness on the issue and ask for your support for the resistance in Myanmar.”
Cardinal Yeom said in response that he deeply empathizes with Myanmar's people, pointing to the fact that South Korea went through similar challenges and problems in the past.
He concluded the meeting by encouraging them with Pope Francis’ address at the interreligious meeting on the Plain of Ur, Iraq on March 6, 2021: “Peace does not demand winners or losers, but rather brothers and sisters who, for all the misunderstandings and hurts of the past, are journeying from conflict to unity.”
This is the second gesture of solidarity from South Korea’s top Catholic leader toward democracy-loving people of Myanmar in recent weeks.
On March 16, Cardinal Yeom sent a letter to Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon and the Myanmar Bishops’ Conference, expressing sympathy for those people facing deadly violence and promised an emergency fund of US$50,000 for people in Myanmar through Archbishop Paul Tschang In-nam, a Korea-born prelate and current Vatican ambassador to Myanmar.
Earlier, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) denounced the deadly violence in Myanmar and expressed solidarity with the Myanmar people’s aspirations for an end to military rule and the return of democracy.