Participants of the Hiroshima Peace Pilgrimage after celebrating Mass at Kawaramachi Cathedral of Kyoto Diocese. (Photo by The Catholic Times of Korea)
A group of young South Korean Catholics made a pilgrimage of peace to the Japanese city of Hiroshima which was destroyed in 1945 by the world's first atomic bomb used during war.
Twenty-one middle school students of Cheju (Jeju) Diocese joined the Hiroshima peace pilgrimage from Aug. 4-9 together with youth from Kyoto Diocese of Japan. Cheju and Kyoto dioceses are sister dioceses and since 2011 the Japanese diocese have invited youth from Cheju for the annual pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage included a walk through Hiroshima, a ceremony at the memorial monument in Hiroshima Peace Park and meeting Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka of Kyoto.
Sister Rufina Hwang Jeong-seob, who led the Cheju youth, said she learnt much from the pilgrimage.
"I came to know that some 20,000 Koreans died as a result of the atomic bomb and that there is a monument remembering their deaths in Hiroshima," she said. "For the youth, it was a good chance to review what real peace means."
The youth also visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which displays exhibits that show the devastation of this act of war.
Peter Kim Dong-woo, 15, said that the eye-witness accounts of Korean victims of the atomic bomb impressed him. Kim said he was moved by the story of Park Nam-joo, 85, who survived the bomb attack.
"I could vividly experience how she was scared when the bomb went off," Kim said. "This pilgrimage helps me understand how terrible and scary it was in Hiroshima at that time," he said.