I imagine Pope’s visit to North Korea
Prof. Lee Won-young
His Holiness Dalai Lama slowly opened his mouth. “I went to Japan right after the Fukushima nuclear accident and comforted the victims. Do what help us to keep free from dangers of nuclear power plants. I want Korea and Japan to do this work together.” This is what he said when I met him at his residence in Himalaya just two years ago.
Half a year later, fortunately I could meet and listened to His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Orthodox Church at Istanbul. He was the leader of 300 million people. He said to me, “I am always praying for peace of Korean Peninsula.” At that moment, I found out that religious leaders are always concerned with the security of global village.
This spring, it will mark three years since President Moon and Chairman Kim Jong-un met at ‘Foot Bridge’ in Panmunjeom. How excited we were while watching the miraculous scene! But President Trump’s zigzag step made diplomatic relation between United States and North Korea come to a standstill. Diplomatic relation between South and North Korea was worsened. Following days were filled with disappointments.
But new hope is arising now. COVID-19 is calling for new level of international cooperation. Korea is standing at center of new trend. New pandemic revealed the fragile structure of mankind. The helpless structure of existing international organizations such as U.N. was revealed vividly. The United Nations could not impose any sanctions against Trump’s withdrawal from the climate treaty four years ago. In addition, China wielded economic power among international organizations which were dominated by U.S. in the past. The nuclear accidents in Chernobyl and Fukushima were not enough to introduce safeguard measures to prevent another disaster.
Human body has two arms and two legs. Each family needs dual role of father and mother. Each country has government and parliament. The worldly affairs work properly only when the warp and woof are woven together. The United Nations which is a union of powerful nations, however, has only one leg. Every nations tends to be influenced by capital power, when looked closely. The Earth village is lame because power structure is lopsided. There is no balancing system to control overuse of power. The humans have not found the right way to go.
What is a realistic alternative? The global power to control the national authorities must be found from the people. People trust religious leaders. The religious leaders have to bear the balancing role. Every religions basically respect ‘life and safety’, though there may be small differences among religions. Religious cooperation in area of life and safety may be achieved without difficulty. In addition, we may expect the role of foothold for ‘world peace’ from the religious leaders.
Such expectation for peace has been around for a long time. Three months ago, it was reported that Pope Francisco, in a closed-door meeting, reaffirmed his willingness to visit North Korea to settle peace on Korean Peninsula. Embassy of Republic of Korea to the Vatican revealed that Pope Francisco announced his hope to visit North Korea in a single interview with South Korean Ambassador to the Holy See Lee Baek-man who was returning to Korea after his tenure in October last year.
President Moon Jae-in delivered request of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for Pope’s visit to North Korea, when President visited the Vatican in October, 2018. At that time, the Pope actually accepted the request by saying, “If you invite me officially, I can go.“ In this interview, when Ambassador Lee said “I hope you would visit North Korea and bless the residents there,” the Pope responded positively by saying, “I still have the same thought. I want to go.”
North Korea deviated from the early religious oppression and went through major change in the 1980s. Catholics in North Korea have also held religious events for 30 years since the establishment of “Jangchung Cathedral”. South Korean priests visited North Korea in 2015, and held a joint mass. It is said that ‘Sunday celebrations without priest’ is still held every Sunday in North Korea. The perception and mood of North Korea government have changed.
If Pope Francisco visits North Korea, he could heal the wounds of painful history in the past. There are many soldiers of Allied Army who died in North Korea during Korean War. Moreover, unlike the German division, the Korean peninsula keeps deep wounds made by Korean war between same Koreans engaged in a fratricidal battle. The religious leader has to heal the wound at the very first.
Above all, Pope’s visit would have great significance as a mediator who can break the diplomatic deadlock between North Korea and U.S. In the United States, the term of a new president began. Pope’s visit to North Korea could become merciful hand to U.S. which wants to relieve the heavy burden of the “global police”. North Korea which is passing through a difficult period of COVID-19 in economic blockade would receive grateful benefits from Pope’s visit. Moreover, Pope’s visit would impact China as a pillar of Asia to help North Korea’s reform policy. Russia which expects stability and economic cooperation in Korean peninsula would also benefit from Pope’s visit to North Korea.
I imagine a beautiful scenario. In one autumnal day when COVID-19 was controlled, Pope visits Pyongyang and consoles Catholic victims who died of Corona. And Pope gets conversation with Chairman Kim Jong-un who made a wonderful decision for peace in Korean peninsula. Afterward Pope holds hand with leader of North Korea and crosses ‘Foot Bridge’. Pope smiles and meets President Moon who is waiting at military demarcation line. Then Pope and President Moon go to Seoul together. Pope’s visit inspires China as well. Finally Dalai Lama travels to Beijing, Pyongyang, and Seoul in order to meet people living in this troublesome region.
Lee Won-young(The director of Pilgrimage of the New Silk Road for Life and No-Nukes)
Original Article >> http://www.bulkyo21.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=48177
(translated by LEE Sanghoon)
Categories: Media Reports