ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - North Korea proposes a summit with the South: "hope re-opens", say the Bishops

Friday, 24 May 2013

Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - North Korea has formally proposed to South Korea to host a joint event to commemorate the inter-Korean summit of 2000, which marked the beginning of a detente and rapprochement phase (the so-called "sunshine policy") between the two countries. The summit of 2000 ended with an historic agreement between the leaders Kim Dae-jung (South Korea) and Kim Jong-il (North Korea) which provided for economic cooperation, meetings of separated families, renewed dialogue between the governments. North Korea proposes to celebrate that event in the town of Kaeseong or Mount Geumgangsan. The two countries held joint annual celebrations in Mount Geumgangsan from 2001 until 2008, when the crisis of the bilateral relations marked the interruption. According to observers, the proposal of Pyongyang indicates a willingness to resume joint projects. The proposal comes at a time when the tension between the two Koreas is high, and after threats of a "nuclear war" launched by Pyongyang.
Are we at a turning point ? According to the Korean Bishops, the initiative of the North is a "sign that the door of hope can be re-opened." This was stated by His Exc. Mgr. Igino Kim Hee-joong, Archbishop of Kwanju, President of the Episcopal Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and of the "Korean Conference Religions for Peace", an organization that brings together Korean religious leaders. "Of course, the government of Seoul said it will evaluate the proposal well, since it affects the start of a sincere process of rapprochement," explains the Bishop. "On our behalf - he continues - we hope to resume the work of interreligious dialogue soon: we sent to Pyongyang the proposal for an inter- Korean meeting of religious leaders, such as those held in previous years. We hope to get a positive response soon." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 24/05/2013)