Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - Korea and the Holy See celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2017: in particular, the commemoration of the sending of the first permanent Apostolic Delegate of the Holy See in Korea. As Fides learns, for the occasion, Korean President Moon Jae-in has asked Archbishop Igino Kim Hee-Jung, who is president of the Bishops' Conference of Korea, to represent the whole Korean nation and to meet the Holy Father to celebrate this anniversary.
Shortly after the elections, President Moon appointed some Korean "special envoys" who will go to the United States, China, Japan, Russia, the European Union, Germany and the Holy See to celebrate special events. Archbishop Kim Hee-Jung will be accompanied by Seong Youm, former Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See, in the special mission in the Vatican planned for the coming months.
The diplomatic ties between the Holy See and Korea began in 1947 when Pope Pius XII sent the first "apostolic delegate", Father Patrick James Byrne to Korea, shortly after the liberation of Korea from Japanese dominion. By sending a "Permanent Delegate", the Holy See was one of the first countries to recognize Korea as an independent nation after the liberation from the Japanese colonization. Patrick James Byrne, American missionary of the Maryknoll's fathers, was consecrated Bishop in 1949, but when the Korean War broke out in 1950, he was kidnapped and died in prison. He is now part of the group of 213 Korean priests and laity whose beatification process has begun.
In those years, the South Korean government sent a delegation to the Paris conference in 1948 to be recognized as the Government of the Korean peninsula. At that time the Holy See and the Apostolic Nuncio in Paris (then Angelo Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII) greatly helped the Korean delegation to obtain recognition from many delegations of Catholic countries. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/5/2017)