Das geteilte Land - KOREA
WCC-Delegation in Nord-Korea 2009
Amidst the growing tensions and diplomatic negotiations among various countries within the Six Party Talks on peace and security on the Korean peninsula, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, will be making a pastoral visit to the churches in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) this week.
The visit is at the invitation of and being organized by the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) of North Korea and will take place 17 to 20 October.
We will be meeting with the churches, government officials and learning about the life and witness of churches in North Korea, said Dr Mathews George Chunakara, director of the WCC Public Witness programme and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, who will be a member of the delegation travelling with Kobia. We will be participating in the worship service at Bong Soo Church in Pyongyang, where the WCC general secretary will preach.
The churches in North Korea are involved in social development and humanitarian aid assistance, and the members of WCCs ecumenical fellowship have been supportive to the KCF for the past several years, said Chunakara.
The visit is taking place at a time when intense multilateral diplomatic efforts and negotiations are under way on issues related to denuclearization of North Korea and resumption of Six Party Talks, which were stalled for some time after North Korea withdrew from the talks.
Although North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is said to have made the announcement to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Pyongyang last week during his three-day visit that North Korea would return to the Six Party Talks, it is also reported that Kim Jong-il said the return would be dependent on the progress of its planned bilateral talks with the US.
The WCC has been relating with the churches in North Korea for the past 25 years, with the first official visit having taken place in 1985. In the early 1980s the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs initiated a process aimed at peace, reconciliation and reunification of the Korean peninsula and bringing church leaders from North and South Korea together.
This is the second visit of a WCC general secretary in ten years. In 1999, then general secretary Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser visited North Korea.
After the visit to North Korea, the delegation will travel to Hong Kong to participate in an international consultation on peace, reconciliation and reunification of the Korean peninsula, which will be held from 21 to 23 October.
The WCC general secretary will be accompanied by WCC staff members Mathews George Chunakara, Christina Papazoglou, Mark Beach and Peter Williams, as well as the general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, Dr Prawate Khid-arn.