South Korea’s Cardinal to visit North Korea for the first time

May 20, 2014
Cardinal Yeom get in the car as he leaves for the industrial complex in the North's western border city of Kaesong. (Yonhap)

Cardinal Yeom get in the car as he leaves for the industrial complex in the North’s western border city of Kaesong. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea’s Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung will be visiting the jointly run inter-Korean factory park in North Korea on Wednesday amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula, officials at the Unification Ministry said Tuesday.

During this one-day trip, Cardinal Yeom will meet South Korean businessmen in the industrial complex in the North’s western border city of Kaesong, they said.  It will be the first time for a South Korean Cardinal to visit North Korea.

At this point, Cardinal Yeom is not expected to hold a mass there.

The ministry has approved Cardinal Yeom’s visit to the North, and Pyongyang also has allowed his trip to the communist state, they said.

The trip comes amid concerns that the North may carry out a fourth nuclear test in defiance of international warnings. The communist nation previously conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

The sprawling enclave in Kaesong is home to some 120 small South Korean plants producing garments and other labor-intensive goods. More than 44,000 North Koreans work in the complex.

The Kaesong factory park resumed operations in September, more than five months after the North unilaterally closed it in anger over South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises.

Yeom, who served as archbishop of Seoul, became South Korea’s third cardinal in February this year following the late Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan and Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk.

South Korea has a Catholic community of more than 5 million, a sizable portion of its population of nearly 49-million people whose religious heritage is largely based on Buddhism.

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