As North and South Korea prepare for reunions for some families separated by the 1953 partition of the peninsula, the Church in Korea remains concerned for the countries’ reunification.
Family reunions are scheduled to take place Feb. 20-25, though North Korea has threatened to cancel the event. Such reunions would be the first since 2010.
Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul is known for his dedication to reconciliation between North and South Korea, and the South Korean bishops’ conference held a month of prayer for the reconciliation and unity of the Korean people last year.
The reunion will be held at Mount Kumgang, a resort in North Korea.
The Koreas held a meeting Feb. 5 during which the reunions were agreed upon.
"We hope that the latest agreement will be smoothly carried out to ease the suffering and pain of separated families," the Korean Ministry of Unification stated.
Several thousand Koreans were displaced and separated during the 1950-53 Korean War, and since then many across the armistice line have lost contact with each other.
An estimated 72,000 South Koreans are on a waiting list for a chance to participate in such family reunions, and at each reunion a few hundred are able to take part.
Last year, Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon of Uijongbu led the Korean bishops’ prayers for reconciliation.
Mass, prayers, a symposium, and a peace march were organized, aiming to reignite passion for unity and to help the faithful become “apostles of peace.”
Other aims were true peace rather than a mere cease-fire, and preparation for the evangelization of North Korea.
A prayer chain ran throughout South Korea last June, beginning in Seoul and ending in Wonju. The prayer chain sought Mary’s intercession for peace between the Koreas.
The Korean nations have existed in tension since the 1953 agreement that divided the peninsula into two. Direct exchanges, meetings, and communications across the armistice line are normally prohibited.