SEOUL – South Korean religious leaders met with their counterparts in the North recently to discuss details on humanitarian aid for the impoverished communist state.

The April 27 meeting was the first such visit since South Korea accused North Korea of attacks last year.

Rev Kim Nam-suc, Mr Stephen Yang Deog-chang of the Korean Catholic bishops’ conference and Won Buddhist Jung In-sung, representing the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace (KCRP), met three members of the (North) Korean Council of Religionists in Kaesong, just north of the Demilitarized Zone.

Besides aid, they also discussed whether a religious delegation could travel north to monitor its distribution, Rev Kim, secretary general of the KCRP, said later in Seoul.

The response was positive, Rev Kim noted, adding that they would invite us “as soon as possible”.

KCRP representatives, including its president, Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of Kwangju, met with the Unification Minister Hyun In-taek on April 4 to seek permission for the meeting and to supervise future distribution of aid.

Almost all exchanges between the two Korean rivals were put on hold in May last year after South Korea blamed the North for sinking one of its warships on March 26.

A unification ministry official said on April 27 that the government still bans South Korean visits to the North but approved the KCRP request because it was for humanitarian purposes.

KCRP comprises representatives from Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Protestantism, an association of Korean traditional religions, and Chondogyo and Won-Buddhism, both founded in Korea. n UCANEWS.COM

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