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Inter-Korean summit meeting. Msgr. Igino Kim Hee-joong (Korean bishops), “never give up hopes of peace”

"If we cling on to our hopes of peace, peace can be accomplished. Peace does not end because of failure, it ends if we give up hope.” Interview with Monsignor Igino Kim Hee-joong, archbishop of Gwangju, President of the Korean Bishops’ Conference, on the aftermath of the meeting between North Korea and South Korea delegations in view of  the Winter Olympic Games

(Foto: AFP/SIR)

Where politics failed, sport succeeded. In fact, the merit goes to the winter Olympic games due to take place in the district of Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 9 through 25. It’s an important piece of news: North Korea will be sending a delegation to formalize its participation. After a period of high tension, North and South Korea resume dialogue. It happened on January 9, after having agreed to meet in the demilitarized zone (ZDC) took place the first high-level, direct talks between North and South Korea since 2015. SIR contacted Msgr. Igino Kim Hee-joong, Archbishop of Gwangju, President of the Korean Bishops’ Conference.

Why was the meeting between the two delegations so important? It was the first official communication between government authorities in the past 11 years. It’s a step in the direction of peace in the Korean peninsula. The first step is to engage in dialogue to advance the quest of a solution to the problem. This meeting bears special meaning in the establishment of a dialogue process enabling the exchange of mutual intents.

What do you expect from this meeting? Which paths of dialogue could it usher in? Above all, are there hopes of reconciliation between North and South Korea? 
I hope this meeting will further the continuation of an official dialogue process. I believe that both parties should not focus on political gains but on the quest for peace, on both sides.

If we cling on to our hopes of peace, peace will be accomplished.

Peace does not end because of failure, it ends if we give up hope. If we ensure the continuation of our journey towards peace, God’s “Time” of peace will arrive.

Sport succeeded where the political realm had failed. What could be sport’s role in the peace process? How did the Olympic games manage to thaw years of frozen relations? Usually politicians seek to draw advantages, but this is not the case of sport. Sport does not seek personal gains.

Sport aims for friendship and for peaceful relations between peoples

What is the Catholic Church asking of the world in order to ensure the unification and reconciliation of Korea? I hope the Catholic world will support the Winter Olympic Games in Korea and pray for peace in our peninsula. First of all, in her prayers the Catholic Church asks the Lord to bestow the gift of peace upon the Korean peninsula and upon the whole world. She then calls upon State leaders and upon all men and women of good will to follow the path of dialogue and mutual understanding. In this respect, the day before the summit meeting, the Holy Father, receiving in solemn audience all the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, in his New Year address traditionally deemed of great importance by all State leaders, said:

“it is of paramount importance to support every effort at dialogue on the Korean peninsula, in order to find new ways of overcoming the current disputes, increasing mutual trust and ensuring a peaceful future for the Korean people and the entire world.”

I believe that if we follow the direction suggested by Pope Francis, peace and reconciliation in our peninsula will soon become more attainable.

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