News / Asia

Pope Francis: Dialogue Needed for Korean Reconciliation

Pope Francis waves upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base, as South Korean President Park Geun-hye (L) smiles, in Seongnam, Aug. 14, 2014.
Pope Francis waves upon his arrival at Seoul Air Base, as South Korean President Park Geun-hye (L) smiles, in Seongnam, Aug. 14, 2014.
VOA News

Pope Francis said dialogue, and not "fruitless" displays of force, will help bring peace to the Korean peninsula, as he began a five-day visit to South Korea.

Speaking in English - a rarity for the Spanish-speaking pope - Francis said diplomacy is based on dialogue rather than accusations and threats.

"For diplomacy, as [inaudible] as possible, is based on the firm and persevering condition that peace can be won through quiet listening and dialogue, rather than by mutual recriminations, fruitless criticism and displays of force," he said.

And he noted that Korea's "quest for peace" affects the stability of the entire region.

The Pope met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye after arriving in Seoul Thursday, and the two leaders gave a joint address.

Park said North and South Korea should get rid of fear and nuclear weapons and concentrate on reunification.

She thanked the pope for his prayers and for carrying out a mass "for peace and reconciliation" during his visit.

As Pope Francis's plane was landing in Seoul early Thursday, North Korea fired the first of five projectiles into the Sea of Japan.

Wonsan, North KoreaWonsan, North Korea
Wonsan, North Korea
Wonsan, North Korea

Seoul defense officials say the projectiles were launched from the port city of Wonsan and traveled 220 kilometers before landing in the ocean off the east coast.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il condemned the launches, which are the latest in a series of similar rocket tests by the North.

"The message of the pope’s visit is peace and reconciliation," said Noh. "He came here to deliver messages of blessing to the Koreans both in the South and in the North. But North Korea’s firing of projectiles, and the additional two projectiles, on the day of his arrival is not good. As you know, short-range missiles, or ballistic missiles are a violation of the U.N. Security Council. We view that this reckless provocation must be stopped immediately."

During his trip, Francis will participate in a Catholic youth festival and a mass for peace and reconciliation on the divided and tense Korean peninsula.

The North declined to send a delegation to the papal mass, citing its anger at upcoming U.S.-South Korean military drills.

Like all other religions in North Korea, Catholicism is only allowed to exist under the tightest of restrictions. As a result, it is unclear how many North Koreans practice Catholicism.

The pope's trip to South Korea is also highlighting tensions between the Vatican and China, which do not have diplomatic relations.

As his plane flew over Chinese airspace, Pope Francis sent a message to President Xi Jinping offering "divine blessings of peace and well-being upon the nation."

Despite the Vatican's objections, Beijing insists on maintaining a state-controlled Catholic church, which does not answer to Rome. There is also a large underground church, and the two sides disagree over which has the authority to ordain priests.

About 100 Chinese had planned to attend the Asian Youth Day hosted by the pope. But on Thursday, Heo Young-yeop, a spokesman for the papal visit to Korea, said half of those had been unable to attend.

"Some [Chinese] youths had planned to attend the event could not come due to the complicated situation inside China. The committee feels sorry [for this]," he said.

Chinese officials have not commented on why the youths were unable to attend.

Despite its regional significance, a large part of the pope's trip is expected to focus on South Korea, which boasts about five million Catholics and is one of the church's fastest growing congregations in the world.

His trip is the first since Pope John Paul II visited South Korea in 1989. Vatican officials say Francis will bring a message about the "future of Asia" and speak to all countries on the continent during his trip.

Watch related story by VOA's Jerome Socolovsky:

Pope’s Asia Trip Puts Focus on China's Growing Christian Populationi
Jerome Socolovsky
August 13, 2014 8:54 PM
Pope Francis is visiting South Korea (from Aug 14-18), where he will honor martyrs who helped bring Catholicism to that country. But some Vatican watchers say the pontiff also wants to send a message to China, an officially atheist country, where experts say there are at least 30 million Christians. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has this report on how Chinese Christians in the U.S. view conditions in their former homeland.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Lawrence Bush from: Texas,USA
August 14, 2014 10:14 AM
The North and the South Korea are of same community but divided by two major ideologies; viz, communism and democracy; and, Christianity and non-Christianity. The arrival of His Holiness Francis in South Korea on the lines with the Christianity is intolerable to the Noth. And, that's well marked by the firing projectiles into sea. The morbid allergy of North Korea is well-known......... The very impoverished state is intolerant with the bilateral relations between North Korea and ours;so, with our friendly state Japan in the Far East. Until North Korea sheds its mobid, defunct ideology, allergy as well, it's dieing internally.

The impoverishment and to wage war against South Korea and ours well tells the madness. The democratically administered South is a flourished state in comparison with the North; so, Japan who's a member of the Group 8. And, North Korea does see, in its allergy, the Papal is the symbol of Christianity; so, it's ours. That' not going to deter South Korea to stand with ours bilaterally, including strategic defense terms. The allergy and the intolerance of North Korea have nothing do with South Korea, ours and entire Christianity. The reclusive state to be straightened up due to its own follies.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs