Kim Jong-un speaks of Pope visiting North Korea

Kim Jong-un has spoken of how he would “ardently welcome Pope Francis” if Francis were to agree to visit Pyongyang.

His invitation is seen as a gesture designed to highlight peace on the Korean peninsula.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will relay Kim’s desire to host a papal visit when he visits the Vatican later this month.

His visit will be to reaffirm the Vatican’s “blessing and support for peace and stability of the Korean peninsula,” according to a spokesperson for Moon.

A Vatican statement says it is “anticipating the invitation.” Questions as to how the pope may react to the invitation, however, met with a “let’s wait for the invitation to arrive” response.

Kim’s invitation to the pope is at odds with many of his actions since he took office seven years ago.

He has been censured for North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests, alleged human rights abuses and reports that he was responsible for ordering his uncle’s and brother’s executions.

More recently, he has sought to present a more open-minded, “jovial” image of a leader who is apparently keen to promote dialogue and work towards peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Moon is seen as being at least partly responsible for Kim’s initiative.

At their third inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in September, Moon was accompanied by Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, the Archbishop of Gwangju and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea.

A source close to the matter revealed to La Croix that “he personally transmitted a message from the Pope to Kim Jong-un at the meeting, and Kim’s reaction was quite positive.”

According to a South Korean presidential spokesperson, “Kim said he wanted the Pope to know his desire for peace.”


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