North Korean Catholics being mobilised as political force
North Koreans have been trained to be Catholics under orders from the Korean Workers' Party, according to a Catholic priest from South Korea who visited the north as a member of an official South Korean delegation.
The Tablet reports that Fr John Kim Jong-su, Secretary-General of the Catholic bishops' conference of Korea, was one of a group from the south invited to the fifty-fifth anniversary of the Korean Workers' Party last month.
Fr Kim said he had celebrated Mass in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang after meeting a number of Catholics, including the president of the North Korean Roman Catholic Association. He admitted that North Korea 'restored religions' for political purposes, and said that the Catholics there were 'well trained'. There were about 3000 of them in the country, who had been 'discovered' in line with the policy of the party: some were elderly, baptised before the Korean war, but there were also those who became Catholics at the party's directive to continue their parents' religion.
"If the Catholic Church is to be rebuilt in North Korea", Fr Kim said, "it is certain that they will form the nucleus."
Fr Kim said that before he went to North Korea he was 'suspicious' about the existence of Catholics there. Now, having seen them, he felt that, even if they were 'trained Catholics', the Church in North Korea "should be reconstructed based on them. We should thank God for them."