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North Korea may allow permanent presence of priests

There are signs that the North Korean Government may allow South Korean Catholic priests into the country to work on a permanent basis.

Fides reports that a delegation visiting the country from the Archdiocese of Seoul last month returned with positive news after discussions with officials of the North Korean Roman Catholic (Patriotic) Association (NKRCA).

Delegation leader Fr Joseph Chung Kwang-woong said the administration reacted favourably to the outfitting of a noodle factory in hunger-stricken North Korea that was funded by Catholics in the Archdiocese of Seoul.

"This noodle factory represents a solid long-term basis to help North Koreans. It is important to share spiritual and humanitarian difficulties, with dialogue and mutual understanding" Fr Chung explained.

In June, the Catholic Bishops of South Korea issued a message urging North Korean authorities to guarantee that country's few thousand Catholics full religious freedom. Before Korea was divided in 1948, the north had about 60 Catholics priests, all of whom were martyred.