Pope Francis asks North Korea to invite him for a visit

Pope Francis asked North Korea on Friday to invite him to visit the country, in an interview with South Korean television in which he assured that he will not waste any opportunity to work for peace.

"When they invite me, and that’s the same as saying please invite me, I won’t say no"Pope Francis told South Korean state broadcaster KBS.

"The goal is nothing more than fraternity"added the 85-year-old pontiff.

The possibility of a papal visit to North Korea was raised in 2018, when then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in made contacts with the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

Moon, a Catholic, said during a summit that Kim had told him that the pope would be welcome in his country. "with enthusiasm".

Francis then said that he would like to go to North Korea if he received an official invitation. But contacts between Pyongyang and Seoul broke down after the fiasco of the second summit between Kim and then US President Donald Trump in February 2019.

Relations between the two Koreas, separated since the end of the 1950-1953 war, worsened with the arrival of a new South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol, in May.

He proposed a plan of economic aid to the North in exchange for denuclearization, but the communist regime of Kim Yong Un ridiculed this plan.

North Korea accused the South of a coronavirus outbreak in May, and this month even threatened to "wipe off the map" to the Seoul authorities in retaliation.

Similarly, the North tested a record number of weapons this year, including launching an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time since 2017.

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The pope has repeatedly called on Koreans to "work for peace".

"You, the Korean people, have suffered from the war"reiterated this Friday.

Religious freedom is provided for in the North Korean Constitution, but in practice all religious practice is prohibited.

The Pyongyang regime has allowed various Catholic organizations to carry out aid projects, but has no direct relations with the Vatican.

When Pope Francis visited South Korea in 2014, he officiated a special mass dedicated to the reunification of the two Koreas.

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