By Robin Gomes
An international group of young Catholics are currently on an annual 6-day peace walk to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea.
More than 90 youth from 15 countries (South Korea, Germany, East Timor, U.S., Malta, Serbia, India, Japan, U.K., Uganda, China, Cambodia, Tanzania, Hungary) are participating in the 2019 “World Youth Pilgrimage to DMZ — Wind of Peace” event, Aug. 16-22.
Participants are making a pilgrimage through four counties along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea.
The initiative, hosted by the Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People of Seoul Archdiocese and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Unification, is for peace in Korea and in the world.
“I hope that while you experience mother nature and reflect, you can realize how peace is important in our lives,” said Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, inaugurating the walk on Friday. Echoing the call of Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Seoul said, “We should find a harmonious way to co-exist with the earth and mother nature, which is our ‘Common Home’.”
The 75-year old cardinal wished and prayed that the Wind of Peace enable the pilgrims be reconciled with themselves, with their neighbours, with the environment and, finally, with God.
In this year’s peace pilgrimage, 8 Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing and Salesian sisters of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians order are participating.
Activities during the 6 days of Wind of Peace pilgrimage include Masses, candlelight prayers, lectures, experience programmes, presentations, discussions, community programmes and a talk show by young North Korean refugees.
Cardinal Yeom and Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, Apostolic Nuncio to South Korea, celebrated Mass with young pilgrims on Monday.
“I hope the ‘Wind of Peace’ can bring the wind of change. I’ll pray for the peace not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the entire world,” Salesian Sister Agnes from Mongolia told UCANEWS.
Held each year since 2012, “Wind of Peace” enables young people to experience history, culture and peace by making a pilgrimage to the DMZ area, which shows both the historical pain of the Korean people and some of the ecological treasures of the peninsula.
A divided people
Following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II, in 1945, the U.S. and the Soviet Union had provisionally divided the Korean peninsula along the 38th parallel.
The peninsula still remains divided after a re-unification proposal was turned down by the Soviet Union.
With tension building between the two neighbours, the North invaded the South in 1950. The two Koreas are technically still at war as the 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.