The offer was transmitted verbally by the South Korean president Moon Jae-in during his visit to the Vatican, the spokesman…
The offer was transmitted verbally by the South Korean president Moon Jae-in during his visit to the Vatican, the spokesman said.
Invitation comes at a time when the North Korean leader faces a diplomatic campaign with several summits in recent months with South Korea and China leaders and met with US President Donald Trump.
The Vatican refused to comment if the pope would accept, but no pope has ever visited North Korea. North Korea’s proposal may be considered under review due to its history of religious tolerance.
“North Korea is the worst oppressor of religion,” said Michael Green, a former Security Council member who is now at the center of strategic and international studies. “To physically travel to North Korea and meet Kim, I fear, would legitimize a leader who is the greatest enemy of religious freedom on Earth’s surface.”
According to the latest report from the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom “The attitude of the North Korean Government to religion and belief is among the most hostile and repressive in the world … known to arrest, torture, imprison and even execute religious believers. “
The Open Doors US advocacy group claims that as many as 50,000 Christians are held in prison camps, hard labor camps, rehabilitation camps and detention centers.
A number of visiting Westerners in recent years have also been caught in North Korean rules against religious activity:
Jeffrey Edward Fowle of Ohio was held for five months, accused of deliberately leaving a Bible behind at a club for foreign sailors.
Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim was imprisoned for 2½ years, including hard work, after being found guilty of trying to use religion to overthrow the North Korean regime.
And the Christian missionary Kenneth Bae Seattle was imprisoned for two years on allegations he planned to put down the government through religious activities. After his release, he told CNN that he was sent to a hard labor camp where he was ashamed of his guards. “I had to work from 8 am to 6 in the evening, six days a week,” he said. “We worked in the field, did farm work, carried stones and rinsed coal.”
North Korea contains some state-controlled churches, but the regime prohibits independent religious activities and regards them as potential threats to its authority.  “It’s a threat to the regime,” said Green. “They do not want anything to remove from divinity, as they taught the North Korean people for 60 years, live in the Kim family and only the Kim family.”
Green believes that Kim Jong Un has other motives for his invitation: gaining good publicity, boosting his position as statesman and weakening the international solution to UN sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear programs.
However, Greg Scarlatoiu of the Human Rights Committee in North Korea said that the pope can still find a way to go and have a positive impact if he uses the trip not only to get a message of peace but also to highlight North Korea’s human rights mail.
“The pope, if he decides to visit North Korea, has to express serious concern about the oppression of Christians and other religions,” said Scarlatoiu.