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S. Korean Protestant church leaders to visit N. Korea

Nov. 1, 2011 - 16:48 By
A group of South Korean Protestant church leaders will make a rare visit this week to North Korea, a local council of churches said Tuesday, in another sign of thawing tensions between the two Koreas.

The group is scheduled to visit Pyongyang from Wednesday to Saturday where they will hold a joint prayer meeting for "peace on the Korean Peninsula" with their North Korean counterparts from the Korean Christian Federation, the Seoul-based National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) said.

The South Korean pastors will also visit Pongsu Church and Chilgol Church, two of the communist country's rare publicly accepted churches, to discuss ways to increase religious exchanges between the two Koreas, the council said.

The move comes as Seoul takes a more flexible attitude toward the North these days to try to improve relations that have become strained after the North's two deadly attacks on the South last year.

In September, Seoul allowed a group of Buddhists to visit Pyongyang to attend a Buddhist ceremony, which marked the first approval of a religious visit here since the South suspended almost all inter-Korean exchanges in retaliation for the attacks.

"We hope this Pyongyang visit will open the way for the two organizations to meet regularly," a spokesman for the NCCK said.

Last month, historians of the two Koreas met in the North's border city of Kaesong and called for a quick resumption of a long-stalled joint project to excavate an ancient royal palace site in the city.

Kaesong is the site of Manwoldae, the royal palace of the Goryeo Dynasty that ruled the Korean Peninsula from 918 to 1392. (Yonhap News)