September 24, 2023

Why a papal visit to North Korea doesn’t have a prayer

COVID-19 restrictions and Pyongyang’s disinterest stand in the way, but ROK ruling party hopes to gain regardless

President Moon Jae-in found time to meet Pope Francis last week for the first time since the heady summitry of 2018. While Catholics constitute a relatively large and politically active part of South Korea’s population, their meeting centered on Moon’s efforts to persuade the supreme pontiff to visit North Korea, the world’s most militantly atheistic country.

Pope Francis reportedly expressed mild interest in the idea and said that he is ready to go to Pyongyang if the North Korean government officially invites him “to help Koreans and [the cause of] peace,” according to South Korea’s Blue House.