World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Update
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

23 April 1999


cf. WCC Press Release of 13 April 1999

For the first time in its history, North Korea received a visit from a general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). During his visit from 17-20 April, Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, accompanied by an ecumenical delegation, met with representatives of the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) as well as with Kim Yong Nam, president of the presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

At a ceremony at the KCF office on 17 April, Dr Raiser gave Rev. Kang Yong Sup, chairman of the KCF, a list detailing the contents of an aid shipment coordinated by "Action by Churches Together" (ACT), comprising food items, medicines and medical equipment. To date, the WCC through ACT has channeled the equivalent of US$ 10 million of aid and relief assistance to the people of DPRK. This humanitarian effort began in 1995.

On Sunday, 18 April, the delegation worshiped at Bongsu Church in Pyongyang and also visited Chilgol Church. At Bongsu Church, Dr Raiser delivered a message to the congregation, based on John 21: 1-14 - Christ is present where there is need. He stated that the risen Christ was made known to his disciples through the breaking and sharing of bread. Christ knew and responded to the real needs of people. The solidarity shown by the ecumenical community in seeking to respond to the needs of the people of Korea is an expression of the love demonstrated by Christ.

At the meeting with the president of the presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK, Kim Yong Nam thanked the WCC for its efforts to work towards a peaceful reunification of Korea. He also expressed his gratitude for the humanitarian aid provided to the Korean people.

Since 1984, the WCC has promoted a process of reconciliation and reunification through consultations with representatives of churches in North and South Korea. These discussions began in September 1984 at Tozanso, Japan. A second discussion at Glion, Switzerland, in September 1986, was followed by a series of meetings.

In December 1998, a KCF delegation participated in the WCC's eighth assembly at Harare, where they were enthusiastically received by the member churches of the WCC.

The members of the delegation accompanying Dr Raiser were: WCC Asia secretary Dr Park Kyung Seo, executive secretary for International Relations Clement John, ACT coordinator Miriam Lutz and WCC audiovisual media coordinator Peter Williams.

Please note that photos of the WCC's visit to North Korea are now available on line.

Dr Raiser will be prepared to talk with journalists after his return from Korea on the afternoon of 26 April.

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.