|* Permanent Presence of Priests in North Korea on Discussion|
"We discussed with officials of the North Korean Roman Catholic Association the question of permanent presence of Catholic priests in North Korea." Fr. Joseph Chung Kwang-woong hinted positive move of the possibility of permanent presence of Korean priests in North Korea.
The delegation team of the Korea Reconciliation Committee of Archdiocese of Seoul (KRCAS) headed by Fr. Chung met Samuel Chang Jae-eon, President of the North Korean Roman Catholic Association(NKRCA) and other officials on July 22 and discussed the question of permanent presence of Roman Catholic priests in North Korea by three months cycle and celebration of Mass. Fr. Chung celebrated Mass at Jangchung Church in Pyongyang for some 130 Catholics.
Prior to it, July 19, Rev. Chung presided opening and blessing ceremony of the Nampo noodle factory in the presence of the delegation team of the KRCAS(President: Most Rev. Peter Kang Woo-il, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul Archdiocese) and the Secretary of the NKRCA, Paul Kang Ji-young, and many others.
"Installation took four days and machine started to produce beautiful noodle. Children in baby care centers, school, hospitals and the sick, pregnant women and elderly will be the first beneficiaries," said Fr. Chung.
For the opening the KRCAS sent in early July two noodle machines, electric generator, kneading machines, electric fans and all necessary tools equivalent to US$52,000 (67,700,000 won) and 100 tons of wheat flour equivalent to US$17,300 (22,500,000 won) as preparation of the noodle factory in Cheollima area, Nampo.
In North Korea, there are about 60 noodle factories opened by NGOs or religious organizations including Korean Catholic communities in the United States.
"This is the first noodle factory opened by South Korean Catholics. We are behind compared to these organizations however never too late. The KRCAS has steadily assisted North Koreans from 1995 and total amount of aids fund comes to over 8,500,000,000 won equivalent to US$6,538,461. This noodle factory is significant to us in the sense that with it we have now a solid and long-run ground to help North Koreans. Important are spiritual and humanitarian sharing, dialogue and mutual understanding." Fr. Chung said.
On the occasion of the 2001 Prayer Day for Reconciliation and Unity of Korean People. June 24, the Most Rev. Peter Kang, President of the Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People of the CBCK, urged the North Korea to allow the permanent presence of Catholic priests in North Korea and at the same time appealed to all South Korean Catholics for generous participation in relief activity for North Koreans in difficulties.
* A Senior Self-Made Man Donates Huge Real-estate for the Poor
Kang Tae-won(82) donated to Hyondo Social Welfare College of Kktotdongnae in Chungbuk, South Korea over US$7,700,000 equivalent real-estate with intention to educate high quality social welfare workers.
For the sake of the poor he donated all what he earned during all his life by doing rough work, draper's shop and transportation business etc.
On July 23, Kang made official donation to Fr. Oh Woong-jin, the founder of Kkotdongnae, his 11-story building located in Kangnam, Seoul, one of the most luxurious areas of Seoul, with 444 pyong of land and 2,100 pyong (1 pyong=3.954 sq. yds) of floor space with intention to establish a specialized social welfare school for the poor.
"Such a big donation is the first time for me. I feel immense gratitude, but, at the same time I feel that I'm concerned. I will do my best to use the donation to educate social welfare workers according to the intention of donor," said Fr. Oh Woong-jin.
"In my family, I was taught by my ancestors that handing over the heritage to children is like giving them opium. So, I wanted to return all my property to the society to be used for the poor," Kang said.
"I tried hard to find right organization to donate my wealth and visited many social welfare organizations. While I was visiting Kkotdongnae I was very moved by dedication of youth volunteers and religious for the poor. I was convinced that Kkotdongnae would be the right organization that will use my wealth for the poor," Kang said.
* Church Defends Life Over the Ethical Issue of Abortion
As morning after pill is rekindling debates over the ethical issue of abortion Fr. Paul Lee Chang-young, Undersecretary of the CBCK, reconfirmed the Church's principal teaching with regard the conception and human life at MBC TV's late-night 100 minutes debate program taken place at 23:00 p.m. Aug. 2.
Controversial debate was sparked last May, when a local drug maker Hyundai Pharm Co. sought approval from the Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) for selling a foreign contraceptive pill called the morning after pill Norlevo, that reportedly prevents pregnancy if it is taken within 72 hours after sexual intercourse.
Key points of the two sides of pro and contra for using the pill was about deciding on the definition and time of conception and weather the pill is only a contraceptive pill or a early abortion pill..
Fr. Lee strongly argued to defend Catholic Church's position regarding the definition and time of conception, and pointed out the consecutive results that will follow when such drug is permitted from the long-run perspective: Catholic Church's basic and principle teaching with regard the conception and life is that human being's life begins at the very moment the egg is fertilized. In another words life begins at fertilization not at implantation. Therefore the controversial morning after pill should not be allowed because using it is a killing act of human life, in other word, it is an abortion pill.
In this respect the Gender Equality Ministry, the Korean Doctor's Association and religious groups have voiced negative views on the medicine, arguing that it will promote an unsound and intemperate sexual culture, while encouraging the tendency to devalue life.
The other side argued that pregnancy starts at the moment when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, so the morning after pill will prevents unintended pregnancy and will facilitate women's choice which is women's rights and insisted that it should be allowed given the situation that a growing number of women undergo illegal abortion, and it is nothing more than an emergency contraceptive.
An official tally, meanwhile, showed that as many as 1.5 million fetuses are aborted in Korea per year. It would mean that an unofficial tally will show much higher number such as 2-3 million abortions per year.
Facing sharply divided public opinions, the pharmaceutical regulator put off its decision until late August.