South Korea on Thursday approved a visit next month by a Buddhist monk to North Korea, the first such decision on civilian exchanges since the Moon Jae-in government took office last year.
Seoul's unification ministry sand that Monk Cheondam, a senior official of the World Peace Foundation, a civic group headquartered in Seoul, will embark on a five-day trip to Pyongyang on Saturday.
It said the monk had applied for the visit with an invitation from the North.
World Peace Foundation founder Ven. Cheondam, left, Manitou Foundation President Hanne M. Strong and Association des Artistes pour la Paix mondiale President Ven. Kim Jeongsoon. (World Peace Foundation)
Ven. Cheondam will visit the North via China and plans to meet with North Korea's leading Buddhists to discuss issues related to the restoration of a temple on Mount Kumgang, the ministry said.
The travel approval came as the two Koreas are seeking to enhance bilateral ties that had been strained amid Pyongyang's provocations.
President Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held summits on April 27 and May 26, and agreed to enhance cooperation, reduce military tensions and seek the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula and a peace treaty. (Yonhap)