N. Korea Invites Russian Orthodox Leaders

( [email protected] ) Jul 03, 2003 04:02 AM EDT

As the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Il had invited Russian Orthodox Church leaders personally, For the first time, the church leaders stepped into North Korea, a country of the world's worst religious freedom records, LA Times reported on 28.

Valentin Radayev, a specialist on Asia in the Russian Orthodox Church's department for external church relations, said "When Kim Jong Il in the Far East last year, he visited one of our churches and he liked it. He said he'd like to have one of those. The invitation was definitely his idea."

The Church of the Holy Trinity ona river bank in eastern Pyongyang will be finished within 12 months, Radayev said. Its construction is done by next year, it is the fourth Christian house of worship in North Korea. There are one Roman Catholic and two Protestant sanctuaries, officially registered to the government.

The Union of Orthodox Believers in Korea is overseeing the project, according to North Korean officials. Itar-Tass a Russian state news agency reported that there're about 130 Russian citizens in Pyongyang.