by Rita Wall CATHOLIC Social Action, an organisation working for justice in South Korea, is committed to the long term goal of the reunification of the country according to Regina Pyon, a spokesperson for the group.
In Britain at the invitation of the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR) Ms Pyon told an Amnesty International Annual Religious Conference on human rights at the weekend that Fr Paul Moon Kyu-hyun, a leading member of the Catholic Priests Association for Justice who was arrested in 1989 for travelling to North Korea, was content to remain in prison until all other political prisoners are freed.
The Catholic priest, who has taken to heart the long term objective of the reunification of Korea, knew that he would be arrested for travelling to communist North Korea, but saw his act as a political one, Ms Fyon told the conference at Westminster Cathedral Conference Centre.
During 1989 thousands of people were arrested in South Korea for opposing the government's stance on isolating North Korea, and many have subsequently been charged with "anti-state activities" under the National Security Law.
Fr Moon is imprisoned indefinitely along with another South Korean student whom he accompanied across the border to a World Festival of Youth in North Korea.
Ms Pyon described the Catholic Social Action group as "one held in great respect" in South Korea. As well as striving to achieve freedom and better
conditions for political prisoners, the church group is also committed to the welfare of industrial workers in the country.
Life, however, she said is becoming more repressive in South Korea with the right wing government clamping down on workers' rights and any opposition to the official line. Two members of the elected opposition party were murdered recently, Ms Pyon reported.
She appealed to the Amnesty conference to support Korea's struggle for reunification.
Despite Catholics making up only three million in a country of 40 million, she stressed that the church's work for justice is effective and respected.
Other speakers at the day long conference included Sr Pamela Hussey of CIIR who spoke on human rights and the church in El Salvador, and Jesuit Fr Frantisek Lizna, a former prisoner of conscience in Czechoslovakia who took as his theme "the church and human rights in Czechoslovakia."