ASIA/SOUTH KOREA – The barbed wire cross, a symbol of peace and reconciliation

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Rome – “This is the most beautiful cross in the world”, said Korean President Moon Jae-In, at the inauguration of the exhibition entitled “Barbed wire becomes a symbol of Peace”, organized by the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea, open to the public from October 29 to November 7 in the Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in Rome. The exhibition features 136 crosses made by sculptor Kwon Daehun, professor of sculpture at Seoul National University, who used the barbed wire that marked the border between South and North Korea and melted it down to create an artistic work called “Cross of Peace”. “The cross expresses the ardent desire of the Korean people to end the war and achieve peace”, remarked President Moon, who is Catholic, citing the passage from the Bible: “They will forge their swords into plowshares, their spears to make sickles “.
The installation made up of 136 crosses made with materials from the palisades erected to demarcate Korea’s demilitarized zone, was blessed and consecrated a few days ago by Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop Emeritus of Seoul. The initiative has a symbolic meaning and a cultural and political purpose: it aims to arouse the interest of the whole world, trying to raise awareness of the need to achieve lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, as explained the Minister of Unification, who was also present at the inauguration. By launching a message of peace and reconciliation through a work of a spiritual nature, the minister told Fides, the Korean government wanted to recognize the contribution of the Catholic Church which has always worked for peace, love, justice, democracy and human rights. At this point, as we need to renew dialogue and cooperation to bring unity and prosperity to our peninsula, we have high expectations of the role of the Catholic Church in this regard. Sculptor Kwon Daehun, who was present at the ceremony, explained: “the work sums up the suffering of Korean Christians and their aspirations for peace. In creating it – he said – I felt deep compassion”.