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  • Steven Song

Priest who’s visited North Korea more than 50 times wonders if he can go again

Featured Image: Father Hammond at a treatment center in North Korea (Gerard Hammond)

Featured Image: Father Hammond at a treatment center in North Korea (Gerard Hammond)

Father Gerald Hammond in an 84 year old Catholic priest who comes from Philadelphia. He first went to North Korea in 1995 and has been helping with humanitarian efforts ever since. However, recent developments, specifically the detention and death of American tourist Otto Warmbier, have resulted in travel restrictions. These restrictions will bar American tourists from entering North Korea. Meanwhile, aid workers and journalists will have to receive a special passport for every trip that they make. This may prove to be troubling for aid workers like Hammond, who works with the Eugene Bell Foundation to treat tuberculosis in North Korea.

Other institutions will also be impacted by these restrictions. The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) has several teachers that are United States citizens. These professors are worried that they will not be able to go back to PUST and teach their students.

Hammond is, of course, a Catholic priest, and PUST is a Christian-run organization, but neither are able to actively spread the word of God. Hammond hopes that even though he may not be able to share his beliefs through his words, his actions will speak loudly. He was lauded by Pope Francis and awarded with the Gaudium et Spes Award from the Knights of Columbus. It seems that it will be hard for Hammond and other humanitarian workers to go back to North Korea for now.

APP NGO Intern

Emory University

Steven Song

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