U.S. Evangelist Franklin Graham has concluded a three-day trip to North Korea that included meetings with high-level government officials and visits to his ministry's humanitarian assistance projects.
In a brief dispatch, North Korea's state-run news agency reported that Graham and his delegation had left the country Thursday after having arrived two days earlier to present $190,000 in equipment and supplies for a new dental center being built in Pyongyang.
During his stay, Graham also had a "friendly conversation" with North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun and offered a gift to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il through the country's vice parliamentary speaker, Kim Yong Dae, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) had reported.
The three-day visit marked the third time the evangelical leader has entered the reclusive nation and the first time a representative of an American aid agency has visited since all U.S. humanitarian groups were kicked out more than six months ago.
Graham is now expected to make his way through China, where the evangelist’s relief organization, Samaritan's Purse, last year sent a Boeing 747 cargo plane filled with urgently-needed supplies in response to a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Chengdu that killed 40,000 people.
Graham has ties to both North Korea and China through his late mother, Ruth Bell Graham, who was born in the northern Jiangsu province of China and attended a mission school in Pyongyang prior to the split between North and South Korea.
Graham’s father, world renowned evangelist Billy Graham, has also been to North Korea and met with then-President Kim Il Sung, who led North Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death.