Vatican radio has quoted the head of the Korean Catholic Bishops' Conference as expressing hope that Pope Francis' visit to the peninsula will help relaunch the reconciliation process between the two Koreas.

Bishop Peter Kang U-il was quoted Saturday as saying that there have been "sporadic but important signs of rebellion against the regime" in Pyongyang, which he said were motivated the difficult living conditions. Kang said that "hunger is a stronger motor of rebellion than the ideals of democracy and justice."

Pope Francis will participate in a Catholic youth festival during his trip to South Korea later this month, the first by a pope in 25 years.

The two Koreas have been in a near-constant standoff since an armistice ended the Korean War in 1953.