SEOUL, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- A North Korean religious group has sent a rare Christmas greeting to South Korea in a video.
The North Korean Council of Religionists, an association of five religions, wished a Merry Christmas and peace and prosperity to South Koreans, in a short video.
The film starts with a series of pictures of Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and photos of North-South Korean summits this year. North Korea attended the Olympic Game, held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang in February, an event that offered a diplomatic breakthrough to improve the inter-Korean relationship.
Then, a man named Kang Ji-young, head of the North Korean religious group appears and reads a Christmas message.
"I send congratulatory and peaceful greetings for Christmas to South Korean brothers and sisters," he said.
The video continues with scenes in which North Koreans attend services at Jangchung Cathedral and Bongsu Church, two of the state-operated churches in North Korea.
A message also read: "We hope North and South Korean religionists, who go hand in hand towards peace and unification, filled with blessings by Christ the Lord."
The video, which lasts one minute and 38 seconds, was aired at a Christmas concert last Friday at Seoul Anglican Cathedral, according to Kookmin Ilbo.
Approved by the South Korea Unification Ministry, the video was delivered to the South Korean Commission on Faith and Order of Korean Churches, according to Joongang Ilbo.
North Korea forbids any religious practices and considers religion a threat to the regime's existence but operates a state-authorized religious group and churches to promote it has religious freedom to the outside world.
According to a South Kora's unification ministry report on North Korea, North Korea's founding leader Kim Il Sung banned any religious services, calling religion "essentially superstitious."
Earlier this month, the United States State Department designated North Korea as one of the violators of religious freedom for 17 consecutive years.