Pope Francis, May 24, 2014.
Pope Francis waves from the top of the stairs leading to the plane as he leaves to his trip to the holy land from Rome, May 24, 2014 . Photo by AFP
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Pope Francis will hold a Mass for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula as a centrepiece of his visit to South Korea in August, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

Francis, making his first trip to Asia since his election in March, 2013, will visit South Korea August 13-18 to take part in a gathering of Catholic Youth from all of Asia.

According to the trip's programme released by the Vatican on Wednesday, the pope will conclude his trip on August 18 with a "Mass for Peace and Reconciliation" in the Myeong-dong cathedral in the South Korean capital.

The two Koreas have been divided since the Korean war, which left millions of families separated. The south and the reclusive, communist north have been at a near-constant standoff since the 1953 armistice.