In his first Asia visit, Pope Francis to visit Seoul, South Korea.
The Vicar of Christ arrived in Seoul, South Korea’s capital, on Thursday, August 14, 2014, making it the first time in 25 years that a Pope visited the country. In his 5 day schedule, he will beatify the Korean Catholics who have died for their faith and will also attend a Catholic youth festival. He is also scheduled to meet the survivors and families of the deceased in the Sewol ferry mishap.
The pontiff was received at the airport by the South Korean President Park Geun-hye. On his way to South Korea, Pope Francis sent a telegram to China’s leaders which said, “I extend my best wishes to your excellency and your fellow citizens, and I invoke divine blessings of peace and well being upon the nation.”
South Korea, over the years has had a growth in the number of Catholics, which now represents 10% of the country’s population. Lionel Jensen, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Notre Dame said, “The pope’s presence is a powerful symbol of the Vatican’s recognition that it is in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa that the Church is growing most prominently.”
Meanwhile, the South Korean Defense Ministry said that North Korea had fired three short-range missiles into the sea east of the Korean peninsula, an hour before the Pope’s landing in Seoul.