Waiting for him at the airport was President of the Republic, Madam Park Geun-hye. Also present were some state authorities, the Presidium of the Korean Bishops’ Conference, and a representation of faithful.
For the plane to arrive in the Asian country, it flew over Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Mongolia and China.
To each of these countries, the Holy Father sent a telegraphic message to the respective heads of state.
To President Ivo Josipovic of Croatia, he wrote: “Flying over your country during my flight to South Korea, I send to you and your fellow citizens warm greetings. I impart divine blessings upon your nation, I pray to God Almighty to bless you with peace and prosperity.”
To President of Slovenia Borut Pahor, he wrote: “I extend a cordial greeting to your Excellency and to your fellow citizens. When flying over your country, I invoke the blessing of Almighty God, and I pray to him in order to grant peace and prosperity to your nation.
The Pope sent telegrams with similar invocations and prayers for peace and prosperity to the President of Austria Heinz Fischer, President of Slovakia Andrej Kiska, President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski, President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, President of Russia Vladimir Putin , President of Mongolia Elbegdorj Tsakhiagiin, and President of China Xi Jinping.
During the trip, the Pope prayed for Simone Camilli, the Italian journalist killed in Gaza today, while assisting to defuse a missile.
At 3:35 a.m Rome time, the Korean authorities came aboard the aircraft to welcome the Pope.
The Holy Father slowly descended the airplane steps and proceeded to shake hands with South Korean President Madam Park Geun-hye and was pleased to speak with her.
Two Korean children dressed in traditional clothing offered the Pope flowers, and, to celebrate the start of the visit, army officials fired a cannon in his honor.
This marks Pope Francis’ first trip to an Asian country.
The authorities and the Korean people have shown great kindness and cordiality. Despite the fact that Catholics are only 11 percent of the entire population of the country, many have eagerly been awaiting the Pope.
The Pontiff and the government authorities one by one and exchanged many smiles with bishops and the faithful present at the airport.
Francis then got into a modest, compact black car, a Kia. He rolled down the window to say hello before heading to the nunciature where he will celebrate Mass in private.
In the headlines of Korean newspapers, they call the Pope: the “Shepherd of the Weak.”
The aspect that seems to have hit the Koreans most is that Francis is particularly close to the weak and the poor.
Not only are the streets of those waiting for the Pope crowded, but scattered groups also wish to greet him.
There is enthusiasm, but the security measures are very tight, both for journalists and for the faithful. One can assume that the numbers of those participating in the meetings with the Pope will be affected by security measures.