Pope travelling in tiny box Kia car stuns Koreans

On arriving in Korea, Pope Francis amazed onlookers and a huge television audience by getting into an unassuming, small car.

This was in nation where VIPs are rarely seen in anything other than expensive, luxury cars.

After his arrival on August 14, the Pope left the airport in a compact black Kia that many South Koreans would consider too humble a conveyance for a globally powerful figure.

In a live television broadcast, the Pope climbed into the backseat of the boxy Kia Soul, rolled down the window and waved.

Francis’s frugality and humble demeanour have received wide coverage in South Korea, a fiercely competitive country that celebrates ostentatious displays of status and wealth.

This national trait can be seen in booming industries such as private tutoring and plastic surgery.

Korea has grown from poverty after the 1950s war, to become the world’s 13th largest economy

The images of the smiling Pope in his little car struck a chord online, with many playing on the car’s name.

One South Korean user tweeted: “The Pope rode the Soul because he is full of soul.”

The Pope also caught a commuter train to a Mass in a soccer stadium, rather than use a helicopter.

The same day, Francis warned Korea’s bishops about what can happen to ministry in a prosperous society, which is increasingly secular and materialistic.

“In such circumstances, it is tempting for pastoral ministers to adopt not only effective models of management, planning and organisation drawn from the business world, but also a lifestyle and mentality guided more by worldly criteria of success, and indeed power, than by the criteria which Jesus sets out in the Gospel.”

If “the face of the church is first and foremost a face of love, more and more young people will be drawn to the heart of Jesus”, the Pope said.

Also in Korea, he warned lay Catholics not to let competition marginalise the poor.

He met relatives of those lost in the Korean ferry disaster and agreed to baptise a father of one of the victims.

The Pope was greeted by huge crowds at the Sixth Asian Youth Day celebrations, and he also beatified 124 Korean martyrs.

Francis travelled among the crowds using a Kia-made popemobile.

He also visited a symbolic cemetery for abortion victims.


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