After an 11 1/2 hour flight from Rome, Pope Francis arrived in Korea at 10:15 a.m. Thursday, beginning a five-day pastoral visit to Korea.
Emerging from the chartered Alitalia flight at Seoul Air Base about 10 minutes earlier than scheduled, the 77-year-old pontiff was greeted by President Park Geun-hye and a small crowd consisting of government officials, representatives of the Korean Catholic Church and 32 lay people from various walks of life.
The welcome ceremony lasted for about 20 minutes, without much fanfare.
When he was introduced to four family members of those killed in the April Sewol ferry disaster, he stopped and said: “I have (it) deep in my mind.”
After the ceremony, the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide boarded a Korean compact car on his way to the Apostolic Nunciature in Seoul, where he will stay for the entire Korean schedule.
After a private Mass there, the pope is to meet with Park, senior government officials and Korean bishops in the afternoon.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)