Families of April's ferry disaster victims welcomed Pope Francis as he arrived in South Korea on Thursday, organizers of the papal visit said.
Four members of the bereaved families greeted the pontiff as he arrived on an Alitalia plane at an air base just southeast of Seoul, according to Heo Young-yeop, the spokesman for the preparatory committee.
Other people "in need of consolation in Korean society" were also at the air base. They include two North Korean defectors, two foreign workers from the Philippines and Bolivia, respectively, and representatives of the bereaved families of other crime victims, the disabled and the descendants of Korean martyrs to be beatified later this week.
In addition, more than 600 members of the families of the Sewol ferry victims will likely be approved to attend the beatification ceremony of 124 Korean martyrs on Saturday, the spokesman said.
They asked for permission to attend the ceremony in May and received a positive response from the Vatican, Heo said, adding that details should be available by the end of Thursday.
The Sewol ferry capsized off southwestern South Korea on April 16 after making a sharp turn. So far, 294 people, mostly high school students, have been found dead, with 10 missing and presumed dead. (Yonhap)