Seoul (AsiaNews) The Pope travelled twice to South Korea, which has one of the largest Catholic communities in Asia. He came in 1984 to celebrate the bicentennial of the beginning of evangelisation in the Korean peninsula, and in 1989 for the International Eucharistic Congress, held in a Seoul.
During the first visit, the Pontiff celebrated mass and canonised 103 Korean martyrs, among them Andrew Andrea Kim, Korea's first priest.
In his visits, John Paul II spoke about reconciliation, peace, justice, human dignity and ecumenism, touching non Christians as well.
He urged the Catholic Church, which represents a minority, to be "more conscious of its own faith [and thus] more missionary and bear witness through its life of the message of Christ".
The Pope called the Korean people 'a faraway friend' often citing Confucius's Analecta. "Is it not a great joy to visit a faraway friend?" he said.
"He truly treated like friends," recalls Cardinal Kim, Bishop emeritus of Seoul, "always standing by us and praying for our northern brothers and sisters."