Today marks my second week in Korea. Since I arrived I have met many friends, all eager to show me around Korea and to chat up a storm. This past week I have spent my time settling into the dormitory at Yonsei University and sorting out things for my semester here. As such, I hadn’t found the time to write much but I have a long, long list of topics to write about already.
I’m a little late in posting about this, so I extend my apologies, but it still sticks out in my vividly in my mind. The Pope visiting Korea from August 13th-18th.
What struck me the most was the massive number of people who came out just to get a glimpse of him. Korea, as you may already know, is a country of three main religious tenets: Christianity, Buddhism, and Korean Confucianism. Out of 25 million people polled in a recent census, only 53% of Koreans professed to having a religion. I didn’t really know what to expect of the Pope coming here for a conference. Would they openly welcome him or would it simply be as if another celebrity came? But I was quick to find out.
The Pope delivered a speech at the palace in Gwanghwamun and this was the picture that greeted us:
So. Many. People. It was quite surprising to me, but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprise. I wasn’t in Gwanghwamun that day to see the Pope. I was actually exploring around Seoul with one of my guest-mates from my guesthouse when we ran into the huge crowd. It was quite a sight to behold. The milling people and squadrons of police. The nearby subway stop even shut down for the Pope.
I never intended to see the Pope, but it was nice to see people come out to hear what he had to say.