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Pope's small car fascinates South Koreans


By YOUKYUNG LEE

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Pope Francis' choice of wheels during his five-day South Korean visit has surprised many in this painfully self-conscious country, where big shots rarely hit the streets in anything but expensive luxury cars.

After his arrival Thursday, 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. Surrounded by a few bigger black sedans, the pope's compact car headed toward Seoul.

Pope's Tiny Car Fascinates South Koreans
Francis' frugality and humble demeanor 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.

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."

For the man called "The People's Pope" the choice makes sense. He has eschewed the bulletproof "popemobiles" that his predecessors used on foreign trips and urged priests around the world to travel in low-key cars.

Inside the Vatican City, the pope prefers a blue Ford Focus, or when he's out in St. Peter's Square, a white open-topped vehicle that allows him to literally reach out and touch the masses.

South Korean media widely reported that the pope requested the smallest South Korean car during his visit. The Soul is Kia's second-smallest model and reportedly provides more leg room than other compact cars.

Though not everyone loves the Soul's funky design, it appeals to a niche of young, practical drivers. It has never, however, been a car of the rich and powerful.

Already bubbling with excitement over the first papal visit in 25 years, South Koreans appeared fascinated by the humble papal car.

"I feel honored that Pope Francis will not be in a bulletproof vehicle," said Shon Cho-eun, a 22-year-old Christian student. "I hope he arrives safely and delivers good messages to us."

Related:
Pope's Visit to South Korea
Catholicism in Asia
Popular Religions in Asia
Buddhism
Hindu Practices
Cars of the Royals

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aljoramaggio August 14 2014 at 4:26 PM

Not surprising at all.
So far, he has shown himself to be rather modest, and less concerned with pomp and circumstance, than bringing a message of goodwill and peace to other Nations.

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2 replies
hollemantom aljoramaggio August 14 2014 at 10:31 PM

HE IS A LOSER LIKE THE WHOLE CATHOLIC CHURCH...

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2 replies
ordobtrebla hollemantom August 14 2014 at 10:49 PM

Like anybody cares what you think... HollowManTom

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Kathy hollemantom August 15 2014 at 2:33 AM

hollemantom And do YOU have any kind of Faith? If you don't, then who is the loser?

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abourge458 aljoramaggio August 14 2014 at 11:48 PM

hollemantom...
What a sad life you must have.

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BradyBeans August 14 2014 at 4:40 PM

I know Rome is the "Eternal City", but it seems to me that the Pope feels South Korea has an "Eternal Seoul".

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3 replies
Dan August 14 2014 at 5:19 PM

This Pope is the berries... never thought I would admire a pope.

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1 reply
Mike Dan August 14 2014 at 5:48 PM

The last pope was total dingleberries.

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2 replies
Bob B Mike August 14 2014 at 6:18 PM

The present pope would not agree with you. Deal with it.

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juststeve35 Mike August 14 2014 at 10:32 PM

Ignore Bob B...

His ilk is easily threatened by anything negative towards the cult of christ.

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Practical Nomad August 15 2014 at 8:22 AM

Most are sick of Religion. Guess what? You know nothing of GOD, zip! You've never met GOD, nor have you held a "two sided" conversation with him/her. What you know of GOD is what you've read in a book called The Bible, written by mortal man. What you know of GOD is what your Pastor or Minister tells you, or in this case the Pope. Their knowledge is also based on a book written by mortal man. As for fact(s): We are born, we live to 70 or 80ish if we're lucky, we die, we are buried and we decompose. And YOU so called "Christians" can't prove "anything" beyond that, except what you've read in The Bible, a book written by mortal men and your interpretation of it. The majority use it to justify their own deeds and to judge others, but if giving your money to it makes you feel better, have at it.

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2 replies
Michael Keohane Practical Nomad August 15 2014 at 9:40 AM

Consider this, Practical Nomad, if you are right, nobody will ever know as we cease to exist. However, if you are wrong . . . ;>0

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Linda K Practical Nomad August 15 2014 at 9:41 AM

I can't help but wonder why people like you feel the need to put people down who believe and have faith in God. Does it make you feel superior? No one can prove today that we are going to be alive tomorrow, yet we make plans and prepare for tomorrow.

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v7howkloosh August 14 2014 at 4:05 PM

Who said this man is pope to everyone? he is nothing. Just another liar full of himself and pretending to be a spiritual leader he knows nothing about God or truth or jesus. I for one am tired of the news media in this country shoving announcements about the pope down everyone's throat like everyone is friggin a catholic fool.

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17 replies
Susan Bond August 14 2014 at 9:59 PM

Heehee... riding in Seoul in a Soul... I LOVE IT. And I'm really liking this guy! Finally a Pope that remembers why he's there... and that he is not above it all.

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juststeve35 August 14 2014 at 10:29 PM

Whatever your personal stance on religion and the Catholic Church:

This fella Walks The Walk...

I am impressed and encouraged that the cult of christ would elect such a man to lead them.

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1 reply
pboucard50 juststeve35 August 15 2014 at 7:23 AM

juststeve35,Handing over a list of known child molesters should have been his first order of business. We are still waiting !

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hollemantom August 14 2014 at 10:30 PM

HE SHOULD FOCUS ON THE 750 MILLION DOLLARS HE HAS PAID OUT FOR LOST LAW SUIT DUE TO HIS PRIEST RAPING CHILDREN AT THE HANDS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURH, THAT DOES NOT SEEM IMPORTANT TO HIM BECAUSE IT HAS NOT STOPPED, WHICH MAKES HIM GUILTY OF CHILD RAPE...

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1 reply
Kathy hollemantom August 15 2014 at 2:50 AM

And how do you know he has not tried to stopped them? You have proof? Or are you just making accusations?

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Bob August 15 2014 at 2:33 AM

I LOVE this man! Always surprising, even in times like these.

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roseyoungstewart August 14 2014 at 8:30 PM

interesting choice.

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