Arriving in Seoul on Thursday, Pope Francis, who has become extremely popular – especially with the youth – due to his humble demeanor and jovial tolerance for what many Catholics consider beyond the norm, kicked off his five-day visit with his usual modest approach.
Instead of riding in a 'Popemobile', made popular in the Philippines by Pope John Paul II or his bulletproofed Mercedes-Benz, his Holiness stepped into a black Kia Soul, rolled down the window and waved at the crowd, which included President Park Geun Hye.
The pope is in South Korea to preside over the beatification rites of 124 Korean martyrs on August 16, Sunday, among many others.
Called the ‘People’s Pope,’ he has always been a stanch supporter or small vehicles and his choice may stun many in South Korea but it did not come a surprise to people close to the pope.
In the Vatican, the pope’s ride is either a Ford Focus or a white open-top vehicle, which gives him a chance to reach out and touch the people.
Prior to the trip, it was widely known that the pope requested for the smallest South Korean car for his use during his visit and it is unknown if there were any modification done on the Soul to ensure the pope’s safety.
The pope’s choice is obviously a big win for Kia, not just in South Korea but even around the world as this news has made to all news outlets.
"This will help Kia by bringing far-reaching exposure through the mass media. That exposure will be related to the pope, who has a very positive image among the general public, which in return will trigger a halo effect for Kia," said Kim Jin Kook, CEO of auto researcher Marketing Insight.
What do you think Pope Francis will choose when he visits the Philippines January 2015?