Saint John Paul II Bronze coin commemorating the Pope’s visit to Korea and the canonization of the Korean martyrs. On the obverse is a profile of Pope John Paul II with a staff, with the words JOANNES PAULUS II PONTE. MAX. (Latin: Pope John Paul II). On the reverse are various images depicting temple, palm leaves and figure of a man in flowing robes. The words COREAM VISIT 3 – 7 MAII 1984 (Latin: Korea Visit 3-7 May 1984) are inscribed on the right side of the border.
Pope St John Paul II visited the Korean Republic for the first time in 1984, the bicentenary of the Catholic Church in Korea. He canonized 103 Korean martyrs and pronounced the solemn Act of Entrustment of Korea to Mary. He visited Korea for a second time in 1989.
When he touched down in Seoul in 1984, the Pope got down on his knees and kissed the tarmac, repeating the words “Land of martyrs, land of martyrs,” a reference to over 8,000 Christians who have died for their faith in Korea since the late 18th century. During his first visit, John Paul II canonised 103 martyrs, the first such ceremony performed outside Rome. He conducted the canonisation in Korean, having studied the language in preparation for his visit for that purpose. The canonisation made South Korea the country with the fourth largest number of Catholic saints.