Posted February. 20, 2009 03:10,
The number of mourners who visited Myongdong Cathedral to pay their final respects to the late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan reached 341,620 yesterday.
His state funeral will be held today following a five-day mourning period.
A combined one million mourners have streamed into the cathedral to see his body, something which has become the talk of the town.
Kims funeral committee said, A huge number of visitors are expected to attend the funeral Mass and burial site at a graveyard for Catholic priests in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province. If the visitors who visited the funeral ceremonial halls set by provincial parishes across the nation are included, the combined number will exceed one million.
In 1979, an estimated two million people attended the funeral of President Park Chung-hee. More than 17 million people are said to have paid tribute at Parks funeral ceremony halls across the nation, according to national statistics.
Most of the mourners for the late cardinal were just ordinary people.
The funeral is the first for a cardinal in Korea.
Domestic and foreign media also covered the death of the first Korean cardinal. The Associated Press and NHK carried Kims passing as a top headline. About 500 reporters from home and abroad flocked to the cathedral.
Pyeonghwa Broadcasting Corp. aired the scene of tens of thousands of mourners flocking into the nations main cathedral, where his body lied in a glass case inside the main chapel. The funeral proceedings were aired in real time on cable TV and the companys Web site, as well as tow multi-televisions installed in the main hall at the cathedral.
The funeral committee said the funeral Mass will be aired live by SBS today.
Cardinal Kim also asked that his organs be donated after his death. This caused the daily number of new organ donors to reach a record high yesterday, The Korean Organ and Tissue Donor Program said.
About 400 people pledged to donate their organs online yesterday alone. This is the highest daily figure and a dramatic increase since the average daily number of organ donations was just 25 to 30, said one organ donor program source.