Even before finishing, Pope Francis’ trip to South Korea was widely regarded as a religious success and political triumph. Numerous indications testify to this: the enormous sea of people, the great public attention, the media’s unprecedented coverage, and the hope that it created. In reality, good results were expected from the carefully planned visit. After a long—and difficult to comprehend—absence from Asia, the pope has returned. The last trip was 15 years ago when Pope John Paul II went to India. The last trip to Korea took place a quarter century ago. Since that time, East Asia has grown politically, economically, and without contradiction, religiously. According to papal sources, there were more baptisms in Asia than in Europe last year despite the huge difference in Catholic populations. Only 12% of Catholics live in Asia, and of those 137 million, 62% live in the Philippines. Other Asian countries host marginal numbers, with the relative exception of South Korea where the Catholic population is growing rapidly. It now represents 11% of the population, and is assimilated with a religious and social shield for the most poor. There were additional reasons for choosing South Korea for this visit. The evangelic message has been diffused in a complex society where the suffering of the past century has united with modern levels of wellbeing. Pope Francis remembered the Christian martyrs, but also the pain of the civil war, launching an unequivocal message: Korea is one country, and should be reunited through peaceful means, and religious faith can contribute to this goal. Officially, he wasn’t heard in North Korea—expecting otherwise would have been naïve—but he didn’t use Cold War-style anathemas that still strike the peninsula. Even the simplicity of his methods could favor dialogue. He appears distant from ornamentations, security measures that impede contact with the faithful, and divine detachment. Theological conflicts with evangelical Christian congregations—who are much more numerous than the Vatican’s devotees—have also been marginalized. The most important message came from recalling man’s fundamental values. In the country that records some of the highest growth rates, Pope Francis recalled the importance of not confusing progress with the accumulation of material goods. In a nation at the forefront of electronics consumption, he recommended frugality and human relationships. It seems ironic, but he launched a spiritual message in a continent that believes itself to be the cradle of spirituality. In the context of modern globalization, North Asia is an immense factory that cranks out continually more sophisticated products. Perhaps surprisingly, these production capacities have exploded in regions dedicated to contemplation, frugality, and very frequently deprivation. The pope’s message seems clear in hoping for a return to simplicity. He is the Bishop of Rome, but hasn’t wanted to convert anyone. The last one was the most strictly political message: avoiding that the missionaries of the past—although belonging to his own faith—collide with traditional forces in the countries they’re operating in, so ancient that they can’t be eradicated. The Vatican knows that the conversion methods of past centuries have left an open wound, and pose the biggest obstacle to open dialogue in Asia. As opposed to China, South Korea hasn’t experienced Catholic missionaries as emissaries of western colonizers, isn’t bothered by the proliferation of aggressive protestant sects, and welcomed the pope with great affection and respect. Pope Francis’ appeals for unification of the two Koreas is probably a dead letter: no one in South Korea, Japan, Russia, or China really wants the unification to happen for a variety of reasons. But, if Pope Francis declares that the church doesn’t have Universalist ambitions, he’s building a long-range bridge. It could even reach to Beijing if he wanted, who would be unable to keep repeating how dangerous foreigners are to Chinese souls.