|Died||1839, 1840, 1841, 1846, 1866|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholicism|
|Canonized||May 6, 1984, Yeouido, Seoul, South Korea|
A religious martyr is a person who is killed as a result of maintaining and practicing religious faith. In the early years, of the Christian faith in Korea, several thousand Christians, most of them Roman Catholics, were martyred. The Catholic faith started to develop in Korea at the beginning of the seventeenth century, during the Joseon period, a time when outside influence of any kind was not welcomed in Korea. Catholicism was seen as a threat to the state ideology of Confucianism, and many Catholic monks, priests, and lay members were executed, producing as many as 8,000 or more martyrs.
The Early Christian Church in Korea
The Roman Catholic church began to develop in Korea at the beginning of the seventeenth century, brought by Koreans who had met the faith and been converted in China. They also brought translations of the scriptures from China, and the strong and dynamic Catholic communities were led almost entirely by lay people until the arrival of the first Catholic missionaries from France in 1836. The Protestant churches did not start sending missionaries until nearly 50 years later, in 1884.
The Catholic community suffered major persecutions in the years 1839, 1846, and 1866, producing at least 8,000 known martyrs, killed for following a false religion. Among them were the fervent Korean priest Andrew Kim Taegeon and the Korean lay catechist Paul Chung Hasang. The vast majority of the martyrs were simple lay people, including men and women, married and single, old and young. The members of this group of martyrs have been canonized as saints, with feast day September 20. Currently, Korea has the fourth largest number of saints in the Catholic world.
Robert Jermain Thomas (1839-1866), a Welshman, is the first Protestant missionary on record to have visited Korea, arriving in 1865, to distribute Chinese Bibles, about 20 years before the first organized Protestant evangelists began work in Korea. He returned to Korea again in 1866, on the General Sherman officially as an interpreter, continuing to also distribute Bibles. He was executed along with the rest of the ship's crew when the ship sailed too close to Pyongyang and was attacked by Korean forces. Thus, he became the first Protestant Korea martyr in Korea.
Many other Protestant missionaries and laymen were killed during the Japanese occupation. Many of the political activists killed during the March 1 Movement in 1919 were Christians. They are better described as political martyrs than religious martyrs, because they were killed as a direct result of their participation in political activism. From that time on, the Japanese occupation government was increasingly suspicious that any Christian might have political motives, and many Christians were imprisoned, tortured and killed.
North Korean Martyrs
At the end of the Korea War, there were an estimated 300,000 Catholics in North Korea, including a number of Benedictine monks. Today, according to Pyongyang, the number of Catholics in North Korea is less than 5,000. At the end of the war, some fled to the South. Others were killed, or gave up their faith. It is impossible to know how many became martyrs.
36 members of the Benedictine order associated with Tokwon Abbey in North Korea have been confirmed as killed by the Stalinist regime between 1949 and 1952, when they refused to abandon their faith. The 36 have been recommended for sainthood, and the Order of St. Benedict Waegwan Abbey in South Korea is working to move the process of their beatification and canonization forward.
Although the history of Catholicism in Korea is relatively short, as a result of the brutal persecutions of the church by the Joseon court, the number of martyrs is quite high, and Korea has the fourth largest number of Catholic saints of any country in the world. Pope John Paul II broke with tradition and held a canonization ceremony in Seoul, bestowing sainthood on 103 of the Korean Martyrs.
The courage and sacrifice of the Korean Catholic Church is well known outside Korea, and there are more than a dozen Catholic Churches in North America bearing the name Church of the Korean Martyrs.
Message from Korea's first native Priest
From the last letter of Andrew Kim Taegeon to his parish as he awaited martyrdom with a group of 20 persons:
- My dear brothers and sisters, know this: Our Lord Jesus Christ upon descending into the world took innumerable pains upon and constituted the holy Church through his own passion and increases it through the passion of its faithful....
- Now, however, some fifty or sixty years since holy Church entered into our Korea, the faithful suffer persecutions again. Even today persecution rages, so that many of our friends of the same faith, among whom am I myself, have been thrown into prison. just as you also remain in the midst of persecution. Since we have formed one body, how can we not be saddened in our innermost hearts? How can we not experience the pain of separation in our human faculties?
- However, as Scripture says, God cares for the least hair of our heads, and indeed he cares with his omniscience; therefore, how can persecution be considered as anything other than the command of God, or his prize, or precisely his punishment?...
- We are twenty here, and thanks be to God all are still well. If anyone is killed, I beg you not to forget his family. I have many more things to say, but how can I express them with pen and paper? I make an end to this letter. Since we are now close to the struggle, I pray you to walk in faith, so that when you have finally entered into Heaven, we may greet one another. I leave you my kiss of love.
Korean Martyrs and Saints
Names of some of the martyrs killed in the persecutions in 1791, 1801, 1827, 1839, 1846, and 1866, 103 of whom were later canonized to sainthood May 6, 1984 by Pope John Paul II. In a break with tradition, the ceremony did not take place in Rome, but in Seoul.
- Martyrs from the Shinyu Persecution (1801) 신유박해(辛酉迫害)
- Zhou (Chu) Munmo, Chinese, Korea's only priest at the time
- Charles Yi Kyongdo
- Lutgardis Yi Sooni
- Chung Yakjong, father of Paul Chung Hasang
- Ulhae Persecution (1815)
- Chonghae Persecution (1827)
- Martyrs from the Gihye Persecution (1839) 기해박해(己亥迫害)In the Gihae Persecution, the French Bishop Imbert and two other missionaries priests, Maubant and Chaston were martyred, as well as Paul Chung Hasang, one of the most successful lay leaders of the Korean Catholic Church, in addition to hundreds of other faithful.
- Paul Chung Hasang , (1795-1839), who worked tirelessly as a lay leader to helped establish the early Korean Catholic Church, traveling back and forth to China many times to rebuild the church after the Shinyu persecution, and finally gaining official recognition for the Korean Church from Rome on Sept. 9, 1831. He studied for the priesthood under Bishop Imbert, but was killed before becoming a priest. (103 Saints)
- Cecilia Yu, mother of Paul Chung Hasang, died in prison in 1839 (103 Saints)
- Elisabeth Chung Junghye, younger sister of Paul Chung Hasang. (103 Saints)
- Peter Yi Hoyong Peter (103 Saints)
- Nine faithful hung on crosses and then beheaded May 24, 1839:
- Magdalene Kim Obi (1774-1839). (103 Saints)
- Agatha Kim Agi (1787-1839). Baptized in prison 1839. (103 Saints)
- Barbara Han Agi (1792-1839). (103 Saints)
- Damian Nam Myonghyeok, a leader of the Catholic Church beginning from the 1820's (103 Saints)
- Peter Kwon Tugin (103 Saints)
- Anna Pak Agi (103 Saints)
- Augustine Yi Hwanghon (103 Saints)
- Lucy Park Huisun (103 Saints)
- Agatha Yi Sosa, sister of Peter Yi Hoyong Peter (103 Saints)
- Martyred September 21-22, 1839
- Augustine Yu Chingil (1791-1839), one of just a few government officials in the Catholic Church, father of Peter Yu Taecheol, baptized in 1824 in China, executed September 22, 1839. (103 Saints)
- Peter Yu Taecheol, a thirteen-year old boy, youngest of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints.
- Ignatius Kim Jejun, father of Andrew Kim Taegon, executed September 22, 1839 (103 Saints)
- Bishop Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert, the first bishop assigned to Korea, arriving in 1837 (103 Saints)
- Father Philibert Maubant, French Catholic Priest (103 Saints)
- Father James Honore' Chastan, French Catholic Priest (103 Saints)
- Among 8 Catholics beheaded on July 20, 1839, the first group to be martyred after Cho Pyongku issued a decree that the Church be completely eliminated.
- Martha Kim Songim (1787-1839)(103 Saints)
- Magdalena Yi (103 Saints)
- Theresa Yi Mae-im (103 Saints)
- Lucy Kim (103 Saints)
- Maria Won Kwi-im, beaten badly and tortured (103 Saints)
- Rosa Kim (103 Saints)
- Barbara Kim (1805-1839) died of disease while in prison. (103 Saints)
- Killed in the Byeongoh Persecution (1846) Martyrs from the Byeongoh Persecution included the first Korean-born Catholic priest, Andrew Kim Taegon, and nine other believers.
- Andrew Kim Taegon, Korea's first native priest, son of Ignatius, also a martyr (103 Saints)
- Byungin Persecution (1866-1871), sometimes called the Great Persecution, under the rule of Daewongun, was the final and most severe persecution under the Joseon Dynasty. 9 foreign missionaries were killed, along with an estimated 8,000 Korean Catholics.
- Bishop Anthony Daveluy (103 Saints)
- Father Peter Aumaitre , French Catholic Priest (103 Saints)
- Beheaded March 7, 1866
- Bishop Siméon François Berneux (1814-1866), French Catholic Bishop, appointed 4th Bishop of Korea in 1854 (103 Saints)
- Father Peter Henricus Dorie, French Catholic Priest (103 Saints)
- Father Ludovicus Beaulieu, French Catholic Priest (103 Saints)
- Father Justin de Bretenières, French Catholic Priest (103 Saints)
List of the 103 Korean Saints
- Peter Yi Hoyong (이호영 베드로/회장) November 5, 1838 / Hyungjojeon Prison
- Protasius Chong Kurbo (정국보 프로타시오/공인) May, 1839 / Pochung Prison
- Agatha Kim Agi (김아기 아가타/과부) May 4, 1939 / Outside
- Anna Pak Agi (박아기 안나/부인) May 4, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Agatha Yi Sosa (이소사 아가타/과부) May 4, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Magdalene Kim Obi (김업이 막달레나/과부) May 4, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Augustine Yi Kwang-hon (이광헌 아우구스티노/회장) May 4, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Barbara Han Agi (한아기 바르바라/과부) May 4, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Lucia Park Huisun (박희순 루치아/동정궁녀) May 4, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Damien Nam Myong-hyok (남명혁 다미아노/회장) May 4, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Peter Kwon Tugin (권득인 베드로/상인) May 4, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Joseph Chang Songjib (장성집 요셉/환부) May 6, 1839 / Pochung Prison
- Barbara Kim (김 바르바라/과부) May 7, 1839 / Died in prison
- Barbara Yi (이 바르바라/동정녀) May 7, 1839 / Died in prison
- Rosa Kim (widow) (김 로사/과부) July 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Martha Kim Songim (김성임 마르타/과부) July 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Teresa Yi Mae-im (이매임 데레사/부인) July 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Anna Kim Changkeum (김장금 안나/과부) July 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- John Baptist Yi Kwangnyol (catechist) (이광렬 요한/공인) July 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Magdalene Yi Yong-hui (이영희 막달레나/동정) July 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Lucia Kim (김 루치아/동정녀) July 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Maria Won Kwi-im (virgin) (원귀임 마리아/동정녀) July 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Paul Chong Hasang (정하상 바오로/회장) September 2, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Maria Park K'unagi (박큰아기 마리아/부인) September 3, 1839/ Outside Seosomun
- Barbara Kwon Hui (권희 바르바라/부인) September 3, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- John Pak Hujae (박후재 요한/상인) September 3, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Barbara Yi Chong-hui (이정희 바르바라/과부) September 3, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Maria Yi Yonhui (이연희 마리아/부인) September 3, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Agnes Kim Hyoju (김효주 아녜스/동정녀) September 3, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Francis Ch'oe Hyong-hwan (최경환 프란치스코/회장) September 2, 1839 / Died in prison
- Lawrence Imbert (Korea's 2nd Bishop) (앵베르 라우렌시오/주교 September 1, 1839 / Saenamteo
- Peter Maubant (priest MEP) September 1, 1839 / Saenamteo
- Jacob Chastan (priest) September 1, 1839 / Saenamteo
- Augustine Yu Chin-gil (유진길 아우구스티노/회장, 역관) September 2, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Magalena Ho Kye-im (허계임 막달레나/부인) September 6, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Sebastian Nam Yigwan (남이관 세바스티아노/회장) September 6, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Juliet Kim (virgin) (김 율리에타/궁녀) / September 6, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Agatha Chon Kyonghyob (전경협 아가타/궁녀) September 6, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Charles Cho Shin-ch'ol (조신철 가롤로/역관) September 6, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Ignatius Kim Chejun (catechist) (김제준 이냐시오/회장) September 6, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Magdalene Pak Pongson (widow) (박봉손 막달레나/과부) September 6, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Perpetua Hong Kumju (widow) (홍금주 페르페투아/과부) September 6, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Columba Kim Hyo-im (김효임 골롬바/동정녀) September 6, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Lucia Kim (김 루치아/과부) September 1839 / Died in prison
- Catherine Yi (이 가타리나/과부) September 1839 / Died in prison
- Magdalene Cho (조 막달레나/동정녀) September 1839 / Died in prison
- Peter Yu Tae-Chol (유대철 베드로/소년) October 1, 1839 / Died in prison
- Cecilia Yu Sosa (유소사 체칠리아/과부) November 3, 1839 / Died in prison
- Peter Ch'oe Ch'ang-hub (catechist) (최창흡 베드로/회장) December 9, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Barbara Cho Chung-i (조증이 바르바라/부인) December 9, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Magdalene Han Yong-i (한영이 막달레나/과부) December 9, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Benedicta Hyon Kyongnyon (현경련 베네딕타/여회장) December 9, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Elisabeth Chong Chong-hye (virgin) (정정혜 엘리사벳/동정녀) December 9, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Barbara Ko Suni (고순이 바르바라/부인) December 9, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Magdalene Yi Yongdeog (이영덕 막달레나/동정녀) December 9, 1839 / Outside Seosomun
- Teresa Kim (김 데레사/과부) January 9, 1840 / Died in prison
- Agatha Yi (이 아가타/동정녀) January 9, 1840 / Died in prison
- Stephen Min Kukka (catechist) (민극가 스테파노/회장) January 1840 / Died in prison
- Andrew-Chong Kwagyong (catechist) (정화경 안드레아/회장) January 3, 1840 / Died in prison
- Paul Hohyup (허협 바오로/군인) January 1840 / Died in prison
- Augustine Pak Chong-won (박종원 아우구스티노/회장) January 1, 1840 / Danggogae
- Peter Hong Pyongju (홍병주 베드로/회장) January 1, 1840 / Danggogae
- Magdalene Son Sobyog (손소벽 막달레나/부인) January 1, 1840 / Danggogae
- Agatha Yi Kyong-i (이경이 아가타/동정녀) January 1, 1840 / Danggogae
- Maria Yi Indog (이인덕 마리아/동정녀) January 1, 1840 / Danggogae
- Agatha Kwon Chini (권진이 아가타/부인) January 1, 1840 / Danggogae
- Paul Hong Yongju (catechist) (홍영주 바오로/회장) February 1, 1840 / Danggogae)
- John Yi Munu (이문우 요한/복사) February 1, 1840 / Danggogae
- Barbara Ch'oe Yong-i (최영이 바르바라/부인) February 1, 1840 / Danggogae
- Anthony Kim Song-u (김성우 안토니오/회장) April 9, 1841 / Died in prison
- Andrew Kim Taegon (김대건 안드레아/신부) September 16, 1846 / Saenamteo
- Charles Hyon Songmun (현석문 가롤로/회장) September 9, 1846 / Saenamteo
- Peter Nam Kyongmun (catechist) (남경문 베드로/회장) September 1846 / Pochung Prison
- Lawrence Han Ihyong (catechist) (한이형 라우렌시오/회장) September 1846 / Pochung Prison
- Susanna U Surim (우술임 수산나/과부) September 1846 / Pochung Prison
- Joseph Im Ch'ibaeg (임치백 요셉/사공) September 1846 / Died in prison
- Teresa Kim Imi (김임이 데레사/동정녀) September 1846 / Pochung Prison
- Agatha Yi Kannan (이간난 아가타/과부) September 1846 / Died in prison
- Catherine Chong Ch'oryom (정철염 가타리나/부인) September 1846 / Died in prison
- Peter Yu Chongyul (catechist) (유정률 베드로/회장) February 7, 1866 / Pyungyang
- Simon Berneux (Korea's 4th Bishop) March 7, 1866 / Saenamteo
- Justin de Bretenières (priest) March 7, 1866 / Saenamteo
- Peter Henricus Dorie (priest) March 7, 1866 / Saenamteo
- Bernard Ludovicus Beaulieu (priest) March 7, 1866 / Saenamteo
- John Nam Chong-sam (남종삼 요한/승지) March 7, 1866 / Saenamteo
- John Baptist Chong Chang-un (catechist) (전장운 요한/상인) March 9, 1866 / Outside Seosomun
- Peter Choi Hyong (catechist) (최형 베드로/회장) March 9, 1866 / Outside Seosomun
- Mark Chong Uibae (catechist) (정의배 마르코/회장) March 1, 1866 / Saenamteo
- Alex U Seyong (우세영 알렉시오/역관) March 1, 1866 / Saenamteo
- Anthony Daveluy (Korea's 5th bishop) / March 1866 / Galmaemot
- Martin Luke Huin (priest) / March 1866 / Galmaemot
- Peter Aumaitre (priest) / March 1866 / Galmaemot
- Joseph Chang Chugi (priest) (장주기 요셉/회장) March 1866 / Galmaemot
- Luke Hwang Seoktu (황석두 루카/회장) March 1866 / Galmaemot
- Thomas Son Chason )손자선 토마스/농부) March 1866 / Gongju
- Bartholomew Chong Munho (정문호 바르톨로메오/원님) December 3, 1866 /Supjeongi
- Peter Cho Hwaso (조화서 베드로/농부) December 3, 1866 / Supjeongi
- Peter Son Sonji (catechist) (손선지 베드로/회장) December 3, 1866 / Supjeongi
- Peter Yi Myongseo (이명서 베드로/농부) December 3, 1866 / Supjeongi
- Joseph Han Jaegwon (catechist) (한재권 요셉/회장) December 3, 1866 / Supjeongi
- Peter Chong Wonji (정원지 베드로/농부) December 3, 1866 / Supjeongi
- Joseph Cho Yunho (조윤호 요셉/농부) December 3, 1866 / Supjeongi
- John Yi Yunil (catechist) (이윤일 요한/회장) January 1, 1867 / Gwangdeukjeong
- Attwater, Donald, and Catherine Rachel John. 1995. The Penguin dictionary of saints. London: Penguin. ISBN 9780140513127
- Kim, Chang-seok Thaddeus, and Choong-woo Andreas Lee. 1986. Holy places of the Korean martyrs. Seoul: Lay Apostolate Council of Korea. OCLC: 50093397
- MacMahon, Hugh. 1995. The Korean martyr saints: founders of a church. Seoul: St. Hwang Sŏk Tu Luke Pub. House. ISBN 9788985996020
- Apostolic Journey To Korea: Mass For The Canonization Of Korean Martyrs. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
- Catholic Culture: Stories of the Korean Martyrs. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
- Catholic Online: Martyrs of Korea. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
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