Korea is on the map today. In the 19th Century, Seoul was on the map for extensive martyrdom of Christians. But today, with its open borders, the nation of South Korea is a fertile ground for the growth of many Christian denominations.
Not so with their northern counterpart. So much in the news today, North Korea merits much more understanding that we have, but gets far too much attention for its ways of oppression and violence. Let us pray.
Here is a bit of cultural awareness from two centuries back which may be a boost for our cultural literacy, our theological literacy, and even our Biblical literacy.
“The first native Korean priest, Andrew Kim Taegon was the son of Christian converts. Following his baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years, he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured, and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital.
Andrew’s father Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839, and was beatified in 1925. Paul Chong Hasang, a lay apostle and married man, also died in 1839 at age 45.” (from Franciscan “Saint of the Day” September 20, 2017 – see http://www.saintoftheday.org ) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saints-andrew-kim-taegon-paul-chong-hasang-and-companions/
Pope John Paul II referred to the Andrew and Paul as “the leaven, that led to the splendid flowering of the Church in Korea.”
We know that these are not the only Saints, nor are they the only saints (lc), within Korea, North or South. Indeed, Korea has the FOURTH largest number of Saints within the Roman Catholic Church of all the countries in the world.
But our concern — beyond prayers of gratitude — in prayer today is not the history so much as it is the future. May we join together, whether we read this on the day of Saints Andrew and Paul, or on some day among the next 364, in prayer for the Hope of Korea, the Peace of Korea, the Faith of Korea, and the Love and Compassion and Hospitality of all of the world as our eyes and ears and hearts turn toward the people of this beautiful place in the garden of Creation.
To learn more about the Catholic Faith — the faith of the martyrs in Korea — from a perspective of a former Presbyterian — the faith that has exploded in Korea — please visit one of our premier “go to” of so many millions in Korea, please visit the St. Paul Center at http://www.stpaulcenter.com