- From the Editor:
- Message for the 11th Week for Catholic Education
- The Church in Korea Welcomes
- Message for the 102nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees
- Message for the 2016 Day for the Environment
- Message for the 126th Labour Day
- Pastoral Letter on the Occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Martyrdom during the Byeong-in Persecution
- The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
From the Editor:
Reflection on Pope Francis' Pastoral Visit to Korea
In August, 2014, Pope Francis paid a pastoral visit to Korea. During his visit, he made a deep impression on many people with his warm heart and unaffected manner. On top of that, he even gave comfort to certain men and women who were totally worn out in their journey of life.
In light of such phenomena, some anticipated that many Koreans would newly convert to Catholicism due to the pastoral visit of the Pope in person. Indeed, the pastoral visits of St. Pope John Paul II to Korea in 1984 and also in 1989 triggered an explosive increase of Catholics, as he gave publicity to the proper feature of Catholicism, resulting in a lot of media attention to the Catholic Church in Korea.
During his visit to Korea, Pope Francis put emphasis on the love for the human person, stressing forgiveness and healing. It was most of all the Catholic Church's insistence on human equality and respect for the dignity of the human person that encouraged the rapid spread of Catholicism in Korea in its early stage. In this regard, many Koreans were attracted to Catholicism and even willingly tried to sacrifice themselves to protect this new idea.
It was exactly the same dignity of every single person and basic universal human rights that Pope Francis reiterated. When Koreans felt consoled and experienced love as they saw the Pope in person, they found that it was the signs of their burning thirst for true human life as much as their spiritual thirst.
Furthermore, the Pope opened a wider door to other religions in Korea. Such an openness aroused the enthusiasm of believers of other religions and even of those who were not affiliated with any other religion. They also could experience healing and forgiveness through him. In this way, the Pope showed himself as a Pope for all, not exclusively for the Catholics in Korea. The Pope presented us the gifts of healing, forgiveness, peace, and communication, asking us to practice such gifts.
Such a message of the Pope is meant to be an encouragement for the Catholic Church in Korea to put their faith into practice in harmony with the whole Korean nation. In this regard, the Catholic Church in Korea must promote her missionary passion still more, as she is called to accompany our nation into the way of salvation, sharing in its agony and pain as well as giving proper answers for them.
Fr. Thomas Aquinas Kim Joon Chul
Executive Secretary of the CBCK
Message for the 11th Week for Catholic Education
Let Us Build up the Educational Culture to Learn and Live Mercy
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy"(Mt 5,7)
Dear young parents and educators,
On the occasion of the Week for Catholic Education during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy we are living, I would like to ask you to build up a culture of mercy in our society, family, and field of education.
Mercy is the nature of God. God is the one who is "merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness" (cf. Ps 103,8), and listens to the cry of his people in suffering and promises salvation with compassion (cf. Ex 3,7). In addition, "Jesus Christ is the face of the Father's mercy" (Misericordiae Vultus, n.1). Jesus himself manifested in his life the greatest love for us in suffering. Therefore, we, as the disciples of Jesus, need to be a sign of the mercy of the Father, which is revealed through Jesus. In our family, society, and field of education, we should always put forth efforts to witness God's mercy and to cultivate a merciful community.
However, there are too many tragic and painful situations in the world today. Many people are suffering terribly from poverty and unemployment, humiliation and inhospitality, retaliation, and assault. Disregarded by the prevailing indifference of people, they live with deeply wounded hearts. In fact, our society "tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy" (Misericordiae Vultus, n.11).
Unfortunately, it is not easy to find mercy in our field of education either. A school is supposed to be a place where both students and teachers can feel joy and energy, take courage and hope, experience forgiveness and mercy. However, today schools have become places where people are seriously obsessed with results and competition. Severe meritocracy and competition have deeply taken their roots in the hearts and minds of students, parents, and educators where they are planted as the culture of school. Students and parents lose their courage and fall into despair. Even teachers easily give up becoming a role models and teachers of life for their students.
Dear young parents and educators,
Let us try to have mercy overflowing in our family, society and world of education. Let us build up a culture of mercy, as fitting for the face of a merciful God. With the desire deep in my heart that our family, society, and schools will overflow with mercy, I ask you to put into practice the following:
First, I appeal to all parents. You must try to be more patient and tender when dealing with your children. In particular, when your children make a mistake or do something wrong, you should not be angry at or hand out punishment to them. Instead, I would like to ask you to consider the moment as a good opportunity to teach your children what true love and forgiveness are.
Second, I appeal to young people. You, as students and children of your parents, should be generous with your parents, teachers, and other older people. Even though you are young, you must try to have dignity and personality that even adults around you are able to acknowledge (cf. 1Tim 2,2). Do not defy adults as you fight against their injustice. Instead, I want you to endure in good faith and to have patience and gentleness (cf. 1Tim 6,11).
Third, I appeal to all teachers. You must remember how great and honorable is the God-given title 'teacher'. As Pope Pius XII said, a teacher is not just a communicator of information and knowledge but a father of souls. Just as a mother holds her baby in her arms with love, I would like to urge you teachers to be more merciful to your students. In doing so, you need to teach your young students to realize how valuable love, forgiveness, mercy, and care are in their lives.
Finally, I express my appreciation and encouragement with the hope that the blessings of Our Lord will be yours in full. May God bless you abundantly.
+ John Baptist Jung Shin-Chul Apostolic Administrator of Incheon
President CBCK Committee on Education
The Church in Korea Welcomes
New Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Daegu
On May 31, 2016, the Apostolic Nunciature in Korea announced that Pope Francis appointed Rev. John Bosco Chang Shin-ho as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Daegu and Titular Episcopal See of Vescera.
The newly elected bishop was born in Daegu, Korea, in 1966, and was ordained a priest in 1998. He holds a bachelor's degree in theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum “Regina Apostolorum” in Rome and a licentiate and doctorate in liturgy from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome.
He served as parish vicar from 1998 to 1999, and taught at the Catholic University of Daegu from 2002 to 2009. He was executive secretary of the Committee for Liturgy of the CBCK and the director in charge of compilation of the Korean liturgical books from 2009 to 2016.
Message for the 102nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees
Mercy Towards Migrants and Refugees
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We are living in the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy now. Pope Francis encourages us to become witnesses of mercy, saying, "at times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father's action in our lives" (Misericordiae Vultus, n.3). We ask, then, to whom in particular we are supposed to witness the Lord's mercy.
With the theme of the world day of migrants and refugees 2016 as Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us. The Response of the Gospel of Mercy, Pope Francis stated: "Migration movements are now a structural reality, and our primary issue must be to deal with the present emergency phase." And so following the message of the Holy Father, I urge you to have mercy towards migrants and refugees who are desperately in need of support from our society. Since the press has often released reports on some social disturbances caused by migrants and refugees recently, it is our concern that this may not provoke more negative perceptions about them. I think that it is necessary to change our mind-set so that we can see migrants and refugees with evangelical eyes and embrace them as persons with whom we should live together in this world.
What is the reality of our society towards refugees? The number of asylum-seekers in South Korea reached about 5,700 last year, and only about 100 of them won their legal status. This means the refugee recognition rate in South Korea is less than 2%. According to the statistics of UNHCR, the average refugee recognition rate at the global level is over 30%. Accordingly the UN urges the Korean government to increase refugee recognition every year. What is the reason why the refugee recognition rate in many countries including those in Western Europe is 15 times higher than that in our country? It is because the Western European countries put more effort into protecting those unrecognized refugees from threats to their lives rather than exercising their administrative power over selecting those unqualified refugees. I express my admiration for their attention and committment to respecting and observing human life and human rights. It is hoped that our government will make more resolute efforts to respect and protect human life and human rights by reinforcing its administrative power.
In addition, the Korean National Assembly passed a counterterrorism bill last March. What kind of image first comes to your mind upon hearing the word, terror? I hope that my guess is not right, but it is probably a face of a Muslim from the Middle East. Since the various conflicts in the Middle East have often made world headlines, the Middle East has become synonomous with conflict and terror. Moreover, the current atrocities of the Islamic State (IS) have added fuel to the fire. The conflicts of the Middle East, however, reflect a part of the political, economic and religious complexity in connection with the West. Therefore, the Middle East and Muslims alone cannot be blamed for the conflict and terror in the Middle East. Contemporary mass media, which look only for sensational eye-catching news, are not less responsible for that. Pope Francis has said that "public opinion also needs to be correctly formed, not least to prevent unwarranted fears and speculations detrimental to migrants." He has stressed the social reasonability of the mass media. Hence, our mass media should deliver a report on migrants, especially Muslims, with extra discretion in order not to infringe on their human rights.
My beloved brothers and sisters, this year is designated as the blessed Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. At the same time, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) by the United Nations General Assembly. Our country also joined the convention in 1978. For Christians, 'mercy' and 'migrants' are not two totally different concepts. If we are true Christians, we should be merciful to everyone. I ask all the faithful to be more attentive to and to be more merciful towards migrants and refugees this years. I sincerely wish and pray that we all become witnesses of mercy, taking one step forward for peace in our society.
May 1, 2016
+ Simon Ok Hyun-jin Auxiliary Bishop of Gwangju
President CBCK Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants
Message for the 2016 Day for the Environment
The Earth Is 'Our Common Home' in Need of Our Care
The earth, created by God with His love, is one irreplaceable precious inheritance which sustains lives in our generation as well as in the generations to come. This earth, formed by God's spirit and wisdom, has been completed within its mysterious order and beautiful harmony over billions of years. It is our common living place where a myriad of lives make their home. God created a human being at the apogee of all creation, and entrusted us to preserve and protect harmony and order among all his creatures.
This beautiful planet, heated, cooled down, and formed for more than 13.7 billion years, has been exploited, abused, and destroyed indiscriminately by our sky-high arrogance and recklessness especially during the last two hundred years. Today a groaning sound of pain resonates in every corner of this planet. Soil, water, and air, and all the living creatures are groaning in their deadly sickness. We forget that we ourselves are formed out of the clay of the ground (cf. Gen 2,7).
In his encyclical letter, Laudato Si', released in June 2015, Pope Francis urged us to wake up and take serious responsibility for the ongoing ecological crisis on the earth. He also reflected deeply upon the following issues: violence and recklessness of humanity; destruction of nature, contamination of the environment, and extinction of species caused by human irresponsibility for the future; climate change as a result of an excessively materialistic economy and lifestyle. Especially, in regard to climate change and the environmental destruction, which overshadow the future of the earth, the Holy Father stressed that we should not place these burdens on future generations.
Climate change is a global problem, seriously affecting not only the environment but also society, economy, politics, and even the distribution of goods. The abnormal meteorological phenomena happening in various parts of the world today, such as excessive heat wave, tropical night, draught, flood, and heavy snow, are precisely the effects of climate change. In addition to the contamination of the environment and the destruction of natural habitats, climate change also leads to the extinction of numerous living species, severely endangering the planet's biodiversity.
With the recognition that the crisis of climate change has reached a critical point, leaders from all around the world are committed to work together on a global level, albeit belated. At the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December 2015, negotiators from 195 countries reached a global climate deal, called the 'Paris Agreement.' It aims to prevent global warming by limiting global average temperature rises to a 2ºC threshold. It is assessed that the Paris Agreement is more successful than most of the previous international summits which failed to have any significant results. In the preamble to the Paris Agreement, some pressing issues that the Catholic Church continues to advocate for are addressed as follows: taking into account poor countries and the vulnerable; promoting gender equality and intergenerational equity; respecting mother earth; creating decent work; pursuing a sustainable lifestyle. This agreement gives us a promising vision, showing how all that exists on the earth can live together.
Our country which has achieved intensive economic growth in its small national territory is the seventh largest emitter of greenhouse gasses (GHG) in the world, and the total of GHG emissions continues to increase. According to OECD Better Life Index, South Korea is in 30th place among 36 countries in terms of environment; 27th in life satisfaction; 33rd in the level of atmospheric particulate matter; 26th in water quality. This index clearly reveals how we are indifferent and irresponsible to ecology and environment (source: the Ministry of Environment of South Korea, 2016). This spring as well as last spring, it was not easy to see a clear sky due to the particulate matters. PM2.5 is fine air pollutant particles small enough to cause early death to respiratory and cardiovascular patients. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 can trigger cancers and so WHO classified PM as Group 1 carcinogen. Although some of the particulate matters originate in China, more than 50% of them are emitted from diesel-fueled motor vehicles and coalfired thermal power plants within the country. Those developed countries charge a fine or travelling tax when the diesel vehicles have access to the central city in order to reduce particulate matters in the center. For the same reason, it is necessary for us to introduce more drastic traffic measures such as 'car-free days' or 'alternate driving days for cars,' and to place traffic restrictions on cars with diesel engines.
A transition from high carbon fossil fuels to '100% renewable energy' in society should be the path which not only our country but also the whole world should follow for the future. Governments should overcome the conventional way of using as its main energy fossil energy and nuclear energy. Instead, they should make a serious effort to support research and policies related to the development of environmental friendly alternative renewable energy resources such as sunlight, wind, water, and biomass. Christians should be on the frontier in their determination to save the earth and in taking the initiative to consume less energy in their daily lives at home, school, and workplace, and to put into practice moderation and self-control.
A systematic management on chemical substances is also essential to create a safer environment. Starting with the establishment of the new EU chemicals legislation in 2007, there is worldwide trend to strength regulations for the safety of chemicals. The Ministry of Environment of South Korea has been enforcing the 'Act on the Registration and Evaluation, etc, of Chemicals' (AREC) since January 1, 2015. Accordingly, the safety information on the chemicals that are distributed in the domestic market must be presented. Nevertheless, considering the recent scandal on humidifier terilizers that killed and sickened hundreds with incurable fatal damage to their health, it is clearly evident how persistently indifferent and inactive our government, industry, and academic world have been.
Pope Francis calls us to an ecological conversion and points out that "less is more." When we make ourselves empty and little, we are enriched. Protection of the environment gives hope for the future and acknowledges our responsibility. Let us be Christians who take an active part in caring for earth because the earth is both our sister with whom we share our lives, and our beautiful mother who embraces us in her bosom.
June 5, 2016 On the World Environment Day
+ Peter Kang U-il Bishop of Cheju
President CBCK Committee for Ecology & Environment
Message for the 126th Labour Day (Summary)
Economic activity is to be carried on ……
so that God's plan for mankind may be realized (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n.64)
Dear brothers and sisters and all labourers who are engaged in efforts to make the world a more beautiful place through your works! I hope that the amazing grace of God may be with you all on this 126th Labour Day celebrated all over the world on the occasion of the Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker.
Last year our society had to undergo a great turmoil as it faced fierce confrontation in regard to the change of our labour market. In such a situation, the Church wants to urge all concerned parties to remember first the true value of labour. From the beginning, we were created with a vocation to work (cf. Laudato Si', n.128). It means that by our labour we must participate in the Creator's work and ultimately contribute to the realization of the divine plan of creation (cf. Laborem Exercens, n.25).
Technological progress should not replace human work. The ultimate goal of economic activities must not be cost reduction or provisional financial aid for the poor, but they must always guarantee them a decent life achieved by their own labour (cf. Laudato Si', n.128) It is also essential that we continue to prioritize the goal of access to sustainable employment for everyone, no matter what the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning are (cf. Laudato Si', n.127). On the other hand, we must pay keen attention to industrial accidents. It is reported that every year there are about 1,000 workers victimized by industrial accidents. If we add missing numbers, the extent of total casualties must be much greater. On top of that, we are gravely concerned that as of 2015 about 2.3 million workers, accounting for 12.4% of the total work force, were underpaid. In other words, they cannot get over the hurdle of the legal minimum wage, let alone the controversially injust minimum wage.
It is getting harder for workers to recognize and practice their work as a vocation when they have to face the challenges of employment uncertainty, dangerous workplaces, and low wages, though this is a very important issue for all.
May 1, 2016
+ Lazzaro You Heung-sik Bishop of Daejeon
President CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
Pastoral Letter on the Occasion of the 150th Anniversary
of the Martyrdom during the Byeong-in Persecution
Reflection on the Church during the Persecutions in Korea
This year we are commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Martyrdom during the Byenong-in Persecution. Looking back on the history of the Catholic Church in Korea is meant to bring about both an appreciation of her present situation and an anticipation of her future. The Catholic Church in Korea had to suffer from severe ordeals for almost 100 years during the Shin-hae Persecution (1791), the Shin-yu Persecution (1801), the Gi-hae Persecution (1839), the Byeon-oh Persecution (1846), and the Byenong-in Persecution (1866). However, that period also made up an itinerary of her pilgrimage to realize how the cross of suffering could be transformed into amazing grace and glory.
Especially, the Byenong-in Persecution which lasted about 10 years was marked as a time of bitter trial for the Catholic Church in Korea, as her foundations were almost totally uprooted. Within five years from its outbreak, about 8,000 Catholics were executed or sacrificed, and the survivers had to suffer from poverty, disease, and hunger as they wandered around the whole country to escape the persecution. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom during the Byenong-in Persecution, we are thankful to God for the presence of the faithful who silently bear witness to their faith even today in remembrance of our ancestors in the faith who died as martyrs, especially those who died as martyrs anonymously.
The Catholic Church in Korea issued a pastoral letter in anticipation of the beatification of 26 martyrs of the Byeong-in Persecution on the occasion of its centennial anniversary in 1966. In this letter, we remembered the Catholic Church in Korea in her early stage: "Looking back on the past, we can see that she had many courageous witnesses to the faith and gave a good example for the faithful, even though her history was relatively short. It was less than two hundred years since the formation of the first lay Catholic community in Korea by Peter Yi Seung-hun who returned from China after his baptism in Beijing in 1784."
We commemorate our ancestors in faith who were sacrificed during the persecutions, looking back on the early history of the Catholic Church in Korea. Among them John Baptist Yi Byeok reminds us with his martyrdom of the words of Jesus: "From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughterin-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Lk 12,52-53). Many faithful also died as martyrs bearing witness to their faith in places of exile. We can remember Thomas Kim Beom-u, as an exemplary martyr. I hope that such a memory and respect for the cause of the martyrs under the Joseon Dynasty can be a stepping stone for the beatification of 133 Servants of God who are now under due process and that it will give an impetus to the faith of martyrdom in the Catholic Church in Korea.
Witnesses of Faith in the History of Modern and Contemporary Korea
In its message on the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the martyrdom during the Byeong-in Persecution, the Catholic Church in Korea expressed its sincere appreciation for the efforts of the Paris Foreign Missions Society in regard to the priestly formation of St. Andrew Kim Tae-go˘n and Venerable Thomas Choe Yang-eop as well as other Korean ministers. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the martyrs from the Byenong-in Persecution, we now want to express our deep appreciation for the missionaries of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and the Missionary Society of Saint Columban as well as the brothers of the Territorial Abbacy of Tokwon and many other religious societies who have dedicated themselves to the growth and development of the Catholic Church in Korea. At the same time, we also remember many missionaries who died as martyrs during the Korean War and we pray for their speedy beatification. We also pay sincere respect for the martyrs and witnesses in the history of modern and contemporary Korea including priests, religious and lay persons of the Diocese of Pyong-yang and we express an ardent desire to follow in their footsteps.
We know very well that there is the "silent" Church in North Korea. Though no priest or nun has been officially ordained or consecrated, we know that there are 57 parishes, 80 priests, and around 52,000 lay persons. We pray to God that the Church in North Korea may soon enjoy its freedom again and that mutual forgiveness and true unity can be practiced among the separated and divided brothers.
The Fruits of Martyrdom as the Best Witness of Love
Jesus manifested His love for humanity up to His death on the cross. He sacrificed His life for our salvation. Martyrs have also reflected the divine Love with their own lives. The life and death of martyrs show the divine Love in a very proper and clear manner. "The Church, then, considers martyrdom as an exceptional gift and as the fullest proof of love. By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image of his Master by freely accepting death for the salvation of the world - as well as his conformity to Christ in the shedding of his blood" (Lumen Gentium, n.42).
We hope that we can garner the abundant fruit of salvation as we follow in the footsteps of the martyrs. Tertullian has said that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians" (Apologeticus, 50,30). Korean Catholics sacrificed everything during the horrendous era of persecutions so that they could be grains of wheat and produce the present day Church in Korea. About 10,000 martyrs have become grains of wheat to produce fruit a hundredfold or even five hundred fold, as Jesus said: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit" (Jn 12,24). We hope that we can be grains of wheat and instruments for the salvation of humanity, following upon the example of the martyrs. Though our faith is as small as a mustard seed, God will give it growth and use it as an instrument for His work of salvation.
Practice of the Virtue of Charity for the Poor
During the era of persecutions, the Catholic Church in Korea engaged in the care of orphans, widows, and the poor to practice the Lord's love, though it was in a limited manner. Nowadays many social welfare facilities and organizations in every diocese bring divine Love to their poor neighbours. Such a tradition is the maturity of our ancestors who practiced the virtue of charity.
"We may not always be able to reflect adequately the beauty of the Gospel, but there is one sign which we should never lack: the option for those who are least, those whom society discards" (Evangelii Gaudium, n.195). We have to respect the poor who live with us, cherishing their goodness and experience. Without such an attitude, our proclamation of the Gospel might result in a house of cards, because Jesus proclaimed the Good News preferentially to the poor (cf. Lk 4,18), and declared that "the kingdom of God is theirs" (cf. Lk 6,20).
Building a Merciful Community
On December 8, 2015, Pope Francis opened the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. In 2016 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom during the Byeong-in Persecution, it is very significant that the Catholic Church in Korea celebrates this Jubilee because the martyrs are those who have forgiven their persecutors and prayed for them. They deeply experienced the economy of divine love and mercy even in the face of their death.
In conformity with the martyrs, we have to make our minds instruments of mercy so that we can bring the goodness and tenderness of God to all people because "we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father's action in our lives" (Misericordiae Vultus, n.3).
Jesus told the man who had been possessed: "Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you" (Mk 5,19). He also gazes on us with a merciful eye. Let us commit ourselves to forgive those whom we hate, and even our enemies as our heavenly Father forgives us. Let us commit ourselves to be faithful to our role as helpers of those wandering around after leaving and be reconciled with God and be blessed with the joy of forgiveness and encounter.
"Mercy is the very foundation of the Church's life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy" (Misericordiae Vultus, n.10). Believers are those who bring the joy of the Gospel to others in their merciful life. "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Mt 5,7).
Blessed Virgin Mary, Patron of the Church in Korea,
and Blessed Joseph, her Spouse, Pray for us.
All Saints of Korean Martyrs, Pray for us.
March 30, 2016,
On the Day of the Martyrdom of St. Marie Nicolas Antoine Daveluy, St. Luke Hwang Sek-du and Their Three Companions
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
Saba Ji Hwang (1767-1795)
Saba Ji Hwang, also known as 'Ji Hong' was born in 1767 to a musician's family in the royal court. When he heard that the Gospel was being proclaimed in Korea, he volunteered to learn the catechism and became a Catholic. Saba Ji was diligent and honest and devoted himself to loving God and practicing his religion. He was even determined to give his life for God. He was never afraid or confused when he was faced with danger, poverty or sufferings.
From 1789, Catholic leaders in Korea made great efforts to invite priests to Korea. The first attempt in 1791 ended in failure. All efforts had to be stopped for a while because of the persecution that broke out at the end of that year.
It was not until 1793 that efforts to invite a priest were resumed. Paul Yun Yu-il, who had already been to Beijing, Saba Ji and John Pak were selected to go to Beijing as secret envoys. They went together to the border and Saba Ji and John Pak headed to Beijing with the diplomatic envoys. Paul Yun stayed at the border.
Soon after they arrived in Beijing, Saba Ji contacted Bishop A. Gouvea of Beijing. The Bishop was impressed by Saba Ji's deep piety and later wrote as follow:
"We witnessed the faith of Saba Ji in 1793. During his forty-daystay in Beijing he received the Sacrament of Confirmation, Penance, and Holy Communion with ardent devotion and tears in his eyes. On seeing this, the faithful of Beijing were deeply moved."
In 1794, Bishop A. Gouvea sent Father James Zhou Wen-mo as a missionary to Korea. Saba Ji and Father James Zhou met and arranged the date and place they would meet at the border. Each took a different route to get to the meeting place because the border was under strict surveillance. They had to separate again and wait until the Amnok River would freeze before they could cross it.
Saba Ji returned to Korea for a while and went to the appointed place to meet Father James Zhou. This time he succeeded in bringing Father James Zhou into Korea secretly, in the middle of the night on December 24 (December 3 by the lunar calendar). Twelve days later, with the help of Paul Yun he brought Father James Zhou safely to the house of Matthias Choe Ingil in Seoul.
Father James Zhou spent a few months in safe hiding, but eventually the royal court came to know about his presence in the country through a secret informer. Fortunately, thanks to the prompt help of the faithful Father James Zhou managed to escape to another house. Matthias Choe, the owner of the house, and Saba Ji and Paul Yun, who helped him to evade the border guards, were all arrested.
Saba Ji and his companions were taken to the Police Headquarters and severely punished. They were tortured repeatedly to force them to confess the whereabouts of Father James Zhou, but they refused to betray him. Rather, their faces reflected that their hearts were full of heavenly joy.
The persecutors, on realizing that they would not betray Father James Zhou, beat them to death. Their bodies were thrown into the Han River secretly on Jun 28, 1795 (May 12 by the lunar calendar). Saba Ji was 28 years old.
Bishop A. Gouvea, on hearing the full story of their martyrdom, through a secret envoy, wrote about the courage that Saba Ji and his companions had shown at the moment of their martyrdom:
"To the question of the persecutor; 'Do you worship Jesus who died on the cross?' they replied courageously; 'Yes, we do.' When they were asked to renounce their faith in Christ, they declared; 'We are ready to die a thousand times rather than to renounce our faith in our true Savior Jesus Christ.'"