• Outline of Visit
  • The 6th Asian Youth Day
  • Overview of Beatification
  • Lives of the 124 Korean Martyrs
  • Mass for Peace and Reconciliation
HOME > Pilgrimage > Lives of the 124 Korean Martyrs
Rise up in splendor! (Isaiah 60,1)
Lives of the 124 Korean Martyrs
Yi Jeong-sik (John)
Date of birth 1795 Sex man Place of birth Dongrae Gyeongsang-do Position/Status Catechist Military officer
Age 73 Date or martyrdom September, 1868 Place of martyrdom Pusan Mode of martyrdom beheading
 John Yi Jeong-sik lived outside the North Gate of Dongnae in Gyeongsang-do. When he was young, he passed the military service examination and became an officer. He taught archery to many people. When he was 59 years old he learned the catechism and became a Catholic. He sent his concubine back to her home and tried to live as a devout Catholic.
   John Yi introduced his family members to the Church. He dedicated himself to observing the teaching of the Church. He avoided luxurious clothes and tried to live a simple life, and to take care of the poor and sick. He proclaimed the Gospel to non-believers. He also reserved a small room in his house, with a crucifix on the wall for prayer and study of the Catholic teaching.
   Because of his ardent devotion to the religion John Yi was appointed catechist soon after he became a Catholic. He fulfilled his duties faithfully. When the Byeongin Persecution broke out in 1866, he took refuge with his family in Gyeongju and Gijang. Then he went to the Subakgol Christian Village in Ulsan and lived with the faithful.
   In 1868 John Yi`s name became known to the authorities of Dongnae during the interrogation of other believers. The Dongnae police started to search for the place where he was living. When they found it they arrested him together with all the other Catholics of Subakgol Christian Village. On hearing that John was arrested, his son, Francis Yi Gwan-bok and his nephew, Peter Yi Sam-geun surrendered themselves to the police.
   John Yi was taken immediately to Dongnae, where he met his god-son Martin Yang Jae-hyeon. They consoled each other and made a firm resolution to be faithful to their religion. Since it was known that he was one of the leaders of the Catholic religion, John Yi made it clear that he was a Catholic during the interrogation. He also admitted that he taught the catechism to many people. He never revealed the whereabouts of the other believers. They tortured him to force him to renounce his faith in God, but he remained faithful.
   John Yi and his companions underwent severe interrogation and torture for forty seven days in prison. None of them was released because they would not renounce their religion.
   The chief official of Dongnae decided to sentence them to death, and sent them to `Jangdae` where the Military Command Headquarters was located. The soldiers, who were in charge of the execution, were unwilling to kill a father and a son on the same day, but the chief official ordered that they be killed at the same time. John Yi recited the Angelus and made the sign of the cross before he was beheaded and died a martyr. It was the summer of 1868. John Yi was 74 years old. His family took the bodies of John Yi and his son Francis and buried them near the execution ground.