• 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
Choe Chang-hyeo (John)
Date of birth 1759 Sex man Place of birth Seoul Position/Status Catechist M.C.F.
Age 42 Date or martyrdom Apr. 8, 1801 Place of martyrdom Small West Gate Seoul Mode of martyrdom beheading
 John Choe Chang-hyeon was born in 1759 in Seoul, to a translator‘s family and lived in Ipjeong-dong. His childhood name was `Gwan-cheon` Matthias Choe In-gil who was martyred in 1795 was his uncle, though younger than himself.
   John Choe who learned the catechism in the winter of 1784, soon after the Catholic Church in Korea was established, became a Catholic and showed his talent. He was very literate. He devoted himself to translating church books from Chinese into Korean. This was a great help to Catholics who did not know Chinese characters. Besides he was peaceful and prudent by nature, and performed his duties diligently and fairly.
   John Choe was asked to play the role of the chairperson of catechists by the leaders of the Church. He instructed the faithful to practice the Church teaching properly and was zealous in helping with the Church affairs. His lectures on the Catholic doctrine were widely known. The faithful appreciated his religious knowledge and virtues, loved him, trusted him and respected him.
   After the Sinhae Persecution broke out in 1791 some Catholic leaders distanced themselves from the Church, but John Choe remained faithful and continued to work for the Church. He discussed plans to invite priests to Korea with the leaders of the Church. He actually took the initiative for the plan and carried it out.
   In late 1794, when Father James Zhou Wen-mo came to Korea, John Choe continued to perform his duties as catechist. He attended the Mass of Father James Zhou and received the Sacraments. He prepared and served Mass with devotion. He also studied the Gospel with the faithful and proclaimed it.
   Immediately after the Shinyu Persecution broke out in 1801, John Choe escaped temporarily to the house of a believer but had to return to his family due to illness. It was at that time that he was arrested by the police who invaded his house with an informer. At first he was taken to the Police Headquarters, but when it was revealed that he was one of the leaders of the Church he was transferred to the Supreme Court for interrogation.
   During the first interrogation at the Supreme Court John Choe became weak for a while, and failed to witness to his faith in God. However, he did not reveal anything about Church activities. During the trial he had to go through severe interrogation and torture many times. He demonstrated his brave heart again. Then he truly repented his previous weakness and professed his faith in God with courage.
   "I have no believers to reveal, thus, I have no choice but to die. I deeply repent that I betrayed God and Jesus Christ in the past and I am resolved now to die for God. I have no fellow Catholics to report on.
   John Choe declared that `he is a leader of the Church` and was sentenced to death. He was taken outside the Small West Gate in Seoul with other faithful. He was beheaded and died a martyr on April 8, 1801 (February 26, by the Lunar calendar). John Choe was 42 years old.