• 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
Hong Nak-min (Luke)
Date of birth 1751 Sex man Place of birth Yesan Chungcheong-do Position/Status Government official N.C.F.
Age 50 Date or martyrdom Apr. 8, 1801 Place of martyrdom Small West Gate Seoul Mode of martyrdom beheading
 Luke Hong Nak-min was born in 1751 in Yesan, Chungcheong-do to a noble family, and lived in Chungju and Seoul. In 1776 he became a disciple of a renowned scholar Ambrose Kwon Cheol-sin who was living in Yanggeun. Four years later he passed the first state examination and in 1788 he passed the civil service examination and became a government official. Protase Hong Jae-yeong who was martyred in 1839 was his son.
   Luke Hong embraced the Catholic faith right after the Catholic Church was established in Korea in 1784. He was baptized by Peter Yi Seung-hun. Once, as one of the Church leaders, he acted as a priest and administered the Sacraments to other faithful. He learned later that this was not right practice. This happened, at that time, because there was no priest and also because Catholics were not aware of Church laws and the requirements for ordained ministry. Fortunately, this pseudo priesthood did not last long.
   When the Sinhae Persecution broke out in 1791 Luke Hong began to distance himself from the Church to follow the order of the king. But it was only a pretence. When he returned home, he continued to pray and observe abstinence according to the teaching of the Church.
   At the end of 1794 when Father James Zhou Wen-mo entered Korea, Luke Hong prepared himself to receive the Sacraments. He was arrested when the Eulmyo Persecution broke out. Out of fear, he presented a letter to the king in which he attacked Catholicism. He said that “Damage done by Catholicism is as critical as that of a flood and ferocious beasts and therefore it should be thoroughly banned."
   As time passed by, Luke Hong began to practice his religion again. When his mother died in 1799, he did not worship the ancestral tablet as it was forbidden by the Church teaching. On the surface, however, he pretended to stay away from the Church.
   When the Shinyu Persecution broke out two years later, Luke Hong was arrested with other Catholics and was taken to the Supreme Court where he was interrogated and punished. His great fear made him fragile from the beginning. However, he did not report on the other believers and replied to the interrogator, "The Ten Commandments teach us to respect our parents and to be loyal to the nation. I think this is right and just."
   Luke Hong was not courageous enough to endure the severe interrogation and punishment, so he was sentenced to exile. Then he started to regain his faith gradually and to show his bravery as he did before. The following is the last statement he made to the judges:
   "I believe that Catholicism is the true religion. Therefore, I cannot say this is an evil religion. Despite this I distanced myself from my religion for ten years. Therefore I deserve punishment. Now I cannot give up the Catholic religion, nor can I say anything ill about Jesus Christ."
   Luke Hong who professed his faith in God, was finally sentenced to death. On April 8, 1801 (February 26, by the Lunar calendar) he was taken outside the Small West Gate in Seoul with his Catholic companions, beheaded and died a martyr. Luke Hong was 50 years old.