• 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
Won Gyeong-do (John)
Date of birth 1774 Sex man Place of birth Yeoju Gyeonggi-do Position/Status N.C.F.
Age 27 Date or martyrdom Apr. 25, 1801 Place of martyrdom Yeoju Gyeonggi-do Mode of martyrdom beheading
 John Won Gyeong-do, also called ‘Sasin`, was born in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do to a noble family. In 1797 when he was 23 years old, he learned the catechism with his cousin Martin Yi Jung-bae from Josaphat Kim Geon-sun and became a Catholic. After this he introduced his family to the Church. He married the daughter of Marcellinus Choe Chang-ju.
   On Easter Sunday in 1800, John Won visited a friend with Martin Yi and they worshipped God and sang hymns together. At that time, the chief official of Yeoju was resolved to root out the Catholic religion from his region. He gave an order to secretly watch every single movement of Catholics. The police were informed about a gathering of the faithful. The chief official dispatched the police and arrested John Won and his companions. They were taken to the government office in Yeoju.
   On the way to the police, they were passing by the house of John Won. His old mother implored the police, in tears, to let her see her son for the last time, but they refused her request.
   As soon as they arrived in Yeoju the chief official punished them severely to force them to betray their religion and reveal the whereabouts of other Catholics. Then, on behalf of his companions, John Won made the following statement:
   "According to the Catholic religion we are forbidden to inform on other people and to harm our neighbors. What is more important we cannot betray God."
   After this they were all put in prison for more than six months, and underwent harsh punishments. During that time, Marcellinus Choe, the father-in-law of John Won, who was arrested later, was in prison also.
   John Won`s body was covered with wounds and blood, from the harsh punishment and torture, but he was healed miraculously. One day his aged maid came to the prison, hoping to change his mind, by saying that his old mother and wife were in great grief. However, with the help of his cousin Martin, he resisted the temptation.
   In October 1800 John and his fellow Catholics were transferred to the Gyeonggi governor`s office and there, they were severely punished again. When the Shinyu Persecution broke out the following year, the governor of Gyeonggi tortured the prisoners even more severely to force them to betray their religion.
   However, John Won and his fellow Catholics never yielded. They resisted all temptations and stood firm to the end by encouraging one another, and praying for one another.
   The governor, finally, after having heard their final statements, pronounced the death sentence, and reported it to the royal court. The written sentence reads as follows:
   "Won Gyeong-do was deeply imbued with the Catholic religion and advised his elder brother not to perform the ancestral rites. Such behavior is an evil act that destroys human duties."
   The royal court gave orders "to send them to their hometown to be executed so that the other villagers would be turned against the Catholic religion". John Won was sent to Yeoju with his fellow believers on April 25, 1801 (March 13, by the Lunar calendar). He was beheaded and died a martyr in front of a crowd of people. John Won was 27 years old.