• 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 In-cheol (Ignatius)
Date of birth Sex man Place of birth Seoul Position/Status Lay leader M.C.F.
Age Date or martyrdom Jul. 2, 1801 Place of martyrdom Small West Gate Seoul Mode of martyrdom beheading
 Ignatius Choe In-cheol was born to a translator‘s family in Seoul. He learned the catechism from his elder brother Matthias Choe In-gil, who died a martyr in 1795 at the Police Headquarters, and became a devout Catholic.
   During the Sinhae Persecution in 1791 Ignatius Choe was arrested with his elder brother and they were taken to the Justice Ministry. Many Catholics were already there. Ignatius Choe and his companions had to go through all sorts of trials, threats, temptations and torture. His elder brother Matthias Choe and some Catholics surrendered, but he professed his faith in God to the end. The Justice Ministry sent him home for three days, giving him time to reflect and repent, and renounce his religion.
   When Ignatius Choe returned home, his old mother and brothers implored him in tears to betray God and to save his life. So he went back to the Justice Ministry and declared `I will not believe in the Catholic religion.` But, he immediately repented his mistake and professed once again to his faith in God saying, `Though I will be beaten to death I cannot say the Catholic religion is an evil religion." However, he accepted the king`s persuasion and was set free again after he promised `not to believe in Catholicism.`
   Upon returning home, Ignatius Choe again regretted his weakness deeply, repented his folly and became a devout Catholic once again. With his elder brother who also repented he dedicated his life to the Church and helped the other believers. In particular, his elder brother Matthias Choe was very much involved in the movement to invite Father James Zhou Wen-mo, a Chinese priest, to Korea. He even purchased a new house to provide a shelter for the priest. After helping Father James Zhou to escape he himself was arrested and died a martyr.
   After his elder brother was martyred, Ignatius Choe became a member of the Church leaders and participated in Church activities more actively than ever. He burned the family ancestral tablet and did not offer the ancestral rites. He dedicated his life to studying the Catholic teaching as well as proclaiming the Gospel with his fellow Catholics. Whenever Father James Zhou was in danger, he helped him to escape and protected him.
   When the Shinyu Persecution broke out in 1801 Ignatius Choe took refuge in his aunt`s house, and it was there that he was arrested.
   Thereafter he went through severe interrogation and torture at the Police Headquarters and the Justice Ministry. But he firmly professed his faith and declared; "Though I shall be killed I will not abandon my Catholic religion." Rather, he explained the Catholic teaching in front of the officials, asserting emphatically it is eternal truth. Then the Justice Ministry pronounced the death sentence on him based on the following five offenses, namely,
   - breaking the promise he made in 1791 `not to believe in Catholicism`,
   - believing in Catholicism when his elder brother died in 1795,
   - devoting his life to spreading the Catholic teaching widely with his companions,
   - declaring that Catholic doctrine is great even at the Police Headquarters.
   - inviting Father James Zhou to Korea and then serving him.
   Charged with these offences, Ignatius Choe was taken with other believers outside the Small West Gate, beheaded and died a martyr on July 2, 1801 (May 22, by the Lunar calendar).