• 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
Yu Jung-seong (Matthew)
Date of birth 1784 Sex man Place of birth Jeonju Jeolla-do Position/Status Virgin N.C.F.
Age 18 Date or martyrdom Jan. 31, 1802 Place of martyrdom Jeonju Jeolla-do Mode of martyrdom beheading
 Matthew Yu Jung-seong, also called ‘Wan-seok`, was born to a rich and noble family in Jeonju, Jeolla-do. When he was a boy, his father, the eldest son of the family, died at the age of 35. After that Matthew Yu grew up in his uncle`s family who lived in Chonam, Jeonju (now, Namgye-ri, Iseo-myeon, Wanju-gun, Jeonbuk). His uncle was Augustine Yu Hang-geom. John Yu Jung-cheol and John Yu Mun-seok who were martyred during the Shinyu Persecution in 1801 were his cousins.
   Matthew Yu was greatly influenced by his uncle Augustine Yu and his family to become a Catholic. Augustine Yu learned about the Catholic doctrine soon after the Catholic Church was introduced to Korea in 1784. He taught the catechism to his family and relatives and formed a Catholic community.
   When the Shinyu Persecution broke out in 1801, Augustine Yu and John Yu Jung-cheol were arrested. In the middle of September of the same year, his mother and other relatives were arrested and imprisoned. His mother was released very soon. He pledged with determination to die a martyr with his other relatives. The following is an excerpt from the letter written by his sister-in-law Lutgarda Yi Sun-i in prison:
   "We five people were unanimous in our firm resolution to give our lives completely to God even to the point of martyrdom. By opening our hearts to one another we came to know that we all have the same burning desire to die for God …… and so, all our regrets and anxieties vanished. Each day, we are nourished by divine grace and love, and divine joy grows in our hearts. It seems that there are no worries left in our hearts."
   The governor of Jeonju requested the royal court to make a judicial decision about Matthew Yu and his family. The royal court sent an official to Jeonju immediately to take charge of the case. Matthew Yu was exiled to Hoeryeong, Hamgyeong-do. Matthew Yu and Lutgarda Yi, his sister-in-law, requested the authorities on behalf of their relatives `to punish them according to the national law.` However their request was rejected.
   On his way to exile with his relatives, Matthew Yu shouted in front of the crowd that "the governor sent Catholics into exile instead of punishing them according to the national law." Then the governor of Jeonju ordered to bring them back and put them into prison again. Matthew Yu was taken to the governor to be punished and tortured. After that he signed his written sentence as follows:
   "The Catholic faith has been passed on from one generation to the next in our family. As my uncle Yu Hang-geom and other relatives had the honor of dying for God, I also wish to die like them. What more can I say?"
   The governor finally requested to the royal court the judicial decision of death penalty and in a short time the king granted the permission. Matthew Yu was beheaded with his relatives on January 31, 1802 (December 28, 1801 by the Lunar calendar). They died martyrs at the execution ground in Jeonju called Supjeong-i. Matthew Yu was around 18 years old and single.