n this day in 1984, Pope St. John Paul II canonized 103 Korean martyrs. These martyrs were killed during the persecution of Catholics in Korea, which had started in 1839. The Pope canonized them at a ceremony in Seoul, when he was visiting South Korea.
South Korea is reportedly the fourth country in the “Catholic world” regarding the total number of saints. St. Andrew Kim Taegon, the first local Catholic priest in Korea, was one among the 103 saints. St. Andrew was tortured and executed in 1846, at the age of 25. There was more “laity” than priests among the 103 saints. In fact, the Catholic community in Korea was established by laity, and later reinforced by priests.
Bishop St. Lawrence-Joseph-Mary Imbert was also canonized on this day in 1984. He was tortured and decapitated in 1839. St. Paul Chong Hasang was also executed at the same time. The other Korean martyrs are: St. Peter Yu Tae-chol, St. Stephen Min Kuk-ka, St. Anthony Kim Song, St. Simon-Francis Berneux, St. Peter Henry Dorie, St. Anthony Daveluy, St. Thomas Son Chason, St. Joseph Cho Yunho, and St. John Yi Yunil.
The number of Roman Catholics is increasing in South Korea, and they make up more than 10% of the population. More than 5,400,000 Catholics live in South Korea, and there are over 1,600 Catholic parishes there.