02/16/2016, 16.02
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Seoul’s Seosomun Catholic shrine to become a “culture park”

In the South Korean capital, Jung District plans to invest US$ 38 million to renovate first Korean Christian martyr site. Card Andrew Yeom Soo-jung will attend tomorrow’s ground-breaking ceremony.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Seoul’s Jung District announced on Monday a 46-billion-won (US$ 38 million) project to re-develop the Seosomun Martyrs' Shrine.

The new complex will include a history and culture park dedicated to the Joseon dynasty, which ruled Korea for almost eight centuries, and sometimes carried out brutal persecution against Christians.

Pope John Paul II in 1985 had canonised Korea’s holy martyrs at the site where hundreds were executed.

During the 19th century, an estimated 10,000 Catholics died when the Korean state engaged in repression as it faced internal power struggles, attempts of foreign penetration and ideological conflict caused by converts who, as Christians, refused the country’s rigid Confucian social structure.

Most of the victims died at Seosomun, then one of eight historical entrances to Hanyang, Seoul’s name under the Joseon dynasty.

Among the dead was Peter Yi Seung-hun, the first Korean to be baptised (in Beijing), considered the founder of the Catholic Church in Korea.

During his visit to South Korea, Pope Francis stopped for a moment to pray at the Seosomun shrine on 16 August 2014 before celebrating the beatification Mass for Paul Yun Ji-chung and his 123 companions (25 of whom were beheaded near Seoul shrine).

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place tomorrow (17 February) in the presence of Card Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul.

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