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[8 Apr 2009 | 3 Comments | ]
The Hwang Sa Byeong (황사평) Catholic cemetery and Catholic massacre of 1901 led by Lee Jae-Soo (이재수), Jeju, South Korea

Long known as a place for internal exile and persecution, the turn of the 19th century saw the flames of rebellion ignite once again on Jeju with Lee Jae Soo’s (이재수) uprising against an increasing number of Catholic missionaries and native converts spreading out across the island. The result: a massacre of some three hundred Catholics and the creation of Jeju’s first Catholic cemetery, which remains with us to this modern day.

The seeds of the massacre, however, were first sown in 1886 with an agreement between Korea and France which legally opened the country to their Catholic missionaries who had previously been unable to practice freely without persecution. Two churches were established on Jeju but local government officials continued an unwelcoming stance which was reciprocated with an increasing lack of trust from the Catholic community.