In this Voice of the Martyrs guest blog series, Pastor Kim Sung Chul tells the intriguing story of Lee Su Jung, the man responsible for bringing Christianity to Korea–and the man who was martyred because of it.
The Korean government summoned the 30 students in Japan back to Korea to separate them from the rebellious power. Christianity was severely prohibited by the Korean national law. From the political aspect, Lee Su Jung did not belong to the aggressive revolutionists who led the failed three-day coup d’état. He was a political comrade with Min Young Ik, the nephew of the Last Empress, and faithfully carried out all official tasks in Japan. Therefore, he was not summoned and executed because he was disloyal to the government. The only reasons for his summons and execution were that he believed in Christianity, preached the gospel to the students in Japan, and translated the Gospel of Mark into Korean.
Lee Su Jung found the most precious seed in the world when he flew to the south to look for the rice seed. One day before his summons and execution Lee Su Jung’s brother came to Japan with ten thousand nyang (the ancient Korean currency) to bring him back to Korea. Lee Su Jung told his brother he didn’t need the money and that he should return to Korea without him. He told his brother that he had a very important thing to do in Japan. He said he had found a much better thing than the railroad, the telegraph or the steam ship for the people of Korea. He found the Word of God, Jesus Christ.
The Research Mission of Christians’ Biographies in Korea published a series of biographies about the martyrs in the Korean church. In the first volume, the first martyr mentioned is Missionary Thomas. The second martyr mentioned, and the first Korean martyr in the biography is Lee Su Jung, a Man of Macedonia for Korea. In the last part of the biography, Pastor Inagaki delivered these words of encouragement for the sake of Lee Su Jung:
He intended to return to Korea and to evangelize his people. However, the Korean Government did not understand his faithful passion for his country and its people. That is why he was summoned and martyred upon his arrival. He reminds me of the word that the Lord told the Apostle Paul on the way to Damascus: “He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” He also reminds me of the prayer of the first martyr, Stephen, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” who cried out with a loud voice and fell asleep. Lee Su Jung was a chosen instrument, indeed. He was a faithful servant of the Lord on the stage of Korea and Japan for a short period of time. He carried his own cross and preached the Gospel and fulfilled God’s command. A grain of mustard seed fell and rotted and bore abundant fruits.
This concludes the four-part series on Lee Su Jung.
Lee Su Jung: A Man of Macedonia for Korea, Part 1
Lee Su Jung: A Man of Macedonia for Korea, Part 2
Lee Su Jung: A Man of Macedonia for Korea, Part 3
About the Author
The Rev. Kim Sung Chul
CEO, ITC Inspirational Theatre Company
Former Professor, Theatre Department, Seoul Institute of the Arts
Former Guest Professor, English Department, Yonsei University
 Kim Jonah, The Biography of Martyrs in the Korean Church, (Seoul: The Research Mission of Christians’ Biographies in Korea, 1994), pp. 294-295.