Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine

Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine information

Seoul , South Korea
Getting there
metro line 2 or 6 to Hapjeong, Exit 7
More information
admission to museum by donation
Opening hours
9.30am-5pm Tue-Sun
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Lonely Planet review

Jeoldusan means ‘Beheading Hill’ – this is where up to 2000 Korean Catholics were executed in 1866 following a decree, signed by Regent Heungseon Daewongun (King Gojong’s father), to kill all Catholics. The victims’ bodies were thrown into the nearby Han River, and only 40 of their names are known. The museum has books, diaries and relics of the early Catholic converts, some of whom were martyred and became saints. The displays have English descriptions. Downstairs are mementoes of Pope John Paul II’s visit here in 1984. Steadfast early Christian converts faced waves of government persecution, but they refused to recant their new faith. Inside Catholic churches, yangban nobles and ordinary folk sat together as equals in the sight of God, an act that challenged the rigid Confucian hierarchy of Joseon society. Outside the museum are gruesome details of the tortures early Catholics were subjected to by the government, who regarded them as dangerous heretics. Their arms and legs were bent and broken, they were beaten with heavy sticks and hung up in trees by their long hair (in those days all Korean males wore their hair long and tied up in a topknot). Next to the museum is a stark, white memorial chapel. Masses are held at 10am daily and also at 3pm except on Mondays. The singing is beautiful. Walk down to the garden from the museum and turn right towards the Han River. Go down the steps and turn right to see the cliffs that the dead bodies of the martyrs were thrown from. The river was higher in those days. Carry on past the cliffs, turn right up the steps and on the right is a memorial sculpture. From the subway exit, take the second turn left and follow the covered railway line for 700m – it’s less than a 10-minute walk.