Felix Peter Kim Gi-ryang (1816-1867)
Felix Peter Kim Gi-ryang was born in 1816 in Hamdeok-ri, Cheju Island (now, Hamdeok-ri, Jocheon-eup, Bukjeju-gun, Cheju-do) to a middle-class family. People called him ‘Kim Seon-dal`. He went from place to place by boat doing business. On February 18, 1857 (January 24, by the Lunar calendar), he went out on business with fellow seamen and his vessel drifted after it was caught by wind and waves.
On March 26, one month after this incident, Felix Peter Kim was saved by a British ship near the Kwangjeou sea area in China. At that time, all of his fellow seamen died of complete exhaustion. After that Felix Peter Kim was sent to the Paris Foreign Missions Society in Hong Kong, and there he met French missionaries and Paulino Yi, a Korean seminarian who was resting there.
Paulino Yi taught Felix Peter Kim the catechism from the day after they met. Felix Peter Kim was delighted and memorized the prayers. As his faith grew deeper quite quickly, he recieved the Sacrament of Baptism on May 31, 1857, from Father J. J. Rousseille who was the vice-superior of the Paris Foreign Missions Society in the Hong Kong region, and returned to Korea.
Soon after he returned home, Felix Peter Kim met Father S. Feron and Father Thomas Choe Yang-up in March or April of 1858 before heading to Jeju Island, his hometown. The priests were confident that Felix Peter Kim would become a good apostle in Jeju Island. He devoted himself to teaching his family and seamen the catechism. In the spring of the following year he came to the mainland and met the Bishop, Saint S. Berneux. He received the Sacraments while there.
After this Felix Peter Kim dedicated his life to his religion as a seaman. In 1865 his vessel was wrecked for the second time, and arrived at the Nagasaki shore in Japan. He met Father Petitjean there and returned home the following year. Then he came to the mainland and visited Father F. Ridel who baptized two of his seamen. He composed the following verse and praised the Lord:
Let us march to the road of martyrdom though it is not an easy way to go.
My lifetime wish has been to worship the Lord and Holy Mother Mary.
I long day and night for Heaven.
Felix Peter hopes to ascend to the land of the Lord."
Felix Peter Kim`s effort to evangelize Jeju Island did not succeed due to the Byeongin Persecution of 1866. He was arrested at Gyesom (now, Punghwa-ri, Sanyang-eup, Tongyeong-si, Gyeongnam) while he was in Tongyeong, Gyeongsang-do on business. Felix Peter Kim was taken to the government office of Tongyeong, and had to go through interrogations and torture. He did not surrender, but clung to his religion. In prison he encouraged other believers, saying, "I am ready to die for God, so, don`t change your mind, but, follow me."
The chief official of Tongyeong reported to the governor of Daegu saying, "I cannot make them betray their religion." Then the governor ordered him "to beat their brains out." Felix Peter Kim and his companions were severely beaten according to the governor`s order, but did not die. So, the chief official ordered them to be taken to the prison and hanged.
It is said that the chief official ordered that a nail be driven into his chest so he could never revive again. In January 1867 (December 1866, by the Lunar calendar), Felix Peter Kim and his companions were hanged and died martyrs. Felix Peter Kim was 51 years old.