Francis Kim Jong-gyo (1754-1801)
Francis Kim Jong-gyo, also called ‘Chi-hoe`, was born in 1754 to a middle class family in Seoul and became a medical practitioner. He was neither rich nor an attractive looking person, but he was intelligent and exceptionally interested in learning. John the Baptist Yi Byeok, a prominent figure in establishing the Catholic Church in Korea, respected and loved Francis. He said he was an amazing person.
Francis kim learned the Catholic doctrine from Thomas Kim Beom-u soon after the Catholic Church was introduced into Korea in 1784. However, at that time, he was not actively involved in Church activities. As a result his name was not on the list of the persecuted during the Sinhae Persecution of 1791.
When Father James Zhou Wen-mo entered Korea at the end of 1794, Francis Kim met him at Matthew Choe In-gil`s house and received the Sacrament of Baptism. He was given the Christian name Francis. That year, during the Eulmyo Persecution, he was arrested and taken to the police. As he became very weak under the severe interrogations and death threats he gave in and was released from prison. Returning home, he immediately realized what a horrible mistake he had made before God and repented deeply. With firm resolution, he participated actively in Church activities. He formed a community of believers, learned more doctrine and devoted himself to proclaiming the Good News to non-believers.
In 1801, when his close friend Thomas Choe Pil-gong was arrested during the Shinyu Persecution he had to escape temporarily to Gyeonggi-do. However, during the questioning of John Jeong Yak-yong, his name was revealed by accident, and he was arrested.
Taken to the Police Headquarters, Francis Kim became weak of heart and again because of the severe interrogation and torture he said he would give up his religion. However when he was transferred to the Justice Ministry, he professed his faith in God with courage saying:
"In the past I apostatized and thanks to that I was released, but, since then I renewed my faith in God. I visited Father James Zhou Wen-mo and received my Christian name. I believed that Catholicism is the truth and I became a Catholic. Now, I have no intention to change my mind even if I have to suffer punishment and interrogation for it. If it is for Jesus Christ, I will die with joy even ten thousand times."
The Justice Ministry finally sentenced Francis Kim to death. Consequently, he was taken outside the Small West Gate in Seoul, with Philip Hong Pil-ju on October 4, 1801 (August 27, by the Lunar calendar) There, they were beheaded and died martyrs. Francis Kim was 47 years old.