Andrew Kim Sa-geon (1794-1839)
Andrew Kim Sa-geon was born in Seosan, Chungcheong-do to a middle class family. He learned the catechism from his parents at an early age. His father Thaddeus Kim Chang-gwi was exiled in 1815 because of his faith in God. His uncle Simon Kim Gang-i also died in prison in Wonju, Gangwon-do in the same year. Originally his family was rich, but Andrew Kim‘s parents were poor because they gave up their wealth when they became Catholics and they moved to different places.
Some of the places they escaped to were Gosan in Jeolla-do, Jinbo in Gyeongsang-do and Uljin in Gangwon-do. Andrew Kim was later arrested with his father during the Eulhae Persecution in 1815. At that time his faith became weak and he was set free. Thereafter, he deeply regretted this and repented his weakness, saying, "I missed this unique opportunity to profess my faith in God."
After his father was exiled, Andrew Kim moved to Gyeongsang-do and recommitted himself to the Catholic faith with great zeal, He spent much time in praying, preaching the Gospel and reading the Bible. He visited the believers to provide them with Catholic books and catechetical materials, and baptized those non-believers who were in danger of death. Thus preparing himself for another opportunity to become a martyr.
When the Jeonghae Persecution broke out in 1827, Andrew Kim knew that he would be arrested sooner or later, so he prayed fervently to discern the will of God and to follow His providence. Very soon, police broke into the village and arrested him. He was taken to Sangju to be interrogated. He firmly refused the chief official`s order "to report the names of Catholics." Rather, he explained to the persecutors the major doctrines of the Church and the Ten Commandments of God. Then the chief official became very angry with him and ordered that he be severely punished. He was so harshly tortured and beaten that his leg bones were all broken. But he endured all that suffering happily and remained firm in his faith in God.
A few days later, Andrew Kim was transferred to Daegu, the seat of the provincial government of Gyeongsang-do, and there he was severely tortured repeatedly. But he never yielded. Soon he was taken to Jeonju and questioned about religious objects that the police took from the Catholics. Then he was transferred back to Daegu again.
There were quite a few Catholics in the Daegu prison who survived the severe punishments. They were waiting for Andrew Kim to join them. Andrew Kim and his companions spent twelve years in prison sharing the same faith and the same destiny.
During the Gihae Persecution which broke out in 1839 Andrew Kim was interrogated again and asked to renounce the Catholic faith. The following is an excerpt from the written sentence that was reported to the king:
"Kim Sa-geon worshipped and served God. He said, `Because I deeply understand and appreciate the beauty of the truth of the Catholic religion, I have not the slightest regret and will die for this belief.` Therefore, I have decided to execute him according to the national law."
The believers who were in prison until that time were Andrew Kim Sa-geon, Andrew Pak Sa-ui and Andrew Yi Jae-haeng. When they heard that the king had ordered their executions, they experienced heavenly joy and distributed their goods and clothes to the other prisoners.
On May 26, 1839 (April 14, by the Lunar calendar), Andrew Kim Sa-geon was taken to the execution ground with his two companions. He was beheaded and died a martyr. Andrew Kim was 45 years old.
Prisoners and prison guards mourned the deaths of these three people and could not hold back their tears, remembering their exemplary life in prison. The police took care of their bodies and buried them with respect. Catholics revered them for a long time afterwards.