After our trip to the fortress, we stopped by the Haemi Catholic Martyrdom Holy Ground and check it out. Among the small buildings of the Haemi area, the fortress and this giant church and tower really stand out! Pope Francis paid a visit here in 2014, and so they erected a very realistic looking statue in his honor. I like that he is smiling, although because the statue is so lifelike, it was a little creepy at first because I thought a man was standing there. Along with a big Cathedral and Catholic store, there were a few memorials- some big and others smaller- set up on the grounds. At this site in the 1860s, 1,000 Catholics were buried alive. There are records of 132 Korean martyrs from this time period, so most of those who died for their religion remain unnamed.
This circular building was the main martyrdom memorial. It focused on three outspoken and prominent Catholics who were killed in Haemi, with portraits and stories about each man. There is also a fairly graphic video depicting the various methods of torture and death inflicted on the Catholics in the 1800s. After seeing the video, I don’t think it was appropriate for kids under 8. Landon was fascinated by the video, but I think had he been a little older and understood more of it, it could have been scarring for him. It is truly horrible what was done to these people- from being buried alive to hung upside in a man-made lake to being hung up by the hair, or “threshed” to death- It is unthinkable that human beings could do this to one another. There were memorial plaques, sculptures and other artifacts and the building was fashioned like the traditional burial mounds of the past. Be sure to walk all the way to the back of the property, where there is a booth to buy and light candles for prayers, if you’re into that sort of thing, as well as another monument to the victims.
An original threshing stone, with blood stains still visible when it rains, was moved from the grounds of the fortress over to the martyrdom memorial. To “thresh” someone to death, the person was smacked against a large, flat stone by people holding their arms and legs until they died. Terrible, horrible torturous way to die! It is terrible what atrocities humans will commit against each other out of fear. I think it is best to focus on the good in the world, and try to be a light and force for good. However, it is also so important to learn about these terrible things that have happened in the past so we can make sure they don’t happen again within our sphere of influence!
The martyrdom site had a quiet, somber feeling to it, and I’m glad we visited. To walk through takes about 30 minutes and it is only five minute drive from the fortress, so if you’re in the area, it’s worth a look!