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600 years old fortress with tragic history of Catholic persecution : Seosan

Seosan is a city in South Chungcheong-do province. It is a beautiful city with many historical sites and tragic history of Catholic persecution. It takes 1 hour 50 minutes by an intercity bus from Seoul Nambu(Northern) Terminal to Seosan Haemi Bus Stop and its fare costs around 8,000won. In August 2014, Pope Francis visited Haemi-eupseong Fortress with the nearby Haemi Martyrdom Holy Ground.




The Haemi-eupseong Fortress in Seosan City is the most intact fortress in Korea. Built around 600 years ago during the Joseon period, the fortress is a historically significant site where both the commander-in-chief of Chungcheong-do Province and the great Admiral Yi Sun-shin had once served. It is also Korea’s largest sacred ground of martyrs, as it is the place of execution for nearly 1,000 Roman Catholics in 1866. In modern times, the fortress served as the backdrop for the turbulent Donghak Peasants Revolution (1894) and Catholic Persecution.

A 1.8km (south-north) oval Haemi-eupseong Fortress takes about one hour to walk. Visitors can enjoy varied programs inside the fortress. There are Gukak (Korean traditional music) and pansori (folk music) performance including Jultagi (tightrope walking) every weekend from April to late October on every Saturday (at 14:00 to 15:00).

Haemi-eupseong Fortress has various facilities for traditional games like tuho (arrow throwing), yutnori (traditional board game), and jige (an wooden A-frame for carrying heavy bags of grain or bundles of firewood upon one’s back). You can also see old weapons like canons and catapults from Joseon dynasty.

Inside of the fortress, 18 meter-high tree standing in front of prison building. It’s the Hoya tree and it is a 600 years old locust tree. The tree was used for hanging and torturing Catholics at the time of Catholic persecution. Over a thousand Catholics lost their lives at Haemieupseong Fortress alone, making the fortress a holy ground among Catholics.

Haemi Martyrs’ Shrine

Haemi Martyrs' Shrine


Haemi Martyrs’ Shrine is the most meaningful sacred place, as it was dyed by the blessed Martyrs’ blood during the severe persecution that went from 1707 to 1872. Among the 10 thousand Korean martyrs, more than a thousand Catholic faithfuls of Chungcheong Province suffered the same fate. As it was difficult to execute them one by one, the they decided to bury all the martyrs in a big hole alive, all at once. When confronted with their death, the martyrs prayed while singing ‘Yesumaria’ (Jesus Maria). Since it also sounds like “Yeosumeori”, the place is also know as ‘Yeosutgol’.

Most martyrs remain unknown because the officials of Haemi abused their authority without adhering government policies. So they did not left any records about their actions. The 16-meter-high memorial tower is near Haemicheon Stream to pay tribute to the nameless martyrs. Every year, many Catholics visit this location to remember and honor the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for their belief.


Check our tour right here!


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