Yeonpung Holy Land
Yeonpung Holy Land (천주교연풍성당; map) sits on the edge of Yeonpung Town (연풍면; map) between Ihwa Mountain Pass and Sojo Mountain Pass on the Saejae Bicycle Path. This Catholic complex includes a variety of historic and commentative features.
In the late 1700s, Western powers and religions arrived at Korea’s doorstep. At first, the Joseon Dynasty (1392~1897; 대조선국) tolerated Catholic missionaries. But as more Koreans began adopting foreign ideas and disregarding customary Confucian practices, leaders began a series of persecutions in the 1800s that martyred thousands of priests and converts.
During these persecutions, many Catholic teachers fled Seoul and Gyeonggi Province and hid in the Sobaek Mountains. However, the central government caught up with most of these missionaries and executed them.
Yeonpung Holy Land began in the 1963 when Goesan County purchased an old hanok house, named Yeonpung Hyangcheong (연풍향청; map). First built in 1601, it held many jobs throughout its lifetime:
- Catholic preachers quietly held mass in the quaint hanok.
- Japanese occupiers used the house as an office from 1910 to 1945.
- And it was the site of Catholic persecutions in the 1800s.
Catholics preserved and curated these hanoks for visitors to learn the history of Catholicism in the region and Korea. They also erected more monuments to commemorate the devout.
Near the old hanoks, builders found three hyeonggudol stones (형구돌). Joseon officials used these torso-sized rocks with a hole in the middle to kill Catholics.
Executioners stuck a rope through the stone’s hole and over the martyr’s torso. Like a tourniquet, they tightened the rope by twisting a wooden rod and squeezing until death.
Four hyeonggudol stones sit on pedestals on Yeonpung Holy Land’s walking paths.
Hwang Seok-du Cathedral
Completed in 2016, the “200th Anniversary Hwang Seok-du Cathedral” commemorates Hwang Seok-du (황석두). A native to Yeonpung Town, he was killed in the 1886 Byeongin Persecution (병인박해) and became one of the 103 Korean Martyred Saints.
The 1,200-square-meter church features red brick walls, vaulted wooden ceilings, and stained glass windows.
Yeonpung Holy Land keeps several more memorials and monuments, including:
- The tomb and a statue of Hwang Seok-du (황석두).
- Statues of five prominent saints killed during the Byeongin Persecution.
- An 8.5-meter Crucifix perched along the walking paths.