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A red hat for Seoul

SEOUL (SE): Red seems to run in the family of Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, form Seoul, South Korea, of Seoul, as come February 22 he will don the red hat of a cardinal and no doubt remember the red blood his great-great-grandfather shed for the faith in 1850, the Vatican Insider reported on January 16.

The cardinal-designate’s great-great grandfather, Peter Yeom Seok-tae, and his wife, Mary, were executed in 1850, in the early days of Korean Christianity during the Joseon Dynasty when persecution was rife.

A group of lay people, who paid the price of keeping their faith with their lives, brought the faith to Korea and Joseph Yeom Deok-sun and Peter Yeom Seok-tae were among the first to join them. Today, both are venerated as fathers of the faith.

Born to a family with deep Christian roots, Archbishop Yeom loves explaining how he discovered and cultivated his priestly vocation thanks to family prayer: his grandmother, Maddalena Park, and mother, Baek Geum-wol, went to Mass every day for 30 years to pray for their children to become priests.

The cardinal-designate is the third of six children and was ordained along with two of his younger brothers, who also ministered in the archdiocese of Seoul.

He entered the seminary at the age of 15 and was ordained a priest on 8 December 1970.

He wanted to put his theological knowledge to the service of pastoral care and studied for a master’s in psychology and counselling at the East Asian Pastoral Institute in The Philippines.

In his younger days, he encouraged Church presence in the mass media and was part of the founding of the Peace Broadcasting Corporation in 1990. It included a television channel and a radio station, both of which became highly valued Christian voices and tireless champions of values such as peace, reconciliation, the defence of life, dignity and inalienable human rights.

He is currently archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang in North Korea.


In his New Year message, he said, “May all your wishes come true through the will of God. Let us pray especially for our brothers and sister in North Korea: may the Lord bless them abundantly with his love, mercy, and grace.”

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