[Stories on the Road] The volunteer armies and Catholic

Namhansanseong Fortress in History


"Stories on the Road" is a story about a UNESCO World Heritage site and a story. It will tell you the life and spirit of our ancestors in the ancient road of The old Namhansanseong path.


Namhansanseong Fortress, the hub of the volunteer armies

(Left) General Nam Sang-mok / Source: Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs,

(Right) General Yun Chi-jang / Source: Seongnam Culture Daejeon


“A mecca of volunteer army activities and the fights for independence”


The Eulmi Euibyeong (1895-1896) began because of the Eulmi Sabyeon, the murder of Empress Myeongseong, which occurred at dawn on October 8, 1895. At the time, Tokyo Joil Sinmun (Asahi Sinmun) reported that there were around 1,600 volunteer coalition troops in Namhansanseong Fortress. Threatened by this, the Japanese military sent a company of Joseon royal bodyguards to attack the fortress, but they were defeated by the “Namhansanseong coalition”. The coalition then pursued a scheme to advance to Seoul, which led to a failed operation. Jeongmi Euibyeong (1907-1910) was a period during which Captain Nam Sang-mok and Yun Chi-jang, both of whom were from Gwangju (today’s Seongnam), played an active part. As volunteer troops fought from Namhansanseong Fortress and the fortress continued to be solidified as the center of independence and anti-Japanese armed struggles even after Eulmi Euibyeong and Jeongmi Euibyeong, Japan ultimately took extreme measures; they relocated the Gwangju-gun Office of Namhansanseong to Gyeongan-dong. The fortress, which had been functioning as a military and administrative hub for 300 years as well as the sanctuary for volunteer army resistance and independence movements, began to decline as residents continued to leave the village one by one.


A crucifix that bears a sword

A crucifix that bears a sword / inside Namhansanseong Catholic Church


“Namhansanseong Fortress, the tragic history of a Catholic Church”

Inside the Namhansanseong Catholic Church is a statue of a unique-looking cross locked with a sword, which resembles the one that martyrs used to wear in prison. The prelude to the Catholic suppression was Shinyu Bakhae in 1801 when Empress Jeongsun began to place significant pressure on the religion after the passing of King Jeongjo, who had no specific hostility towards the Catholic Church. The real reason for such persecution was a political one to execute the namin who had grown their power during the reign of Jeongjo. It was during the Shinyu Bakhae when the first martyr was made in Namhansanseong Fortress. Catholic believers captured in Gwangju and nearby areas were transported to and imprisoned at a police bureau inside Namhansanseong Fortress. Many martyrs who went through rough interrogations were often strangled or hung to death in prison, which naturally became a site of martyrdom. The corpses of martyrs who died in a jail cell or as a result of torture were thrown outside the east gate by Sugumun Gate. Because of the presence of too many dead bodies and blood flowing like a river, Sugumun Gate was also known as Sigumun, meaning corpse gate.

#Namhansanseong #Catholic #General Nam Sang-mok #Jeongjo #the volunteer armies

@Nam Chan-Won @Bae JeongMin @Hong Seong-Gu

    • Stories on the Road

      Published by/ Namhansanseong World Heritage Centre, Gyeonggi-do The Center for Gyeonggi Studies, Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation

      Published on/ November 24, 2017

      Supervised by/ Lee Ji-hoon, Director of the Center for Gyeonggi Studies, Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation

      Planned and coordinated by/ Chae Chi-yong, Senior Researcher at the Center for Gyeonggi Studies, Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation Park Da-seul, Researcher at the Center for Gyeonggi Studies, Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation

  • ggc

    Writer/ GyeongGi Cultural Foundation

    About/ Everything about the GyeongGi arts and culture, GGCF

  • ggc

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