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Radio drama on St. Andrew Kim a big hit in South Korea

Show is part of celebrations marking the 200th birth anniversary of the country's patron saint

UCA News reporter, Seoul

UCA News reporter, Seoul

Published: March 09, 2021 06:24 AM GMT

Updated: March 09, 2021 06:29 AM GMT

Radio drama on St. Andrew Kim a big hit in South Korea

St. Andrew Kim Taegon, South Korea’s patron saint, was beheaded in 1846 at the age of 25. (Image: YouTube)

A radio drama on St. Andrew Kim Taegon, the patron saint of South Korea, has become widely popular among Catholics in the country.

The drama based on the life, works and thoughts of St. Andrew Kim is a tribute marking the 200th birth anniversary of the saint from Daejeon Diocese.

In November last year, the South Korean Church officially kicked off nationwide bicentennial celebrations of the birth of one of the nation’s most revered Christian martyrs.

Daejeon’s Catholic Peace Broadcasting Center (CPBC), led by president Father Baek Hyun, scripted the drama that went on air Feb. 22 and will run until April 3. The 30-espisode show is broadcast at 7.50am and 4.50pm every day except Sunday.

The topics of the drama touch on traditional issues like the formation of adults and contemporary discussions such as connecting with artificial intelligence and dialogue between the past and the present ranging over two centuries.  

Father Baek Hyun said the drama has received enthusiastic responses from listeners and Catholic parishes have been using the drama as a way of “maturing in faith.”

Many listeners have written letters and messages to the CPBC expressing their appreciation of the drama, the priest added.  

While parishes have been using the drama for faith formation that triggered a great response from the faithful, it is also being used for lessons on morality in Sunday schools.

The Church has been arranging a host of yearlong programs and activities to mark the saint’s 200th birth anniversary that will run until Nov. 27.

Special Masses, exhibitions, walking pilgrimages and visits to Catholic shrines are among notable programs at national and diocesan levels.

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St. Andrew Kim (1821-46) was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is now the patron saint of South Korea.

According to Franciscan media, he was the son of Christian converts. Following his baptism at the age of 15, he travelled to a seminary in Macau, China, and returned to his homeland after six years through Manchuria. The same year, he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai where he was ordained a priest.

Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a coastal route that would elude border patrols. He was arrested, tortured and beheaded by the Han River near Seoul.

The saint’s father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839. Paul Chong Hasang, a lay apostle and married man, also died in 1839 at age 45.

Christianity came to the Korean peninsula during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. It then started as an indigenous lay movement.

However, the Church faced huge difficulties in evangelization as the ruling dynasty refused all contact with the outside world except for taking taxes to Beijing annually. Dozens of Christian men and women including clergy were martyred for refusing to denounce their faith.

In 1984, during his visit to South Korea, Pope John Paul II canonized 103 martyrs including Andrew Kim, Kim's father Ignatius, Paul Chong and seven French missionaries who had been martyred in the 19th century. 

About 46 percent of South Koreans adhere to no religion while 29 percent are Christians and 23 percent are Buddhists in a population of about 51.8 million, according to Pew Research Center.

While Protestants make up the majority, the Catholic Church also has a significant following, estimated to be 11 percent of the population or about 5.6 million people. 

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