The 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon, the great journey
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The 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon, the great journey
  • Kevin Lee
  • 승인 2021.07.03 08:59
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Kim Dae-geon, the first father in Korea

In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon, the first priest in Korea and selected as a UNESCO world monument figure in 2021, Dangjin City in Chungcheongnam-do and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Daejeon will hold a large-scale commemorative event in the area of Solmoe Seongji in Dangjin for nine days from August 14 to 22.
The event commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon is a “one heart event” where Catholics and general participants become one beyond religion, a “public interest event” that prioritizes social values, and a “sustainable development event” that reflects the UNESCO philosophy.

Poster for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon
Poster for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon

Naepo region and Catholicism
Catholicism in Korea has been continuously transmitted since the formation of a community of faith in the Joseon Dynasty in 1784.
Catholicism, which was adopted by the Southern scholars, was transmitted to Naepo and Jinsan in Chungcheong Province, and spread around these two places.
Although the Naepo region took the lead in accepting Neo-Confucianism at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty period, the Neo-Confucian atmosphere was not rigid compared to other regions, and many Silhak scholars (those studied practical matters) were produced in the late Joseon Dynasty.
In addition, the Naepo people knew how to use the sea from an early age, so commerce developed. The open sea route and the rich and open atmosphere of the Naepo area became a channel through which Catholicism was transmitted in the late Joseon Dynasty.
The fact that Korea's first priest, Father Kim Dae-geon, was born in Dangjin was inevitable due to the local characteristics of the Naepo area and the openness of the people.

Kim Dae-geon, the first father in Korea
Father Kim Dae-geon was the first Catholic priest in Korea.
Most non-Catholics know only that, but Father Kim Dae-geon's achievements are not limited to Catholicism.
It was a pivotal point that united the people who were persecuted by the pre-modern irrational system in the late Joseon Dynasty, and gave up the life of vested interests and tried to promote the idea of equality, human rights, and human dignity, and blossomed through martyrdom.
In recognition of this, he was canonized in 1984. In addition, he was the first scholar to study Western culture in Korea who actively accepted the new culture of Western civilization. He spoke five languages, including Latin, French, and Chinese, and studied various fields, including navigation and geography.
He is also a figure of the times who existed in the midst of the chaotic vortex by participating as an interpreter for the Treaty of Nanjing, signed in 1842 following the Opium War.
In particular, recently, in relation to Dokdo, it has become a hot topic through the map “Joseon whole map,” which was produced by Father Kim Dae-geon.

Photo of the Joseon whole map
Photo of the Joseon whole map

Joseon whole map produced by Father Kim Dae-geon
Joseon whole map, a map of Korea produced by Father Kim Dae-geon while he was staying in Seoul as a deacon in 1845, is the first map to introduce Korean place names to the Western society, in which place names are written in Latin with Korean pronunciation.
It was produced 16 years earlier than Kim Jeong-ho's Daedongyeojido, and it played a decisive role in letting the West know that Dokdo is Korean territory in the middle of the 19th century by drawing Dokdo to the east of Ulleungdo and clearly writing 'Ousan' in Roman characters. It is now housed in the National Paris Library.
Dangjin City last year confirmed through the academic service of Joseon whole map that the Joseon whole map that was in Korea was not the original, and another map in the Paris Library was the original.
In addition, the Northeast Asian History Foundation conducted research and found that the 19th century map stored in the U.S. Archives was a copy of Father Kim Dae-geon's Joseon whole map. In the map, East Sea is marked in Latin, refuting the Japanese argument on the Sea of Japan.

Photo of UNESCO world monument figure and UNESCO logo
Photo of UNESCO world monument figure and UNESCO logo

2021 UNESCO world monument figure
Since 2004, UNESCO has designated the anniversaries of historical events, figures, and celebrities from around the world that are consistent with the ideology and values pursued as UNESCO-related commemorative events and commemorative figures, and attaches great importance to them.
In Korea, the 250th anniversary of Dasan Jeong Yak-yong's birth in 2012 and the 400th anniversary of the publication of Heo Jun's Donguibogam in 2013 were selected.
Dangjin City and the Catholic Diocese of Daejeon paid attention to the registration of the UNESCO World Monument figure to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon in 2021. In June 2019, they secured declarations of support from three countries including France, Vietnam, and the Philippines and submitted an application. It was recommended to be selected at the 207th UNESCO Executive Board, and was finally selected at the 40th UNESCO General Assembly on November 14, 2019.
In particular, compliance with the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals was the biggest criterion for selection, and Father Kim Dae-Geon's spirit of equality for humans beyond religion and the parts that requested treatment for the people suffering from smallpox received high scores and were selected as the decisive moment. 
Through this, it could have the authority to officially use the UNESCO logo and hold an international symposium in the event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Father Kim Dae-geon's birth.

Photo of Solmoe Holy Land
Photo of Solmoe Holy Land

‘Korea’s Bethlehem’ Solmoe Holy Land
Solmoe Holy Land, named ‘Solmoe’ in pure Korean because ‘pine trees make up moe’, is the place where four generations of martyrs including Father Kim Dae-geon lived. It is also called ‘Korea’s Bethlehem’ or ‘the pond of faith’.

In particular, more than 250,000 visitors visit Solmoe Holy Land every year due to the 6th Asian Youth Conference held in 2014 and Pope Francis' visit to Korea.
In addition, as the starting point of the ‘Bugnae Pilgrimage Route’, a pilgrimage route to Santiago in Korea, it is the largest tourism resource and future resource in Dangjin.
In Solmoe Holy Land, the Catholic Art Complex, the venue for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon, was completed in April.
The complex art space is a complex space with a plaza on 9,145 square meters, a gallery, an auditorium, an art performance hall, and an exhibition hall. A total of 13 billion won was invested from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Following Pope Francis' visit to Korea in 2014, the Solmoe Holy Land will become an international Catholic attraction through this year's event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon.


An event to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon, the representative Catholic saint in Korea, Dangjin City and the Catholic Diocese of Daejeon will hold large-scale international events with people from all over the world, sublimating various aspects of Catholicism into cultural and artistic performances, thereby promoting Korean Catholicism. We plan to promote a variety of programs that can redefine our status.

The commemorative event will be held for nine days from August 14 to 22, around the birth date of August 21. It is being prepared to be a cultural art history tourism festival such as Father Kim Dae-geon's opera performance, busking, and special exhibition.
In addition, although it is difficult for Pope Francis to visit during the event, Pietro Parolin, Cardinal Secretary of State of Vatican City, is expected to visit, and the Vatican is also expected to make a lot of preparations. 
On January 28, the Counter-Terrorism Center of the Office of Government Policy Coordination selected 21 events as important national events for 2021, including an event commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-geon.
It is recognized as a national event along with the Summer Olympics and the World Cup shooting competition, and we plan to make it the best event on the largest scale with this atmosphere.
However, if the situation of Corona 19 continues as it is now, a reduction and change in the size of the event is inevitable. We have a plan not to miss the important meaning.
The proclamation ceremony for the year of Kim Dae-geon is the first step in commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Father Kim Dae-gun.


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