Even before the brutal murder of his sons Tongin and Tongsin in 1948, Yangoon’s life had already been marked by much suffering for Christ. He was born in South Kyungsang Province, Korea, in 1902, and became an evangelist aged 23. In 1938 he came into conflict with the Japanese authorities over shrine worship. He was arrested in 1940 and imprisoned for ten months. For a long time the only way his family knew he was alive was when they were given soiled clothes in return for the clean ones they brought him. Yangoon was tried in November 1941 and convicted of violating the public peace, irreverence and giving aid to the enemy. He was sent to jail again and after his release endured another spell behind bars over the shrine issue.
Following the martyrdom of his sons, Yangoon learnt that their murderer, Ahn Chae Sun, had been arrested. He sent another pastor and his daughter to ask for Ahn Chae Sun’s life and, remarkably, offered to adopt the assassin.
The officer in charge was so impressed that he granted the request and Yangoon obtained permission from Ahn Chae Sun’s parents to adopt the young man. Ahn Chae Sun was later enrolled in the Higher Bible Institute in Pusan. His parents, to whom Yangoon had also witnessed, then asked that one of Yangoon’s daughters could live with them and teach them about Christ.
The murder of Yangoon’s sons and his subsequent adoption of their killer made a profound impact in Korea and he was in great demand to speak at meetings. The Communists arrived in 1950 and Yangoon was urged to flee, but he was arrested and placed in a prison with many others.
One night in late September he and 74 other prisoners were led out to a remote place and shot.
When Christ’s hands were nailed to the cross, he also nailed your sins to the cross.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
First published in Heroes of Our Faith by Patrick Sookhdeo, Isaac Publishing