Richard An Gun-sim (1774-1835)
Richard An Gun-sim was born in Boryeong, Chungcheong-do in 1774. He became a Catholic when he was young. After that he left his hometown and moved to Gyeongsang-do to have more freedom to practice his religious life. He devoted himself to transcribing Catholic books to earn a living for his family.
Richard An was cheerful, modest and kind by nature. He welcomed everyone with caring love, and enjoyed teaching the catechism to the people. He was also a good father and an excellent educator to his children. He prayed and meditated every day, and observed abstinence three times a week.
Richard An was arrested by the police and was taken to the chief official. He answered the interrogator in vague words so that he might be set free. Afterwards he was tormented by guilt because he was not brave enough to profess his faith in God.
In 1827 when Richard An heard that the Jeonghae Persecution broke out, he knew that he would be arrested because he had distributed many Church books. He went into hiding and prepared himself for martyrdom. He was found by the police of Sangju and was arrested.
Upon seeing Richard An, the chief official of Sangju, wanting to confirm that he was a Catholic, ordered him to tell some doctrines of the Catholic religion. Richard An told him some important doctrines and explained them briefly and clearly. The chief official asked him; "Breaking the national law is to be unfaithful to the king. Do you think this is so?" Richard An responded:
"God is the Supreme King of the universe and the Father of all humankind. So we must respect Him as the Supreme Being and Father. Only then can we respect the king, our parents and the chief official."
The chief official ordered Richard An to renounce God and reveal the names of the faithful. But he refused, and accepted the punishment. He was often called to the chief official and punished. Despite undergoing trials he professed his faith in God with heroic courage and tenacity. The chief official, on realizing that he would not change his mind, ordered to transfer him to Daegu.
At the government office in Daegu, Richard An had to go through harsh punishments. His whole body was covered with wounds and blood. But the more he was tortured, the more his love for God grew deeper. He was given the death sentence and imprisoned. He spent eight years in prison and while there, he became ill with dysentery and died a martyr in prison in 1835. Richard An was 61 years old.