Pastor Son Yang-Won (second from left) and Kim Gu (third from left) 13th President of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea at the time. Son was a well-known preacher in Korea at that time.

The funeral of Son Yang-Won. Standing in front is Chai-Sun, the eldest adopted son and Chief Mourner, 13 October 1950. In 1948, Chai-Sun murdered Son’s two biological sons. Son did not want the murderer executed, but instead he wanted to adopt him and teach him about Christ.

The Aeyangwon Seongsan Church where Pastor Son Yang-Won preached, educated and served people afflicted with leprosy till the end of his life.

Son Yang-Won

Son Yang-Won was born on 3 June 1902 into a Presbyterian Deacon’s family. He went to work and studied in Seoul and Tokyo. After graduating, he evangelised in his home province, married, and became a father. By this time he already had a long history of opposing Japanese rule on the Korean peninsula; he was expelled due to his father’s arrest and imprisonment for a year on a charge of leading the nationwide March First Independence Movement in 1919. In April 1935, Son entered the Pyongyang Theological Seminary, graduating in 1938. Then he started a new period in his life: he became a pastor of the Presbyterian Protestant Church and principal in Aeyangwon Seongsan Church in Yeosu. There, in addition to preaching, he also helped lepers located in a nearby village. During World War II, he was sentenced by a Japanese court to 5 years in prison for his rejection of national Shinto rites. He returned home only after the liberation of Korea in 1945, and immediately began working at the Aeyangwon Church. During the Yeosu–Suncheon rebellion and fights between rightist and leftist forces in 1948, his two sons Dong- In and Dong-Shin were murdered by Chai-Sun. After the uprising was pacified, Son fiercely opposed the execution of his children's killer, and even supported his adoption in order to convert to a Christian life. From that moment on, Chai-Sun became a full son of Son Yang-Won. Knowing about the approaching communist troops, he did not escape as he was advised, but stayed and preached and helped his parishioners. He was arrested on 13 September by the North Korean Communist Army in his beloved Aeyangwon Church. Till the end he wanted to take care of his flock and to preach the gospel. On the following day, he was transported to the Yeosu Police department, and was held there until Seoul was recaptured by allied forces on 28 September. The Communist Army then transferred Son Yang-Won and other captives to Suncheon. On the way to Suncheon, Son was shot dead in Mipyeong orchard valley.