Photo: Jeong Jin-seok (left) with Cardinal Kim Su-hwan Stephano. Credit: Website of the Archdiocese of Seoul.
Jeong Jin-seok Nicolao 정진석 니콜라오, one of South Korea’s two current Catholic cardinals along with Cardinal Yeom Su-jeong Andrea 염수정 안드레아, passed away on April 27.
Jeong entered the priesthood at age 30 in 1961; Jeong said his experience of fighting in the Korean War 한국전쟁, in which he witnessed numerous deaths happen right in front of him, made him resolve that he had already effectively died, and would dedicate the remainder of his lifetime to living for others. As a bishop, Jeong was a key player in the foundation of Kkottongnae 꽃동네 (the “flower village”) in 1976, which grew into South Korea’s largest charitable facility for the homeless and the disabled. Jeong became a cardinal in 2006, when the late Cardinal Kim Su-hwan Stephano 김수환 스테파노, South Korea’s first cardinal, strongly lobbied the Vatican to appoint another Korean cardinal who could be his successor.
Cardinal Jeong was South Korea’s leading authority on church law, having published over 50 books in his lifetime. The history of Catholic church in Korea dates back to late 18th century; approximately 8% of South Koreans, including President Moon Jae-in Timoteo 문재인 디모테오, are Catholics. (See previous coverage, “Catholics Popular in Korea.”)