Faithful Heroes: Robert Jermain Thomas, Killed taking Message to Korea

Robert Jermain Thomas

Robert Jermain Thomas was a Welsh Protestant Christian missionary to China.

He was born around 1839 in Llanover, Wales. His father was a non-conformist minister and he would later follow in his footsteps.

He married Caroline Godfrey in 1863, and she died of a miscarriage two years later. She is said to have died only “four months after their arrival in Shanghai, China.”

His fellow students stated that Thomas was “Adventurous and gifted in languages”.

He had a great heart for the lost in Korea, who had shut their doors to outsiders.

Taedong River in 1889

He made his first visit to the Korean coast in 1865, making him the second known Protestant missionary to Korea. He kept a diary of his visit and learned as much about the people and their language as possible, while distributing New Testaments and tracts that were written in Chinese.

In 1866, he was aboard an American trading ship he was on as an interpreter. They sailed to Pyongyang to establish trade between the United States and Korean, although uninvited trade was forbidden.

As The General Sherman sailed up the Taedong River he tossed gospel tracks on the riverbank. The American boat was repeatedly ordered to leave on numerous occasions by Korean officials.

Around August 25, Hyon-Ik Yi, a Korean government official, and two subordinates, were kidnapped by the crew. Yi was rescued and reinstated, but his friends perished.

USS General Sherman

The General Sherman fired cannons and guns on nearby civilians killing seven and wounding five others. Hostilities were initiated and the General Sherman was proclaimed an enemy vessel.

When the General Sherman ran aground near Pyongyang, the Koreans seized the opportunity and attached. After fighting off the enemy for two days, the Koreans launched a burning boat, which set the General Sherman on fire. Of those on board, fourteen were shot and killed, two jumped ashore and were beaten to death, and four were burnt to death.

Robert Jermain Thomas Memorial

Reports vary on how Thomas died. They range from being beaten by angry civilians on shore, to being executed by the Koreans.

Thomas’s legend spread in Korea and it is said that a local Korean {one source claimed this was the man who killed Thomas} wallpapered the walls of his home with the Chinese Bible Pages from one of his Bibles. Fifteen years after Thomas death, Pyongyang had become a strong Christian center with over one hundred churches.

For his work as a Korean missionary, Robert Jermain Thomas is a faithful hero.



Robert Jermain Thomas risked his life to share the gospel with the people of Korea #faithfulheroes #heroesofthefaith Click To Tweet


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.