Not long ago, we visited Yanghwajin Foreign Cemetery to honor past brethren of Lodge Han Yang.
Yanghwajin Cemetery overlooks the Han River and was designated in 1890 as a site for foreign missionaries by King Gojong. The cemetery was also a victim of close quarters combat during the Korean War and war damage to many of the grave markers is quite evident. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 Koreans and 500 foreigners visit every year.
A lot of recently passed brethren are located in the Northern part of the cemetery, so we stopped there first to pay our respects.
RWM Pete leads us in a prayer commemorating those brethren who have been raised to the celestial lodge above.
Eventually, we met up with the Widow’s Sons – a local masonic biker’s club made up of members from different lodges in the area.
Not only one of the most prominent brethren, but one of the most prominent people buried at the cemetery is Bro. Ernest T. Bethell – one of the founders of Lodge Han Yang. He is number 2 in the roll book. One reason I greatly respect this brother is because he, like myself, always believed in promoting the masonic tenet of truth.
Bro. Bethell served as a spokesperson for Koreans under the Japanese colonial rule by launching Daehan Mail Shinbo (Greater Korea Daily News). Bethell staffed his paper with leaders of the independence movement and published articles that criticized and protested against the brutality of Japanese colonial rule. He was thrown in jail for sedition and died a year later in 1909 of cardiac enlargement. The monument that Koreans erected for him was defaced by the Japanese, but another one was erected near the original one in 1964.
After taking a walking tour of the entire cemetery, we all went out to eat. The Widow’s Sons certainly did make a lot of Korean heads turn as they pulled out of the parking lot.
It’s important to pay tribute to every deceased brother who has played a part in keeping Freemasonry alive and well for hundreds of years. As we follow in their footsteps, we pause, take a moment, and express our belief that our brothers still live, and that their graves are merely resting places for their mortal frames.