Heritage Sunday 2002
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Korean text: Matt. 10:7: 'Go and proclaim...' Witness the Good News: Our Mission Heritage in Korea

The first Presbyterian missionaries in Korea

Horace N. Allen
Horace N. Allen.
Click photo for enlargement.
Horace Allen, MD (1858-1932), a Presbyterian missionary in China, heard that the foreign community in Seoul needed a physician. After gaining approval from the PCUSA Board of Foreign Missions, Allen and his family arrived in Korea in September 1884. That December during a palace banquet, assassins wounded Prince Min Yong Ik, a nephew of the King. In the violence that followed, all the foreign legates fled the city except Allen and his wife. As Allen wrote:

"We couldn't if we would, and we wouldn't if we could. I came to do just such work. I can't leave these wounded people. We shall live in the Legation with the old flag flying, and trust the kind Father to care for us." (Arthur Judson Brown. One Hundred Years. New York: Fleming Revel Company, 1936)

Allen's skill saved the Prince and a grateful King became Allen's patron. The next year, the King authorized a government hospital, called the House of Civilized Virtue, with Allen in full charge.

picture of Underwood
Horace Grant Underwood. Click for enlargement.
Horace Grant Underwood (1859-1916) and his wife were also key figures in the early history of Presbyterian mission work in Korea. Horace arrived in 1885, the first ordained minister appointed to Korea by the Board of Foreign Missions, and he spent the next three decades evangelizing in Korea and promoting mission work while in the United States. During his tenure of service, Underwood undertook numerous trips into the Korean countryside, often walking over 1000 miles a year. He also translated hymns as well as scriptures into Korean and was the founder and first president of Chosen Christian College in Seoul.

picture of hymn in Korean
Underwood's Korean translation of "Jesus Loves Me" (detail). Click to see entire hymn.
Lillias Stirling Horton, MD (1851-1921), first came to Korea in 1888 as a medical missionary. She was one of several female medical doctors who served the church in the early decades of the Korean mission. Dr. Horton married Horace Underwood in 1889, and they spent their honeymoon traveling throughout the countryside, treating patients and spreading the good news of the gospel.

<<previous | Heritage Sunday 2002 | next>>
Part 1: The First Presbyterian Missionaries in Korea
Part 2: The Tates and the PCUS in Korea
Part 3: Educational Efforts in Korea
Part 4: Ecumenical Efforts and the Korean Church