[Letter to the editor]Contributions to Korean history
I am writing to thank you for your interesting introduction (“Seoul’s historic foreign quarter,” Feb. 4) to the important Jeong-dong area of Seoul, which was the center of early missions, both religious and diplomatic, in Korea.
However, there is one important error that should be corrected for the sake of historical accuracy, and one significant omission as well.
First of all, you make reference to the Chongdong Methodist Church. You do not indicate that it was founded by the Rev. Henry G. Apppenzeller who, with his wife, was the first Methodist missionary in Korea. The Rev. Appenzeller was not an Episcopalian nor was he “well-heeled” as the writer indicates. He was a missionary who, of course, had resources perhaps greater than many Koreans of the time, but he certainly was not a rich person.
Secondly, the article omitted about a very important school in the history of Korea. The Rev. Appenzeller also was the founder of Methodist Pai Chai Boys’ High School (today greatly expanded into a university), which was the first institution of Western learning in Korea. For decades, Pai Chai was located in that same Jeong-dong area where one of its original buildings still stands and is used as a museum today.
In conjunction with the Chongdong Methodist Church, Methodist Ewha Girls’ School (the first school for Korean women, founded by Mary Scranton, a Methodist missionary) and Methodist Pai Chai are among the earliest remaining pieces of living Korean history in the Jeong-dong area. It is important for people in the 21st century to be aware of these places, which are much more than quaint artifacts of the 19th century.
Sonia Reid Strawn, United Methodist missionary