A true crusader for Korea

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A true crusader for Korea

The author is an industry 1 team reporterof the JoongAng Ilbo.

Some names just make my heart flutter, and Canadian veterinarian Frank Schofield (1889-1970), is one of them. Dr. Schofield came to Korea as a professor of microbiology at Severance Medical School in August 1916. In the following year, he passed the missionary test and got himself a Korean name. His Korean name was Seok Ho-pil, reflecting his determination to help Koreans with strong resolve and the heart of a tiger.

Seok Ho-pil took part in liberating Korea from Japan’s colonial rule by participating in the preparation for the March 1 Independence Movement in 1919. In April that year, Japanese military police murdered 24 Koreans in a town in Gyeonggi, now known as the “Jeam-ri Massacre.” The Japanese police nailed up the entrances, fired guns and set a church on fire. Two days after the slaughter, Seok visited the site and recovered the bodies.

He was a missionary who took photos of the massacre and heralded the brutality to the world. The black-and-white photos of the graphic scene vividly illustrate the cruelty of imperial Japan even after a century. Dr. Schofield is known as the 34th national representative of Korea following the 33 Korean leaders of the independence movement. After being awarded the Order of Merit for National Foundation, he said that he wanted to be buried in Korea after his death, and he became the first foreigner to be buried in the National Cemetery.

He left another gift for Korea by studying vaccines. In 1918, the Spanish flu virus arrived in the Korean Peninsula. Seok got involved in the medical scene, observed and recorded the symptoms of Korean patients. He published “Pandemic Influenza in Korea: With Special Reference to its Etiology” in an American medical journal in 1919. That is the only medical paper investigating the appearance of the pandemic in the Korean Peninsula.

“The great influenza pandemic made its appearance in Korea during the month of September 1918. There seems to be no doubt that the infection came from Europe, via Siberia. The disease spread from north to south along the line of the Southern Manchurian Railway… At present, it is impossible to estimate either the number of cases or deaths, as accurate information has not been received from the Japanese authorities. Most of the schools were closed, owing to the high incidence among scholars and teachers,” he wrote.

Schofield collected and analyzed phlegm samples of 20 patients for vaccine development, but unfortunately, it didn’t lead to a final vaccine development. In an exhausting world of blaming others and making excuses, the virus is rampant again.

I miss Seok Ho-pil, who took a step forward for the Korean people with his warm heart and cool brain.
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