Early Canadians in Korea

by K4E Editorial Team, 08/12/2013

South Korea and Canada marked 50 years of diplomatic relations this year and Canada designated 2013, as “The Year of Korea in Canada”.  Actually, the relationship between the two countries goes back almost 100 years resulting today in 20,000 Korean students studying in Canada and about 25,000 Canadians living in Korea. Canada also sent over 27,000 Canadian soldiers to fight alongside South Koreans during the Korean War.

It’s at a Year of Korea event to which I was invited in Canada that I learned about some of these early Canadians’ experience with Korea. Organised by the Korean Community of BC and Canada Cultural Exchange from Korea and spearheaded by Seoul-born Senator Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Canadian Senate), the celebration was attended by members of both the Korean and Canadian communities, including former Prime Minister of Korea, CHUNG Un-chan. Following are seven Canadians whose contributions to Korea were honoured at this and other events in both Canada and Korea in 2013.

JAMES SCARTH GALE (1863-1937/in Korea 1888-1928) came to Korea as a lay missionary of the University College YMCA. He travelled widely around the country, helped translate the Bible and Christian literature into Korean, wrote a Korean grammar dictionary and founded the Korean Bible Society.

MALCOLM C. FENWICK (1863-1937/in Korea 1889-1935) arrived in Korea at the age of 26 and founded the Baptist Church of Korea. He established a church leadership hierarchy structure, training leaders to establish similar leadership structures in nearby areas to carry on missionary duties. He also introduced Western farming technology in what is now North Korea.

ROBERT A. HARDIE (1865-1949/in Korea 1890-1935) was a University of Toronto medical school graduate who came to Korea with his family. He began his mission with James Scarth Gale in Busan. He later served as President of Hyupseong Methodist Theology College.
OLIVER R. AVISON (1860-1956/in Korea 1893-1935) was a Presbyterian medical missionary who transformed Korea’s first western medical hospital – Jejungwon – into the first modern hospital and medical school in Korea. Avison later reconstructed Jejungwon and renamed it ‘Severance Hospital’. He also translated anatomy and pharmacology textbooks into Korean for Korean medical students.

WILLIAM JOHN McKENZIE (1861-1895/in Korea 1893-1895) first became interested in Korea during his college years after reading a book about the Josun (Chosun) Dynasty. He came to Korea on his own helped by donations from his friends. He became ill soon after completing the construction of his church and passed away in June 1895.

FRANK W. SCHOFIELD (1889-1970/in Korea 1916-1921) was a veterinarian who came to Korea to teach bacteriology to Korean medical students.  He is considered an honourary 34th member of the March 1st Independence Movement for documenting Japanese atrocities through both pictures and writings that were spread worldwide. In 1958, the Korean government invited him as a visiting professor of veterinary pathology at Seoul National University. He is buried at the National Cemetery of Korea.

SHERWOOD HALL (1893-1991/in Korea 1926-1942) was born in Korea to Canadian missionaries Dr. Rosetta and Dr. William James Hall. He returned to Korea in 1926 with a medical degree and founded the first tuberculosis sanatorium in Korea (Haeju). To raise funds for the sanatorium as well for public education regarding tuberculosis, Dr. Hall introduced T.B. Christmas seals to Korea (non-postage stamps people put on the mail they send during the Christmas season to raise funds for tuberculosis and other lung diseases.). He received the Korean Civilian Order of Merit in 1984 and was also named an Honorary Citizen of Seoul. He was buried at Yanghwajin Foreigners’ Cemetery next to his parents, sister and son.

A sign of the times – then and now? The seven whose contributions to Korea has been marked during this Year of Korea in Canada are all men. K4E did look up Sherwood Hall’s mother and following is information on her (Wikipedia):

DR. ROSETTA SHERWOOD HALL (born Liberty, Sullivan County, New York; September 19, 1865, died 1951) was a medical missionary and educator. She lost her U.S. citizenship when she married a Canadian. Dr. Hall spent forty-four years in Korea, helping develop educational resources for the handicapped and implementing women's medical training.
In 1894, she initiated the teaching of sight-impaired people in Korea by teaching a blind girl, using a modification of Braille that she had developed. In 1909, she established a school for people with hearing impairments. She founded the Pyongyang School for the Deaf and Blind. Along with two Korean doctors, she founded the Chosun Women's Medical Training Institute in 1928, with the goal of eventually elevating it to a Women's Medical School. She was also responsible for getting or helping get other institutions of higher learning established. In 1933 she left Korea.


Image of Drs Rosa and James Hall from the book on the two generations of the Hall family in Korea “With Stethoscope in Asia”.

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