FACES OF KOREA: Dr. Frank Schofield Unveiled

by K4E Editorial Team+ Embassy of Canada newsletter, 10/03/2015

On 01 March 2015, Hwaseong City held a ceremony to mark the unveiling of a statue of Dr. Frank Schofield, erected at the Jeam-ri March First Movement Martyrdom Hall, to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea’s independence and to celebrate the 96th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement.

Dr. Frank Schofield (1889-1970) was a Canadian teacher, missionary and philanthropist, who  is best known for his active role in the March 1st independence movement. An ardent supporter of the struggle for independence under Japanese occupation, he gathered information about independence fighters and made a photographic record of the movement, drawing the attention of the international community to the situation in the country.

As a scholar and teacher, he made a great contribution not only in the field of veterinary science, where he excelled, but also to his students, teaching them their responsibility in the fight for national freedom.
Dr. Schofield is considered by many Koreans to be the “34th man” (as the original Declaration of Independence, announced on March 1, 1919, had 33 signatories) in the fight for independence. He is the only westerner buried in the patriots section of the National Cemetery in Seoul.

Dr. Frank William Schofield was born in England on 15 March 1889. In 1907, he immigrated to Canada where he began a long and illustrious academic career at the University of Toronto, first obtaining his undergraduate degree followed with a PHD degree in veterinary science, also from the University of Toronto. In 1916, he and his wife Allie (Alice) embarked on a life altering experience, traveling to Korea as Presbyterian missionaries.
At this time, Korea was occupied by Japan and an underground movement to regain Korean independence was growing. On 01 March 1919, the resistance movement joined forces to stage a nation-wide public assault against the Japanese government. Demonstrations, which immediately turned violent, were carried out to protest Japanese occupation. Today, this historical event is known to Koreans as the 3.1 Independence Movement.

Dr. Schofield actively aided and joined this movement. He was among hundreds of missionaries working and living in Korea at the time, but was one of very few who risked his own life to openly oppose the Japanese occupation. Dr. Schofield's empathy and belief that the Korean people should be free of foreign oppression marked him as a direct threat to Japanese colonialism. In 1920, he is reported to have been deported from Korea by Japanese officials and returned to Canada where he taught at the University of Guelph until retiring in 1955. He made vital contributions to science and medicine, and as a highly respected scholar and researcher, his career was marked with several milestone achievements.

However, Dr. Schofield's love for the Korean people did not end with his deportation. In 1958, he was invited to return to Korea by the Korean President, Syngman Rhee, to be awarded the highest honour of decoration for his contribution to Korea's independence. He then remained in Korea until his death in Seoul in 1970 at the age of 81 devoting himself to the care of two Korean orphanages and to teaching at the Veterinary College of Seoul National University, in addition to English Bible Clubs for Korean high school students.
Among his students are several Korean leaders including Dr. Chung Um-Chan, President of Seoul National University and former Prime Minister of Korea.

Dr. Schofield's presence and impact in Korea has often been compared with that of Dr. Norman Bethune's in China. Dr. Schofield is buried in the National Independent Hero cemetery in Korea, the only foreigner to be so honoured

For more details on Dr. Schofield's life, click here

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