In my last blog about Korean history, I introduced you to Malcolm Parsley who came to Korea in 1954. After a year, he had to go back to the States, but he wasn’t finished with Korea, on October 16, 1960, he came back. Korea had gripped his heart. He said when you saw what was happening to the people, you couldn’t help but want to help them. He came back to join a team of American missionaries. The beautiful modern airport that we see today was just a round hut then. This group of missionaries made a huge impact on S. Korea as other American missionaries and military men have.
In 1958, the missionaries had established a preaching school at Hyochang Dong in the center of Seoul. The classrooms for the preaching school that was established there were shipping containers and a church building. In 1961, that preaching school was moved across the bridge from Yongsan military base to an area called Song Do Dong and then within the year moved to where it is now in Hwagok area. If you look back to some of the first blogs I did, there are pictures of the church building that is in the location in Hyochang Dong. Now, there are two churches meeting in that building, an all Korean speaking church and an all English speaking church for foreigners. I knew a man in Granbury, Texas, in America named Jim Smith. He helped build that church building when he was here in Korea in the military.
In 1960, the missionaries bought land in Hwagok in Seoul. However, it wasn’t a city yet. In fact, it was just a large tract of rice paddies and barren hills. The only trees that were there were some pine trees. Now, it is a busy shopping area and a university, but when the missionaries bought it, nothing was out there. Gangseo-gu Office is the local government office for the area, and where Gangseo-gu Office is now was a large pond in the valley. Hwagok was rice paddies and 20 billion mosquitoes. There were no roads. the missionaries built the first roads in Hwagok, the first houses, and the first public school.
These missionaries divided their jobs up. Malcolm Parsely was in charge of benevolence, and there was a building constructed that just had things they could give away like clothing, food, medical supplies, etc. Bill Ramsey was in charge of Bible correspondence courses. This ministry still exists today. It is run by a Korean named Sang Yang. He is now located in Bangwha dong at a place called B. C. C. at a big intersection in Bangwha dong not far from Bangwha tunnel. He sends Bible correspondence courses in Korean throughout Korea. If you look back through my blogs, I went to church there one day and showed the place to you.
Dr. Sid Allen and David Goolsby took care of the cow raising and milk production. Dr. Sid Allen had been a veterinarian in the military. The cows were raised to give to Korean preachers so the preachers could support themselves. The preachers milked cows and sold the milk to support themselves, and it worked well. They had a large grain silo up in Paju City close to the North Korean border. They would go out into the woods and find “kudsoo” a type of vines that grew on the trees. They gathered that vine by the truckloads and took it all to Paju City to the grain silo to provide feed for the cows.
Haskell Cheshire was the organizer of the team. When Korea Christian College evolved from that preaching school, (now it is a university) Haskell Cheshire became the first president of KCC. Malcolm Parsley was the chairman of the Bible Department and Head Librarian. Later, 1981-1982, Malcolm also served a couple of years as acting president of KCC. The Koreans completely run KCU now.
There was also a free medical clinic run by a nurse. The medical clinic is gone now. The benevolent center is also gone now. The Koreans are self-sufficient and no longer need those types of ministries. I know Korean Christian social workers who take care of the poor people in Seoul now, and there are many, many hospitals and clinics for a cheap price, much cheaper than America, and good government medical insurance. The things that are left of what they were doing are the roads, the university, BCC, lots of Christians, and lots of trees.
Malcolm said what impressed him so much when he first came was that the Koreans were honest and good. They were typical country people. He said he was in Korea 10 years before he ever saw a parent hit a child. Disciplining of children was done through verbally shaming them. However, after about 10 years here, over at Yongdong Po, here in Seoul, he saw a little girl run out into the street and almost get run over. Her mother grabbed her and pulled her back. Her mother caught her, but if she hadn’t caught her, the little girl would have been hit by a large U.S. military 2 1/2 truck, and the mother was so upset she slapped the little girl on the top of her head for not listening to her, but normally, no one hits anyone in Korea.
Since the people didn’t have cars during this time, they carried things on their backs on a large wooden back rack called an A-frame. It was the most common method of carrying thing within 5-10 blocks If they had to go further than 5-10 blocks, they used an ox cart. If it was a very long distance, they used a train, and they were not the nice modern trains of today. If you wanted to stop the train, you pulled a chord.
There were no trees in Seoul during this time. The missionaries began planting trees. There are woods behind KCU now with walking trails, and the missionaries planted all those trees. On Arbor day, every school in Korea began planting trees. Everyone was planting trees then. Nowadays, Seoul is a very nice city full of parks and nice trees because of the work that many people did.
During this time, Samsung and many other big companies began. The government subsidized them because they wanted them to flourish. Koreans were looking to grow and become better. There were American missionaries and American military here helping in whatever way they could. I know many Koreans who went to America to study, and some even became American citizens. Koreans love America. In the school where my daughter teaches, there are children in that school whose parents purposefully went to America and had kids so their kids could be American citizens. There are Gyopyos everywhere in Korea. A Gyopyo is a Korean who has become an American citizen. Because of the early efforts of our American military and missionaries at a very hard time in Korea, Korea learned to love America.