An Eye Witness to Korean History, Part 2


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.

Malcom Parsely, Korea Christian University’s resident missionary.

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.

This is the Bon Kwon, the main building of KCU today.  In front of it, you can see a large area that is used as a sports stadium, a fair grounds, and a parking lot.  None of the building at KCU were there when Malcom came to KCU, including this one. Many people use that area for exercise, not just KCU students and professors.  Every weekend, the place is full of people exercising.  Soccer games are organized and played there. Children play there.  I used to go there every evening with my daughter to walk around and around the area for my health, and we weren’t the only ones doing it. There is also a church about a block away from the school that uses that area for its parking on Sunday mornings.
This is KCU’s library building.  It was the second building built. The boy’s dorm that became the Music building was built first. This was the first building where KCU held classes.  When I met Malcom, his office was still in this building.  You can see the trees rising up behind it. There are woods behind the school full of walking trails. The missionaries planted all those trees.

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.

This is KCU’s Seongso Kwon, Bible building. Malcom Parsely’s office is on the bottom floor of that building. My office was on the second floor where the the classrooms and professor’s offices are. There are three auditoriums, one in the main building, one in the bottom of the dorm, and the other is on the 3rd floor of this building. I have been to chapel in all three places. This is where KCU’s English and Chinese Department put on their plays.  I directed the first play at KCU that began them putting on the plays in that auditorium.

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.


Here is a closer shot of the Bon Kwon, the main building of KCU.  The main office of KCU and the president’s office is on the bottom floor, The top floor is full of professor’s offices. When I first came to KCU, my office was on the top floor.  The other floors in this building are all classrooms.
This is a shot of the stone bleachers at the stadium.  On the other side of the road, you can see trees again that the missionaries planted. Hidden just off the road in those trees is a small building where there is a baptistery that is still used. If you are a professor at KCU and want to use it, you go to the main building to the Chaplain’s office and check out a key.
This is the entrance to KCU’s new parking garage under the new Science building where they train nurses.
This is the entrance to the new Science building at KCU.
These are the woods behind KCU that the missionaries planted. I used to live on the other side of those woods, and it is a very pleasant walk.  Many people walk through those woods today for pleasure, exercise, and to get to KCU.  KCU is actually a place where many people come through the week and on the weekends to exercise.  You can often see people dressed in jogging outfits around KCU because they have come to get their exercise.  There is exercise equipment in a clearing in the woods. You can also see a yellow bus there. KCU has several shuttle buses that take people from the subway stations to KCU and back.

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.

This is the street that leads up to KCU. It wasn’t there either when the missionaries came.  It was just a rice paddy.  If you look at the very end of the street, you can see a building where there is a bank and Gangseu gu Office, the government buildings in the area now. That was a big pond when Malcom came. It was deep enough to drown in because someone did.  These buildings are short compared to most apartment buildings now.
This is a shot of the main road in Hwagok. None of these buildings were there when the missionaries went there, only rice paddies and 20 billion mosquitoes.  These are two bank buildings, and then the building at the back is full of businesses. There is a doctor’s clinic and a pharmacy in that building.  Hwagok has really grown from rice paddies and 20 billion mosquitoes!
All these high rise apartments have been built since Malcom came to Hwagok with the missionaries.  This was all fields. No one had cars in Hwagok when they came except the missionaries. It is like Malcom is living in a different country from when he came.

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.

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