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Papers of the Korean Mission, 1889-1987, from Birmingham University Library

Part 2: Periodicals, Pamphlets, Press-cuttings and Photographs, 1889-1987


The Korean Mission was set up in 1889 as an Anglican mission agency, funded by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and various other donations. The records of this Anglican mission, covering 1889-1987, are an invaluable resource for the study of Korean history and life in the twentieth century. They are particularly interesting in their depiction of the personal experiences of missionaries in Korea and their efforts to assimilate a new language and culture. The hardships of missionaries during the Second World War are also well documented. Bishop Cecil Cooper and Assistant Bishop Arthur Chadwell describe the effects on the Church of the Japanese occupation and the Communist occupation during the Korean War. Bishop Cooper returned to Korea in 1946 after the Second World War and the records provide evidence of his efforts to rebuild the Korean Church.  He was taken prisoner by Communist troops in 1950 after refusing to leave when Seoul was occupied and together with other foreign missionaries he endured the “Death March” to North Korea. His letters describe the ordeal of the march and his time in prison. Until he was released in 1953 Arthur Chadwell was responsible for the administration of the Diocese. The records also document the post war development of theological training and the creation of a Korean priesthood, culminating in an autonomous province of Korea within the Anglican Communion in 1993.

The records are divided into:

• Minutes of the Central and Executive Committees, 1908-1979.

• Correspondence related to work in the Mission between the Organising Secretary in Britain and: bishops of Korea such as Arthur Chadwell, Cecil Cooper, Charles John Corfe, Arthur Turner, Mark Trollope, John Daly, Paul Lee (the first Korean bishop), Mark Pae and Richard Rutt; clergy including Paul Burrough, Leonard Ottley Warner, Fred Phipps, Clifford Smart and John Whelan; women missionaries such as Violet Grosjean, Jane McLaren, Josephine Roberts, Fanny Storr and Jean Wiblin; missionary doctors such as Dr Eli Barr Landis; organisations connected to the Mission such as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Community of St Peters and the Society of the Holy Cross. Also included is the correspondence, 1950-1952, of Dorothy Morrison, the Organising Secretary, regarding the capture of mission staff and the effects of the Korean war on the Korean Church. The correspondence files are arranged in alphabetical order by name of correspondent and then by correspondence with the organisations. 

Please note that some of the correspondence is closed and has therefore not been filmed.

• Annual Reports, 1889-1910, describe the evangelical, educational and medical work carried out by the Mission staff in Korea.

• Issues of the Mission’s monthly magazine Morning Calm, 1891-1987. The magazine gives detailed news on the Mission’s work and life in Korea written by the Bishop, the clergy and the missionaries. A news section gives details on missionary movements together with obituaries plus details on financial matters.  The magazine is rich in photographs of the towns, the churches, the people, the missionaries and the staff. During the Second World War in order to save resources the Corean News Bulletin was published instead of Morning Calm. The issues are included in this collection.

• Issues of The St Nicolas Chronicle, 1928-1934 and The Guild of St Nicolas Leaftlet, 1937-1939, 1949-1953. These were magazines for children with stories about Korean children and their lives with many photographs and illustrations.

• Issues of the Church in Corea, 1918, 1924, 1939-1940.

• Issues of Newsletters to Friends of the Korean Mission, 1896, 1905, 1908, 1941, 1944, 1945-1946: circular letters from the Bishop to supporters keeping them informed of developments.

• Books and pamphlets published by the Mission including histories of the Anglican Church in Korea, newsletters of the Association of Prayer and Work for Korea, reports of St Peter’s Foreign Mission Association, news bulletins of the Anglo-Korean Society and of the Korean Mission of the United Church of Canada. Also included are a few publications of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and miscellaneous publications on Korean life and culture.

• Lists of male and female missionaries with dates of birth, years of service, consecration date; bishops; Mission staff; Organising Secretaries; members of the Community of St Peter; the Society of the Holy Cross; church dedications; parishes which made financial contributions to the work of the Mission and other miscellaneous information.

• Press cuttings relating to the Church in Korea and the work of the Korean Mission, 1907-1984.

• Photographs and postcards depicting the work of the Anglican Church in Korea and the Korean Mission in particular. They include photographs of Mission staff, buildings, events and general scenes of Korea. They are arranged firstly by alphabetical location and are followed by photographs of people working for the Mission or closely associated organisations such as the Society of the Holy Cross and finally general scenes of Korean life and people.

• Maps of Korea, a beautifully illustrated book on opium smoking, educational material, sketches of church buildings and Korean temples, paintings of local Korean scenes and costumes and posters.

• Ledgers and Cash Books, 1949-1986, detailing expenditure, legacies and subscriptions received from around the world.

The indexes of subscribers to the work of the Mission and indexes of orphans and “adopters” involved in the sponsorship scheme have not been filmed as they are closed to researchers. Also not included in this microfilm publication are Religious Texts, Slides, Films and Sound Recordings.

The following extracts from the records will give an idea of their richness. The extract below is from the Executive Committee Meeting, 11 October 1939 with details on the financial status of the Mission:

“….The Secretary gave his report and presented a list of places visited during the past quarter. The finance of the present quarter appeared at the moment, to be unaffected seriously by war conditions but it was apparent that the income of the Mission was certain to suffer, particularly by those people affected by the new Income Tax decree….”

The following extract from a letter written at Sangju and dated June 1956, from Peter Robert Mosse Corser, priest, 1954-1957, describes his hopes for the rebuilding of the Church:

“This is my first letter to the outside world since arriving down here a week ago…. This morning I have been going round with Lee Paul leaving my card on the impt people in the town such as the Mayor and Chief of Police and Headmasters of Schools…. Great things are happening under Lee Paul. He is slowly building up the Church here so that it will be extremely strong in the faith….”

Richard Rutt, Bishop of Taejon from 1968, who worked with orphans and the Trade School in Ajung from 1956-1958, writes about the difficulty of learning the Korean language:

“Seoul 14 Oct 1955

….I am not pretending to be overworked, or to have anything more than I can cope with, but is has been suggested to me that ‘learning the language’ means ‘having an easy time’. In fact it means doing a very solid week’s work. My unread English newspapers are mounting into a depressingly tall pile & so are the unanswered letters. So if anyone asks about our life, you may be able to tell them the virtues which we want their prayers to obtain for us: patience & industry, & unbounded energy!....”

The first Annual Report from the Mission,1889-1891, includes a report by the Deputy Surgeon-General, J Wiles, on the difficulties encountered while undertaking medical work in Korea:

“Seoul Nov 1891

….. The Coreans are gradually learning to appreciate the skill of foreign doctors. Up to a short time ago the treatment of disease was principally done by ‘charms’ of ‘sorcerers’, and even now for many diseases they still go to them for treatment. Their belief is that every acute disease depends on the presence of a special evil spirit, and until that is cast out the patient cannot get better. It will be a work of time ere they change a practice which is rooted in them…. As regards Corean doctors, they are most ignorant – their treatment is the same for nearly everything….”

The quarterly periodical Morning Calm gives some fascinating glimpses of life in Korea. The following description of household life is taken from a 1946 issue:

“…. Most normal Korean households have kitchens rather apart from the house.  Food is chiefly cooked on wood or charcoal fires – a built in fire for the rice and seasonal cooking of preserves, but small portable earthenware buckets for the greater part of the cooking….

Water being as scarce as it is, women wash clothes in every kind of place. The customary clothing for men, women and children in summer is white, yet the dust which rises and the smoke from charcoal make this most impracticable….

Houses are cluttered with all kinds of rubbish. Cupboards are in great confusion. But for all that the Korean uses almost everything in a very practical way….”


The Korean Mission (renamed the Korean Mission Partnership in 1993) was founded by Charles John Corfe, following his consecration as the first Bishop of Korea in 1889.  The Mission was founded in direct response to appeals from the churches in China and Japan and its work was funded by an annual grant of £600 from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and through subscriptions and donations. It was supported by organisations including the Association of Prayer and Work for Corea, also founded by Bishop Corfe in 1890, St Peter’s Association for Foreign Missions, the Children’s Fund, the Education Fund and the Hospital Naval Fund, which funded the medical work in particular until 1941. The Association of Prayer and Work for Corea grew very rapidly and within a year it had over 1000 members, 115 Local Secretaries and three branches overseas.

To help train priests for the Mission, Bishop Corfe founded the Korean Missionary Brotherhood, led by Rev Herbert Kelly, one of the first missionaries to volunteer. The Brotherhood later became The Society of the Sacred Mission which made a great contribution to the world wide church. In 1892 the Sisters of the Community of St Peter in Kilburn started work amongst the women in Korea and by 1925 had established the Society of the Holy Cross. Within two years of Corfe’s arrival in Korea at In’chon in Korea in 1890, a hospital and the first Anglican church had been built at In’chon and a church at Seoul. The first Korean baptisms took place in 1897, including Mark Kim of Kanghwa, later to be ordained as the first Korean Anglican priest in 1915.

In 1910, Korea became subject to Japanese rule, a situation which lasted until Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces in August 1945. Japan built up Korea’s infrastructure but attempted to destroy all elements of Korean culture. People were forced to adopt Japanese names, convert to the Shinto religion and forbidden to use the Korean language in schools and business.

The work of the Mission however continued to expand and Bishop Mark Napier Trollope found himself Bishop of Japanese Christians as well as Koreans with Japanese-speaking priests and lay-workers being added to the staff and in 1925 a cathedral for Seoul, the Church of St Mary & St Nicholas was consecrated.

Hostility towards the British during the Second World War meant that by 1941 most of the foreign staff of the Mission had had to return home. They returned at the end of the war in 1945 to find that the Diocese had been divided at the 38th parallel, with the USSR in control of the North and the USA military government in control of the South.

The Korean War which followed from 1950-1953, had major implications for the Mission. Most contact with North Korea was severed and the country was beset with many problems – economic, social and political. However despite all of this the Mission continued to thrive. In 1965 the Diocese was divided when
Paul Ch’on-Hwan Li (Paul Lee) was consecrated Bishop of Seoul and John Charles Sydney Daly was sent to the newly created Diocese of Taejon, a part of which became the Diocese of Busan in 1974. Paul Lee was instrumental in moving the Mission forward and rebuilding the Korean Church in the post-war years. So that in 1993 the Korean Mission became an autonomous province within the Anglican Communion and was renamed The Korean Mission Partnership.


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