Yonsei University in Sinchon, Seoul was established in 1885 by Christian missionaries. It was the first medical school in Korea. It was here that Korea’s first hospital to practice western medicine was built. It was first called Gwanghyewon but later changed to Jejungwon and then finally to it’s current name Severance Hospital.
Yonsei University underwent a lot of changes during the Japanese Colonial Rule. The Japanese Language was forced on the students and the text books were changed. Some parts of the campus were transformed into military training grounds and the university was under constant surveillance by the Japanese. On August 17th, 1942 the university was designated as an enemy property. The university ceased to be a place of education and was taken over by the Japanese Air Force and buildings were converted into barracks’. A lot of the students were conscripted into the Japanese Army or their skills used to continue the Pacific war.
Yonsei University was closely involved in the Korean Independence Movement. Documents and Newsletters were published in the Korean language. Many patriots were arrested at Yonsei and sentenced to long prison sentences or tortured to death. Like many other patriots they were held at Seodaemun Prison.
After Korea gained independence from Japan the University was rebuilt and classes began again. However, this was short lived as the outbreak of the Korean war began on June 25th, 1950. Students were recruited from the university and the campus was turned into a temporary field hospital until Seoul was over run by the North Korean’s. Many of the students or teachers who didn’t have time to escape were executed or exploited by the North Korean Army. Yonsei’s Campus was turned into the North Korean headquarters until South Korea gained independence again.
Yonsei University Campus:
The Yonsei campus is over 250 acres and is fortunate enough to have a large, well forested campus. Many people come to Yonsei just to enjoy the beauty of the campus environment, especially during the cherry blossoms season. The campus was once the site of a Royal Palace during the Joseon Dynasty. On the campus you will find many statues of patriots who were involved with the Korean independence movement. Also you will find Jejungwon (Gwanghyewon) the first western hospital in Korea.
Look out for the Korean tv drama called Jejungwon. It is about the story of a man who is one of the main doctors at Jejungwon, the first western hospital located on the campus of Yonsei University.
Here is a link to the official site of Yonsei University:
How to get to Yonsei University:
Take line 2 to Sinchon station and leave exit 2 or 3 and head straight. Follow the map below.