History and Mission
The Yonsei University Medical School dates back to April 10, 1885, when the first modern hospital to practice western medicine in Korea, Gwanghyewon, was established. The hospital was founded by Horace Newton Allen, the American protestant missionary appointed to Korea by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A (from here on the Church). The hospital was renamed Jejungwon (제중원 濟衆院, House of Universal Helpfulness) on April 26. As there appeared numerous difficulties, the Church appointed Oliver R. Avison to run Jejungwon on July 16, 1893. The rest of Yonsei University traces its origins to Chosun Christian College, which was founded on March 5, 1915, by another American Protestant missionary sent by the Church, Horace Grant Underwood.
Underwood became the first president, and Avison vice president. It was located at the YMCA. Courses began in April with 60 students and 18 faculty members.
Severance was approved as a college by the liberated Korean government in 1947. Since the majority of medical institutions in Korea was run by the Japanese, medical staff and faculty were in short supply after their departure. Thus many members of Severance staff and faculty left to assist other institutions. In 1950, during the outbreak of the Korean War, Severance functioned as a field hospital until Seoul was overrun. Severance fled hurriedly but some faculty members and students were unable to leave in time. Severance seniors joined the military as army surgeons. Although Severance returned to Seoul for a while after its recapture, it had to flee again in December on a LST in Incheon. When Severance arrived in Busan, its medical school joined the wartime college, a temporary body.
Yonhi was able to open its doors again on January 21, 1946 and, on August 15, 1946, was recognized as a university. Baek Nak Jun became president. It was a period of transition, and Yonhi University faced numerous obstacles including financial ones; after 1947 things settled down. At the time, Korea lacked teachers and Yonhi was asked to provide education and training; the Temporary Training Center for Secondary School Teachers in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry was established. In December 1948, plans for unification of Yonhi and Severance began to take form. The Graduate school was built in July 1950.
At this point, all progress came to a halt due to the Korean War. The university suspended all courses on June 27 and recruited student soldiers. The North Korean military advanced into the Yonhi campus and established its headquarters there. This was a cause of severe damage to the campus when the U.S. military recaptured Seoul in September. The university reopened following the recapture of Seoul, but it was once more on the run to Busan in December. In February 1951, Yonhi joined the wartime college; however, Yonhi kept an independent body and opened its own courses on October 3, 1951. On April 15, 1953 Yonhi began its work on restoration; Yonhi returned to its campus in the fall. In 1957, Severance Medical College and Hospital and Yonhi University merged to form Yonsei University.
Being the oldest private university in Korea, Yonsei University was first established in 1885 by Christian missionaries. Mission of Yonsei University is to educate leaders who will contribute to humanity in the spirit of “truth and freedom.” The 300,000 Yonsei alumni who took this calling to heart can be found manifesting this proud spirit from leadership positions around the world.
Yonsei’s campus is ensconced in a spacious, picturesque and natural setting located minutes away from the economic, political, and cultural centers of Seoul's metropolitan downtown. Also, Yonsei has two more campuses located in western and eastern side of Seoul area, especially Yonsei International Campus is minutes away from the Incheon International Airport. Yonsei has 3,500 eminent faculty members who are conducting cutting-edge research across all academic disciplines. There are 18 graduate schools, 22 colleges and 133 subsidiary institutions hosting a selective pool of students from around the world.
Yonsei is proud of its history and reputation as a leading institution of higher education and research in Asia.
College of Theology
The College of Theology was first established in 1915 as the Department of Theology in Chosun Christian College. Since 1945, the department has developed into a leading theological institution, known as the first College of Theology located in a Korean university.
A feature of Yonsei University's College of Theology is its efforts to weave together the interdisciplinary studies of theology with other academic fields. It also endeavors, in an ecumenical spirit, to provide various academic and practical activities in which faculty members and students participate on an interdenominational basis. The College of Theology serves the church and broad communities in Korea's diverse society.
In accordance with its founding spirit, the College of Theology has been developing up-to-date educational programs for the following purposes: first, to increase the academic excellence in theological studies by both maintaining its relationship with mainline theological scholarship in the world and endeavoring to develop a creative way of doing theology, the so-called “Korean Theology”; second, to provide a well-balanced theological education geared toward both scholarship and toward a living faith for all students; third, to nurture future leaders for Korean churches and world communities with an understanding of the diversity of the Christian mission. Accordingly, the department encourages students to have a double major in conjunction with any other department of the University. To achieve these purposes, the College has also run an affiliated center called “The Institute of Christianity and Korean Culture.”
The United Graduate School of Theology
The United Graduate School of Theology at Yonsei University (UGST) was established in 1964 with a grant from the Theological Educational Fund of World Council of Churches which united many major theological institutions such as Yonsei College of Theology, the Korean College of Theology, the Methodist College of Theology, and the Presbyterian College of Theology and so on, which all belong to the National Counsel Churches in Korea(NCCK).
The purpose of UGST is to provide a high quality theological training through academic creativity and critical research, in order to raise both the standard of theological education and church leaders, and to contribute to the development of Korean theology.
Throughout its history, UGST has produced pioneers and leaders of the Korean church, serving as a learning ground to cultivate highly qualified theologians and ministers. In its 48 years of history, UGST has graduated 1,304 students with master's degrees, and 3,338 students have completed its extension programs(August of 2011).
Currently, the student body is comprised of 152 students which include nineteen foreign students: There are 113 students pursuing a Master's degree, 39 students in the Doctoral program, and 152 students in the extension program.