Yanghwajin Foreigners' Cemetery

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Yanghwajin Foreigners' Cemetery
양화진
Yanghwajin.jpg
Details
Year established 1890
Location Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Country South Korea
Coordinates 37°32′48″N 126°54′40″E / 37.54655°N 126.91102°E / 37.54655; 126.91102Coordinates: 37°32′48″N 126°54′40″E / 37.54655°N 126.91102°E / 37.54655; 126.91102
Website [1]
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Yanghwajin (Korean: 양화진), also known as the Hapjeong-dong (합정동) International Cemetery, is a cemetery overlooking the Han River in the district of Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea. Designated in 1890 as a site for foreign missionaries by King Gojong, the site is currently open to the public from 9:00am to 6:00pm and is located next to Jeoldusan Martyr's Shrine. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 Koreans and 500 foreigners visit every year.

History[edit]

The death of Presbyterian minister John Heron in July 1890 prompted the small but growing foreign community in Seoul to look for a proper location for burials. Previous burials were conducted in modern-day Incheon at the Chemulpo Foreigners' Cemetery.

Dr. Horace Allen obtained the land rights of the bluff overlooking the Han River and called it Yanghwajin; so named for an old ferry crossing that once existed nearby. The site for the cemetery already had historical significance: in 1839, a number of French Catholic missionaries were put to death there and in 1866, a number of Korean Catholics were also killed in a mass execution on the nearby riverbank.

The cemetery was also a victim of close quarters combat during the Korean War and war damage to many of the grave markers is quite evident. Attempts to repair the fractured markers are minimal at the request of community members.

Originally officially maintained by members of the Kyungsung European-American Cemetery Association the 14,000 square meter (4000 Pyeong) grounds have been unofficially taken care by foreign diplomats, businesspeople, volunteer groundskeepers and missionaries since its founding.

Controversies[edit]

Originally built for the members of the foreign missionary community in Seoul, the Kyungsung European-American Cemetery Association maintained the grounds until a 1961 decree by President Park Chung-hee stating that foreigners were not allowed to own land. The grounds technically belonged to no one until the city of Seoul designated it a public park in 1965. In 1968, when the South Korean government passed a law requiring foreigners to register all land, the cemetery was curiously never officially registered. In 1985, a committee called the Council for the 100th Anniversary of the Korean Church was asked by Horace Grant Underwood III to register the cemetery on behalf of the Seoul Union Church with the understanding that the Seoul Union Church would be the unofficial caretakers.[1] The committee agreed and a year later built a joint-use chapel nearby called the Memorial Chapel.

In 2005, the predominantly foreign congregation of the Seoul Union Church began sharing the Memorial Chapel with a Korean congregation composed of the former 100th Anniversary Memorial Church Committee. The two congregations coexisted amicably until the death of Dr. Horace Grant Underwood III in 2004.[2] However, the two congregations then began to disagree about proper caretaking responsibilities as well as who officially takes care of the grounds. On August 5, 2007, the Seoul Union Church was officially removed from the grounds including the chapel.[3] The church, cemetery and adjacent museum are since the property of the Memorial Church.

Conflicting reports from the Memorial Church further claim that some interments would be disinterred in the future[4] Memorial church leader Lee Jae-chul referred to the change in cemetery caretakership similar to the "Chinese retaking Hong Kong".[5]

Statistics[edit]

Estimated Interments[6]
Burials Adults Children Total
Missionary Community 83 38 118
Non-Missionary, Non-Military 53 15 66
U.S. Military-related 26 38 64
Occupation Unknown 44 31 75
Koreans 12 11* 23*
Totals 221 133 376*

*These figures do not include the 23 known unmarked graves or the unknown number of Korean children from the Anglican orphanages buried on upper slope of the Anglican plot.

Known Nationalities
Australia
Belgium
Canada
France
Germany
Italy
Japan
Korea
New Zealand
Philippines
Russia/USSR
South ca
United Kingdom
United States

Notable interments[edit]

Homer Hulbert's Tombstone

References[edit]

  1. ^ JoongAng Daily: Christians battle over historic cemetery
  2. ^ ROK Drop: The Showdown Over Yanghwajin Foreigner Cemetery
  3. ^ OhMyNews International: Foreigners' Cemetery in Seoul a Symbol of Western Influence
  4. ^ Marmot's Hole: Foreigner graves to be disinterred
  5. ^ LA Times: South Korea cemetery focus of dispute
  6. ^ Clark, Donald N., comp and ed. The Seoul Foreigners' Cemetery at Yanghwajin: An Informal History with Notes on Other Cemeteries in Korea and Individuals and Families in the History of the Foreign Community in Korea. Seoul: Seoul Union Church, 1998.
  7. ^ "History, via the camera lens" JoongAng Daily

External links[edit]