Ham Seok-heon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ham Seok-heon
HamSeokheon readingBooks.JPG
Korean name
Revised RomanizationHam Seok-heon
McCune–ReischauerHam Sokhon

Ham Seok-heon (13 March 1901 – 4 February 1989) was a notable figure in the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) movement in Korea, and was nicknamed the "Gandhi of Korea." Ham was an important Asian voice for human rights and non-violence during the 20th century, despite numerous imprisonments for his convictions. He was a Quaker who concluded that all religions are on common ground in terms of human beings, a view shared by many Quakers.

He encouraged peace and democracy and promoted non-violence movement known as “seed idea” (ssi-al sasang), consistently present in his books Korean History Seen through a Will published in 1948, Human Revolution in 1961, History and People in 1964, and Queen of Suffering: a spiritual history of Korea edited in 1985. He was also a poet and wrote about 120 poems such as “Song of the West Wind” written in 1983. In 2000, Sok-Hon Ham was selected by the Republic of Korea as a national cultural figure.

Early life[edit]

Ham was born in Pyong-an Province, currently North Korea and grew up as a Presbyterian Christian. In 1919, he joined the March 1st Movement, the beginning of Korean resistance to Japanese occupation. He lost his place in Pyongyang Public High School. In 1923 he graduated from Osan High School and went to Japan to study to become a teacher. There he first encountered the Non-Church movement, an indigenous Japanese Christian movement that had no liturgy, sacraments or ordained clergy. It spoke out against social injustices and advocated pacifism.


  • March 13, 1901: Born in North Pyong'an Province (Yong-Cheon)
  • 1906: Entered a missionary school of Deok-il Elementary School
  • 1914: Graduated from Deok-il Elementary School
  • 1916: Graduated from Yang-shi Public Elementary School, and entered Pyongyang public high school
  • 1919: After protesting against Japanese colonial regime in Korea, quit Pyongyang public highschool
  • 1923: Graduated from Osan high school, and went to Japan to take his studies in Tokyo school of education
  • 1924-1928: Studied the bible under Uchimura Kanzo with Kim Kyo-shin and Song Du-Yong
  • 1928: Graduated from Tokyo school of education
  • 1928-1938: Taught history and ethics at Osan highschool
  • 1934: Serially published “Korean History Seen through a Will” in ‘Seong-seo Chosun’ magazine
  • 1938: After protesting against Japanese colonial regime in Korea, quit working as a teacher at Osan highschool
  • 1940-1941: After working at Songsan agricultural&educational school, imprisoned as a protester against the Japanese colonial regime (schemed by the Japanese colonial regime)
  • 1942-1943: After writing several articles against Japanese colonial regime in Korea for a monthly magazine 'Seong-seo-Chosun(Bible Korea)', imprisoned at Seo-Dae-Moon prison
  • 1945: Appointed as a minister of education for Northern Pyung-an province
  • 1947: Imprisoned as an organizer or of a student protests against the Soviet (schemed by the Soviet)
  • 1956: He criticized social and political problems in an editorial paper, Sasang-gye.
  • 1958: Imprisoned for writing an article “Must be a Thinking People to Live” which criticizes the autocratic regime and began his religious career as the Korean representative of Quaker.
  • 1961-1963: Studied at the Quaker schools Pendle Hill in the US and Woodbrooke in Britain.
  • 1963: Protested against General Park Chung-hee becoming to run for the presidency
  • 1965: Protested against Japanese regime and president Park Chung-hee for their attempt for an alliance
  • 1974: After protesting against President Park Chung-hee for his attempt to change the constitution to be elected again, convicted
  • 1979: Nominated for Nobel peace prize by American Friends Service Committee
  • 1985: Nominated again for Nobel peace prize by American Friends Service Committee
  • 1987: received the first Inchon-award, given to a person who contributed in the development of press and media.
  • February 4, 1989: Died in Seoul National University Hospital
  • 2002: After his death, he received the “Accolade for Founding a Nation”, as a sign of recognition from the nation.


  • Kim Sung-soo, Biography of a Korean Quaker, Ham Sok-hon, Seoul: Samin Books, 2001, 360 pp. ISBN 978-89-87519-49-4

See also[edit]

External links[edit]