Horace Newton Allen

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Horace Newton Allen (April 23, 1858 – December 11, 1932) was a Protestant medical missionary and a diplomat from the United States to Korea at the end of the Joseon Dynasty.


He was born in Delaware, Ohio on April 23, 1858. He received his B.S. at Ohio Wesleyan University, in 1881 and subsequently graduated from Miami Medical School in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1883.

At his own request, he was appointed on a mission to China by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Northern Presbyterian Church and a year later he was sent to work at the United States Legation to Korea as physician. Soon after his arrival with his family on September 20, 1884, he was involved in the aftermath of Gapsinjeongbyeon, during which a royal relative Min Young Ik was stabbed and injured. The German diplomat Paul Georg von Möllendorff was present at the massacre and quickly requested Allen's medical care. Under his modern medical treatment unknown to Korea at the time, Min Young Ik recovered in three months. Consequently, this initiated for Allen a close connection with Gojong, and demonstrated the benefit of western medicine to the Korean public. With this auspicious turn of events Allen was able to establish Gwanghyewon (廣惠院, House of Extended Grace) under royal finance and support in Seoul. Gwanghyewon was the first modern medical facility in Korea. The Gwanghyewon was soon renamed by Gojong to Che Chung Won (the House of Civilized Virtue) and evolved to become the current Severance Hospital and Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea.[1] He was instrumental in lifting the nation's anti-Christianity policy to allow the influx of missionaries to evangelize, build schools and other western hospitals in the Hermit Kingdom.

Allen's residence in Seoul, in 1904; note the cartoon of a Marine in the upper left, indicating that the residence was under armed guard.

His connections in Korea enabled him to act in the role of a diplomat. In 1887 he accompanied the first Korean legation to Washington, D.C.. In 1890, he became secretary to the American legation in Seoul. By 1897 he was US minister and consul general. With his close relationship with Gojong and high government officials he was able to assist American business firms in connecting with officials, resulting in construction of the nation's first electric and water works, trolley and railway systems. He was outspoken against US noninterventionism during the Russo-Japanese War, but this was not well received by the US government, whose policy was in accord with the Taft–Katsura Agreement. He was recalled in 1905. He died in Toledo, Ohio on December 11, 1932. Gojong awarded him the highest decoration, Taeguk. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Toledo, Ohio. Allen and his wife, Frances Ann, had two sons, Horace Ethan and Maurice.


Allen's writings introduced Korean literature to the English-speaking world. His publications include:

  • Korean Tales, (1889)
  • A Chronological Index of the Foreign Relations of Korea from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Twentieth Century, (1901)
  • Supplement, (1903)
  • Things Korean, (Seoul, 1908)


  1. ^ Cho, Su-hyeon (최수현) (10 May 2008). 서울 온 알렌 박사의 두 증손녀 할아버지와 '1세기 만의 대화' (in Korean). The Chosun Ilbo. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 

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