- Kim, Helen
- (1899 - 197 0)Korean tethodist educator and ecumenical leaderHelen Kim was born in Inchon, South Korea, on February 27, 1899. Born GheeDeug, in English she was named after the female missionary who converted her family to Christianity She graduated from Ewha College, the Methodist School in Seoul, in 1918. She taught at Ewha for four years before coming to the United States to attend Ohio Wesleyan University (1922-24) and Boston University (M.A., 1926). Upon her return to Korea, she was named dean of Ewha. She returned to the United States in 1930 and two years later became the first Korean woman to secure a Ph.D. (from Columbia University Teachers College).In 1938, she succeeded Alice R. Appenzeller (1885-1950) as president of Ehwa. She led the school, the most prominent women's institution of higher learning in the region, through the country's most difficult years of Japanese occupation, World War II, and the Korean conflict. Under her leadership, it added a graduate school in 1952 and attained university status. By the end of her tenure in 1961, Ewha was the largest women's school in the world. During these years she became an international Christian leader of note, representing Korea at the World Council of Churches, the International Missionary Council, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and UNESCo. During the Korean conflict, she served as minister of public information in the Syngman Rhee cabinet.Following her retirement, she turned her abilities toward evangelism and headed the 1965 Nationwide Evangelistic Campaign for Korea. Kim was repeatedly honored for contributions to the church and her country, including in 1963 the Order of Cultural Merit from the Republic of Korea. She died in Seoul on February 10, 1970.Further reading:■ Nolan B. Harmon, Encyclopedia of World Methodism, 2 vols. (Nashville, Tenn.: United Methodist Publishing House, 1974)■ Grace Kim, Grace Sufficient, ed. by J. Manning Potts (Nashville, Tenn.: The Upper Room, 1964)■ Gertrude Schultz, comp., Women and the Way: Christ and the World's Womanhood■ A Symposium (New York: Friendship Press, 1938).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.