A Methodist bible woman named Samdŏk Chun

Gendering Modernity: Korean Women Seen through the Early Missionary Gaze (1880s–1910s)

A Methodist bible woman named Samdŏk Chun

(Left) A Methodist Bible woman named Samdŏk Chun at the age of sixty-two, 1905. (Right) Samdŏk at the center of the front row, 1900s. Source: General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church, Madison, NJ.

Images of Bible women compose another important category in missionary photo archives. Korean women from a wide range of age, class, and personal backgrounds were drawn into the Christian religion. Samdŏk Chun was one of the widely publicized examples of exemplary Korean converts who became missionaries for the word of God. In a lecture note in the archive, Samdŏk is introduced as a concubine of the wealthiest man in a village in northern Korea and became the first convert in the entire region. She learned to read and write after converting to Christianity as a middle-aged woman. She was undeterred by having to walk twenty-five miles to go to church and study the Bible and eventually converted every person in her village (lecture slide, Korea No. 67, Negative No. 54, General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church, Madison, NJ).