Nurse Training School of the Salvation of All Women Hospital (Pogŭ yŏgwan)

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

Nurse Training School of the Salvation of All Women Hospital (Pogŭ yŏgwan)

A group of the first Korean students, along with their instructors, at the Nurse Training School of Pogŭ yŏgwan (the Salvation of All Women Hospital). Source: The Korean Methodist, June 10, 1905.

The article in The Korean Methodist introduces a group of the first Korean students trained at the newly opened nursing program founded under the auspices of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The five Korean students pose with their American missionary teachers. The photo’s caption identifies these students as “Mattie; unsatisfactory, dropped; Ellen; Grace; Martha; Miss Edmunds; Dr. Cutler.” All the students, except the one who dropped out of the program, successfully finished the training and reappear in many other images. It is interesting to note that these Korean women use American, or Christian, names, a widespread practice among nurses and nurse trainees in the early days of Pogŭ yŏgwan, especially before 1909.

The establishment of the hospital and nursing program of Pogŭ yŏgwan was greatly indebted to several dedicated female medical missionaries from America, including the Miss Edmunds and Dr. Cutler shown in the image. The early photographs of Pogŭ yŏgwan rarely fail to include images of Miss Edmunds with students and patients. Miss Margaret J. Edmunds, a registered nurse, graduated from the nursing school of the University of Michigan in 1893, came to Korea in 1903, and took responsibility as a founding director of the nurse training program of Pogŭ yŏgwan. She established the nursing program through foundational works including developing the curriculum, compiling textbooks, designing the uniforms, and also translating the word nurse into a Korean term, kanhowŏn. Dr. Mary Cutler came to Korea in 1893. She served as the second director of Pogŭ yŏgwan’s hospital until 1901 and worked closely with Miss Edmunds to establish and run the hospital’s nursing program until 1909.