September 17, 1953
Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke,
Christian Children's Fund, Inc.,
Richmond 4, Va.,
Dear Dr. Clarke,
Mr. Mills has asked me to reply to a portion of your letter of
September 4 in which you ask for information on Dr. Oh's Home.
I'll answer this in detail as best I can and get it off to you
today as I note a conference is in the offing. Mr. Mills'
promise to have it in the mail on the 14th was difficult
because of rushing the No. 2 forms, pictures, and No. 1 form of
the Okinawa Airin En. I sincerely hope this Home meets with
your satisfaction. A full report will be in the mail in
a day or two.
About Dr. Oh's Home, I say without fear of exaggeration that this
is the high spot-the hope-the bright future of child welfare work
in Korea. I have been involved very closely with most of
the various grandiose welfare agencies in Korea for a long time,
and have listened to the loud vocal and hair tearing complaints
of those in control, that the Koreans don't know how to take care
of children. The plaintiffs are right, dead right!
By what's to be done about it? Perhaps I should ask, what
has been done about it? One thing is already being done;
Christian Children's Fund is building the first cottage or family
plan Home in Korea. It is the first project built around
the idea that an orphaned child is a human being that requires
love and affection by a substitute "mother" in addition to the
basic necessities of rice and shelter.
Mrs. Ellis O. Briggs gave her unqualified praise to the Cottage
plan project, five units of which have been completed (of a total
of seven planned); her words were: "The Superintendents of other
Homes in Korea must be told of this work. They must come
here to see what can be done. The Christian Children's Home
should serve as the model for child welfare institutions all over
We have invested (or will have by the time the two additional
units are completed), a total of $15,000 in these seven cottages.
Mr. Mills has forwarded a few pictures of these Homes that I took
when I visited An Yang the middle of August. At that time
the interiors were not completed (they will have been at this
writing.) Dedication was slated for September 14 in the
presence of many Church and U.N. dignitaries.
There are several features of these cottages that are noteworthy.
One, of course, is the price. Our investment comes to about
$2,100 per cottage. This is not the actual cost, however,
because KCAC (the Korean Civil Assistance Command, formerly called
the UN Civil Assistance Command) has donated some cement and some
lumber. Nevertheless, the completed units will cost less
than $3,000 apiece which is something of a record. This
includes wiring, plumbing, roofing, flooring and all.
Another noteworthy aspect of Korea's first child welfare
institution (the other Homes are largely institutions with the
word "welfare" difficult to include) is the fact that they utilize
local architectural features. The use of these features
(namely, the "ondol" or radiant heating floors and tile Korean-style
roofs which give the cottages an Oriental appearance) provide
the children with the feeling that they live in Korea. They
will grow up in their own culture, adjusting themselves to the
ways of their own people. Too often in the grand plans made
by some of the huge official agencies, there is the feeling that
the children should live in the best Western traditions with carpeted
floors and television sets and chicken every Sunday. The
children, however, when on their own, will not have any such luxuries.
Korea is hundreds of years behind the times as far as basic scientific
improvements are concerned, let alone luxuries. I don't
mean to imply that our children will be living under hardship
conditions. A glance at the cottages should persuade anyone
who has the slightest glimmer that Korea 1953 is all about that
the children who live here are very, very fortunate indeed.
It is safe to say that the children who occupy-16 to a cottage-these
family units will have a higher standard of living and better
care than 95 per cent of Korean children with mothers and fathers.
Every attempt will be made to develop individuality among the
children. Some of your listeners in the committee at the
N.C.C. will doubtless have been to Korea. They will have
seen children literally herded into single rooms. They will
have gasped at scores of children using a single towel thus passing
along all communicable diseases during each morning's toilet.
I saw with my own eyes a Home at Kusan-one which had applied for
our support-where 120 children were jammed into two rooms with
a total floor space of not more than 400 square feet. They
lived here not unlike the UN prisoners of war (whom I also saw)
who complained of Communist tortures that included being put in
a box too low to stand in and too narrow to sit in. These
120 children, 60 to a single room, were almost in that plight
as it was winter when I was there and they couldn't play outside.
It is such treatment, born of ignorance, of children in orphanages
that caused the first Rusk Commission (later to become America-Korea
Foundation) investigating committee to write "there are not 50
orphanages in all of Korea that would meet the minimum requirements
of orphanages in the United States." It seems hardly necessary
to point out that Korea is not the United States. Also,
I say with confidence that the 50 Homes implied by Rusk and company
as meeting minimum U.S. requirements would include the 42 C.C.F.
Contrast the children in the Kunsan Home with those who will occupy
our model Christian Children's Home at An Yang! No wonder
Mrs. Briggs said with such emphasis that "this was the hope for
the future of child welfare in Korea." (Mrs. Briggs speaks
with a good deal of knowledge because, as you can well-imagine,
everyone with an axe to grind in raising orphanage money has asked
her to visit this Home or that one.) This "home" has been
built right on top of the ruined Chrisitian Children's Home of
1950 where all of Dr. Oh's 150 children were killed by bombs.
As soon as the cottage plan at the Chrisitian Children's Home
is in operation (which will be by October 1 at the latest) we
plan to start a training institute at the Home. This will
mean bringing together our 42 superintendents and the leading
members of their staffs. The details of this training program
are yet to be worked out by, I might say that, this July Mr. Roe
and Dr. Appenzeller conducted a two-day conference of C.C.F. superintendents
in which the ground-work was laid for the actual setting up of
the institute at An Yang. Courses of at least six weeks
length will be set up to give all members of the staffs of each
Home a chance to study. It may well be possible to include
staffs and superintendents of other Homes in the future but with
something over 5,150 children and more than 500 teachers and superintendents
in our affiliated C.C.F. Homes charity will begin at Home and
we will give instruction to our own first.
As a sidelight to the development by C.C.F. of this first cottage
plan Home in Korea I would like to quote from a letter to President
Rhee. The largest item among the first donations of the
America-Korea Foundation announced August 27 in Seoul was the
following, numbered 33 in the Foundation's report to the ROK President:
"Project for Training of Orphanage Directors
and Workers -- $35,000
To establish a personnel training program in orphanages, other
institutions and selected colleges and universities by providing
experienced foreign child welfare experts to work with the Ministry
of Social Affairs, voluntary organizations and UNKRA (the UN Korean
Immediately following this item are the following
two, numbered 34 and 35:
"Improvement of Standards of Care in Orphanages
To provide two experienced Korean child welfare workers to the
Ministry of Social Affairs work toward improvement of the standards
of care in orphanages and other child welfare institutions."
"Establishment of Model Child Welfare Institution
To provide personnel, training and supplies to create a model
demonstration program in a selected orphanage."
It is most interesting to me that C.C.F. has already constructed
a new project that will provide opportunities for the accomplishment
of each of these three items that the America-Korea Foundation
considered priority matters. In No. 33, the project for
the training of Orphanage Directors and Workers, another amount
of $35,000 has been set aside for 1954. It would be most
desirable if the National Council of Churches of Christ in America
could make proper contact with the America-Korea Foundation and
let them know that C.C.F. has already set-up (and this from plans
two years old) a model Home, a place and plans for training institute
and is, through its regular giving to 42 Homes and more than 5,000
children, seeking to raise the standards of all Korea's orphanages.
Perhaps you'll need a few more details on Dr. Oh's project.
Dr. Oh's full name is K.S. Oh. He is a medical doctor and
was president of the medical college connected with Severance
Hospital in Seoul for many years. He is a graduate of the
University of Louisville in Kentucky. He is one of Korea's
outstanding men in every way. One son, who died two years
ago, was the Minister of Health of the ROK government.
We have 140 acres of lovely farm and hillside forest land at the
Home. The children learn agricultural vocations (if they
desire), as well as tailoring, leather-working and animal husbandry.
These 140 acres are all paid for, by the way, and produce grapes,
rice, barley, vegetables of all kinds, chestnuts and melons in
ample quantity for the children with enough left over for sale,
thus providing a regular income in addition to the C.C.F. subsidy.
We are giving our $4 per month per child support to 143 children
in the Home. We ask Dr. Oh, as we ask all our superintendents,
to use our money for these priority items for the children: food
(especially protein and mineral foods in addition to the rice
ration provided by KCAC), clothing (especially school uniforms
that Dr. Oh and his staff could not provide without our money),
school tuition and school books and supplies, medicine and medical
attention. Though KCAC provides vaccinations and immunizations,
regular medical attention just could not be afforded for our Homes
prior to C.C.F. subsidization. Medicine, all having to be
purchased at black market prices, was another impossibility.
Dr. Oh being an MD obviated the No. 4 requirements but he and
the superintendent, Dr. Yum Dong Ha, of the Dong Sung Orphanage
(Babies' Home) in Pusan are the only two of our superintendents
who are so qualified. For any who think C.C.F. simply gives
without thought to supervision it should be said that we demand
official receipts plus financial statements from each Home each
month. Mr. Roe and/or I have visited each of our Homes (sometimes
several times) during the past year. We have a stipulation
that no more than 10 percent of the C.C.F. subsidy can be spent
for any one item without the approval of the Korea office in Pusan
which, if in doubt, can present the matter to the Korea advisory
The fact that C.C.F. has an office in Korea with an efficient
staff is a matter of importance. Our executive secretary
for Korea is Mr. Roe Chin Bak, the former Deputy Minister of Education
for the ROK government. He is a man of a great deal of integrity
and an interest and experience in child welfare commensurate to
his responsibility for the "feeding of the 5,000." Four
young men and women, all college graduates, assist Mr. Roe in
clerical and administrative work which, under the still prevailing
war conditions, are extremely difficult and often just plain impossible.
Christian Children's Fund has its own property in Korea in addition
to the investment at An Yang. I refer to our home for Mr.
Roe and the attached three offices and conference rooms.
Our property is equal to any mission property I have seen in Korea,
and superior to most. The upstairs is a two-room Western-style
apartment (sans water and other facilities at the moment) but
suitable for quarters for foreign guests or permanent bachelor's
quarters. This property is across the street from the guests
or permanent bachelor's quarters and across the street from the
French Embassy and next door to three American Embassy residences.
(Its view of Pusan City and bay is lovely, indeed.) Our
investment here is HW 1,400,000, or, about $6,000. The property
is registered under the juridical person of Christian Children's
Fund, Inc. in Korea. Also, under new regulations by the
Korean government, each of our Homes must be registered as juridical
persons. This requires property holdings of about $4,500
and money or negotiable securities in the amount of $1,500.
If the Homes desire, the government will allow them to register
under the organizational person of the Chrisitian Children's Fund
with a waiver of the money or negotiable securities' requirement.
Several of our Homes are doing this in return for which we require
that they insert the following three articles in their constitutions:
1. In the case of disposing of foundation property
when there is absolute necessity for achieving the object of this
person, the consent of all members of the Board of Directors and
the written permission of the Christian Children's Fund, Incorporated,
must first be obtained.
2. This juridical person shall be affiliated
with the Christian Children's Fund, Incorporated, which organization
will appoint three members of the Board of Directors.
3. This constitution may be changed by
a resolution of three-fourths of the Board of Directors. This
juridical person can be dissolved by the unanimous consent of
the Board of Directors but the written permission of Christian
Children's Fund, Incorporated, must be obtained.
I have gone into these details of legal functions
only to allay the fears of many who have thought C.C.F. and other
organizations like us are pumping money into Korea without rhyme
or reason and without protections of the investment or assurance
that the money won't be misused. This may be true of other
organizations; for the above reasons, it is not true of C.C.F.
Backing up Mr. Roe and his office in Pusan
is the Korea Advisory Committee composed of the leaders in missionary
welfare work in Korea. Dr. Henry Appenzeller, director of
CWS in Korea, is Chairman. Vice Chairman is Dr. K. S. Oh.
William Coston of the YMCA, Esther Park of the YWCA, Col. Widdowson
of the Salvation Army. Dr. Anderson of the Australian Presbyterian
Mission, Rev. John Underwood of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.
A., Dr. Fraser of the United Church of Canada are committee members.
Rev. M. Olin Burkholder of the Methodist Board of Missions is
the C.C.F. treasurer who succeeded Rev. Charles A. Sauer, also
of the Methodists. Both these men have done wonderful jobs
of handling C.C.F.'s ever-increasing and now more-than-substantial
budget. The members of the committee have been faithful
in attending meetings and active in helping administer the work
of C.C.F. that has progressed from 1949 with such rapidity as
to stagger the imagination.
With this background of statistics and information
it may mean more to your listeners when you point out that Christian
Children's Fund, Inc. has by far the largest program of direct
help to orphaned children of any organization, UN, U.S. missionary
or other in Korea. We have Homes in all provinces but Kang
Wan Do (half of which has been so badly infested by guerillas
as to make travel extremely dangerous). Our only competitor
to date has been the immense joint U.S. Army and U.N. KCAC which
has been providing rice, CARE boxes, clothing and medical aid
to all Homes in Korea. They have provided no financial aid
with which the Homes could buy specific requirements. C.C.F.
has sought to co-ordinate its giving with KCAC in requesting superintendents
to purchase items not provided by that agency.
Numerically the 5,150 children we are helping
is more than 12 percent of all children in institutions in Korea.
At present, according to latest figures released by UNKRA (which
agree with those released by the ROK Welfare Ministry) there are
slightly fewer than 40,000 children in Homes in South Korea.
Our nearest competitors in sponsorship programs haven't nearly
approached what we are already accomplishing. Foster Parent's
Plan hadn't started disbursements, according to Mr. Roe, by the
1st of September. They are still only a "Plan"
in Korea though this plan will eventually help about 1,000 children,
some in orphanages, many not. The Save the Children organization
is reported to be getting ready to help something over 600 children.
Their disbursements hadn't started by September 1, this year,
Among these huge multi-million dollar agencies,
there seem to be so many of them they stumble over each other.
And their administration costs can be seen swarming the streets
of Pusan and Seoul in the form of new Dodge sedans and station
wagons. I won't criticize further but will satisfy myself
by quoting from the following very official publication, nicely
bound in booklet form and entitled "United Nations, Third Addendum
to the Report of the Agent General of the United Nations Korean
Reconstruction Agency." Item No. 45 under Health, Sanitation
and Welfare states:
"At the present time there are 317 orphanages
in South Korea caring for approximately 38,700 children.
As a result of hostilities and of the tremendous increase in child
welfare problems it is estimated that there are about 80,000 children
in need of some type of care or maintenance, and there is a critical
need for additional space for the care of children. UNKRA
has budgeted $25,000 to provide building materials, supplies and
equipment; procurement has been started and seven installations
have been selected for extension."
Underlines are my own! The significant
fact is this: UNKRA's original budget was something over
$70,000,000. This was for 1952. Their current budget
is $130,000,000. And yet, Christians Children's Fund gives
to children each month the total of what UNKRA has allocated to
care for the 38,700 children in institutions and the 80,000 who
are not for, I assume, the period of an entire year.
The America-Korea Foundation under Rusk, Van
Fleet and others is slightly more hopeful because it is only semi-official.
15 Homes (6 of which are probably ours) received gifts of $250
in the first Rusk disbursement on August 27 this year. The
Ethel Underwood Memorial Home received $2,500 for building reconstruction
in Seoul. Except for this gift it is significant that our
monthly help to each of the other Homes was greater than this
gift by Rusk, though we deeply appreciate their assistance and
look forward to more according to their letter to President Rhee
which states they still hold three million dollars worth of funds.
No report on Korea would be complete without
mentioning our $1,600 per month aid to Mrs. O. K. Whang's "Orphan's
Home of Korea." Hers is the largest Home in Korea with nearly
700 children. Ours is her only regular support.
Also noteworthy is the fact that C.C.F. helps
six babies' homes, the most desperately needy institutions in
Korea by nature of their care for infants who die from disease
and malnutrition most easily.
I submit this with the hope that it will answer
the questions of the members of the conference to whom you will
be reporting. In a day or two I shall prepare a more comprehensive
report on Korea, giving additional details on others of our 42
Yours very truly,
WILLIAM F. ASBURY