Founder of SSU, William. M. Baird
Founder of SSU, William. M. Baird
  • Yi Ja-young (ST Reporter)
  • 승인 2008.10.08 18:36
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Founder of SSU, William. M. Baird


  Have you ever heard about William. M. Baird who founded SSU in Pyeongyang? ST searched about his life...........................................................................................Ed.



▲ Bronze Statue of Baird on the grass of campus
  Baird Hall is located in the center of SSU. This building is used for studying the natural sciences. Also most of the school administration is housed there, as is president's office.

  Do you know the origin of this major building, Baird Hall? ‘Baird’ is the family name of William. M. Baird who established SSU. Baird, whose Korean name is Bae Wie-ryang, was born on June 16, 1862 in Indiana, USA. He graduated from Hanover University in 1885 and MaCormick Theological Seminary in 1888. Also, he received a Doctorate degree of Philosophy in 1903 and a Doctor degree of Divinity in 1913 from Hanover University. He married Annie Adams on December 18, 1890,

▲ Baird Hall which is located in the center of SSU
and arrived in Incheon on February 1, 1891 with her. They started to evangelize in Busan in September that year. He moved to Daegu and established Daegu Jeil Church and Gyeseong village school. He moved to Seoul in 1896 and took charge of education in Kyungshin village school. He established SSU in Pyeongyang on October 10, 1897 and took office as president. They combined with the Methodist Church and developed SSU. He passed away in Pyeongyang on November 29, 1931 from typhoid fever.



1. Baird visited Korea


▲ Route of Baird in Korea
 Baird, a Presbyterian missionary from the USA, with long legs, a high nose and blue eyes, boarded a ship for Korea in year. Despite a dangerous voyage which took about a month, he was a little disappointed because Busan harbor was shabbier than he expected. People wore unseemly and dirty clothes and they lived in shabby thatched cottages. He was so unfamiliar with an antique advanced civilization that he regarded Busan as a desert. According to missionary reports, there were no Christians in Geyongsang-do. At that time, William. M. Baird knew nothing about Korea. He was desolated to find a house to live in. Japan was easy to gain information because they were already getting industrialized However, Korea was a planet which was not yet explored. He observed Korea during his missionary trip. During that trip, he found the uniqueness of Korea. Strangely, Koreans seemed to enjoy talking and playing together during every rest time or after work. This was a culture of ‘Sarangbang’ which can be found only in Korea.

2. ‘Sarangbang’ evangelism.

▲ William. M. Baird

  ‘Sarangbang’ evangelism was a unique method and it was done at an evangelical building whose construction was completed in June 1892. He understood the functions of 'Sarangbang', a space of conversation and meeting acquaintances.

 They had assemblies or a meetings there. Also, they translated English documents of Christianity into Korean and distributed them to visitors. ‘Sarangbang’ evangelism became a basis for evangelism in Busan and the surroundings region. He opened a ‘Sarangbang’ in his house and everyone could visit and gather there.



  When believers gathered in a village, a worship service was held. They attended worship services in peoples homes. However, when their number increased, they bought or built another building. They became bigger and bigger. These were the first churches. ‘Sarangbang’ was a pathway which offered chances to learn about Christianity before attending worship on Sunday. ‘Sarangbang’ was a place not only for conversation about religion but also for studying the Bible and praying. ‘Sarangbang’ evangelism was the way to distribute Christian religion to Korea and to have a chance to learn Korean, so they could prepare for worship in Korean.



3. Establishment of SSU in Pyeongyang Baird opened a ‘Sarangbang’ Class in Pyeongyang in 1897.

  He tried to make it stand for the ideal place for Christian education. It started with only 13 students and was developed into Soongsil School in 1900. After 4

years, in 1904, they turned out the first graduates into society.



▲ Graduated student of Soongsil School
  However, Soongsil School was not satisfied with just being a school. They tried to offer a university course and they was permitted to teach university education from headquarters. Finally, they produced the first university graduates in 1908. Through these processes, SSU became the first modern university in Korea.



  Maybe many of you didn’t know Baird founded SSU. When you are talking with your friends about Baird Hall which is located in the center of SSU, some of you may not know what Baird means. From now on, if you pass by the bronze statue on the grass of campus, you should remember Baird’s spirit that established SSU. Without him SSU would not exist.


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