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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Making Democracy Compatible with Mission: James Earnest Fisher as a Missionary and US Information Officer in Korea, 1919–1948

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2020, v.60 no.4, pp.115-142
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2020.60.4.115
(Ca’ Foscari Unversity of Venice)
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Abstract

This paper examines the ideas and activities of James Earnest Fisher (1886–1989) in Korea. Fisher first came to Korea in 1919 as a missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and taught at Chosen Christian College until 1934. Having published Democracy and Mission Education in Korea (1928), based on his PhD dissertation, Fisher introduced John Dewey’s ideas on democracy and education to colonial Korea and tried to reinterpret the goals of mission education there. He argued for democracy as an educational goal when many Koreans were energized by new trends such as socialism. After Japan’s defeat in 1945 and with Korea under divided occupation, Fisher returned to Korea in 1946 as a USAMGIK official for political education and public relations. He sought to propagate American democracy in southern Korea, participated in the US-USSR Joint Commission talks in 1947, and helped to establish the South Korean government in 1948. Fisher’s ideas and activities show a unique aspect of KoreanAmerican relations in terms of how Christian mission and a certain view of democracy were articulated under Japanese colonial rule, and during the formative period leading to the establishment of the Republic of Korea.

keywords
James Earnest Fisher democracy mission education Korean-American relations US Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK) Methodist Episcopal Church South

Korea Journal