Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Short History of Soongsil University and its College of Law

Soongsil University is similar to many colleges and universities in South Korea in that it was founded by early Christian missionaries. Since its founding 115 years ago, it has survived persecution, a civil war, relocation, and gone on to become a leading university.

Soongsil University was founded on October 10, 1897 in Pyongyang as a private school by Dr. William M. Baird, a missionary of the Northern Presbyterian Church of America. In 1900 the school was developed into an official 4-year junior high school. In October 1901 the school was named Soongsil Hakdang (숭실학당, "Soongsil Academy"). The name, Soongsil (숭실), roughly means "Revering [God] (숭 soong) with Truth and Integrity (실 sil)".

In 1905 the Hakdang was permitted by the missionary body to establish a college, called Union Christian College.  Law is part of the curriculum from the very beginning.  Early law classes included “Civil Law”, “Debate and Argument”, and “Rhetoric”.

U.C.C. was later authorized as a university by the Japanese colonial government in March of 1912. But in 1925 the school was forcibly reduced to a 4-year technical school of humanities named 숭실전문학교 (崇實專門學校), pronounced Sūjitsu Senmon Gakkō in Japanese.

On March 4, 1938 the school closed itself in order to protest against the enforcement of Shinto shrine worship. In August 1945 Korea was liberated from Japanese colonialism, but the effort to restore the Soongsil College did not succeed until after the end of the Korean War.

In April 1954 Soongsil College was reestablished in South Korea. The Department of Law was one of the original four colleges that constituted the reborn college. In June 1957, Soongsil moved to its present-day Sangdo-dong Campus. In 1971 the College merged with Daejun College (대전대학 (大田大學) (not to be confused with present-day Daejeon University) into Soongjun College (숭전대학 (崇田大學)).

In December 1971 the College acquired a university status. In 1972, Soongsil's College of Law opened its graduate school program, offering LL.M.s and Ph.D.s.

In December 1982, Daejeon Campus of Soongjun University was separated and renamed Hannam University. In 1984, the Department of Law was officially promoted to the College of Law.

In November 1986, Soongjun University was renamed Soongsil University.

In 2010, the College of Law announces the new Department of Global Law.  The new degree, the LL.B. in Global Law, is one of the first programs in South Korea to offer education in the common law to undergraduates.