Gordon B. Hinckley Unexpectedly Finds Himself in a War Zone

Since its established in 1948, the Republic of Korea, with its capital at Seoul, has survived a high level of volatility in its government. The Korean War of the early ’50s resulted in a division between North and South, and the republican form of government, interrupted by various (sometimes violent, sometimes non-violent) student revolts, military coups, and other revolutions, has evolved into its present Sixth Republic. Despite it all, the Church, introduced into Korea during the 1950-53 war by American servicemen, has grown steadily.

In May 1961, Gordon B. Hinckley – then an Assistant to the Twelve, a position which would now be the Quorum of Seventy – toured Korea with Mission President Paul C. Andrus of the Northern Far East Mission. They met with servicemen’s branches and local congregations, offered instruction to local leaders, and in general assessed the progress of the Church there. On Sunday, May 14, they met in Seoul, working with 158 priesthood holders in their morning priesthood session and addressing 500 members in an afternoon meeting which resulted in the organization of three branches. They spent most of Monday, May 15, working with the new branch presidents. On Tuesday, May 16, they planned to fly to Tokyo to continue their tour of the mission.

Those plans were altered overnight.

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