I think her birthday is May 19, 1922. That makes her Korean age 92 this year. Korean age accounts for the time a baby is in the mother’s womb. She came from a well to do family, I seem to recall, but they lost their money/fortune.
Park Kung-Hee worked for the Salvation Army (SA) and was a vice-chair of women’s side at the time. She gave speeches and visited Los Angeles as a Korean ambassador for a sports event, also visiting San Franciso about that time. She met her husband, whose family were farmers, at the SA because he also worked there.
In 1965, she and her husband were asked by SA to start an orphanage in Kunsan, Korea, which they did. When the Salvation Army wanted to move them to another position/work, they felt God’s calling them to continue to work for the orphanage, so they retired in order to stay there. It was a difficult time in Korea, with many babies being abandoned.
After Mrs. Park retired from SA, she used some of her financial assets and all of her retirement funds to buy more land for the orphanage as well as more goats. The facility was too small for the number of babies at the time.
I visited the Ilmagwon Orphanage ( or Il Maek Won) for the first time in 1972 where about 100 babies, children under 5 years old, lived. I met Mrs. Park and her family who lived above the orphanage. I arrogantly thought she was old back then, but I was barely twenty, so that can be excused. Her sweet spirit was evident even then, when I took home two of her babies as my own. She has kept records of each child who has lived with them.
Mrs. Park is a godly, Christian woman, and I am sure no one can count the number of people she has touched through 92 years.
After almost 40 years, I went back to the Korean orphanage and visited her in June of 2012. Her gentle spirit welcomed my grown daughters and I. Treasure, one of my Korean daughters, said, “Mom, I think I would have known about God even if I had stayed in Korea.” I agree, because Mrs. Park would have made sure of that, just like she did the other orphans.
When I told Mrs. Park that my husband had left me soon after adopting the two babies, she said, “It must have been hard for you to raise daughters by yourself.” Such graciousness from a woman who literally raised hundreds of children herself!
Meeting Mrs. Park was the highlight of my trip to Korea. God reminds me that He has placed saints in strategic places all around the world to glorify Him and to do His work.
You can see details of our trip on my daughter’s website: