The university was established in 1885 under the reign of Queen Myeongseong with an educational mission based on the Christian principles of truth and freedom. It was originally founded as the first Korean hospital practicing and teaching modern medicine. It was opened under the direction of Dr. H.N. Allen of the Korea Mission of the Presbyterian church in the United states. In 1900 it was named Severance Union Medical College and Hospital in honor of a major contributor, Mr. L.H. Severance of Cleveland, Ohio (U.S.A.).
In 1915, Joseon Christian College was founded, chiefly through the efforts of Dr. H.G. Underwood, the pioneer Protestant missionary to Korea who served as the college's first President. As the country's oldest university, the university's history is intertwined with Korea's. On March 1,1919, Koreans calling for an end to Japanese rule staged a national protest. Involving students of the College, it resulted in the first graduating class of twenty-two students foregoing their commencement ceremonies. Throughout the following years, Joseon Christian College remained the center of nationalist thought and resistance against Japan's colonial policy. This tradition of fighting for freedom and liberation continues to this day, even though the name has been changed.
Yonsei University lies at the north end of Sinchon, where many Yonsei students join other college students from nearby Ewha Women's, Sogang, Hongik, and Kyunggi Universities for shopping and nightlife activities.
Yonsei University is considered to be amongst the top 3 universities in the country
along with Seoul National University and Korea University (the SKY club).
From Life in Korea.