I have been studying Latin with my kids for the past several months and it has been a lot of fun. However, some people might wonder how useful it is. With that doubt in mind, I wanted to share an incredible story that a Korean friend recently brought to my attention. For who knows if your study of Latin might come in handy for such a time as this...
"To sum it up..., several high court officials made a plot to kill ALL missionaries and Christians in Korea (their plan was to go in effect on Dec. 1st, 1900). Missionary Horace G. Underwood got a hold of their scheme before it became official and sent a telegram in LATIN (so that no Korean would understand the content) to fellow missionary Avison to alert him of the seriousness of the situation.
Avison then relayed the information to missionary Allen--who was/had been King GoJong's personal physician at the court. Allen immediately sought after the King's attendance; which resulted in King GoJong making a decree throughout the land ordering all plots against Christians to stop.
Literally, thousands of lives were saved with the help of a Latin message sent that day."
My friend who shared this story said it was assembled from several articles and books she read, although the only online reference is on this Korean language website. I’ve included the relevant bit below for those who can read Korean.
김인수의 한국 교회사
몇 사람의 개인적 원한으로 전국적인 기독교 박해가 획책된 일도 있었다. 1899년 서울에 전차(電車) 공사가 한 참 진행됐다. 이 때 경무사(警務使) 김영준과 내장원경(內臟院卿) 이용익은 대중들이 전차를 타게 되면 재원(財源)이 고갈될 것을 염려하여 왕에게 상소를 올렸다. 전차 건설이 완료된 후에도 전차 타지 않기 운동을 뒤에서 부추겼다. 그러나 외국인들이 국왕에게 이 일에 대해 불평하자, 원한을 품고 국왕에게 개신교가 끼치는 피해를 낱낱이 상소했다. 이들은 1900년 12월 1일을 기해 국내에서 활동하는 모든 선교사와 전국 기독교인을 박멸하라는 밀서를 보낼 계획을 세웠다.