Taejon Christian International School | Since 1958

A Rich History

Children walk to school through the valleys and fields in the 1960s

The history of TCIS begins more than a century ago with the Christian missions movement in Korea. In a time of growth and upheaval in Korea, TCIS has endured as an institution, offering high quality education for generations.

A Background of Christian Missions in Korea

The light of the Gospel of Christ came to Korea in earnest in the late 19th century. Distinctively, Protestant missionaries brought their families with them to this new frontier. By 1900, Pyongyang Foreign School had opened in Pyongyang to serve the children of missionary families in Northeast China and Korea. The school provided a boarding and day school for missionary children and other foreigners. In 1916 the medical missionary family of Dr. L. Nelson Bell moved to northeast China. The family had five children, and some of them attended Pyongyang Foreign School. Ruth Bell attended PFS for three years in grades 9-11. Ms. Bell returned to the USA for her senior year and later enrolled in Wheaton College. While at Wheaton, she met and married a young man by the name of Billy Graham.

Dr. Billy Graham became the most famous Protestant pastor of the 20th century. He cared deeply for the suffering people of North Korea, no doubt due to the influence of his wife, Ruth Bell Graham, who studied there during her high school years. Ruth’s sister Virginia also attended Pyongyang Foreign School. She later married John Somerville. Dr. John and Mrs. Virginia Somerville became missionaries to South Korea and lived in Daejeon. Building from the mission and traditions of PFS, they contributed to the founding of Taejon Foreign School (TFS), which later became Korea Christian Academy (KCA), and which ultimately became Taejon Christian International School (TCIS). Mrs. Somerville led the effort to title the TFS/KCA/TCIS yearbook the Kulsai, the name of the yearbook at Pyongyang Foreign School (PFS).


School history photo of the first TCIS school building – a quonset hut sitting on a hill in a field
School history photo from the 1950s of a TCIS student outside of the original campus gate.
School history photo of TCIS school children in the 1950s riding on a US tank in the rice paddies of Daejeon

The Creation of a Mission School in Daejeon

PFS closed in 1940 due to the increasing militarization of Korea. In the mid 1950s, the mission community united and requested their leaders to open a boarding school for missionary children in Korea south of the Han River. In 1958, the missions cooperatively founded Taejon Foreign School on mission property in O-jung-dong with eight primary-aged children. The dormitory opened the following year. In 1960, the school’s name changed to Korea Christian Academy. The name remained Korea Christian Academy (KCA) from 1960 until 1993.

In 1996, a reunion of 240 PFS alumni (and spouses) was held to reminisce about their time, sharing memories and collectively wondering what happened to the campus and facilities they remembered. Mrs. Somerville fondly recounted her time at PFS and KCA (now TCIS,) stating that KCA/TCIS  really is the heir to the PFA legacy for the mission, format, and traditions that have been carried through the years.


The Recent History of TCIS

In 1993, Korea Christian Academy (KCA) became Taejon Christian International School. Dynamic changes in Daejeon and Korea contributed to the discussions resulting in the name change. In the early- and mid-1990s, Daejeon experienced tremendous development as the center of science and technology research for Korea. Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST) moved from Seoul to Daejeon in 1989; this move clearly indicated the pending growth of families seeking foreign education in Daejeon.

In 2010, TCIS began the Techno Valley Campus Relocation Project. TCIS needed to relocate to a place where it could accommodate its growth and be in the middle of the growth that Daejeon as a city was experiencing. In partnership with Daejeon Metropolitan City, the newly-established TCIS Korean Christian leadership and investors successfully finalized the relocation of the entire school to the current Techno Valley campus in September 2012. The new TCIS Board of Trustees remains fully committed to the same mission and focus for TCIS that the original founding missions established over 100 years ago. TCIS continues to share the light of the Gospel and to support other Christian organizations through education with the same mission and vision.

TCIS front of school photo

TCIS Today

TCIS honors and carries the traditions of PFS, TFS, and KCA into the 21st century. Our goal is to provide high-quality international education for primary and secondary students, including children of Christian missionaries and ministers, throughout Korea and Asia. In recent years, TCIS has distinguished itself in the area of rigorous education. We provide an exceptional education that consistently produces students of exceeding ability, matriculating to top universities in the US, Korea and around the world. Leadership, faculty, and boarding staff all live out that educational and Christian mission in a passionate way. From its inception, TCIS has proven itself to be a school that is always moving forward in educational programs and in its mission to grow the Kingdom of God.