Seoul Club is believed by many, especially the members, to be the first Western Club established in Seoul.  According to popular belief, it was established by Emperor Gojong in 1904. Not only was it not the first Western club in Seoul but the date of its foundation is wrong.  But as Prof. Andrei Lankov always likes to say, that is another story for another time.

The first Western Gentleman’s club in Seoul was the German Club – established in 1889.  The first president of this club was probably the German representative to Korea – Ferdinand Krien.  His name has often been associated with strife in Seoul’s small Western community – sometimes unjustified:

Krien, the previous year, had fallen into disfavor amongst the pious missionaries for a rumor that circulated like wildfire throughout the small community claiming that he was having sexual orgies in the German legation. These rumors were later found to be untrue and the subsequent investigation indicated that the wife of the Russian representative to Korea, Karl Waeber, had maliciously started them because of her hard feelings towards Krien. Mrs. Waeber seems to have had problems with some of the younger Germans and Russians in Seoul and wasn’t above a dirty trick or two to drive them out of the country. This is also an indication of the atmosphere of the small Western community ― full of backstabbing and Machiavellian intrigue.

There were other times, however, that Krien’s reputation was justified, but you can read about that here – at Korea Times (October 21, 2010)