Ben C. Limb

Ben C. Limb: He waged a Korean independence movement for life treading in Dr. Syngman Rhee’s footsteps.


Ben C. Lim worked his way through as Dr. Syngman Rhee’s personal secretary in America. Syngman Rhee importuned Limb to fight for Korean independence. He graduated from government foreign language school. When he joined YMCA in Seoul, he met Syngman Rhee who recommended Limb to come to America to study on October 10, 1913 and he attended Ohio University. When he was a sophomore, the March First Independence Movement erupted and he participated in the Korean Congress Convention in Philadelphia.  He told everyone of the world the atrocities committed by the Japanese against the innocent Koreans and collected and forwarded independence funds. As Syngman Rhee’s secretary at the U.S. Committee, he handed Dr. Rhee’s personal letter to the Japanese Embassy minister to be delivered to the Japanese Emperor demanding him to approve Korean independence. When the Convention was over, Syngman Rhee told Limb: “If you have a heart of pa- triotism, follow me.” Limb  followed  Rhee to Washington, D.C. Starting from the U.S. Committee to the time of Korea’s liberation, he followed Syngman Rhee like a shadow. In 1921, he traveled to Europe declaring Japanese brutal atrocities to Korea. In 1941, when the Korean Committee in America was organized, he was elected as one of Executive Committee members. In 1942, he was actively involved in the Korean army troop established in Los Angeles. During the time of the U.S. Committee, Syngman Rhee commissioned Limb as an army colonel since it was convenient for Limb to pass as such when he was interacting with significant officials outside. Limb wore a cap embroidered with a head of a tiger with his full military uniform. He was happy to be called, “Colonel Limb!” The story goes that when Syngman Rhee and Ben C. Limb traversed the Provisional Government in Shanghai by hiding aboard the Dutch ship; they disguised themselves as wealthy Chinese to safely get across the Pacific Ocean in 1920. Limb returned back to Washington, D.C. where he was active to have Korean youths join the OSS. Upon Korean liberation, Rhee returned to South Korea, but was appointed as president of the U.S. Committee. When South Korea’s first President called Limb, Limb was President Rhee’s special envoy and his return was triumphant to become the first Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea. Two years later, he was sent to become Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations for the next nine years to uplift Korean diplomacy to the world arena. He passed away in 1976 at the age of 84. In 1976, the South Korean government posthumously recognized him with the Order of  Merit  of  National Foundation /  Republic of Korea Award for his distinguished service and unwavering contribution to the Korean independence movement.