The first group of Australian women missionaries arrived in Korea in 1891, representing the Presbyterian Women's Missionary Union of Victoria. Their pioneering work was soon hindered by tensions that arose between themselves and a male cleric authority in the field. The article investigates this dispute, which lasted for several years and eventually entangled not only the individual Australian missionaries but also their home organisations as well as North American missionaries. It argues that Australian women missionaries' involvement in this public dispute is a rare but significant example of a paradox in the foreign missionary enterprise, which imposed patriarchal order and at the same time established conditions that helped women enter the public space and even challenge the male-centred gender order. The article goes on to identify some distinctive characteristics of the Australian women's missionary work.