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The Independent: May 23rd, 1896

28th March 2012

The Independent: May 23, 1896 vol. 1 no. 21



The reports which we print form day to day in the Independent relative to the disturbances in the interior must sooner or later have their effect on the minds of those who sneer at what they call the supineness of the present Government.  We are quite willing to confess that along certain lines considerable timidity is mainfested.  One has but to review in his mind the events of the last two years here to see the cause of this.  Outsiders argue simply from the one point– namely that His Majesty is still at the Russian Legation, and they can believe that nothing is being done so long as he is there.  Now it might be well to recall a few of the things that have been done since His Majesty succeeded in eluding his captors at the palace. <His Majesty and the Crown Prince, disguised as women, escaped from the Japanese-occupied Palace with the help of the Russians after four months of what was essentially house arrest– tom>

In the first place there has been a constant and powerful effort made to quell the disturbances in the country.  As we have pointed out before, the insurgents are not after revenge but loot, and that makes the difficulty all the greater.  It can only be put down by keeping soldiers on the lookout for gangs of these thieves and inflicting severe punishment when they are caught. Sooner or later it will be found to be an unprofitable business and the fellows will quit.  Great activity is being displayed by the government in attending to this matter.  <The editor of the Independent is either underestimating the size and signifigance of the insurgency or was intentionally downplaying it– tom

Again, the finance department has been put in practical charge of a foreigner whose business capacity and whos disinterestedness are above question.  No one hereafter will be able to impose on the goverment in the matter of goods to be sold or work to be done. These expenditures are all under the eye of a man who would soon detect fraud.  One needs to know something of the history of the past ten years in Korea in order rightly to comprehend the value of this move on the part of the government.

Again, the pay department of the army has been put in charge of a foreigner who knows how valuable a well paid army is and how dangerous a poorly paid one is.  Evils which have arisen heretofore are illustrated by a case which happened the other day. On payday some of the soldiers of a certain company were absent and one of the officers suggested that he would take the money and have it given to the absent men.  He was told that the money would stay right there at the office till the soldiers came for it in person, for they would be sure to come.

In addition to this, arrangements have been made for the construction of a railroad between Seoul and Chemulpo, the widening and improving the streets of Seoul has been decided upon, a school for the study of Russian language has been projected, the printing bureau has been fitted out with new type and machineryand put in creditable shape– in fact, the last three months have seen more real progress made in various directions than the whole previous ten years could show.  That there would not be personal danger to His Majesty in returning to the Palace now is by no means sure, although such a move would undoubtedly go far toward quieting the minds of the people both in the country and in Seoul.

We would sum up the work of the last three months then as follows. Vigorous work on the part of the army detachments in the country; the rehabilitation of the Financial Department; the cleaning out of the pay department of the army; the contract for a Seoul-Chemulpo railroad; the founding of a school; the important work of street repairs; the refitting of the printing bureau.

The man who calls this standing still must be an American “hustler” from Nebraska.  <I have no idea what this last sentence means…. tom>

Brief Notice

Counterfeiter Yi Man Su, whom we mentioned some time ago, has been sentenced by special edict to fifteen years imprisonment with hard labor.

Since our mention of the work of Mudangs or sorceresses the other day the police have arrested five more of the same ilk abd burned a hundred and thirty pictures of devils and spirits.

The laws and regulations of the city of Seoul require that anyone, either native or foreigner, who desires to tear down a Korean house must first get permission from Police Headquarters. We are informed that a Japanese in Sa Dong started to tear down a house without first getting permission.  The Police stopped him but he insists on carrying out his intention. We watch this case with interest.

Korean children are accustomed to celebrate the birthday of Buddha the 20th of May, or the 8th of the 4th moon, by shooting off firecrackers and the like.  The police took special precautions to prevent it this year and all was quiet.

Min Pyung Sin, formerly a high official, owns a large house in Sa Dong.  While away from town his servant Yu Chi Sun made out a false deed and sold the house to a Japanese.  The police arrested Yu and returned the money to the Japanese.

A chusa in the Home Department named So Yong Sik received a bribe of $40.00 and made a false order from the Department exempting a certain salt factory from taxation.  He was arrested and tried.  He confessed the crime but through his influence with a high official he was released and reinstated in his position.  This method of exercising the law will encourage indirection and cannot be too strongly condemned.

The students of the Royal Military School have been studying the tactics for some weeks, but the day before yesterday the Minister of War ordered them to stop teaching them for a while. The reason for the order is not known.

Mr. and Mrs. Kenmure and Miss Alice Appenzeller went to Chefoo by the Higo on Wednesday.

Japanese Minister Mr. Komura intends to start a short visit to Tokyo in a few days. While he is absent Mr Kato, the new Secretary will have charge of the Legation.

It is reported that Min Yong Chun who was banished to Kang Wha in February was recalled by the Government.

Dr. Phillip Jaisohn commenced a series of lectures to the students of the Pai Chai School on the history of the world, geography and political economy.  He delivered the first of the series on Thursday after and it was largely attended.

It is rumored that the Japanese Consul, Mr Uchida may be transferred to some other post, and Mr. Kato may be appointed to his place.

The acting Governor of In Chun reports that two insurgents have been caught in Yong In and are in jail awaiting trial.

The Department of Justice has issued an order commanding Provincial courts to send up to the Department all fine collected, and the money will be turned over to the Finance Department. The Department of Justice is to keep a record of all the criminals throughout the country.

The Magistrate ofKim Sung reports that 300 insurgents of Chun Chun and Nang Chun districts have been dispersed by Capt. Kim Myung Whan’s company; 200 insurgents in Yung Pyung and Po Chun were driven away by the same company.  The insurgents lost fourteen men in the latter engagement.  There are over 1000 of them congregated in Diamond Mountain and the Captain will give chase.

A policeman noticed a suspicious character passing the station Monday night with a hammer and other tools.  After a sharp examination he confessed that he was on his way to rob a house in the neighborhood.  He was locked up but escaped through the windowand the officer in charge was fined and reprimanded.

The War Office has sent twenty one pony loads of cartridges and three of guns for the use of soldiers in Chung Ju.

Some archers were found betting over the sport and were arrested for gambling.  They were fined and released.

A policeman found a groomless horse on the street but found that it belonged to the Household Dep’t, and returned it to its owner.

The muderer of Police Officer Yi Kyeng Sun in Hai Ju last March escaped at the time, but the day before yesterday the Police Dep’t apprehended him in Seoul and now he is in jail awaiting trial.

On account of rejection at different courts of the suits relating to civil cases since the 11th of February, complaints are daily made and a great deal of inconvenience to the people results.

The Police Dep’t is taking active steps to supress gambling in Seoul and its vicinity. Five gamblers were arrested yesterday. More of the mudangs also have fallen into the hands of the police.

The Russian Minister and Mr. Waeber have issued invitations to a garden party on the 26th at the Russia Legation in honor of their Sovereign Majesties the Czar and Czarina.

Mrs. Gibson of Wonsan and Dr. Scranton arrived in Seoul yesterday.

The Kobe Chronicle, under the caption of “Korean showing Mercy to a Japanese” states– “The Korean at heart seems to be a compassionate, well-meaning fellow.  A story is related in the Nippon of a Japanese who was ignorant of his own written language and also of the Korean language whether oral or written.  He and three others, it appears, were attacked by disaffected Koreans at a place called Toho.  The man in question, whose name was Kentara, got separated from his friends, and tried to make his way to Fusan.  He suffered violence at several places on the road and was at last imprisoned.  But being unable to understand the questions addressed to him he was released.  Proceeding on his way to Fusan, he began to feel the qualms of hunger so acutely that, being without the wherewithal to buy rice, he returned and asked to be readmitted to prison in order that he might receive food.  The compassion of the jailors was evoked, and money and food were supplied him as well as a passport which, on being shown to the officers of the districts on the way to Fusan, would insure him free meals and protection.  Thus the man go safe to Fusan and eventually to his home at Nagasaki.”

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The Independent, May 21st, 1896

21st March 2012

Reminder: The opinions expressed in the pages of  The Independent, published in 1896, are not mine nor do they reflect my own. They are presented here for historical perspective only–tom.


The Independent: Vol. I, No. 20:  Thursaday, May 21st, 1896

NOTICE TO AMERICANS:  I have been requested by the Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs to instruct my nationals against the explosion of firearms within the city limits.  The firing of guns,pistols and other firearms is distinctly prohibited inside the city, by the Korean laws and regulations, and at the present time there is special reason for the strict observance of this prohibition.  I shall assist the Korean authorities to proceed severely against any American needlessly offending in this matter.  John M. B. Sill, US Minister Resident, US Legation, Seoul, Korea, May 19th, 1896.


It was a happy day for Korea when the Chinese merchants and coolies decided that things were gettng too hot for them here and “folded their tents like the Arabs and as silently stole away.”  <This sentence is offensive in so many ways…. tom> It is safe to say that Korea never missed them; that neither the commercial, social nor moral interests of the country suffered a bit because of their departure.  As merchants they sold silks and velvets and clocks to fat-pursed officials or else they peddled thread, matches and pipe mouth-pieces on the street.  In neither of these capacities did they serve any large end or bring much good to the country.The coolies who came here were objects of loathing to even the common Korean collies because of their filthiness. Moreover they were not needed, for there were enough labor here to supply every demand.  We are sorry to see a tendency on the part of the Chinese to come in here for their coming will have the same influence only in less degree, that it did in America. He will underbidt the Korean laborer and drive him to the wall. The reason is evident. He will wear clothes, the ordinary Chinese coolie, which no Korean would wear even though he had to go naked.  For abject and irremediable fiflth commend us to the Chinese coolie.  He will eat anything that any creature will eat and grow fat on absolute garbage. Some people call this economy, frugality, thrift and commend the Chinese for it, but we believe this condition is the result of a lapse toward barbarity rather than an evolution toward enlightment.

But above and beyond every other consideration we dread to see the Chinese come into Korea because of the almost inevitable introduction of opium.  It is one of the signal marks of Japan’s real advance that she has stubbornly fought every attempt to introduce it into Japan.  Ordinarily the foreign business men of China claim that opium does no harm, but ask one of them to employ an opium smoker as staff or as a confidential agent or in any capacity where there is any responsibility to be borne and his NO will be so emphatic that you can hear it three blocks off.  We don’t want to discuss the opium question here buy only to express the hope that in some way it will be possible to prohibit and successfully prevent the introduction of that most seductive of all habits, the smoking of opium.  That added to all the other hindrances and embarrassments would render the rehabilitation of this nation a well-nigh hopeless task.  The only way to prevent it is to keep out the Chinese coolie for if he comes the opium will come with him in spite of all efforts to the contrary.


A sorceress, named Kim, who wears gorgeous apparel, including several embroidered bags hanging about her waist, and who claims to have a spirit that can tell the fortunes of men, has been deceiving people in and about Seoul for some months, and in this way gained large sums of money.  We mentioned the case in our vernacular columns a few days ago. The police arrested her while performing some of her tricks. She claims that the spirit isin one of the embroidered bags, so the police burned them all and put her in jail. She confessed the deception and begged for mercy. Two others who seem to be her accomplices have also been arrested.

A Chinaman was found dead near the little East Gate day before yesterday.  Upon examination it was found that death was due to over-indulgence in the use of opium. The Independent is not an illustrated paper but this illustrates very forcibly the words of our leader today.

We take pleasure in calling the attention of the public to the fact that the best place in the neighborhood of Seoul, for an afternoon’s airing is at the King’s farm outside the East Gate.  The distance is just right for a ride by chair, pony, jinikisha or bike.  The summer house on top of the hill commands a magnificent view and is cool and delightful.  There is a storeroom below the hill where one can get all sorts of refreshments such as mineral water, lemonade, etc.  One can get what he wants and simply make a memo of it in a book in the room and settle with the dealer afterwards. The key of the storeroom can be obtained at The Independent office.

Steamer Schedule:  The Nagado is due on the 21st and will leave for Japan on the same day. The Satsuma is due on the 22nd and will leave for Japan on the same day. The Toyoshima is due on the 25th and will leave for Japan on the 26th.

The telegraph line between Seoul and Fusan has been cut again in Ri Chun district by insurgents.

The Governor of Seoul has inspected the shops on furniture street for the purpose of buying them out.  These shops will be torn down and the whole street will be repaired from the South Gate to its junction with Chong No street. We mentioned the necessity of this step in one of our previous issues and we are glad to hear that the governor  is taking these steps. The Government can make no better investment than to clean up these main streets where the traffic is great and where thousands of people pass daily.

Five thieves were hanged in the jail on Monday.

Tutor Yang Hong Muk of the Pai Chai School lectures to the students on Korean history every Saturday.

The Acting Minister of Education, Yi Wan Yong, made a short visit to the Pai Chai School a few days ago and addressed the students on the subject of Education and Religion.

Us. Minister John M.B. Sill, Captain C. H. Stockton, Commander of the USS Yorktown and Ensign R.R. Belknap had an audience with His Majesty yesteraday at 3 o’clock.  (Ah– now we know who fired the gun in city limits…tom)

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The Independent: May 19th, 1896

14th March 2012

The Independent, vol. 1 No. 19

Brief Notice 

A laborious statistician computes that Queen Victoria is now sovereign over one continent, 100 pennisulas, 500 promontories, 1000 lakes, 2000 rivers and 10,000 islands.

An American journal, writing on the question of Arctic exploration says:  “To be very frank about it, we don’t want the North Pole discovered.  We have an idea, in the first place, that it isn’t much of a pole and we want it to remain hidden in its native lair to stimulate in men the spirit of enterprise and adventure, to give us something to look forward to. So long as there is a North Pole, if there really is such a thing, which men cannot find; so long as the earth keeps one spot sacred to herself and one secret which no man may know, we can still retain some littel respect for this dwindling ball. But what a petty, mean, and contemptible littel crab-apple it will be when every schoolboy in the land is familar with every rod of its surface.

Rev. and Mrs. Kenmure expect to start for Chefoo today.

Capt. C. H. Stockton, Commander of the USS Yorktown came up to Seoul Saturday for a few days visit at the Legation.

The Korean paper guild has subscribed to the Independent for all its members. We consider this a sign that Korean businessmen are alive to the importance of keeping up with the times.

A man named Ho Sik, newly appointed magistrate of Yang Chun, memorialized His Magesty affirming that “seven of the present high officials held important positions at the time of the disturbance on Oct.8th.  They should have known beforehand of the events that were to transpire but they did not prevent them. This shows their disloyalty and incompetence to hold such high positions.”  These officials spoken of are the present Minister of War, Privy Councilor, Vice Minister of Justice, Ex-Vice Minister, the Governor of Pyeng Yang, the Governor of Ta Ku, the Governor of Ham Hueng.  The Minister of War and the Vice Minister tendered their resignations but His Majesty did not accept them.

EDICT:  It has been the custom to send in resignations when one official has been criticized by another in a memorial to us.  But this is not the time to observe these useless ceremonies, therefore hereafter the officials should not send in resignations on account of criticisms of others.

Dr. and Mrs. Underwood have gone to Chefoo for a few weeks.

Mr. Komura, the Japanese Minister, had an audience with His Majesty at the Myung Ye Kung on Saturday and presented his credentials as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister of Plenipotentiary to Korea. The usual compliments were exchanged.

Lieut. Yu Sung Won had a fight with 600 insurgents in Yang Chi district.  The latter were routed completely after a few hours’ sharp engagement.  Three of the insurgents were killed and one of the soldiers was wounded.

The Magistrate of Yong In reports that one hundred insurgents broke into the government storehouse in that place and carried away guns, ammunition and money amounting to $60.  A company of Seoul soldiers heard the report and hastening to the place, drove them away.

Two more policemen were appointedfrom the students in the Police Training School after a strict examination.

The Governor of PyengYang reports that a gambler,Yi Heung O, kicked one of his companions in the chest and killed him instantly. The case will be tried in the Seoul Court.

The Magistrate of Chang Yun reports that eleven insurgents were hanged a few days ago in pursuance of instructions from the Law Department.

The Governor of In Chun reports that the Yung Dong Po, Si-Heung district, drove out a thief named Kim Heung-bong.  A few days later he returned and raised a disturbance and threatened to kill many of the villagers.  The people got together and beat the culprit to death. The Law Department instructs the governor to give fifty blows of the lash to the head officer of the village for not preventing the trouble.

The Governorof Kong Ju reports that sixty insurgents entered the government buildings in Yang Sung, broke open the storehouses and carried away twenty-two guns, twenty pounds of powder, two thousand five hundred and seventy cartridges and one hundred and seventeen dollars in money.

The Governor of Pyeng Yang reports that two clerks in Kai Chun magistracy killed the magistrate by assault.  The Law Department has instructed the Governor to hang Yi Chung Eun and to imprison his brother Yi Sun Eun for life with hard labor.

Won Yong Sang of Seoul, propietor of a tobacco stand on the broad street was arrested on the charge of robbery and after trial was sentenced to imprisonment for life with hard labor.  He was punished for a similar offence eight years ago. Hence the severity of the sentence.


To use an anatomical figure, the open ports are the breathing holes of the nation’s commerce. Keep them shut and commerce will be like a polar bear in winter in his nest under the snow, dormant, hybernating.  Open them up and the blood of the nation begins to circulat, the pulse becomes vigorous and strong and achievement of any kind is possible. It has probably been noticed by many that the present open ports of Korea are not so situated as to do the most good for Korea. When they were opened it was because these places had a sort of recognized standing; Chemulpo as the port of Seoul and Fusan as the ancient point of contact between Japan and Korea and Wonsan because it was the only available port on the eastern coast. Let us inquire briefly why these ports are not all that might be desired.  The important considerations to be held in view in the selection of ports are—

(1)  Does it give the easiest access to the largest area of productive territory.  Judged by this standard we cannot say that any of the present ports are ideal ones. None of them are easy of access form the interior. At none of them is there water commmunication inland, and water communication is of prime importance in a land without roads as Korea practically is.  None of them is near the largest areas of productive country. Fusan is as far as possible from the rich farming territory of the province in which it is situated. Chulla Do has no port whatever although the richest of the provinces in exportable produce.  Chemulpo is neither near Chang Chong Do nor Whang Hai Do but just between and reached only by sea from those places.  Wonsan is quite well situated for Ham Kyung province but probably a dozen other places  in Korea would have given a larger return for the money invested.

(2)  Does the place have a good harbor?  In this respect, both Fusan and Wonsan are delightfully situated, the scenery is beautiful and one could not ask a securer harbor, but if the government should spend even a cool million in making a harbor in one of the many indentations of the Southern coast, the proceeds would better warrant the expense than the choice of Fusan did.  It may be hard to make a good harbor in the mouth of a river because the shifting channels and silt deposits, but an ugly mouth with something in it is better than a handsome one unfilled.  As for Chemulpo we have neither the river mouth nor the quiet harbor; as the port of Seoul it is important, however.

Of course there is nothing to be said against the present ports. They are there and there they will remain but we do hope that the time will soon come when we shall see the great North opened up with a port near Pyeng Yang and the great South with a port at Mak Po.  It may be that a joint Korean and Chinese port at the mouth of the Yalu would be of great value as opening value as opening up the valley of that great river. It would give opportunity to guard against smuggling across the border, a practice that has cost Korea many a dollar in the past.  If a Russian railroad is built through Manchuria, such a port would be of vast importance, as being the entry port of  large qunatities of goods form that source. History has a good deal to say with such questions as this.  It was history that put the ports at Chemulpo and Fusan if not at Wonsan as well.

We have heard it said that a port at Mak Po would be useless because there is no town there. Open it and in a month there will not be a rod of land within a radius of a mile that is not bought up.

One of the greatest acts of injustice that China perpetrated in Korea was the keeping of Pyeng Yang closed to foreign trade. Its opening is of prime importance because it is the outlet of certain kinds of produce not found largely elsewhere, especially lumber and coal.  It may turn out that Pyeng Yang coal is not good steaming coal, though we imagine it has not been given a fair trial, but even if so it would take its place in the markets of Tiensin, Chefoo, Shanghai and the Korean ports as a magnificent stove coal and thus would prove a great blessing to foreigners as well as a considerable source of income to the government. It seems to us that every month that Pyeng Yang is kept closed is doing an injustice to the mostvigours, enterprising and successful portion of Korea.

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The Independent: Saturday, May 16, 1896

7th March 2012

PB2603111Brief Notice

The insurgents in Che Chun were driven out by Seoul soldiers and went to A San where they met another body of Government troops and a sharp engagement ensued.  Four of the rebels were killed and six captured.

The Nichi Nichi states that Cannibals in the South Sea refuse to eat Japanese because, they say, the flesh is too sour. <The Nichi Nichi was a Japanese-language newspaper published in Tokyo between 1872-1943. tom>

Marquis Charles de Rudini, only son of the illustrious Italian Premier is now travelling in China and Japan.

A St. Petersburg dispatch dated the 9th states that the Novosti says Japan should by this time know Russia’s feeling in regard to Korea, that while she does not wish to be there herself, she will not permit any other power to be predominant in the Hermit Kingdom. ” The King,” continues the Navosti,”is perfectly fit to rule and when restored to the throne the Russian troops will retire.”

The Madrid correspondent of the Standard says that the new chamber elected on the 12th will certainly support the Government in resisting American interference in Cuba.

Cholera is rapidly spreading in Calcutta and Bangkok and is causing many deaths.

Sir Andrew Noble, the great artillerist, a partner in the firm of Lord Armstrong & Co., is visiting Tokyo.

The Empress-Dowager of China is believed to have regained her influence in the palace, since she has successfully overthrown Wang-tung-ho, the tutor of the Emperor, who together with the Censor impeaced Li Hung Chang in 1894. The Empress-Dowager has procured the perpetual retirement of the Censor.

The Japanese paper in Chemulpo called the Chosen Shimpo in speaking of Korean Government officials, calls them by their given name and omits the family name. For instance, Pak Chung Yung is called Chung Yung.  We have no space to give in teaching this sheet what good manners are but we hope the habit will not grow on them or soon they may be calling the English Colonial Secretary “Joe” the President of the US, “Grover” and their own sovereign “Micky.”

Grace: I must refuse him, poor fellow, but I wish I could do something to lessen the pain.   Maud: Get some one to tell him that you haven’t as much money as he thinks you have– Brooklyn Life.

Lamps should be filled every day and chimneys should be washed once a week. To procure a perfect light, every lamp should be provided with a new wick once a month. Just before lighting, rub the body of the lamp carefully so that there will be no smell of oil.  A little salt put into the lampwill do away with any disagreeable odor there may be.

He: I would kiss you if I thought no one would see me.   She: Shall I close my eyes?– Woonsocket Reporter.

On May 5th, the mail carrier to Su Wun, Kong Ju and Chun Ju districts was met by a band of robbers in Jiji Tai, Su Wun, and lost six letters.

Capt. Kim Myung Whan reports that the insurgents in Hyo Yang and Kim Sung districts now number 900 and it is impossible to disperse them with the force at his command. He has asked for reinforcements.

Capt. Yung Whan reports that the leader of the insurgents in Kim Wha, Sin Chang Son, was captured and shot on the public road.

A Japanese policeman lost $2.10 and an official document on the street. This was made known to the Korean Police Department. Yesterday a Korean policeman found the the man who picked up the package and recovered the money but there was no sign of the document with it. This was communicated to the Japanese police and the owner gave the money back to the Korean who found it. The diligence of the police and the generosity of the Japanese in this case are both to be commended.

The Governor of Han Heung reports that 1700 insurgents have established their headquarters at Hak Po Sa, An Pyun.  Japanese troops went to the place and drove them away and burned the village. During the engagement nine of the insurgents were killed and fifty houses were burned.

The Seoul court passed the death sentence on five robbers yesterday and they were hanged the same day.

A wealthy Korean lost his pocket book containing $440 on the street in front of one of the silk stores at Chong No. A boy named Yi Chong Ok found it and brought it to the Independent and asked that the owner be found if possible.  The owner called at the office yesterday, received the money after giving proof of his ownership, and the boy was rewarded with sixty cents.


Among the many civilizing agencies that of general education holds a leading place and yet of all agencies, it is the slowest to show striking practical results.  Its power is due to the fact that it reaches back into a man and makes some soli repairs in his mental substructure which sooner or later are sure to make their appearance either in the form or durability of the superstructure. For the same reason it is that the external or visible results are slow in making their appearance.  They have to work out from the inside and it takes time, but when these results do become apparent they are doubly valuable because they indicate that the whole fabric is permeated with that same good quality.

There is hardly any branch of reform in which a people like the Korean might more easily become discouraged than in that of general education. Immediate practical results are demanded and if the superficial signs of quick fruition are lacking enthusiasm is checked and the cause of education receives a blow.

Until recently the Korean government has not been thoroughly right in regard to this matter and for years the cause of education dragged along as best it. In 1884, His Majesty projected a school a school for teaching English and through that of various branches usually included in a school curriculum.  In 1886, the scheme was carried out and the work began under the direction of three foreigners. We are told that almost immediately it appeared that the government desired to have men educated in two years.  In other words it wanted simply interpreters. This was not only the desire of the government but was the advice given to the government by more than one of the foreigners in high position under it. This being the case, the school, it seems, was turned into an interpreter mill with the result that the cause of education was immensely damaged; the wrong idea was inculcated that education was a matter of turning out a certain number of English speaking men a year, rather than giving men a thorough rounded elementary education.  It is a matter of great congratulation that a change has been effected and it was the China-Japan War that made the change possible. Today we see a thoroughly equipped and prosperous school because in back of it there is a real itelligent educational impulse in the government, because the men connected with the Educational Department know what an education is worth.

The time has now come when Korea should adopt a national system of education.

To do this several things are necessary. First it needs a full set of educational works translated into the Korean.  Here there is an utter lack at present. There is no arithmetic, no general history, no geography suited for a general text book, no history of Korea itself.  Having equipped itself with these essentials it should found provincial schools, six or eight perhaps, and make them feeders to a central school or college located in Seoul. As time goes on, schools could be founded in the magistracies which would be feeders to the provincial schools and so by regular steps, a full system could be worked out. It would have to be done gradually and carefully; Koreans would have to be found capable of taking these provincial schools in hand, a normal department would be necessary, in fact the whole apparatus and machinery of such a system would need to be set in order.  In a short time the national feeling heretofore expressed in the form of the quagga or competetive examination whould be diverted into this new channel and it would become a settled institution.  The magistracies would be able to support their own schools and the national budget would contain appropriations only for the central college and perhaps a number of scholarships in the provincial schools.

Get Korean to understand that preferment of any kind depends more on his capacity than on his family name and soon we shall see here what was seen in Japan, an impulse toward education that was simply overwhelming.

–The Independent, Vol. I, No. 18

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The Independent, Thursday, May 14th 1896

28th February 2012

The Independent, vol.1 No 17 independent heading


As we announced in our first issue, we believe in Korea for the Koreans, and not Korea for the one who can make the most out of her. We would like to call attention to a fact which is not generally known but which is doing a great injury to the Korean people. It is a fixed law of economics that the rate of interest on money in any place or in any trade is in proportion to the risk which is run.  The English government can borrow money for two percent a year because she is practically sure to pay, while such a government as China or Turkey has to pay more since they are not so certain to pay. In Korea the rate of  interest is exceedingly high, running from five to ten percent a month. This simply means that many who lend money at that rate lose both principal and interest. Now notice, Japanese speculators come in here with a few hundred dollars and lend it to Korean on security of real estate giving perhaps half the market value of the property and often asking interest at the rate of fifteen percent a month.  If payment is not made on the day set for its payment they of course foreclose or demand an emormous bonus, even twice the original sum in some cases. What we would call attention to is the fact that they do this absolutely without risk for if payment is not made on the instant, a complaint is made to the Japanese authorities and the matter is pushed through.

Now we are well aware that there is no direct remedy for this but it is a matter that should receive serious attention from the government.  Some of the finest places in Seoul are being filched from the Koreans and soon we shall see Korean merchants driven from the main streets of the city. We do not consider the Koreans free from blame in the matter. They are improvident and ten dollars today is a great blessing even if they have to pay back twenty for it next month. The Korean’s necessity is the  Japanese broker’s opportunity.  The only wat to handle the question is for the government to mkae a law that no Korean shall mortgage real estate to any foreigner.  It is the only way to save Seoul from their grasp. Let the Korean pawn his furniture and clothes and goods of whatever kind but not his house. If a Japanese wants to buy his house, well and good, but Koreans, unless extremely pressed, will not sell at a great loss. It is only in the hope that something will “turn up” that he puts his house in pawn and the chances are ten to one that he loses it.  We believe the government could make such a law and see that it is kept in spite of pressure that would be brought to bear upon them from certain quarters.

We are thoroughly in sympathy with all fair trade and we believe that Japan has a great commercial future before her but we do not call this fair trade.  It is a matter in which the government has an interest. The moment a piece of property in Seoul passes into the hands of a Japanese that moment the government loses its right of eminent domain over that property in any possible way if its alien owner saw fit to hold it.  The case of Mr. Okamoto is in evidence here. It is an exaggerated case but illustrates the greed for acuisition of real estate by fair means or foul. He was given the use of a house by the government while in its employ and though there is no record of its having been gien to him permanently and he can show no deed and no evidence to prove his case, he calls on his government to keep him in possession of what never was and, it is hoped, never will be his.

A strenuous effort should be made and it should be made imeediately to put a stop to this form of business in Seoul.  And the same is true of Chemulpo. Let every Korean understand that his house is not only his but the government’s as well and hat he cannot pawn without feeling the arm of the law.

Brief Notice

The Magistrate of Yang Ju reports that Im Won Ho of Chun Chun came to Yang Ju district to compel people to join his band for the purpose of looting villages in the name of the “righteous army.”  The Magistrate took the necessary steps to stop it, but some of the people were freightened into joining the gang.

The Governor of Pyeng Yang reports that miners in the gold fields of Eun San marched to the Government buildings and seized the guns and ammunition.  The people of Yang Dok heard of the robbery and gave chase.  The thieves in their flight threw away all the loot, and the articles were restored to their places.

Col. Park Nak Wan reports that 200 insurgents are looting the villages in Yong Dong, Whang Kan and Po Eun districts; and Col. Ku Yng Cho reports that insurgents have begun to congregate at Chun An, Nang Chun, ChukSan, Che Chun and Chin Chun districts. The Magistrate of Su Wun also reports that Yong In and An Sung districts are being troubled from the same cause.  The report of Capt. Kim Hong Keun says that 200 insurgents are roving about in Wun Ju, Hyung Sung, Yang Keun, Chi Pyeng, In Che and Yang Ku districts.  Whenever they see the Government troops approach they run away but reassemble afterwards and continue their depredations. He thinks it will take some time to subdue them entirely.

Some gentlemen started last Saturday at 12 o’clock , noon, from Chemulpo and came up the river on a Japanese steamer arriving in Seoul at seven o’clock Sunday morning. It will be a glad day when a man can go by rail between these points instead of being at the mercy of these poor crafts.

Three hundred Japanese soldiers arrived in Seoul yesterday afternoon to relieve the guards.

New Russian guards arrived in Seoul yesterday to relieve those guards from the Admiral Nakhimoff.  The  new guards are from the Demitri Donskoi.

Last Monday 693 packages arrived in the War Office from Vladivostock. They contain 3000 rifles and ammunition. They have been purchased by the Korean government.

We have received a copy of the general statistics of Japan. It is printed in French and Japanese and contains much valuable information about Japan. The title is Resume Statistique de l’Empire du Japon.

Two of the French fathers have been suffering from typhoid fever but are now recovering.

The veteran journalist John A. Cockerill who represented the N.Y.Herald a few years ago in Korea and Japan and wrote many interesting letters to the Herald, was transferred from Japan to the Herald’s London office two months ago and started for England making a stop in Cairo, where he died of apoplexy while sitting in a barber’s chair in Shepherd’s Hotel.  The journalistic world has lost in him one of its most valuable representatives and his many friends mourn his untimely death.

The City Jail has been removed to the old government granary inside the little West Gate.

War vessels in port; British, Pique; Japanese, Atago; Russian, Koreytz, Nakhimoff, and Demitri Donskoi; U.S., The Yorktown.

Ensign R.R. Bellknap U.S. Navy, with fifteen marines arrived in Seoul yesterday from the Yorktown. The Charleston is homeward bound and expects to reach San Francisco July 1st.

The tendency of the typical young lady to have “a good cry” says a scientific journal, seems to have been found physiologically proper. Medical authorities now assert that crying is the best exerciese for young children. One hospital superintendent says that a healthy baby should cry three or four times a night and from ten to fifteen minutes at a time. What does Pa say?– Kobe Chronicle.

The rainfall on Monday was two inches by the gauge.

Foreign News

King Menelik in view of the refusal of the Italian Government to negotiate a treaty of peace, is preparing to fight for the complete autonomy of his Kingdom. He has sent 3000 Italian captives into the interior of Abyssinia. Great mortality is reported among the captives.


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The Independent: Tuesday, May 12, 1896

21st February 2012

independent heading  With the following editorial, I think it is important that I remind readers that the opinions expressed were written by the editor of the Independent in 1896, nearly 120 years ago and are definitely not shared by me. Unfortunately, the attitudes reflected here are accurate examples of how many in western nations viewed the east at that time.– tom


There are many papers in the home land which ridicule the idea that Japan is or will soon be a serious competitor in the markets of the world. <We saw an example of the ridicule in the April 30th issue of the Indendent via an exerpt from the New York Maritime Register–tom> We think differently and can show more or less reason for our belief.

In the first place notice that in these days of minute division of labor the manufacturer of even delicate instruments is largely a matter of turning the crank. Machinery does it all and there is less call for that all-round, intelligent skill in the individual that was found a century ago. Now the Japanese are celebrated for their deftness and they can learn to run machinery and they have learned to run it about as well as the Westerner.  They have not as yet gotten machinery of a fine enough quality to begin to compete seriously with English or American goods that are shipped from Europe to supply eastern peoples who are not extremely particular as to the finish of the goods so long as they can get them cheap. Here is where the Japanese competition has already been felt.  For instance, Japanese matches are not quite up to standard of the Austrian matches in the point of finish but they light a fire about as well and are astonishingly cheap.  It did not take the East long to decide between the two. These Eastern peoples are not going to pay a large bonus for a little extra finish.

In the second place, no enlightened people can at present compete with the Asiatic in the cost of living. Why is it that the Japanese can live on so much less than the American? Simply because the Japanese people have for centuries been schooled in the matter of economy, their population being so large compared with the arable area of their country, while the American people have been living like a young man who has just fallen heir to a great fortune and doesn’t know how to spend it fast enough. Among the rural population of France or Germany we should probably find the cost of living much nearer the Japanese figure for there too populations is relatively great. This factor in the problem will right itself gradually for we see a constant tendency in the U.S. to a reduction in the cost of the necessities of life while in Japan te tendency toward manufacturing has resulted in a rise all along the line of wages. Every commodity has appreciated in value so that we find a gradual equalizing tendency at work. The more Japan advances the more numerous will be her needs for civilization is nothing more than a creation of needs to be supplied.

We are in sympathy with the demand along the Pacific coast of the U.S. that American labor shall not be called upon to compete with Japanese labor in America. It would mean that the American laborer would have to give up some of his legitimate needs and descend in grade of civilization where he would eat, work and sleep and little else. <This offhand reference refers to a particularly shameful period of American History which attempted to ban Asian immigrants from entering the US after the railroads were completed. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese, and later all Asians (1924), from owning land in the US, marrying whites and, eventually, from legally entering the US even if they had been living there for years. Japanese and other Asians were included in this act which was strengthened several times over he decades but were not specifically targetted until the Gentleman’s Agreement Act of 1907 which banned the immigration of Japanese men–women were still allowed to enter, often as ‘picture’ (mail-order) brides.  These acts were not repealed until after WWII. With his attitude, it is easy to forget that editor and founder of the Independent, Philip Jaisohn, was a US immigrant himself from Korea albeit not of the laboring class and living on the Atlantic coast where Asian immigrants were relatively rare–tom>

The Eastern market is so vast and the demand is increasing so rapidly that Japan can never supply it and in the effort to do so the cost of wages will be so enhanced that European goods will still be able to hold their place.

Brief Notices

Rev. H.G. Appenzeller returned on Saturyday from his trip to Pyeng Yang.

The score of the baseball game Saturday was twenty-three to neneteen in favor of the American residents. The game was well attended by the ladies and by several Korean officials. It was hoped that some of our English friends would participate in the game but they did not find it convenient to do so.

The Royal Messenger to the North, Yi Chong Keun, has returned from his mission to Ham Kyung province. The disturbances there have ceased and the condition of things is normal.

On Saturday, Capt. Cho Kwan Heun started for Kang Neung with 200 soldiers, Lieut. Yu Sung Wun for Su Won with sixty and Lieut. Yi Pyung Kyu for Kwang Ju with one company.

On Saturday the eight criminals convicted of complicacy in the events of Oct. 8th, started by steamer from Chemulpo for their various places of banishment.

At the request of the students of the Royal English School they have been allowed to assume military dress.  It will be a great change in student life. We commed the spirit of these progressive yung Koreans and trust that with western garments they will also adopt some of the more useful western ideas. <This becomes a serious issue in the weeks to come and touches off a dangerous rivalry between the editor of this newspaper and conservatives in the government. This will be played out in the coming months–tom>

A male child named Sun Kapi, four years old, wearing red cotton clothes and red shoes, was lost last Saturday. If any one finds himhe will please send him to his parent, Yi Gab Keun, a policeman in Ke Dong.

Sim Neung Wun of Tong Chin has been feeding the poor of that district for the last three months for his own granary. His beneficiaries number over 140.

Minister of Finance, Sim Sang Hun, will assume the duties of his office today. Minster of Education, Sin Ki Sun will return to Seoul in a few days. Minister of the Royal Household returned to his country home yesterday.

The police department has posted guards at several places on Nam San to watch for timber thieves.

Capt. Kim Whang Whan met a band of insurgents in Kim Wha district on the 5th and had a sharp engagement. The insurgens lost heavily and the remainder were dispersed. The captain caught three men and executed them in the public street.

No Chil Sung of Kwang Ju, formerly of Seoul, had a lottery establishment here on the broad street. Last year the Government prohibited he lottery in the city and so No went to Kwang Ju and became a farmer. A few days ago, three Seoul men went down to his place and arrested him ostensibly by order of the Commissioner of Police. While making the arrest, they looted his house. They then brought him to Seoul and, leaving him in the street near the pagoda, made off. No went to the Police Headquarters and found that no order had been issued for his arrest. He lodged a complaint and two of the culprits have been caught.

300 Japanese soldiers arrived in Seoul a few days ago to relieve the guard who will start for Japan today. They are 800 in number and have been here for two years.

Saturday afternoon the Japanese residents of Chin Ko Kai gave a farewell reception to the Japanese army officers and soldiers who are leaving. Minister Komura, Consul Uchida and other prominent officials made speeches and the Colonel made a reply. At the end the whole assembly gave three cheers for the Emperor of Japan.

To the Editor of the Independent: Dear Sir,   Since last February the courts of Seoul have refused to take up and adjudicate cases involving business relations. I would call the attention of the authorities to the fact that the refusal to entertain such cases has caused much inconvenience amont the people as there is no way to adjust such matters according to law. I voice the sentiment of the peopl in expressing the hope that the courts of law will soon be open to any and every case that is brought before them. Yours respectfully, Kim Yun Po

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The Independent, May 9th, 1896

15th February 2012



There lies in the treasury a sum of $15,000 appropriated for the purpose of street improvement in Seoul. There is no more necessary work to be done than this. The condition of some of the main thoroughfares of this city is a disgrace to the government and any attempt to block the progress of reform in this particular is little short of criminal. Attention should first be paid to those streets loading to the city gates for these are the main arteries of trade and travel. The main street of the city from the West gate to the East gate is in fairly good condition as is also the South gate street.  The next is importance are the streets leading from the South gate and the little West gate which form a junction in what is called “furniture street,” terminating in the main street between Chong No and the palace boulevard. This is probably the most neglected street in the city, in spite of the fact that it is one of the most used thoroughfares. In wet weather it is simply a running stream of mud and filth through which the chair-men flounder. <Chair-men refers to the people who carried the seated nobles and officials when they went out in public–tom> The road has been encroached upon by houses on either side until the original sewers are entirely lost and the street itself becomes a channel of a filthy stream, dangerous alike to health and decency.  Korean officials coming to the foreign quarter to call on legations or consulates must pass through this street as likewise must the foreign representatives in going to the Foreign Office or elsewhere.  Even at considerable cost, the government must exercise the right of eminent domain and buy up at a fixed market price the houses that have encroached upon the street, pull them down and open up the sewers on either side. There is dirt enough piled up on the sides to fill in the center and make proper street, and all that would be required is the labor of the coolies.  The sale of the houses which are pulled down would largely cover this if the work is honestly carried out. This work would benefit not only the officials and foreigners but also the crowds of wood merchants and other country men who are continually using the street.  Other parts of the city also demand attention, notably the street leading to the so called “Deadman’s Gate” or the little East gate.  It would be well also to widen the street between the so called Mulberry Palace and the West gate. Outside the city two roads require attention, namely from the South gate to the river and from the West gate through the Peking pass.  This latter should be made thoroughly and permanenty passable for carts or other vehicles for it is the main route to the North. 

Brief Notices

In a recent lecture before the students of Columbia, New York, Dr. M.I. Pupin showed some remarkable effects of the New Roentgen rays. A glass tube was used, shaped like the letter T, from which the air was exhausted. At two-places, the base and left arm of the tube, a platinum wire entered and terminated in a disk. When a current of electricity of high tension was applied there was a distinct luminsity in the tube between the two disks. If the luminosity was diminished the rays from the disk in the left arm of the tube instead of following the electricity to the disk in the base of the tube passed across to the right arm and showed the peculiar blue tint known as finorescence. Dr. Pupin showed the photograph of a hand perforated with shot. A light shadow indicatd the flesh, a darker shadow was made by the bones and black marks showed where the shot lodged. Another result was shown in a photograph of a diamond ring. The setting came out balck and clear, but the stone was so light a shadow as to be scarcely perceptible. A ring holding an imitation diamond was also photographed by the rays. Though the stone was so like a real diamond the difference in the photograph was very decided. It was distinctly black like the setting of the ring.

The Magistrate of Chi Pyung reports that insurgents number 1200 are robbing and looting in that district and similar reports are received from two other districts in the eastern provinces.

The Governor of Chun Chun reports that two policemen were sent to a village on an official errand but were caught and killed by the rebels.

Col. Pak Nak Won reports that the insurgents are getting worse in Chun Eui, Mok Chun, Jin Chun and An Sung districtsand he has dispatched fifty soldiers to those places.

Kang Sang Nam and Yi Chung Sun of Ky Yang who were implicated in the murder of three Japanese have been tried and sentenced as follows. Kang Sang Nam receives 100 blows and is imprisoned for life with labor and Yi Chung Sun receives 70 blows and imprisoned for a year and a half with hard labor.

The prisoners who were implicated in the affairs of Oct. 8th and Nov. 28th have been tried and sentenced to be banished to several islands. They are still in prison awaiting the dispatch of a steamer to Chulla and Kyung Sang Provinces. One of them, Wu Nak Sun has already been sent to Pak Yung island off Whang Hai province.

The Chaplain of the Russian man-of-war Admiral Nakhimoff, Father Abel, and two Lieuts. T.P. Shamsheff and W.K. Neoupolkoeiff made a short visit to Seoul on Monday, and returned to the port yesterday. Lieut. A.K. Nebolsine who had charge of the guards at the legation has been replaced by Lieut. S.L. Hmeleff.

We notice in several of the China and Japan papers the statement that “The public trials of Koreans charged with complicacy in the coup d’etat of October last and the disturbance of November 28 was concluded on the 15th of April, but  the court reserved judgement, it being understood that the judges could not agree. The impartiality of the court was afterwards impunged and the King has ordered a new trial.”  This is something new to us.  So far as we can learn there was no disagreement between the judges and His Majesty has never ordered a new trial.

We would remind our readers again of the baseball game this afternoon at the Hun Yun An at 2 o’clock.

Prince Min Yung Ik who has been staying for some years in Hong Kong has sent for his wife to join him. <The nephew of the murdered Queen Min, Yung Ik (more frequently written Yong Ik) was among the first Korean ambassadors to Europe and the USA. He survived being shot in an assassination attempt where his life was saved by Dr. Allen. After the murder of his aunt, he fled to China where he earned a degree of fame as a painter before his death in 1913–tom>

The French papers do not consider the meeting between the Emperor William and King Humbert as possessing any political importance <the two monarchs were the rulers of Germany and Italy–tom>

The Russian warship, Navarin, a first-class ironclad of 9476 tons and two first-class gun boats have been ordered to sail for the Pacific. Russia evidently intends to be prepared for all emergencies in the Orient. <This ship took part in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion. It returned to the Pacific after a stint in the Baltic Sea but was sunk at the Battle of Tsushima during the Russo-Japanese War–tom>

The Naval Training School in Kang Wha has been abandoned, and Prof. Caldwell who had been in charge of the school resigned and went home by the Higo Maru on Thursday.

The new Finance Minister, Sim Sang Heun, has not yet come to Seoul from his country home and the Vice Minister Yi Chai Chung has sent in his resignation.

The Russian Vice Consul M. Rospopoff sailed for Japan on Monday.

The steamer Shimagawa will leave Chemulpo at noon today for Japan via Fusan; and the Tayashima will leave Chemulpo for Japan at 4 o’clock this afternoon.

The wife of Kim Tai Young gave birth to girl triplets a few days ago. The mother and one of the triplets have died since and th remaining two infants were bought to the English Mission Hospital in Chong Dong and cared for by the Sisters in Charge.

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The Independent: Thursday, May 7, 1896

7th February 2012

PB2603111The Independent vol. 1, no. 11

Brief Notice

A silversmith, Kim Man Su, has been counterfeiting ten sen pieces with a copper body overlaid with silver. This has been going on for some six months but the day before yesterday he ws arrested by the police.  They found in his shop sixteen counterfeit coins and apparatus for making the same. It does credit to the police force that they have been able to ferret out the case and bring the man to justice.

The newly commissioned army officers are taking a course of military tactics in the Royal Military School in Ke Dong. They will finish the course in three months.

It has been ordered by the Police Department that the names ofthe people living in each house be written on a pine board and posted at the gate or door of the house. Also births, deaths, and marriages must be reported to the police. Guards are placed at each of the city gates who will be investigate each corpse that is carried out and will ascertain the cause of death, the name of the burial ground and the number of the house where the deceased lived. We are glad to hear that the police are taking steps in this direction and hope they will perfect a system whereby vital statistics can be tabulated.

The Russian Admiral, E. Alexeieff, made a short visit to the Russian Legation in Seoul last Saturday and returned to the port on Monday. <Admiral Alexeieff was the Russian Viceroy to the Far East– tom>

Al the missionaries agree that tone ofthe most difficult modern languagesto acquire is the Chinese. Rev. J.F. Master says on this subject, “The great difficulty in acquiring the spoken language is the tones, the intersyllabic aspirates and the utter lawlessness of idiom. There are only about 700 distinct sounds in the language and a few month’s practice will easily master their pronunciation but it must be remembered that to each of these sounds there is attached a sort of metrical scale ranging from an octave to an octave and a half, giving a variety of tones which only a musical ear can detact… After learning Cantonese a few months I tried to preach a sermon… Some hearers remarked how much Chinese resembled English. Wrong tones, confusion of long and short vowels and blunders in aspirates had done all the mischief.

Mr. James Grasham of Chicago Ill. had invented a mechanical device for increasing the speed of steam-ships, whereby he claims that the Atlantic trip can be reduced by eight hours.

We notice in Japanese papers the statement that Russia and Japan are about to conclude a secret treaty concerning Korean affairs and that the two powers intend to establish a joint protectorate in this country. We give the report for what it is worth but we have no other evidence of it tha the statement of the Japanese papers. <This proves to be very important. During the course of 1896 this issue comes up several times with the Japanese papers denying such a treaty exists and then, in 1897 when the treaty (or most of it) is revealed publicly, several issues of the Independent are spent examining its ramifications for Korea–tom>

There will be a game of baseball on Saturday afternoon at the Hun Yun An between the Americans and British.  We expect it will be an exciting match and it will pay everbody to be present and watch the contest. The game will be called at two o’clock.

When the Korean government employed a Japanese named Okamoto as advisor in the War Office, he was provided with a house to live in while he was in Korean employ. After the affair of Oct. 8th, Okamoto was recalled to Japan by his government and the house was occupied by another Japanese not connected with the government, probably a friend of Okamoto.  A few days ago, the Korean government had use for the house and asked the occupant to move, but he wanted twenty days to get ready to move. When the time had expired he still refused to go saying that the house had been given to Okamoto permanently and that he had rented it from him.  The authorities made a thorough investigation of the records in the War Office or City Hall but there is nothing to show that the house was given to him. We are informed that the Governor of Seoul has asked the Japanese Consul, Mr. Uchida, to have the Japanese removed from the place. <This issue will be revisited, but not yet solved, in the May 14th issue–tom>

The Police Training School has been moved from Pak Dong to the mint building near the small West gate and the French school has been moved to Pak Dong.

Five new policemen have been selected from the Police Training School after examination of candidates.

Mr. Carl Wolter is in town <Carl Andreas Wolter was an associate of Mr. Heinrich Constatin Eduard Meyer. Meyer was a successful German businessman in Asia and he had Woltor establish the H.C. Eduard Meyer & Co. in Chelmupo in 1883. It was the only German trade company of that period. Meyer relocated to Hamburg as Korea’s honorary Consul in 1886 to represent Korean interests in Germany. Wolter took over the firm in 1907 and renamed it Wolter & Co. He and his family left shortly after for Europe and he left the firm in the care of Paul Shirbaum who continued to operate it until the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.–tom>

Mrs. O. R. Avison is improving rapidly. <This is the wife of Dr. Oliver R. Avison, the man who shares credit for introducing modern medical techniques to Korea along with Dr. Horace Allen of the USA. Although born in England, he was a Canadian citizen after moving to Toronto when he was an infant. He was selected by the Presbyterian Church Mission Board in New York to run the government hospital in Korea. He arrived with his wife and 3 children in 1893. After struggling with epidemics and the growing population of Seoul, he secured donations from a U.S. benefactor (Mr. Louis Severance) and completed a new, modern hospital across from the Namdaemoon railroad station in 1904. He also new that the missionaries should not be running the hospital forever, so he immediately started a training school to teach medicine to Koreans. It became known as the Severance Medical College and his first class of graduates stayed on to teach the new generation of Korean doctors. Avison acted as President of the College. In 1916, his friend and founder of the Chosun Christian College (also known as Yonhi College) passed away, and he stepped into the role of President of that school which had only been in operation for a year. These two colleges eventually merged and became Yonsei University, one of the most prestigious universities in Korea today.  Dr Avison retired in 1935 and returned to North America. He passed away in Florida in 1956. There is a statue of him on the grounds of the Yonsei Nursing College to this day–tom>

At the request of the official in charge of the Government Schools we send the Independent to each of the students now in school.

Attention Bicyclists.  Home cities usually have a good track for bicycles. If such a thing is necessary where they have plenty of good roads, how much more desirable would such a track be here. The Government has kindly consented to allow us to build a cinder track around the drill ground in front of the Ha Tah Gam, inside the East Gate where the ball games are played.  The ground inside the track could be used for baseball, cricket, tennis, ect.  The large pavillion at that point will furnish ample shelter for ladies and others who wish to see sports. The grounds are just far enough away to give one a little necessary exercies while they are reached by the broad street, furnishing good access by bicycle, jinrikisha or other conveyance.<Jinrikisha is the Japanese term for Rickshaw–tom>


We notice in the North China Herald’s weekly issue of Apr. 24 that the Korean correspondent of that paper states that, “Its (The Independent’s) first editorial claims for its impartiality, but like everything else here, I am afraid it is entirely American or Russian.”  The gentleman argued entirely from his fears and not at all from facts. We would ask anybody to show a paragraph where American or Russian interests have been sonsulted in the columns of the Independent.  He says ‘American or Russian’ as if there were some understanding between the two powers or as if their interests lay parallel.  So far as we can discover the only thing they have in common is their satisfaction in the escape of His Majesty from a dangerous position and we should not be far from the mark if we were to state that both Americans and Russians would be pleased to see His Majesty return to his palace at the earliest possible moment consistent with the best interests of himself and his subjects.

He says that, “The Russians took the lead in politics.”  This statement shows a woeful lack of knowledge of the facts.  Our readers will see in another column of this issue that the Japanese, so far from having  “lost all political influence,” are still strong in the peninsula, at least that their claims to interest are not being overlooked.

The statement that by the help of the Russians the Americans have taken a similar position in commercial matters hitherto held by the Japanese, is likewise laughable.  A contarct for a railroad has been made with an American firm but how that proves American commercial superamcy is a question.  There are several thousand Japanese merchants in Korea. It will cause a smile in Seoul to reat that by the help of the Russians the Americans obtained this “commercial supremacy.”

The statement that the term sof the railroad contract “were kept secret” is somewhat questionable, for a day or so afterit was made the columns of the Independent containted the gist of the whole thing.  

It is not claimed that the present condition of thing here is satisfactory to those who wish well for Korea for her own sake.  All are waiting anxiously to see the present government develop some plan of action that will tend to bring things to a normal level. The very fact that there seems little progress shows that neither Russian nor any other outside influence is being brought strongly to bear upon the present government. Whether the outcome will be a protectorate, single or joint, time alone will tell. Meanwhile Korea needs a strong, steady hand and a clear head to steer her through these present troubles to the better times which we believe are to come.

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The Independent; May 5th, 1896

1st February 2012

The Independent. vol.1, no. 13 Tuesday, May 5, 1896:  In this issue, the English School goes on a picnic and the editor makes an arguement for getting electric lights


Brief Notes

Tahmage, in a recent sermon, said some good things about newspapers. “There is nothing that despotism so fears and hates as a newspaper.”  “We would have better appreciation of this blessing (newspapers) if we knoew the money, the brain, the losses, the exasperation, the wear and tear of heartstrings ivolved in the production of a good newspaper.” ” Papers do not average more than five years’ existence. Most of them die of cholera infantum.”  “If you feel like starting a newspaper, secular or religious, understand that you are threatened with softening of the brain or lunacy, and throwing your pocket book into your wife’s lap, start for a lunatic asylum before you do something desperate.”  <The comment about papers not lasting more than five years would be prophetic for the Independent–tom>

The regulation in regard to butchers in Seoul has been that there shall be twenty-three slaughterhouses in the city but of late the number has increased to forty-nine.  The butchers laid a complaint before the Governor and took a vote of the butchers on the subject. The result was in favor of the old law. There will be twenty-three slaughterhouses hereafter.

Ex-Home Minister Yu Gil-chun and Ex-Chief of the Law Bureau Cho Jung Eung are now taking refute in Tokyo.

Forty students in the military school commenced their studies on April 1st.  The term of the school is six months and at the end of that time they will be given commissions in the army if they pass successful examinations.

The steamer Genkai Maru is expected to arrive at Chemulpo from Japan via Fusan on Wednesday the 6th.

Mr. Carsten Egeberg Borchrevink, a native of Christiana, organized a scientific expedition to the South Pole. He believes that there is an unknown continent the equal of Europe in size existing in the antartic circle, which can be reached within fourteen days sail from Melbourne.  It will prove invaluable for the whaling industry, for sealing, and guano. Ther is much zoological, botanical, geological, and other scientific work to be done in the new field. Traces of large mammels have been found, giving promise of attraction for the hunter. The party will start from Melbourne and will sail due south for Cape Adain, the northern-most point of Victoria Land.  They expect to come back by January, 1897.  <This article was a bit premature. Borchrevink petioned the Royal Geological Society in London for funding at this time, but was refused. He did eventually get private funds and became the first person to overwinter in Antartica in 1899.  It took forty-three days from Tasmania instead of the expected fourteen days he expected. The Independent misspelled the name of the Cape he planned, and eventually succeeded, to land at. It should be Cape Adare–tom>

Mr. Moffett returned Friday from a trip to Shanghai. He intends to go to Pyeng Yang in a few days.

Mr. and Mrs. Tate intend to return to their home in Chun Ju.

Minister of War Yi Yun Yong visited the baracks of the Royal Guard and the military school last Friday and delivered a lecture. The theme was “Patriotism and Bravery in true Soldiers.”

The total number of letters and papers passed through the Korean Post Office during the month of April was 10,840, an increase of 983 over the previous month.

The students of the public school in Kyo Dong will receive their diplomas today at twelve o’clock.  The Graduation Exerciese will take place in the building. These students have been in the school three years.

We are glad to be able to put in this issue a new type just received from America.

The Korean Embassy to Russia to attend the coronation of the Czar, missed the French mail steamer in Shanghai, and went to Yokohama on the 16th and from thence took the Empress of  China for Vancouver. <The coronation was for Czar Nicholas II. Although festivities in Russia began on May 9th, the official coronation was on May 26th. A detailed account of the party held at the Russian Legation in Seoul will appear in the Independent in the May 28th edition–tom>

On Saturday last, the students of the Government English School at Seoul held their first picnic, to which they invited their teachers Messrs Hutchinson and Halifax and one or two outside friends.  The place chosen was just outside the North-East gate of the city, where the hills open out into a wide flat valley.  Here a very pleasant day was spent. Among other “amusements”  was an hour-long hard drill, under the skillful instruction of Sergeant Boxwell and Private Staples of the English Consulate Guard. This the boys seemed to enjoy most heartily. They went through their squad and company drill and physical exercise with surprising smartness and precision.  The marching, forming four, etc were really well done, and reflected great credit upon their instructors, the more so that they have been under training for not more than seven weeks. This is a branch of school training which has been found of great value in western countries, and is carefully cultivated in every school which claims to be of any importance. The present school buildings in Seoul, good as they are, need a larger drill ground than they at present possess if this branch is to be developed. Great credit is due to the Government for what they have already done for this school, and to Lieut. Meister for his kindness in allowing the instructors to give their services. A hearty tiffin served in the Shin Heung Sha Monastery filled an important fuction in the day’s proceedings, and showed conclusively that Korean boys, like boys all over the world, have a fine appreciation of the good things provided by the cook and butler.  <A tiffin is a light lunch. The world orginated from British India and today is heard mostly in Indian English–tom

The baseball game on Saturday between the U.S. Marines and the foreign residents proved a great success. There was good play on both sides and the interest was sustained to the end. The score was 17 to 11 in favor of the Marines. There were several lady spectators and a crowd of Koreans who seemed to get some amusement out of the game. 

Mr. W. D. Townsend has lost a clock, three revolvers and some articles of clothing. He offers a reward of $20 dollars for the apprehension of the thief. The stolen goods will probably be brought ot foreigners for sale and if so there will be the opportunity to trace the thief and secure the culprit. 


The subject of municipal improvement in Seoul is a fertile one for there are few places in the East where there is more room for improvement. The first move toward improvement was made in 1891 when the grounds of the Seoul Union were laid out and the building erected. Since then the handsome club building has been erected and the last and best of all, the roads in the foreign quarter have been put in fairly good condition.  The trouble is we want all the good things usually found in a foreign community but we are so few in number that the expense is very heavy on each individual.  It would be a good thing if some way could be devised whereby future residents might be granted the privilege of helping bear the initial expense of some of these improvements.  The first thing in order is an electric light plant.  It is easy to demonstrate that, including the initial expense of the dynamo and steam engine or the interest of the amount they would cost, we could light our houses with electricity cheaper than we do now with oil.  Very few of us use less than three dollars’ worth of oil a month while very many use twice or three times that amount. If the average is five dollars and the cost of lamps and all their furnishings be considered we will find that one hundred sixteen-candle incandescent burners could be put into Chong Dong and vicinity and be cheaper than our present system.

We have figures from New York for such a plant and it could be laid down here, housed in a small brick building, the wires put in position and everything gotten in running order for about $3200 in silver.  So much for plant.  The salaries of electrician (Japanese), engineer and fireman and the cost of coal would come to something like $180 a month.  According to this it would cost $1.30 a month per light or, includng interest at 7% on the plant, it would cost $2.00 a month per light.  But it might be arranged so that for each light when put up an initiationor entrance fee might be charged of say ten dollars and in this way each newcomer would help pay of the original cost of the plant. Changes are occurring all the time in the personnel of the missionary as well as diplomatic community and if each newcomer should pay even five dollars for the priviledge of using the electric light it would not take long to pay off the cost of the plant.  It would take a good degree of public spirit to put the thing on its feet but there is little doubt that it would prove a success.  We propose that anyone who feels so inclined should make inquiries and get figures on a plant capable of running three hundred lights of sixteen candle power each, and we will keep the community informed of progress made and it may be that it will be found worth while to call a mass meeting and form a syndicate among ourselves for the purpose of supplying this need.  <King Gojong had electricity in Kyongbok Palace since 1887 and in Changdok Palace when it was complete in 1897.  He then formed a partnership with two American businessmen, Henry Collbran and Harry Bostwick, in 1898 to build a public electric lighting system and electric streetcar routes. This company was called Hansung Electric Company and King Gojong himself was 50 percent owner. The plant was operational in 1899.–tom>

Posted in The Independent: 1896 | Comments Off

The Independent: Saturday, May 2, 1896

23rd January 2012

PB2603111Editorial: The claim made by the Japanese Government for the indemnity of $5000 for each Japanese life taken by Korean insurgents or others in the country is still before the Korean Government pending settlement.  For the last twenty years, more or less, Japan has recognized the independence of Korea and constantly asserted the sovereign rights of the King of Korea.  Japan has no other or larger rights in Korea than has England, America, France or any other power, and her citizens have no rights in Korea that do not pertain to the citizens of any other power in treaty with Korea.  The first proposition seems beyond dispute.  The second is that the present disturbed condition of affairs in Korea is an outcome of the intervention of the Japanese in the politics of Korea.  However good may have been Japan’s motives in thus intervening it is eveident that the present state of affairs is due to that intervention.  In the third place, this disturbed condition of affairs was very greatly increased by the events of October 8th, 1895 when, at Japanese instigation, the Queen was murdered.  It enraged the people against Japanese and made it extremely unsafe for any of that nationality to go into the interior; but not only did they go into the interior but we have it on the authority of the Foreign Office that very few of the Japanese who have cone into the country during the last year have been provided with passports. When was it that Japanese subjects were accorded the privilege of travelling at will about the country without passport, to be protected by the Korean Government at a risk of $5000 a head?  With the known combativeness of Japanese merchants in Korea and the rude way they treat Koreans, it would have been folly to hae granted them passports excepting on the clear condition that they went at their own risk.  Did the Japanese Consul know these men who were wandering about the interior and could have vouched for their good behavior?  The claim for indemnity wholly breaks down at this point, that the Japanese who were killed in the country without passports were where they had no legal right to be and the Korean government would be wholly absolved from responsibility in the matter even if there were not evidence that the Japanese were the main cause of the troubles.

But how stands the other side of the account?  The Korean Repository strkies the nail on the head when it says “Kill a coolie in an alley–$5000; murder a Queen in her chamber–gomen nasai.”  <‘Gomen nasai’ is Japanese for ‘I’m sorry’– tom>  Mr. A says on the street he is going to kill Mr. B.  He enters B’s house and comes out and immediately after B is founddead at the hand of an assassin.  There is the 8th of October case in a nutshell, and it would hang a man in any country.  The apathy of the people of the East is astonishing.  Much has been said about European apathy over the Armenian massacres, but here is a praallel– a power demanding an indemnity for the death of its subjects when they were where themost of them had no right to be and where their own government should have kept them from being , when but a few months ago that government’s representative had been implicated in the murder of the Queen of the country to which he had been accredited.  

We believe that Korea and Japan ought to be of great mutual benefit to each other commercially and industrially but it is evident that Japan needs Korea more than Korea needs Japan and so long as Japan goes on intensifying the hatred which Koreans feel toward her just so much farther will she be from attaining an end devoutly to be wished — repriprocity between the two countries and the supplementing of the material needs of each by the resources of the other. The first step toward such an end would be the withdrawal of such an absurd claim for indemnity. If it is not withdrawn we trust the Korean Government will refuse point blank to pay the claims of those who went into the country without permission form the Korean Government.

Brief Notice

We have made a visit to the two blocks of brick business buildings, erected by a company, at the Eastern end of Legation street and find them a credit to the city.  We inspected the completed part each block being divided into four apartments spearated from each other by a fire wall.  On the ground floor the whole space is given up to one large storage room with cement floor, well plastered walls and varnished wood ceilings.  A neat and compact staircase leads from this store room to a commodious hall on the upper floor, which hall is lighted by a window opening upon the street. Off this hall are two neat rooms finished in the best foreign style and quite well fitted for occupation by foreigners.  Owing to the low level of the surrounding houses, the view is excellent. The eight upstairs rooms and four halls of one of these blocks if joined by a verandah with a door from each opening upon it, would make a very neat and convenient little hotel–an institution even now greatly needed in Seoul and one that will be a necessity when the railroad opens.  A hotel might open in one of these blocks in a small way and grow to greater pretensions as the trade increases. 

We need a drug store here and hope some foreigner may start one in one of these apartments.  He could very comfortably live over his store.  Each apartment has a kitchen at the rear.  Even before completion these apartments are in demand, Messrs Tsuji & Co. having occupied one of them as a dry good store for some months.  Now that the whole is about  completed we understand an agent will be appointed to attend to the renting of them.  Meanwhile, letters addressed to the Seoul Improvement Company in care of the Independent will find the officers of the company.

At the law school forty-seven students were graduated lst winter and last Monday thirty-eight more finished the course and are ready to receive appointments.

The Magistrate of Po Chun reports that the insurgents in Ka Pyung have been dispersed by the Government troops and the Yong Pyung insurgents, hearing of it, also dispersed.

We learn that the Japanese were authorized by the War Office to cut down the old tree on Namsan and the wood is being used in making instruments for the use by soldiers in drilling.

Col. Nienstead has been transferred from the Royal Household Dept to the Pay Corps of the army. He is now the Chief Paymaster.

Mr. H. J. Muhlensteth, who hadcharge of the Chinese telegraph line here before the war is in Seoul after three years residence in China and Japan.

Mr. and Miss Tate came back to Seoul a few days ago from Chulla Province.

There was an auction at the French Legation yesterday and the room was crowded with articles of all descriptions and the able Auctioneer Mr. Morsel of Chemulpo hammered them off in fine style.

Im Chang Su, a Chong Dong house-broker, sold a house to a froeigner last June but did not dleiver the deed.  He afterwards pawned it to a Japanese and when the time expired it was found that he could not take the house as it had been sold.  The government therefore collected the maoney from Im and reimbursed the Japanese.

An agent of the 58th national Bank of Japan has arrived in Seoul fo the purpose of making a contract with the Korean Government to build a railroad between Seoul and Fusan. We are told that negotiations are now pending.

We have received from a reliable source the infromation that the French capitalists desire to obtain concessions to build a railroad between Seoul and Wi Ju.

Don’t forget the base ball game this afternoon at two o’clock at the Hun Yun An inside the East gate.

Chief Engineer C. J. McConnell and Asst. Engineer J. C. Leonard of the U.S.S.S.  Charleston have returned to Chemulpo.

H.B.M. Counul-General W.C. Hillier Esq. has gone to Chemulpo for a few days. During his absence W.H. Wilkinson Esq. has charge of the British Consulate General here.

The day before yesterday a man named Yi Keun Yang coming from Yang Chun met a boy bullock driver outside the South gate and made a bargain for the load of wood.  The boy followed him as far as Yang Wha Chin where the man suddenly turned on him and cut him twice in the neck with a sword.  The boy fell to the ground and feigned death.  The thief led the bullock toward Yang Chin.  The wounded boy got up and screamed for help.  Some passing bullock drivers heard him and came and learned his trouble.  They gave chase and caught the thief a few miles away and restored the bullock to the boy and turned the thief over to the police.

The Kobe Chronicle of Apr. 16th says of the Independent, “It is a small beginning but from our school days upwards we have been told that small beginnings often have great endings. Under judicious management the Independent should have a fine future before it.”

The Box of Curios says, “It is gotten up in good shape and is free from clippings, its local items making a better showing than some of our dailies. It shows an enterprise in a God-forsaken country that is most commendable and which deserves success.”– <The Box of Curios was an English-language magazine published in Japan– tom>

Disclaimer:  None of the opinions expressed in the Independent reflect my own and belong solely to the reporters and editors of the newspaper.

Posted in The Independent: 1896 | Comments Off