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>
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.”