Seen in Jeonju

Archive for May, 2012

The Independent: June 13th, 1896

30th May 2012


Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, this week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 30 from Saturday, June 13, 1896. In this issue: The editor predicts the strong possibilty of food shortage in Seoul with the growing insurgency, the shamans figure out a successful ploy to slow down their persecution, and the insugents are in Suwon… less than a days march from Seoul. <<Reminder:  All opinions expressed in the newspaper are the views of the editors of The Independent. They do not reflect the opinions of this website and are reproduced here for the sole purpose of providing historical context. >>


It probably takes in the neighborhood of 3000 bags of rice a day to feed the people of Seoul and its suburbs. An inquisitive person might ask where the supply is kept and how it is doled out to the public.  A great part of it is kept in the towns near the city especially at and near the town of Ryong San <Now Yongsan, a district of Seoul.. the town was absorbed as Seoul grew..tom> These great granaries are kept supplied by junks from various parts of the coast, principally Kiung Sang and Chulla provinces, although more or less comes in from the immediately surrounding province.  Speaking in a general way, however, we may say that Kiung Ki province does the market gardening for the capital while the actual back bone of its appetite is broken by the produce of the fertile rice fields of the South.  Seoul would fare but poorly if cut off from this main source of supply.

The present actual supply now in the river granaries is sufficient to feed the people for the next two months. This being so the question arises, why has not the price risen more rapidly? On the answer to this question great interests hang. It can be answered in two ways; either because the present supply is so abundant and the promise of the coming crop so good that holders are willing to sell at fairly low prices rather than have a lot of old rice left on their hands or else it is because the fear of disturbance and consequent loss makes them wish to get rid of their stock as rapidly as possible and thus get their capital into a money form more easy of concealment.  If we analyze the first answer we shall find that it does not match the present conditions; for in the first place the present supply is not abundant.  It will be four months before the new crip is harvested and the present supply is good for only half that time.  In the second place the prospect of this supply being largely augmented is by no means good for we are informed, we hope falsely, that there is no rice in Kiung San province to send up here and the disturbed condition of affairs in Chulla province does not augur well for aid from that portion of the country.  Again the next condition is not met for the promise of the coming crop is anything but good.  The reasons are patent. The time for planting has come and there has not fallen a quarter of the rain that is necessary. In a vast number of districts so little security is felt that no attempt is being made to cultivate the fields. We are told that in some districts only two or three able bodied men are left, so many have wandered away with the insurgent element and so many have been killed.  Again last year was a bad one for cattle. Thousands died of the cattle plague last Autumn so that there is a very great scarcity in large portions of the country.  With these facts in hand who can conclude that prices are now low because of the prospect of a good crop?  We are forced to conclude that the other answer is the proper one and it is truly a gloomy outlook.  We are think it would be well for the government to look into the matter and ascertain the exact facts of the case and take steps for supplying the capital from outside sources if necessary. The work of the alarmist is a thankless one but we believe in looking facts squarely in the face and preparing for all contingencies.

Brief Notice

The Police Department has been suppressing devil worship in the city ad a large number of pictures of different deities have been destroyed by the police.  The benefit of such an order is simply enormous to the people at large.  But some of these Sorceresses or mutangs go around and circulate stories that they ahd protraits of former Kings in their temples and worshipped them together with evil spirits, but the police have dared to destroy such portraits therefore they ought to be punished. We are told eight or nine Police Officers and policemen have been dismissed and threatened with life imprisonment with hard labor or hanging.  We don’t believe such punishment will have a good effect on the discipline of the police nor on the community at large. These so-called portraits of former Kings are not real representations of these Royal personages but anybody can paint a human form and call it the representation of some Royalty of four or five hundred years ago. Supposing they are the portraits of such persons they have no business to place such august personages in the company of evil spirits. It is nothing but a scheme to evade the order of suppressing devil worship and to bring about a reaction in order to re-establish their temples of deception and fraud. It will teak a “wide-awake” and bold man to carry out the order successfully and see the scheme played to a finish by these devil worshippers.  WE have the deepest sympathy for those unfortunate policemen and their officers who performed their duties faithfully for the good of the service as well as the people, but instead of receiving a reward, severe punishment has ben their lot on account of the traps laid by the sorceresses.

Japanese Minister Mr. Komura has been appointed Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Hara, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs succeeded Mr. Komura as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Korea.

Baseball game this afternoon at 2 o’clock. Do not fail to be there.

Captain Sin Wo Kiun reports that the Magistrate of Su Won had run away from the Magistracy in fear of the insurgents. The captain entered Su Won and gathereed one hundred soldiers originally belonging to the district and kept them under his command. The district is comparatively quieter than ever before and insurgents can not be found anywhere in Su Won.

Of late, high Government Officials when passing through the street have been accompanied by eight or ten policemen. The people need the services of these policemen more than the officials do and we hope they will not be thus diverted from their legitimate duties.

Count Mutsu, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs has resigned and the Marquis Saionj has been appointed acting Minister.

Major General Katsura has bee appointed Governor General of Formosa to succeed Count Kaba-yama.

The HBM Man-of-War Pique leave Chemulpo today to join the British Squadron at Chefoo.

The fourth and fifth regiments have moved into the new barracks in front of the Palace, and they are drilled every day by Captain Ye Pyeng Mu.

Captain Whang Si Chung reports that Lieut. Kim Kui Sung and the Magistrate of Kwang Ju captured two Commanders and four of the rank and file of the insurgents in Kwang Ju district and shot them on the spot, also two leader of another band in Yang Keun were captured and received the same punishment.

Major Yi Choi Hyeng reports that the insurgents of Kyeng Sang province were driven out of the province by the Seoul troops, but the scattered remnants came over to Chung Chong province and looted the villages of Chung Ju district, and stopped the law-abiding citizens from agricultural work. The Major as dispatched 30 soldiers to the scene.

A letter from a friend in Pyeng Yang says on Sunday, the 31st of May, 13 men were received by baptism into the Presbyterian church at Pyeng Yang, and 40 persons partook together of the Lord’s Supper. A congregation of between three and four hundred was present, filling the church to overflowing. The enlargement of the room and curtaining off part of it for women forms a good sized house of worship.  The financial report for the past eight montsh showes offerings to the amount of $42.  This church came into existence since the war.

The Chinese residents on Kobe, Japan presented Mr. J.F. Connelly, the US Consul for that port, a handsome chased silver tea set in addition to a masive piece of silver plate and two large and beautifully made cups as a mark of their esteem  and gratitude for the invariable kindness and consideration they received from him while the Chinese had no consul of their own during the war.

A terrible catastrophe has occurred at Moscow during the holding of the people’s fete. The impatience of the crowd to reach the sheds from whence food and presents were being distributed, caused a crush in which over two thousand one hundred persons were trampled to death or seriously injured.

The Governor of In Chun reports that a man named Han Kyeng Rip of Pu Pyeng stole his uncles ox and sold it, then bound his uncle with rope and took him to a quiet ravine in the neighborhood and killed him. A few days later the crime was discovered and murderer was arrested immediately.

There are two street outside the South gate called Pul Mu Kol and Sun Chung Kol where all the “hoodlums” of the neighborhood congregate every afternoon and make trouble for the people who pass by. Country folks are their favorite prey. The police ought to put a stop to this is rowdysism.

Policeman Pak Kin Wan found on the street two dollars wrapped in a handkerchief.  He kept the money in the station and advertised in the neighborhood.  The owner put in appearance and recovered the money.

Latest Telegrams

(May 29) A fearfully destructive cyclone has swept over the city of St. Louis, MO. It is estimated that upwards of a hundred persons have been killed whilst thousands have been rendered homeless. The damage is set down at $25,000,000 and the disaster is described as the worst that has occurred in the United States since the Johnstown calamity. 

(May 27) A dispatch from Crete states that the Turkish soldiers in the town of Canae have massacred and pillaged Christians. A British ironclad has been ordered to the island, all the Consuls having cabled for warships.

Posted in The Independent: 1896 | Comments Off

New Movies opening in Theaters May 31

29th May 2012

There are four new Korean movies opening in theaters for this coming weekend.
First we have the comedy Runway Cop starring Kang Ji-hwan and Seong Yoo-ri and directed by Shin Tae-ra.

Next we have Kim Kyeong-tae’s horror/thriller Don’t Click starring Park Bo-yeong and Joo Won.

Third is Still Strange, directed by Lee Hong-jae and starring Jang Shi-won and Kim Soo-yeong.

The final Korean movie opening this week is from acclaimed director Hong Sang-soo. It is entitled In Another Country and it stars Yoo Joon-sang and French actress Isabelle Huppert.

Other movies opening this week are Setup (us), Snow White and the Huntsman (us)..which had a very successful test-run this past weekend, Blue Valentine (us), and The Sending Meal (ch),

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Korean Box Office: May 25-27th

27th May 2012


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New DVDs: May 27-June 3rd

27th May 2012

white butterflyTwo new movies are out on DVD this week.  Both of these are indie films that received limited releases in the recent past.

Pictured first in the image is White Butterfly.  It was directed by Kim Sam-ryeok and stars Park Sang-yen and Choi Myo-gyeon.  Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: For ages 15+/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 90 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available: May 30th.

The other film being released is Sea Without Water, directed by Kim Gwan-cheol and featuring Yoo Ho-rin and Kim Dong-hyeon.  Number of discs: 1/Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 15+/ Format: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 88 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 22,000 KRW/ Available: May 30.

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Doomsday Book (2012)

26th May 2012

poWhen news of this omnibus started circulating, many film websites and critics expressed an interest in it, and why not?  The two directors, Kim Ji-woon (I Saw the Devil, Bittersweet Life, A Tale of Two Sisters, etc.) and Im Pil-seong (Hansel and Gretel, Antarctic Journal, and more) had more than proven themselves over the years for some memorable and innovative film-making.  And the cast comprising the three short films that make up Doomsday Book is promising with such familiar names as Ryu Seung-beom, Bae Doo-na, Park Hae-il, Kim Kang-woo, Kim Gyu-ri and other well-respected actors.  Despite the buzz surrounding the film, I remained skeptical for several reasons.  The first had to do with the topic of the first story..zombies.  If you have been reading this site since the beginning, you know that I have always be hopeful for a good Korean-made zombie film, a sub-genre of horror that has been absent from Korean cinema with but a few exceptions starting in the 1980s.  More recently we had the films Neighbor Zombie, Dark Forest and Mr. Zombie, but each time I go my hopes up, I have been disappointed. Being skeptical on that ground was just a case of ‘once bitten, twice shy.”  Another reason I was not excited was because I had read some rumors about investors pulling out and long delays in shooting, never a good sign.  Finally, when still images and teasers started to appear, I was uncertain of the visuals. I did not care for the robots looking so much like they did in the American film I, Robot and I had my reservations about the giant 8-ball that was appearing in the trailers. 

On the whole, I feel justified in having my reservations.  I do not think that Doomsday Book lived up to expectations people had and even I, who was not expecting too much, wound up disappointed on several levels. 

The first story in the three-part omnibus is Cool New World, features the end of the world via zombie apocalypse.  Ryu Seung-beom has some excellent acting moments, especially post-transformation. The night club scene is well handled and I think they may be the first time I have ever seen a zombie movie present a clear cause for the zombie virus. That, and the point hinted that the zombies, although fueled by hunger as in every other zombie movie seem to still be capable of other emotions separate it a little from a myriad of other, similar films.. but is it enough?  I would have liked to have seen both of those areas expanded upon. As it stands, the short film seems too brief and the characters themselves become secondary as the plot erupts all over the place and tries to cover too much ground. Some characters who are introduced as being exposed to the same zombi-making agent disappear. Stories about what happened to each of them, might have been more satisfying than the newscasts the director opted to show. I would say that this film is worth watching for Ryu-as-a-zombie, but the story itself feels rushed and/or edited too heavily for time constraints.

The second of the three was my least favorite. Heavenly Creature was very wordy as the idea of the end of the world via robots is broached. It is filled with philosophical ideas and light on action.. so it may appeal to some.  However the ideas discussed at length were nothing new if you have ever read anything by Isaac Asimov.  This section of the movie could not hold my interest, although some of the visuals were beautifully shot and framed. It was for this reason I selected the poster featuring Heavenly Creature on it to head this post, rather than the posters showing the other movies.

The final film, and honestly the one I thought I would dislike the most, was actually my favorite. It is the only one of the three directed by Im Pil-seong and he set a tone that was clearly tongue-in-cheek.  It is another end of the world scenario, this time by collision with an object from space, but it never for a minute takes itself seriously. This is the one with the giant 8-ball which confused and worried me in the teaser trailers. However, within the minimal logic of the film, it makes perfect sense. Director Im also makes use of the newscasts to tell a story, but unlike in Kim’s zombie story, the news in Happy Birthday is fun to watch and the final broadcast before the end of the world alone is worth watching.  It may have been a little childish at times, but Happy Birthday offered something unique and I appreciated that. 

I wish that the rest of Doomsday Book had been so innovative. It is still worth watching, but it does not live up to its potential.

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The Independent: June 11, 1896

24th May 2012


Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, this week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 29 from Thursday, June 11, 1896. In this issue: The editor continues to to criticize the Minister of Education who releases some new rules for the students of foreign languages. Meanwhile, the citizens of Yang Hwa Do prove to be a little fickle and the police hit a snag in their crackdown on the shamans. <<Reminder:  All opinions expressed in the newspaper are the views of the editors of The Independent. They do not reflect the opinions of this website and are reproduced here for the sole purpose of providing historical context. >>


From many quarters evidence has reached us that the recent memorial of the Minister of Education has awakened considerable feeling in native and foreign circles alike. In native circles it has met with a certain degree of sympathy, for whatever else may be said about it, it was at least an extreme expression of a feeling that undoubtedly exists in among the older members of the community. But its sweeping assertions, its blind antagonism to everthing like progress, its entire unreasonableness and its arrogance have gone far to defeat its object and expose its impracticability.  Among foreigners there appears to be but one sentiment, that of profound astonishment. They cannot understand how a “Minister of Education” could pen such an illogical, retrograde and altogether unwise document.  In their countries the Minister of Education is a man selected for his eminent possession of the qualities which are in this memorial most conspicuously absent.  He is a man thoroughly versed in the lore of the sages, in the deepest reverence but at the same time able to see that the times are changing, that new conditions have to be met with new appliances and new learning, and especially that other nations have something to teach which is well worth knowing.  Beyond everything else he is able to put the best interests and the highest well-being of his King and country far before his own personal feelings and prejudices. Such a man is therefore cautious but progressive. He does not accept everything that is suggested to him simply because it is new or because it is in use in other countries; neither does he reject anything simply because it was not known to Yun and Yu or because it is not found in the classics. His first thought is “Will this thing be of any real and permanent befefit to my King and country?” and his second thought is “How can I make this new thing most serviceable?”  The necessary result of the labors of such a wise and patriotic Minister is that the nations of the West are daily becoming wiser and richer and there appears to be no limit to their possible growth.

Now can it be said that the new Minister has shown himself wise or patriotic?  Is there a single word to show that hehasany sympathy with the people or any desire to do them good. Is there anything to show that he has respect or loyalty for His Majesty the King? Does not every word reveal an intense love of self, an inordinate belief in his own infallible wisdom and a daring and a rudeness towards His Majesty and His Majesty’s Ministers which is deserving of the severest reprobation?

Let it not be forgotten that the adoption of foreign clothes by the soldiers, police and Government students, and the cutting of the hair, was in loyal obedience to the command of His Majesty.  The Minister of Education, therefore, has openly expressed his contempt for His Majesty’s laws and by his ill-advised speech has incited others to sedition.  Is thisthe act of a loyal Minister?

But we have no wish to be unduly severe. The Minister is wrong; thoroughly, radically wrong, wrong from beginning to end, but we are willing to beleive that he drew up his memorial without due consideration– perhaps more at the instigation of foolish friends than at the suggestion of his own mind. At the same time it must not be forgotten that is offence has a most grave aspect. It is not only that he has rudely and inconsiderately assailed His Majesty’s edicts– edicts, which since their first issuance have been endorsed by His Majesty in the quietness, freedom and independence of the Russian Legation– not only that he has set an example of disrespect to His Majesty, but that he has incited to a course of delibrate bad faith and dishonesty. We are now thining of the bearing of his memorial upon his own Department.

When the schools recieve the permission of the Government to adopt a uniform it was upon the understanding that the scholars should provide it at their own expense. In reliance upon the good faith of the Government the students have have provided themselves with a neat and servicable uniform which was first submitted for and receivedthe approval of the Education Department. Sin Ki Sun now proposes to break up the agreement thus arrived at. Is he prepared to justify such a breach of food faith? And is he prepared to refund to the scholars the money so expended?

Without going further into the subject we would entreat the Minister to reconsider the position he has taken up. We assure him that no member of the Government has a better opportunity for serving his country than he has. The Education Department is the brightest hope for Korea. The Minister has it in his power to influence and mould the young minds of the country at the most suceptible period of their lives and through them to exert for all times a beneficial influence upon the nation at large.  Let him seek to direct their thoughts and studies into those courses which in China as in Korea are commending themselves to the wisest and most patriotic and most far-seeing minds, viz., the paths of well-considered progress in native and foreign learning.  Let him speak to the scholars the word of encouragement which can come from no lips with such weight as from his; let him cherish their esprit de corps; let him engender, stimulate and foster their love forking and country and his administration will be like therain of heaven. In his present attitude he is like a farmer who should refuse to dig and manure the ground or who lops off the yong ears of corn and rice, regardless of the misery and famine which must thereby ensue. But if he is wise and opens his eyes to the needs of of the times, encourages diligence fosters learning and rewards merit his name shall go down to posterity along with those of the wisest and greatest of the sages.

Brief Notice

The rain fall on the 7th was 1.1 inch by the gauge.

The mail carrier was robbed by the insurgents in Yun Pong district and lost sixty six letters and paper directed to Tai Ku and Tong Nai Magistracies.

A French new agency has received a communication from St. Petersburg, to the following effect– It has been rumored during the last few days that the the Ambassadors of Germany, England and the United States have protested to Prince Lobanof on the subject of the preponderate situation taken by Russia in Korea. In official circles it is mentioned that no protest of the kind has taken place. What is true is that Great Britain and the United States have asked in the most courteous manner for some light upon the Korean question. As to the German Government, it has made no overture of any kind; in fact, the German Minister has received instructions enjoining him to remain  absolutlely neutral in the matter. For the rest, it is affirmed in the same circle that the events in Korea inspire no disquietude and that negotiationswllcommence at once with Japan, to ensure the independence and neutrality of Korea– Kobe Chronicle.

The police arrested two suspicious characters from Yang Wha Do but the people in that village thought they were innocent of any crime and sent a petition to the Police Department praying for their release. The two men had a trial and were convicted of highway robbery. The villagers now congratulate the authorities on the apprehension of these men.

The US Marines nowin the Legation challenge all Seoul to a game of base ball on Saturday afternoon in Hun Yen An. Everybody is requested to be present.

The Russian soldiers will have rifle practice at Hong Che Won, beyond the Peking Pass in a day or two.

After the order from the Police Department to destroy pictures and images of differnt evil spirits, the police carried it out creditably. But one or two Police Officers became too zealous and attempted to destroy some pictures of ancient Korean statesmen. For which offence several policemen were discharged. The latest trouble is that one police officer burned the picture of Tai Cho, the first King of the present dynasty. Of course the officer did not know it was a portrait of Tai Cho as it was stored in one of the granaries under South Mountain with the images ofother deities. The officer has been arrested and dealt with severely. The police have a hard road to travel.

By special edict the old cavalry has been abolished and a new company of hussars will be organized numbering one hundred men.

The Minister of Education Sin Ki Sun issued a new order to the Governement Schools Tuesday as follows:  (1) The students of the Government schools for languages are forbidden to wear European dress hereafter. But at the time of physical exercise they are allowed to wear the old Korean soldiers costume.  (2) This costume is only permissible at the time of physical exercise in the school compound and is not to be worn outside of the School.  (3)  If any student should go out in the street with European dress on, the teacher second in command and the student will be punished heavily and dismissed from the School. (4) This order will take effect from the day of issuance.

The telegraphic communication between Seoul and Fusan has been re-established since Tuesday.

The Fourth of July:  It is proposed by the loyal American citizens of Seoul to Celebrate the National Holiday in an appropriate manner. In order to bring the subject before the attention of all interested a mass meeting is hereby called for Tomorrow, Friday, from four to five PM in the rooms of the Seoul Union. All Americans are expected to be present, ladies as well as gentlemen. Don’t fail to be there. (original text was in bold print and in typeset three times larger than the one used for the regular news–tom)

Posted in The Independent: 1896 | Comments Off

New Korean Movies Opening May 24th

23rd May 2012

Usually I post this on Tuesday, but I had a former student visit yesterday so I am a little behind. Tomorrow there will be a total of ten new films hitting Korean cinemas, six of these are produced in Korea.

This first trailer is for a Korean/German documentary called HOME FROM HOME directed by Jo Seong-hyeong and featuring Woo-Za Strauss-Kim and Ludwig Stauss-Kim.

Next is a drama with a title that translates as Children of Heaven (but no official English title has been assigned as of this writing) starring Yoo Da-in and Park Ji-bin and is directed by Park Heung-shik.

U.F.O. looks like it may be interesting..It is listed as a drama, not science fiction, so don’t expect any aliens in the film.

Next is another documentary and another film with no English title assigned by KOFIC yet. This one is Anyeong, Haseyo! featuring the lives of a group of visually impaired children.

EMPTY FULLNESS is yet another documentary, this one directed Im Seong-gu.

Finally we have the movie GRANNY GOES TO SCHOOL. (As accurate as it is, I think this title could use tweaking…) which not only looks like it will be a moving family film, but also seems to have an interesting family unit

Other movies opening this week are: INAZUMA ELEVEN GO (jp), KIROT WALLS (il), MEN IN BLACK 3 (us), MACHINE GUN PREACHER (us)

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Korean Box Office: May 18-20

21st May 2012


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Korean Movies on DVD: May 20-27

20th May 2012

pinkThere are five Korean movies being released on DVD for the first time this week.  The first one is from one of my favorite directs.. Jeon Soo-il, so I will definitely be ordering that one.

PINK– directed by Jeon Soo-il and starring Lee Seung-yeon and Seo Gab-sook.  Number of discs: 1/Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: 18+/ Format: 2.35:1/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 97 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 25.300 KRW/ Available: May 22nd.

PERFECT GAME– a commercially successful film directed by Park Hee-gon and starring Jo Seung-woo and Yang Dong-geun. Number of discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 12+/ Format: 2.35:1/ Audio: Dobly Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 127 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 23,100 KRW/ Available: May 23rd.

PAPA– directed by Han Ji-seung and starring Park Yong-woo and Ko Ah-ra. Number of discs: 2/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 12+/ Format: 2.35:1/ Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/ Running Time: 116 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 25,300 KRW/ Available: May 23rd.

angels breath

THE FIRST GUEST– Here is a dvd I may buy just because I know next to nothing about the movie. It is listed as a horor film and the promotional write-up I read makes it sound like a home invasion-type of horror. However, its ‘theatrical release’ was confined to a single screening in Seoul where it was seen by 31 people… and I heard no buzz about it at the time which is not promising, so I may wait for the price to come down a little.  Directed by Lee Sang-hwa and starring Shin Yi and Hwang Seon-hwan. Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 18+/ Format: 2.35:1/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 81 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 25,300 KRW/ Available: May 24th.

ANGEL’S BREATH–directed by Han Ji-won and starring Kim Yeong-seon and Han Ji-won.  Number of discs: 1/ Subtitles: Korean and English/ Rating: for ages 12+/ Format: 1.85:1/ Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0/ Running Time: 93 minutes/ Suggested Retail Price: 25,300 KRW/ Available: May 24th.

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The Independet: June 9, 1896

16th May 2012


Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, this week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 28 from Tuesday, June 9, 1896. In this issue: The insurgents once again  building their forces. The Minister of Education tries to abolish the idea of resting on Sundays and the Editor of the Indepedent wants to overhaul how the government recognizes services rendered. <<Reminder:  All opinions expressed in the newspaper are the views of the editors of The Independent. They do not reflect the opinions of this website and are reproduced here for the sole purpose of providing historical context. >>


The time has come when the Korean Government might well consider the subject of providing some way of recognizing the services of her own officials or of foreigners. It has been customary for the Government to send from time to time presents of fruit or meat or fans or the like to various foreign or native employees and to others.  Necessarily this system must give way to one more feasible and less expensive. It often happens that a Korean or a foreigner carries through some piece of work for the Government which it would be well for the Government to recognize not by a gift of money or of rolls of silk but by means of something that is durable and which without suggesting payment will show the appreciation of his services and be a lasting reminder of things accomplished and the commendation which followed.

In the past such service has often been recognized by giving to the person some rank or office for which perhaps he was not fitted and which was quite out of proportion to the service rendered. If a man gets paid for his work regularly he needs no more pay but at the same time he deserves an expression of appreciation for the services, wholely outside the question of money.

To meet this demand we find that in most countries the government has some system of decorations which it comparatively inexpensive and yet covers the ground perfectly. We believe the time has come for some such system to be adopted here.  If Korean finances are to be put on a sound basis the revenue must be levied more and more in hard money and less and less in produce. The government cannot forever be the middle-man for the distribution of the country’s produce.  It is a relic of the times when barter was the only form of trade.  As this change comes the government will have less fans, screens, silk, pheasants, fish, persimmons and chestnuts to handle and more round coins with a hole through them. Consequently the giving of presents will come to an end and services will have to become recognized in some other way.

Of course the thing can be overdone and for a time the natives may tumble over each other in their efforts to get a decoration but when they find that they have got to do something before the decoration is forthcoming their zeal will cool.  There may be some grumbling too when unctuous chusas find that their exhausting services are to be recognized only by a silver badge and a silk ribbon over and above their salaries but it may be a good lesson for them to learn that there is a limit even to the emoluments of a chusa and that the government has a right to get its work done in the cheapest market.  The idea that a government official should get two or three times as much pay for a certain service as he would get outside is a bad policy and harmful to public morals. In well regulated countries there is o purely financial inducement for a successful lawyer, doctor, architect, merchant or civil engineer to leave his position to accept a government position.  He ordinarily wlll lose money by it, but in the East generally the pot of gold is a government position. This should not be and the sooner the giving of costly presents and of fat offices in recognition of services is done away the sooner the public mind will attain a healthier tone.  Let the system of decorations be adopted and put in charge of a competent commission and let the decorations be given judiciously and only in thoroughly deserving cases.

Brief Notices

Th insurgents in Ri Chun are getting reinforcements from the neighboring districts and now they are numbering 8000.  They set fire to the Government buildings in the Magistracy and are looting the whole district.  Capts. Sin Wo Kiun and Kwon Sup Chin with two companies of the Seoul troops have left for the scene.

Rev. Alex Kenmore has gone to Pyeng Yang for a visit.

Mr. Muhlensteth has gone to Japan for a fortnight’s visit. 

The Methodist Mission of Seoul has completed the bookstore in Chong No and opened it formally yesterday afternoon under the mos auspicious circumstances.  There were a large number of friends of the Missionat the new store to offer their good wishes and congratulations.

Mr. H.I. Muhlensteth has been employed by the Communications Bureau as an Instructor and Manager of the Government Telegraph Office.  His service will begin on the 1st of July.

The Commen Court of Seoul will begin to receive the civil cases of law suits from Monday. This is good news for the people.

A littel female child of Kim Sun Heung while playing near the pond outside the South gate fell into the water. Policeman Cho Kyeng Sun jumped in after her and rescued the child from drowning.

Kobe Chronicle states taht since it has been found impossible to permit  the firm of Armstrong, Mitchell & Co. to build large docks in Japan, an order has been entrusted to the two directors now in Japan for two ironclads and two cruisers.

The same journal also states under the caption of “The Russo-Japanese Alliance in Korea” that the scheme for cooperation in Korea in nearly agreed upon by both parties and the new policy is expected to come into force after Mr. Komura has discussed the situation with the Government.

Prince Pak Yong Hyo has left Tokyo for Kobe.  He intends to seclude himself in the country near Kyoto.

It is reported that the Minister of Education has broken out in a new place. He told the officials, it appears that Sunday was no use and was not to be observed in his Department. The said officials thought otherwise and with great good sense declined to put in an appearanceon the day of rest. Go to it, Mr. Minister. We vividly remember the story of the goat who was allowed an abundant length of rope.

The Governor of Ham Heung reports that the murderers of the Mayor of Ham Heung and two Chusas were caught by the police and placed in jail for trial, but the criminals escaped from jail.  We think the Governor is responsible for their escape and ought to be examined sharply as to its true cause.

The Governor of Kang Ju reports that MajorPaik Nak Wan captured the Chief of insurgents in that district and immediately shot him.

The people in Ri Chun district made complaints to the Department of Justice that there were two murder cases in the district, two months ago, but the Magistrate has not yet held and inquest hence the corpses have not been buried. The Magistrate is reported to stay in his an bang (the interior room of a house. These days, the term anbang is used to describe the master bedroom–tom) and let these poor bodies decay. We hope the Home Department will make the Magistrate wake up and attend to the duties for which he is paid. 

There was a fire on one of the Royal graves outside the West Gate, and the Keepers and servants of the unfortunate Royal grave were arrested for the negligence.

The War Department has taken steps to establish military barracks in Tong Yung, Tai Ku, Kang Wha, Kong Ju, Hai Ju, Puk Chung, ChunChon and Kang Ke districts. The total number of men will be 2300 including the officers, and the total amount of expense will be $114,085.20

We congratulate Rev. and Mrs. Pell for the new arrival of their heir. We extend the same to Rev. and Mrs. Junkin of Kun San.

Posted in The Independent: 1896 | Comments Off