Continuing with my project of retyping the issues of Korea’s first English-language newspaper, The Independent, this week features the next edition, vol. 1 no. 42 from Saturday, July 11th, 1896. <<REMINDER: The Independent was written over 100 years ago and the opinions expressed within DO NOT reflect my own . –tom>> In this issue: The editor gives his opinion of the state of the Korean military and there are a lot of bulletins discussing foreign news.
The Korean army is a good deal in evidence these days and whatever may be said of the army as a whole, a good deal seems to be done by it in parts. We hear every day of a victoryover the insurgents in some place or other. They seem to fight fairly well and cannot be said to lack in bravery. But this goes dead against all that has ever been said or written about Korean soldiers during these last years and there must be some reason for it.
So far as physique is concerned the Korean has a decided advantage over all eastern peoples with the exception of the northern Manchu soldiers who are stalwart, powerful fellows. One of the marked characteristics of the Korean is his ability to walk long distances at a stretch. He has a light, springy step that takes him along at four miles an hour all day long, and a hundred li, or thirty miles, is only a common day’s walk for a Koran travelling in the interior. If need be he can raise the figure to forty or fifty miles a day and keep it up for days in succession.
From the earliest days of Koran history till the present time the crying need has been for proper leaders. It is well known that in China and Korea military rank is not on an exact level with civil rank but is a step below, and so through all the centuries the best places in the army have been filled by men who were not bred to the profession of arms but who had enough influence to secure the best military positions in connection with other offices of a civil nature. The consequence has been that until the present time the higher the military rank of a man the less in all probability has been his knowledge of military matters. In other words no one would care to stake his career on military success if by any means he could achieve success as a civil officer. Consequently the best things in the army have fallen into the mouths of civilians who were not at all skilled in the art of war or even in the managing of an army in time of peace so as to make it effective if a war should break out. Perhaps the latter is the more difficult of the two.
It is true in Korea as it is everywhere that soldiers are governed to a considerable extent by the opinion they have of their officers. So when we put two and two together it is not difficult to see where the onus lies of the charge that the Korean army is not effective. What the army could do if all drawn up together in battle array against an enemy of equal numbers we would not venture to say, but one thing is certain; the small companies of sildiers that go here and there fighting the insurgents are led by captains who have themselves perhaps known what a soldier’s life is and who are willing to go in front of their men into an engagement. And we find them uniformly successful. The soldiers have confidence in the judgement and bravery, and follow unquestioningly.
The time must come when an army position will be as high an honor as a civil position. Look at Germany, England, or France. The military man is rather higher in general esteem than the civilian and there is a consequent emulation in the work of preparation for such positions, with the result that the best men come to the top and a well officered army is possible. And in nine cases out of ten a well officered army is a good army. See what Gordon did with the Chinese and what English officers are doing with Indians.
The military spirit, developed in the schools, is a good thing and in time the army will benefit from it, but first and foremost we must see the tiger put on an equality with the stork so that the army may offer a career which will satisfy the most amibitious youth of Korea.
Col. Liebert of the Prussian service has accepted the Mission of organizing the Chinese army, and will leave for China next week. He will be accompanied by German drill instructors.
Dr. Prout’s cholera vaccine is said to be almost a certainty.
The British Navy Estimate for 1896-7 include a sum of 7,380,600 Pounds for new construction and provides for a strength of 93,750 officers and men.
Princess Chun, the mother of the Chinese Emperor died on the 18th June.
Dr Yerzin has experimented successfully at Canton with his injection serum of plague. At the very first trial the patient was cured, the bubos went away and the fever went down.
Marquis Yamata left Marseilles on June 21st for home.
It is reported in Japan that Baron Nishi, the present Minister to St. Petersburg will succeed Count Mutsu in the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The noted French statesman M. Jules Simon died some time ago, and the Chamber of Deputies has voted ten thousand francstowards the cost of the funeral obsequies. The German Emperor sent a floral crown on the day of the funeral.
The French Senate passed the 1900 Exposition Bill.
Both Marquis Yamagata and Viceroy Li Hung Chang received a decoration from the Emperor of Russia.
The total amount of the Armenian Fund collected by the Independent is $210, and Mr. J McLeavy Broun, of the customs has kindly secured a London draft for 25 Pounds which will be sent to the American Representative in Constantinople to distribute the money among the suffering Christians of Armenia.
Policeman Yu Han Kiu came to the station in an intoxicated condition and abused the officer in charge. He was discharged immediately.
Two coolies were making repairs in one of the houses outside the little West gate, when the roof fell down and injured them severely. They were taken to the Government hospital for treatment.
A child 3 years old while playing under the South Mountain, fell into a mud hole which was full of rain water. The child was drowned.
Lieut. Kim Kiu Sung captured twelve insurgents in Yang Keun including the one who was shot and the rest, eleven men, are now in prison.
Magistrate of Chi Re reports that a man named Cho Dong Sik, calling himself the commander-in-chief of the insurgents, threatened to invade Mu Ju district with 200 men. The acting Governor of Tai Ku sent 60 soldiers to Mu Ju to give the invaders a fight.
The acting Governor of Song Do reports thta a band of insurgents came to Tiosan and carried away $2500 from the wealthy citizens of that district, and from there tehy went to Sin Ke district.
The Governor of Tai Ku reports that the insurgents do not attempt to fight with the Government troops, but they run away whenever tehy hear of the approachof the latter. They come together again as soon as the Government soldiers leave the place. The Governor requests the War Office to let the troops remain in one place for some time so that it will be a permanent benefit to that locality.
The Korean Post Office received and delivered first and second class matter during the month of June to the extent of 15,408 pieces, an increase of 3,375 over the month proceeding.
Prof. Langley of the Smithsonian Instituition in Washington, has at last perfected his flying machine called “aerodrome.” Two upward ascents of about half a mile were made at a speed of twenty miles an hour. The machine made in motion suggests a huge bird, soaring in large curves. When the steam gave out, the aerodrome sank gracefully and was picked up undamaged.
The Monroe Doctrine is a plank in the Republican platform with a very emphatic declaration that under no pretext will any increase of European dominion in America be permitted. Hopes are also expressed of the eventual entire withdrawal of European rule from America.
The rebellion in Mashonaland is spreading, and the natives are massacring the whites in the outlying farms in the Salisbury and Mazoe districts. All the outlying whites have been ordered into laager in Salisbury where there is a scarcity of men. Troops from the Cape now at Mafeking have been ordered to Mashonaland.
It is really surprising to see how generous and public spirited these Koreans are. The contributions of the Independence Park are coming in constantly and the amount is nearly $1000. Among the many contributors Dr. H.N. Allen made a handsome donation to the Fund.
“How intense are the fires of love!” ejaculated the poet. “Yes,” answered the father of six marriageable daughters; “but they do take a lot of coal.”
Miss Summit– “Mr. Fiddlestick wanted to send you a birthday present, but I told him you had stopped having birthdays ten years ago. Was I right?” Miss Palisade–”I believe so. I know it was two years after you stopped.”