Seen in Jeonju

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>

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