Seen in Jeonju

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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