Seen in Jeonju

The Independent: Tuesday, May 12, 1896

21st February 2012

independent heading  With the following editorial, I think it is important that I remind readers that the opinions expressed were written by the editor of the Independent in 1896, nearly 120 years ago and are definitely not shared by me. Unfortunately, the attitudes reflected here are accurate examples of how many in western nations viewed the east at that time.– tom


There are many papers in the home land which ridicule the idea that Japan is or will soon be a serious competitor in the markets of the world. <We saw an example of the ridicule in the April 30th issue of the Indendent via an exerpt from the New York Maritime Register–tom> We think differently and can show more or less reason for our belief.

In the first place notice that in these days of minute division of labor the manufacturer of even delicate instruments is largely a matter of turning the crank. Machinery does it all and there is less call for that all-round, intelligent skill in the individual that was found a century ago. Now the Japanese are celebrated for their deftness and they can learn to run machinery and they have learned to run it about as well as the Westerner.  They have not as yet gotten machinery of a fine enough quality to begin to compete seriously with English or American goods that are shipped from Europe to supply eastern peoples who are not extremely particular as to the finish of the goods so long as they can get them cheap. Here is where the Japanese competition has already been felt.  For instance, Japanese matches are not quite up to standard of the Austrian matches in the point of finish but they light a fire about as well and are astonishingly cheap.  It did not take the East long to decide between the two. These Eastern peoples are not going to pay a large bonus for a little extra finish.

In the second place, no enlightened people can at present compete with the Asiatic in the cost of living. Why is it that the Japanese can live on so much less than the American? Simply because the Japanese people have for centuries been schooled in the matter of economy, their population being so large compared with the arable area of their country, while the American people have been living like a young man who has just fallen heir to a great fortune and doesn’t know how to spend it fast enough. Among the rural population of France or Germany we should probably find the cost of living much nearer the Japanese figure for there too populations is relatively great. This factor in the problem will right itself gradually for we see a constant tendency in the U.S. to a reduction in the cost of the necessities of life while in Japan te tendency toward manufacturing has resulted in a rise all along the line of wages. Every commodity has appreciated in value so that we find a gradual equalizing tendency at work. The more Japan advances the more numerous will be her needs for civilization is nothing more than a creation of needs to be supplied.

We are in sympathy with the demand along the Pacific coast of the U.S. that American labor shall not be called upon to compete with Japanese labor in America. It would mean that the American laborer would have to give up some of his legitimate needs and descend in grade of civilization where he would eat, work and sleep and little else. <This offhand reference refers to a particularly shameful period of American History which attempted to ban Asian immigrants from entering the US after the railroads were completed. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese, and later all Asians (1924), from owning land in the US, marrying whites and, eventually, from legally entering the US even if they had been living there for years. Japanese and other Asians were included in this act which was strengthened several times over he decades but were not specifically targetted until the Gentleman’s Agreement Act of 1907 which banned the immigration of Japanese men–women were still allowed to enter, often as ‘picture’ (mail-order) brides.  These acts were not repealed until after WWII. With his attitude, it is easy to forget that editor and founder of the Independent, Philip Jaisohn, was a US immigrant himself from Korea albeit not of the laboring class and living on the Atlantic coast where Asian immigrants were relatively rare–tom>

The Eastern market is so vast and the demand is increasing so rapidly that Japan can never supply it and in the effort to do so the cost of wages will be so enhanced that European goods will still be able to hold their place.

Brief Notices

Rev. H.G. Appenzeller returned on Saturyday from his trip to Pyeng Yang.

The score of the baseball game Saturday was twenty-three to neneteen in favor of the American residents. The game was well attended by the ladies and by several Korean officials. It was hoped that some of our English friends would participate in the game but they did not find it convenient to do so.

The Royal Messenger to the North, Yi Chong Keun, has returned from his mission to Ham Kyung province. The disturbances there have ceased and the condition of things is normal.

On Saturday, Capt. Cho Kwan Heun started for Kang Neung with 200 soldiers, Lieut. Yu Sung Wun for Su Won with sixty and Lieut. Yi Pyung Kyu for Kwang Ju with one company.

On Saturday the eight criminals convicted of complicacy in the events of Oct. 8th, started by steamer from Chemulpo for their various places of banishment.

At the request of the students of the Royal English School they have been allowed to assume military dress.  It will be a great change in student life. We commed the spirit of these progressive yung Koreans and trust that with western garments they will also adopt some of the more useful western ideas. <This becomes a serious issue in the weeks to come and touches off a dangerous rivalry between the editor of this newspaper and conservatives in the government. This will be played out in the coming months–tom>

A male child named Sun Kapi, four years old, wearing red cotton clothes and red shoes, was lost last Saturday. If any one finds himhe will please send him to his parent, Yi Gab Keun, a policeman in Ke Dong.

Sim Neung Wun of Tong Chin has been feeding the poor of that district for the last three months for his own granary. His beneficiaries number over 140.

Minister of Finance, Sim Sang Hun, will assume the duties of his office today. Minster of Education, Sin Ki Sun will return to Seoul in a few days. Minister of the Royal Household returned to his country home yesterday.

The police department has posted guards at several places on Nam San to watch for timber thieves.

Capt. Kim Whang Whan met a band of insurgents in Kim Wha district on the 5th and had a sharp engagement. The insurgens lost heavily and the remainder were dispersed. The captain caught three men and executed them in the public street.

No Chil Sung of Kwang Ju, formerly of Seoul, had a lottery establishment here on the broad street. Last year the Government prohibited he lottery in the city and so No went to Kwang Ju and became a farmer. A few days ago, three Seoul men went down to his place and arrested him ostensibly by order of the Commissioner of Police. While making the arrest, they looted his house. They then brought him to Seoul and, leaving him in the street near the pagoda, made off. No went to the Police Headquarters and found that no order had been issued for his arrest. He lodged a complaint and two of the culprits have been caught.

300 Japanese soldiers arrived in Seoul a few days ago to relieve the guard who will start for Japan today. They are 800 in number and have been here for two years.

Saturday afternoon the Japanese residents of Chin Ko Kai gave a farewell reception to the Japanese army officers and soldiers who are leaving. Minister Komura, Consul Uchida and other prominent officials made speeches and the Colonel made a reply. At the end the whole assembly gave three cheers for the Emperor of Japan.

To the Editor of the Independent: Dear Sir,   Since last February the courts of Seoul have refused to take up and adjudicate cases involving business relations. I would call the attention of the authorities to the fact that the refusal to entertain such cases has caused much inconvenience amont the people as there is no way to adjust such matters according to law. I voice the sentiment of the peopl in expressing the hope that the courts of law will soon be open to any and every case that is brought before them. Yours respectfully, Kim Yun Po

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