Seen in Jeonju

The Independent, Thursday, May 14th 1896

28th February 2012

The Independent, vol.1 No 17 independent heading


As we announced in our first issue, we believe in Korea for the Koreans, and not Korea for the one who can make the most out of her. We would like to call attention to a fact which is not generally known but which is doing a great injury to the Korean people. It is a fixed law of economics that the rate of interest on money in any place or in any trade is in proportion to the risk which is run.  The English government can borrow money for two percent a year because she is practically sure to pay, while such a government as China or Turkey has to pay more since they are not so certain to pay. In Korea the rate of  interest is exceedingly high, running from five to ten percent a month. This simply means that many who lend money at that rate lose both principal and interest. Now notice, Japanese speculators come in here with a few hundred dollars and lend it to Korean on security of real estate giving perhaps half the market value of the property and often asking interest at the rate of fifteen percent a month.  If payment is not made on the day set for its payment they of course foreclose or demand an emormous bonus, even twice the original sum in some cases. What we would call attention to is the fact that they do this absolutely without risk for if payment is not made on the instant, a complaint is made to the Japanese authorities and the matter is pushed through.

Now we are well aware that there is no direct remedy for this but it is a matter that should receive serious attention from the government.  Some of the finest places in Seoul are being filched from the Koreans and soon we shall see Korean merchants driven from the main streets of the city. We do not consider the Koreans free from blame in the matter. They are improvident and ten dollars today is a great blessing even if they have to pay back twenty for it next month. The Korean’s necessity is the  Japanese broker’s opportunity.  The only wat to handle the question is for the government to mkae a law that no Korean shall mortgage real estate to any foreigner.  It is the only way to save Seoul from their grasp. Let the Korean pawn his furniture and clothes and goods of whatever kind but not his house. If a Japanese wants to buy his house, well and good, but Koreans, unless extremely pressed, will not sell at a great loss. It is only in the hope that something will “turn up” that he puts his house in pawn and the chances are ten to one that he loses it.  We believe the government could make such a law and see that it is kept in spite of pressure that would be brought to bear upon them from certain quarters.

We are thoroughly in sympathy with all fair trade and we believe that Japan has a great commercial future before her but we do not call this fair trade.  It is a matter in which the government has an interest. The moment a piece of property in Seoul passes into the hands of a Japanese that moment the government loses its right of eminent domain over that property in any possible way if its alien owner saw fit to hold it.  The case of Mr. Okamoto is in evidence here. It is an exaggerated case but illustrates the greed for acuisition of real estate by fair means or foul. He was given the use of a house by the government while in its employ and though there is no record of its having been gien to him permanently and he can show no deed and no evidence to prove his case, he calls on his government to keep him in possession of what never was and, it is hoped, never will be his.

A strenuous effort should be made and it should be made imeediately to put a stop to this form of business in Seoul.  And the same is true of Chemulpo. Let every Korean understand that his house is not only his but the government’s as well and hat he cannot pawn without feeling the arm of the law.

Brief Notice

The Magistrate of Yang Ju reports that Im Won Ho of Chun Chun came to Yang Ju district to compel people to join his band for the purpose of looting villages in the name of the “righteous army.”  The Magistrate took the necessary steps to stop it, but some of the people were freightened into joining the gang.

The Governor of Pyeng Yang reports that miners in the gold fields of Eun San marched to the Government buildings and seized the guns and ammunition.  The people of Yang Dok heard of the robbery and gave chase.  The thieves in their flight threw away all the loot, and the articles were restored to their places.

Col. Park Nak Wan reports that 200 insurgents are looting the villages in Yong Dong, Whang Kan and Po Eun districts; and Col. Ku Yng Cho reports that insurgents have begun to congregate at Chun An, Nang Chun, ChukSan, Che Chun and Chin Chun districts. The Magistrate of Su Wun also reports that Yong In and An Sung districts are being troubled from the same cause.  The report of Capt. Kim Hong Keun says that 200 insurgents are roving about in Wun Ju, Hyung Sung, Yang Keun, Chi Pyeng, In Che and Yang Ku districts.  Whenever they see the Government troops approach they run away but reassemble afterwards and continue their depredations. He thinks it will take some time to subdue them entirely.

Some gentlemen started last Saturday at 12 o’clock , noon, from Chemulpo and came up the river on a Japanese steamer arriving in Seoul at seven o’clock Sunday morning. It will be a glad day when a man can go by rail between these points instead of being at the mercy of these poor crafts.

Three hundred Japanese soldiers arrived in Seoul yesterday afternoon to relieve the guards.

New Russian guards arrived in Seoul yesterday to relieve those guards from the Admiral Nakhimoff.  The  new guards are from the Demitri Donskoi.

Last Monday 693 packages arrived in the War Office from Vladivostock. They contain 3000 rifles and ammunition. They have been purchased by the Korean government.

We have received a copy of the general statistics of Japan. It is printed in French and Japanese and contains much valuable information about Japan. The title is Resume Statistique de l’Empire du Japon.

Two of the French fathers have been suffering from typhoid fever but are now recovering.

The veteran journalist John A. Cockerill who represented the N.Y.Herald a few years ago in Korea and Japan and wrote many interesting letters to the Herald, was transferred from Japan to the Herald’s London office two months ago and started for England making a stop in Cairo, where he died of apoplexy while sitting in a barber’s chair in Shepherd’s Hotel.  The journalistic world has lost in him one of its most valuable representatives and his many friends mourn his untimely death.

The City Jail has been removed to the old government granary inside the little West Gate.

War vessels in port; British, Pique; Japanese, Atago; Russian, Koreytz, Nakhimoff, and Demitri Donskoi; U.S., The Yorktown.

Ensign R.R. Bellknap U.S. Navy, with fifteen marines arrived in Seoul yesterday from the Yorktown. The Charleston is homeward bound and expects to reach San Francisco July 1st.

The tendency of the typical young lady to have “a good cry” says a scientific journal, seems to have been found physiologically proper. Medical authorities now assert that crying is the best exerciese for young children. One hospital superintendent says that a healthy baby should cry three or four times a night and from ten to fifteen minutes at a time. What does Pa say?– Kobe Chronicle.

The rainfall on Monday was two inches by the gauge.

Foreign News

King Menelik in view of the refusal of the Italian Government to negotiate a treaty of peace, is preparing to fight for the complete autonomy of his Kingdom. He has sent 3000 Italian captives into the interior of Abyssinia. Great mortality is reported among the captives.


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