Seen in Jeonju

The Independent: May 19th, 1896

14th March 2012

The Independent, vol. 1 No. 19

Brief Notice 

A laborious statistician computes that Queen Victoria is now sovereign over one continent, 100 pennisulas, 500 promontories, 1000 lakes, 2000 rivers and 10,000 islands.

An American journal, writing on the question of Arctic exploration says:  “To be very frank about it, we don’t want the North Pole discovered.  We have an idea, in the first place, that it isn’t much of a pole and we want it to remain hidden in its native lair to stimulate in men the spirit of enterprise and adventure, to give us something to look forward to. So long as there is a North Pole, if there really is such a thing, which men cannot find; so long as the earth keeps one spot sacred to herself and one secret which no man may know, we can still retain some littel respect for this dwindling ball. But what a petty, mean, and contemptible littel crab-apple it will be when every schoolboy in the land is familar with every rod of its surface.

Rev. and Mrs. Kenmure expect to start for Chefoo today.

Capt. C. H. Stockton, Commander of the USS Yorktown came up to Seoul Saturday for a few days visit at the Legation.

The Korean paper guild has subscribed to the Independent for all its members. We consider this a sign that Korean businessmen are alive to the importance of keeping up with the times.

A man named Ho Sik, newly appointed magistrate of Yang Chun, memorialized His Magesty affirming that “seven of the present high officials held important positions at the time of the disturbance on Oct.8th.  They should have known beforehand of the events that were to transpire but they did not prevent them. This shows their disloyalty and incompetence to hold such high positions.”  These officials spoken of are the present Minister of War, Privy Councilor, Vice Minister of Justice, Ex-Vice Minister, the Governor of Pyeng Yang, the Governor of Ta Ku, the Governor of Ham Hueng.  The Minister of War and the Vice Minister tendered their resignations but His Majesty did not accept them.

EDICT:  It has been the custom to send in resignations when one official has been criticized by another in a memorial to us.  But this is not the time to observe these useless ceremonies, therefore hereafter the officials should not send in resignations on account of criticisms of others.

Dr. and Mrs. Underwood have gone to Chefoo for a few weeks.

Mr. Komura, the Japanese Minister, had an audience with His Majesty at the Myung Ye Kung on Saturday and presented his credentials as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister of Plenipotentiary to Korea. The usual compliments were exchanged.

Lieut. Yu Sung Won had a fight with 600 insurgents in Yang Chi district.  The latter were routed completely after a few hours’ sharp engagement.  Three of the insurgents were killed and one of the soldiers was wounded.

The Magistrate of Yong In reports that one hundred insurgents broke into the government storehouse in that place and carried away guns, ammunition and money amounting to $60.  A company of Seoul soldiers heard the report and hastening to the place, drove them away.

Two more policemen were appointedfrom the students in the Police Training School after a strict examination.

The Governor of PyengYang reports that a gambler,Yi Heung O, kicked one of his companions in the chest and killed him instantly. The case will be tried in the Seoul Court.

The Magistrate of Chang Yun reports that eleven insurgents were hanged a few days ago in pursuance of instructions from the Law Department.

The Governor of In Chun reports that the Yung Dong Po, Si-Heung district, drove out a thief named Kim Heung-bong.  A few days later he returned and raised a disturbance and threatened to kill many of the villagers.  The people got together and beat the culprit to death. The Law Department instructs the governor to give fifty blows of the lash to the head officer of the village for not preventing the trouble.

The Governorof Kong Ju reports that sixty insurgents entered the government buildings in Yang Sung, broke open the storehouses and carried away twenty-two guns, twenty pounds of powder, two thousand five hundred and seventy cartridges and one hundred and seventeen dollars in money.

The Governor of Pyeng Yang reports that two clerks in Kai Chun magistracy killed the magistrate by assault.  The Law Department has instructed the Governor to hang Yi Chung Eun and to imprison his brother Yi Sun Eun for life with hard labor.

Won Yong Sang of Seoul, propietor of a tobacco stand on the broad street was arrested on the charge of robbery and after trial was sentenced to imprisonment for life with hard labor.  He was punished for a similar offence eight years ago. Hence the severity of the sentence.


To use an anatomical figure, the open ports are the breathing holes of the nation’s commerce. Keep them shut and commerce will be like a polar bear in winter in his nest under the snow, dormant, hybernating.  Open them up and the blood of the nation begins to circulat, the pulse becomes vigorous and strong and achievement of any kind is possible. It has probably been noticed by many that the present open ports of Korea are not so situated as to do the most good for Korea. When they were opened it was because these places had a sort of recognized standing; Chemulpo as the port of Seoul and Fusan as the ancient point of contact between Japan and Korea and Wonsan because it was the only available port on the eastern coast. Let us inquire briefly why these ports are not all that might be desired.  The important considerations to be held in view in the selection of ports are—

(1)  Does it give the easiest access to the largest area of productive territory.  Judged by this standard we cannot say that any of the present ports are ideal ones. None of them are easy of access form the interior. At none of them is there water commmunication inland, and water communication is of prime importance in a land without roads as Korea practically is.  None of them is near the largest areas of productive country. Fusan is as far as possible from the rich farming territory of the province in which it is situated. Chulla Do has no port whatever although the richest of the provinces in exportable produce.  Chemulpo is neither near Chang Chong Do nor Whang Hai Do but just between and reached only by sea from those places.  Wonsan is quite well situated for Ham Kyung province but probably a dozen other places  in Korea would have given a larger return for the money invested.

(2)  Does the place have a good harbor?  In this respect, both Fusan and Wonsan are delightfully situated, the scenery is beautiful and one could not ask a securer harbor, but if the government should spend even a cool million in making a harbor in one of the many indentations of the Southern coast, the proceeds would better warrant the expense than the choice of Fusan did.  It may be hard to make a good harbor in the mouth of a river because the shifting channels and silt deposits, but an ugly mouth with something in it is better than a handsome one unfilled.  As for Chemulpo we have neither the river mouth nor the quiet harbor; as the port of Seoul it is important, however.

Of course there is nothing to be said against the present ports. They are there and there they will remain but we do hope that the time will soon come when we shall see the great North opened up with a port near Pyeng Yang and the great South with a port at Mak Po.  It may be that a joint Korean and Chinese port at the mouth of the Yalu would be of great value as opening value as opening up the valley of that great river. It would give opportunity to guard against smuggling across the border, a practice that has cost Korea many a dollar in the past.  If a Russian railroad is built through Manchuria, such a port would be of vast importance, as being the entry port of  large qunatities of goods form that source. History has a good deal to say with such questions as this.  It was history that put the ports at Chemulpo and Fusan if not at Wonsan as well.

We have heard it said that a port at Mak Po would be useless because there is no town there. Open it and in a month there will not be a rod of land within a radius of a mile that is not bought up.

One of the greatest acts of injustice that China perpetrated in Korea was the keeping of Pyeng Yang closed to foreign trade. Its opening is of prime importance because it is the outlet of certain kinds of produce not found largely elsewhere, especially lumber and coal.  It may turn out that Pyeng Yang coal is not good steaming coal, though we imagine it has not been given a fair trial, but even if so it would take its place in the markets of Tiensin, Chefoo, Shanghai and the Korean ports as a magnificent stove coal and thus would prove a great blessing to foreigners as well as a considerable source of income to the government. It seems to us that every month that Pyeng Yang is kept closed is doing an injustice to the mostvigours, enterprising and successful portion of Korea.

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