Seen in Jeonju

The Independent, May 21st, 1896

21st March 2012

Reminder: The opinions expressed in the pages of  The Independent, published in 1896, are not mine nor do they reflect my own. They are presented here for historical perspective only–tom.


The Independent: Vol. I, No. 20:  Thursaday, May 21st, 1896

NOTICE TO AMERICANS:  I have been requested by the Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs to instruct my nationals against the explosion of firearms within the city limits.  The firing of guns,pistols and other firearms is distinctly prohibited inside the city, by the Korean laws and regulations, and at the present time there is special reason for the strict observance of this prohibition.  I shall assist the Korean authorities to proceed severely against any American needlessly offending in this matter.  John M. B. Sill, US Minister Resident, US Legation, Seoul, Korea, May 19th, 1896.


It was a happy day for Korea when the Chinese merchants and coolies decided that things were gettng too hot for them here and “folded their tents like the Arabs and as silently stole away.”  <This sentence is offensive in so many ways…. tom> It is safe to say that Korea never missed them; that neither the commercial, social nor moral interests of the country suffered a bit because of their departure.  As merchants they sold silks and velvets and clocks to fat-pursed officials or else they peddled thread, matches and pipe mouth-pieces on the street.  In neither of these capacities did they serve any large end or bring much good to the country.The coolies who came here were objects of loathing to even the common Korean collies because of their filthiness. Moreover they were not needed, for there were enough labor here to supply every demand.  We are sorry to see a tendency on the part of the Chinese to come in here for their coming will have the same influence only in less degree, that it did in America. He will underbidt the Korean laborer and drive him to the wall. The reason is evident. He will wear clothes, the ordinary Chinese coolie, which no Korean would wear even though he had to go naked.  For abject and irremediable fiflth commend us to the Chinese coolie.  He will eat anything that any creature will eat and grow fat on absolute garbage. Some people call this economy, frugality, thrift and commend the Chinese for it, but we believe this condition is the result of a lapse toward barbarity rather than an evolution toward enlightment.

But above and beyond every other consideration we dread to see the Chinese come into Korea because of the almost inevitable introduction of opium.  It is one of the signal marks of Japan’s real advance that she has stubbornly fought every attempt to introduce it into Japan.  Ordinarily the foreign business men of China claim that opium does no harm, but ask one of them to employ an opium smoker as staff or as a confidential agent or in any capacity where there is any responsibility to be borne and his NO will be so emphatic that you can hear it three blocks off.  We don’t want to discuss the opium question here buy only to express the hope that in some way it will be possible to prohibit and successfully prevent the introduction of that most seductive of all habits, the smoking of opium.  That added to all the other hindrances and embarrassments would render the rehabilitation of this nation a well-nigh hopeless task.  The only way to prevent it is to keep out the Chinese coolie for if he comes the opium will come with him in spite of all efforts to the contrary.


A sorceress, named Kim, who wears gorgeous apparel, including several embroidered bags hanging about her waist, and who claims to have a spirit that can tell the fortunes of men, has been deceiving people in and about Seoul for some months, and in this way gained large sums of money.  We mentioned the case in our vernacular columns a few days ago. The police arrested her while performing some of her tricks. She claims that the spirit isin one of the embroidered bags, so the police burned them all and put her in jail. She confessed the deception and begged for mercy. Two others who seem to be her accomplices have also been arrested.

A Chinaman was found dead near the little East Gate day before yesterday.  Upon examination it was found that death was due to over-indulgence in the use of opium. The Independent is not an illustrated paper but this illustrates very forcibly the words of our leader today.

We take pleasure in calling the attention of the public to the fact that the best place in the neighborhood of Seoul, for an afternoon’s airing is at the King’s farm outside the East Gate.  The distance is just right for a ride by chair, pony, jinikisha or bike.  The summer house on top of the hill commands a magnificent view and is cool and delightful.  There is a storeroom below the hill where one can get all sorts of refreshments such as mineral water, lemonade, etc.  One can get what he wants and simply make a memo of it in a book in the room and settle with the dealer afterwards. The key of the storeroom can be obtained at The Independent office.

Steamer Schedule:  The Nagado is due on the 21st and will leave for Japan on the same day. The Satsuma is due on the 22nd and will leave for Japan on the same day. The Toyoshima is due on the 25th and will leave for Japan on the 26th.

The telegraph line between Seoul and Fusan has been cut again in Ri Chun district by insurgents.

The Governor of Seoul has inspected the shops on furniture street for the purpose of buying them out.  These shops will be torn down and the whole street will be repaired from the South Gate to its junction with Chong No street. We mentioned the necessity of this step in one of our previous issues and we are glad to hear that the governor  is taking these steps. The Government can make no better investment than to clean up these main streets where the traffic is great and where thousands of people pass daily.

Five thieves were hanged in the jail on Monday.

Tutor Yang Hong Muk of the Pai Chai School lectures to the students on Korean history every Saturday.

The Acting Minister of Education, Yi Wan Yong, made a short visit to the Pai Chai School a few days ago and addressed the students on the subject of Education and Religion.

Us. Minister John M.B. Sill, Captain C. H. Stockton, Commander of the USS Yorktown and Ensign R.R. Belknap had an audience with His Majesty yesteraday at 3 o’clock.  (Ah– now we know who fired the gun in city limits…tom)

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