Seen in Jeonju

The Independent: May 26th, 1896

4th April 2012

Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper. This week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 22 from Tuesday, May 26th, 1896. This week: The revolution in the countryside is in full swing, the Royal English School adopts western-style uniforms for their students, the editor muses over why Korean government minister resign on a regular basis, and Miss Doty goes on vacation!   <<Just a reminder. All opinions expressed belong to the long-dead editor of the Independent and do not reflect this website’s opinion>>



Korea is second only to France n the rapidity of change from one ministry to another.  So far as we can see there are no more than two reasons for this.  The first is fear of personal danger and the second disinclination to undergo the fatigue and the responsibility of the position.  As to the first reason we cannot blame the Korean for it.  Suppose for an instant that by some, at present unforesen, cinrcumstance the opposing party should again hold a position relative to the government similar to the one they held previous to the 11th of February. <Prior to Feb. 11 refers to the date until which King Gojong was held captive in the palace and the traitorous ministers issued false edicts supposedly signed by His Majesty–tom> It would mean, to a greater or less extent, that the men now accepting important positions under the government are by so doing simply making a bid for imprisonment, decapitation perhaps; at least banishment.  It is very much to the point then to ask whether the sweets of office are sweet enough to be worth the risk.  When we remember what the former Government did to a large number of people who were or were not connected with the disturbance of Nov. 28th we can set it down as sure that in case they were in the ascendent there would be little check to revengeful impulseson the part of men in power. <The distrubance referred to here are the false edicts and laws passed while the king was prisoner including the declaration that the murdered Queen was actually a commoner and the infamous “Top-Knot” edict.  The rapidity of the declarations and new laws touched off the rebellions throughout the country–tom> In that case some members of the present cabinet would again be driven to the wall and have to seek asylum as best they could.  So much for the undesirability of office from the standpoint of personal danger. It is a real, a personal, a tangible and fairly convincing arguement.

As to the other reason for the rapid changes, it is quite true that there is not the energy, the push, the vigor manifested by Korean officials that we would like to see.  During the last few months, some splendid results, have been achieved but they were the work of comparatively a few menand are individual achievements in a sense.  What we would like to see is a cabinet every member of whic would for a time forget his personal inclinations and throw itself as one man into the work of clearing up the present difficulties, formulating a definite plan of action and pushing towards its accomplishment.  A virorous policy would lessen the factor of personal danger to a marked degree.  To act as if danger were momentarily impending seems to us to be courting danger.  It is all well enough for people to say they ought to have patriotism enough to be willing to undergo fatigue and personal discomfort but we may as well admit that, that kind of patriotism is “few and far between” even in the most enlightened lands.

Brief Notice

Col. Kyu Yung Cho reports to the War Office that a company of Seoul soldiers went ot Chuk San upon hearing that insurgents were at work there.  They found that the insurgents had dispersed after burning the town.  The same Officer reports that a squad of soldiers encountered a band of rebels in Chung In and a sharp encounter ensued.  The latter lost several men and some fo the villagers being mixed in with them were also killed.  The soldiers chased them to Whang Kan killing twenty-two more.

The people of six districts in Kyung Sung district sent a petition to the War Office asking for a military post in that province.  They are adjacent either to Russia or China and desire to have troops there to check marauding expeditions from the other side of the border.

A drunken policeman was promptly discharged the other day.  It is a good example for the other Departments to follow.

Capt. Kim Myung Whan  has been fighting the rebels in the eastern provinces for some months and has had some brilliant success.  The people praise him highly for the correct behavior of his soldiers toward them.  It is rumored that the War Office intends to recall him but the people of Kang Won province fear that as soon as he is recalled the insurgents will rise again.

Kim Kong No of Sung In in Kyung Song province ran away from his home five years ago leaving a widowed mother and young wife behind.  For four years the two women have been travelling all over the country in search of the lost one and are now stopping in Kong Ju on account of fatique and exhaustion.

The police arrested and gave fifty blows to Chung Pak San who under the influence of liquor molested school children in Kyo Dong by throwing stones at them and using bad language.

By special edict Min Yong Chung and Mn Heung Sik have been released from their banishment in Kang Wha.  Both were banished for ten years last February.

Police Oficer Pak Ki Yang was killed while on duty in Na Ju during the disturbance by the insurgents.  His remains were brought to Seoul a few days ago and buried outside the South Gate.  A squad of policemen went to the grave yesterday and offered sacrifice and one of the Police Officers deleivered a eulogy on the dead fellow.

It is reported that Prince Pak Yung Hio who has been exiled for some time in America started from San Francisco for Yokohama on May 4th. <Pak, backed by the Japanese Minster to Korea, was the leader of the Gapsin Coup of 1884.  It was a three-day long coup that attempted to overthrow the government to implement pro-Japanese reforms.  Queen Min successfully blocked the movement by secretly enlisting help from the Chinese  garrison stationed in Seoul.  During the battle, the Japanese Legation was burned to the ground and the Japanese Minister escorted and exiled from Korea. Although the coup was stopped, Korea was pressured by Japan to pay 110,000 Yen as an apology–tom>

Hon. John Barret, Minister Resident and Consul General of the US to Siam is visting the various countries in the East.  He left Bangkok May 1st and, after visting Hong Kong, Shanghai and Chefoo, arrived in Seoul the day before yesterday.  He is a guest at the US Legation.  He is a graduate of Dartmouth College in the class of ‘89. He is probably one of the youngest Resident Ministers in the world.  He has made some interesting statements about Siam which we shall insert in our next issue.

Im Kong Ni of Ma Po has ben deceiving the Nai In, or court waiting maids, and other women of wealth and influence by his supposed power with evil spirits and he seized several acres of land belonging to private individuals for the purpose of erecting a temple for the spirit.  The people in Ma Po make complaint.

Choi Sung Yul of Kang Wha lost three rolls of cotton in his boarding place in Chon Dong a few days ago, and reported the case to the Police Dep’t.  A police detective caught the thief on Chong No and recovered the lost goods and is waiting for the owner.

The police stationed outside the South gate noticed on Saturday night a suspicious looking man carryng a load of old clothes on his back.  He was sharply examined and it was found that the goods had been stolen from the house of O Nan Ho of Sang Dong.  The thief is now in jail and the goods have been returned to the owner.

A little straw hut near Mo Wha Kwan contained a dead body whic was entirely unclothed, and there was no food in the hut.  The man had evidently died of fever, or Im Pyeng.  Such cases require careful treatment in the hospital, and we hope the Government will provide a hospital for contagious diseases.

Dr. C.F. Reed of Shanghai arrived in Seoul Saturday.  He intends to settle here to start mission work under the auspices of the Methodist Mission South of America.

Miss Wambold of California arrived from Japan to relieve Miss Doty in the girls school of the Presbyterian Mission.  Miss Doty intends to go home for a vacation.

The Russian Minister and Mrs. Waeber give a garden party this evening in honor of their Imperial Majesties the Czar and Czarina.

The tax on Korean footwear, such as mitori and straw sandals has been abolished since July 1894, but lately the officials have been trying to colect it again and the dealers make a great deal of complaint.

Last Sunday was the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Victoria.  The Diplomatic and Consuar Representatives and other joined in offering congratulations and good wishes.

The students of the Royal English School had their new uniforms on yesterday and drilled before His Majesty in the afternoon.  They looked really neat and orderly and they drilled remarkably well. His Majesty was very much pleased with them and thanked Professors Hutchinson and Halifax for their creditable instructions.  The English Sergeant who has been drilling these boys received a handsome gold watch from His Majesty for his service.  There were a number of spectators from different Legations and all seemed pleased with the boys.  We hope this recognition from His Majesty and praises from the others will encourage the students in adopting more progressive ideas.

Latest Telegrams

London May 8.  Several of the United States have nominated Mr.McKinley as Republican candidate for the presidency and there seems a strong likelihood of his being elected.

May 9.  The Board of Directors of the Chartered Company have resolved to defer the acceptance of the resignations of Mssrs. Cecil Rhodes and Beit; but this is only temporarily approved of by certain directors who consider their resignation inevitable and who otherwise would resign themselves.

May 13.  The Chinese Government yielding to pressure on the part of Russia has granted to Russia a concession on the foreshore of Chefoo, in which part of foreshore British subjects have vested interests.  The British Government is inquiring into the matter.

May 14.  Cholera prevails to an alarming extent in Alexandria

Comments are closed.