Seen in Jeonju

The Independent: May 28th, 1896

11th April 2012

Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, his week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 23 from Thursday, May 28th, 1896. In this issue:  The police continue to crackdown on ’sorceresses’, a mob in Paju takes justice into their own hands, the editor discusses his impressions of Siam, and the Waebers throw a party. <<Reminder:  All opinions expressed in the newspaper are the views of the editors of The Independent. They do not reflect the opinions of this website and are reproduced here for the sole purpose of providing historical context>>



To one who watches the papers with care it would seem as if Siam were like the little fish in the Korean fable– between two whales. It may be even more applicable than common in this case for we are informed by scientists that whales’ throats are too small to swallow large objects but that they can comsume great numbers of small ones with ease.  It can scarcely be expected therefore that two whales can make a full meal off one small fish, and the only hope for her is that the two big neighbors will find it inconvenient to both swallow her at the same time. Some such fortunate conclusion seems to have been reached and for the time at least both England and France have agreed to call a halt in the dismemberment of Siam. It is a pleasure to learn from the Hon. John Barrett, Minister Resident and Consul General of the US to Siam, who is now stopping in Seoul, that Siam has not for many a year been in so hopeful a condition as she is in today.  In spite of losses of territory she still holds the whole valley of the Menam River which is the richest part of the whole Indo-Chinese peninsula. Today her territory far exceeds Korea in extent, while in richness there can probably be little comparison.

We generally think of Siam as being ruled by a barbaric sovereign, conservative, ignorant, cruel perhaps.  But if so we are quite mistaken.  The King of Siam is an educated, intelligent man and speaks English fluently. Two of his sons are graduates of Oxford University, England, and his cabinet is composed of large-minded, progressive men who have been in close contact with the world and are thoroughly well informed.  They are to a considerable extent westernized, as we may say, for they have adopted many of the customs of the west especially in the matter of games.  Tennis, billiards, cricket, polo and such sports are engaged in by them freely. Under the lead of such men it would be strange if Siam should not make rapid progress.  We may not thefact that the King of Siam is now the ony independent sovereign in southern Asia east of Afghanistan.  We would like to have the experiment tried as to whether a kingdom in the tropics cannot, if properly led, be as successful in every sense as if tanken in hand by some western power.  Perhaps the negative would be proved, for certainly English rule of India, if we except the policy carried out in regard to opium, has been a splendid success. At the same time it would be interesting to see whether such a thing as enlightened patriotism might not prove a strong factor in national growth.  We ordinarily thnk of patriotism and the tropics as unassimilible things but the fact is wehave had very few chances to witness the results of enlightened patriotism in the tropics. The republic of San Domingo, Liberia and perhaps Cuba of today would indicate that patriotism may thrive between Cancer and Capricorn but they would hardly serve as a basis of comparison between the results of Caucasian suzerainty and purely native or indigenous enterprise. <Suzerainty: A nation that controls another nation in international affairs but allows it domestic sovereignty– I had to look that word up..   tom>

Brief Notice

There can be but one opinion in regard to the entertainment given by the Russian Minister and Mrs Waeber last Tuesday, and that is that it was entirely worthy of the event it was intended to celebrate.  We do not see what more could have been done to lend eclat to the occasion and impress upon all minds the momentousness of the interests involved in the coronation of the Russian Emperor. Such an entertainment is an expression of good-will, of friendship, of peace, and there is not one who does not trust that this will be the predominant feature of the reign of the new Emperor.  The Russian Legation was was gaily decorated with flags of different nations. During the day the Foreign Representatives and others called and officered their congratulations and in the evening a large company gathered to celebrate the event.  Countless Japanese lanterns supplemented the light of a brilliant full moon and the Legation was a blaze of light.  In the assembly America, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Russia were all represented. After a pleasant hour spent in conversation and witnessing of fireworks, Mr Waeber escorted Mrs Sill to the refreshment salon follwed by Mr Komura and Mrs Waeber and the other guests.  Mr. Waeber first proposed the health of the Russian Emperor and Empress which was enthusiastically responded to by the company.  The the Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Yi Wan Yong, proposed the same toast which was again drunk with cheers.  Then Mr Waeber proposed the health of His Korean Majesty  which eliceted applause. Mr Sill proposed a toast to the host and hostess which was heartily responded to.  Somewhat after midnight the company dispersed carrying with them the memory of one of the most brilliant entertainments ever given in Korea.

The police of Chemulpo have followed the example of the Seoul police in the matter of sorceresses.  A few days ago a mudang was raising a disturbance in a home at the port and the police promptly stopped it, but the mayor Im O Chun, at the instigation of his concubine, called the policemen and berated them for enforcing the rule.  The policemen have a hard road to travel if they are to be at the beck and nod of officials’ concubines.

It is reported that the Chief of the Mint in Chemulpo, Yi Ho Sang, used $3,000 of Government money in carrying on a pawnbroker’s business in the port and vicinity.  We hope the Finance Dept will make a thorough investigation and if the charge is proved that punishment will be inflicted.

A fire broke out Sunday night in the new barracks in front of the Palace. Twenty-five kun were burned before the fire was gotten under control.  It would be a good investment for the Government to purchase a few fire engines and train some of the police force as firemen.

“You have no heart.”  Pale, but tearless, she stood before him and looked him squarely in the eye. She was poor but proud. Adverse fortune had reduced her wardrobe to calico basics, driven her and her only surviving mother to the top flat of a Wabash Avenue apartment house and hardened the lines about her still beautiful mouth, but it could not dim the lustre of her blue-black eye nor tame the unconquerable spirit that animated every fibre of her lissome form standing erect with unconscious grace and awaiting his answer.  “You have no heart,” she repeated. “No, Miss, ” replied the butcher, “but we’ve got some mighty nice liver; will that do just as well?”

This morning the Nichi Nichi gives the following as the points round which the negotiations between Japan and Russia turn; (1) The return of the King to the Palace. His return to the Palace is desired by the Korean Government, yet he remains in at the Russian Legation. No matter what circumstances may call for his staying outside the palace, the sovereign of an independent country should not abide in a foreign Legation. (2) The disposal of Japanese troops stationed in Korea. When troops or men of war of the two powers are stationed in Korea, as is now the case, not only is the prestige of Korea as an independent Kingdom menaced, but there is danger of complication arising, so that it is necessary to restrict the number of troops in Korea. (3)  The disposla of Japanese telegraph lines in Korea.  As Japan constructed telegraph lines in the interior of Korea, an independent country, it has been necessary for troops to protect the lines, and the pressence of these have provoked attacks by Korean insurgents. For this reason the telegraph lines must be disposed of in one way or another; either they should be disposed of in some way or they must be maintained under certain conditions. It will thus be seen that the subjects of negotiation, adds the Nichi Nichi, are not such matters as require to be permanently agreed on by treaty.  They will be dealt with therefore only in diplomatic notes.

The Magistrate of Po Chun reports that the district militia attacked and routed insurgents in Kim Wha and Kim Sung but the congregated again in Yung Pyung and looted villages in that neighborhood. They number about fifty.

The Communication Bureau has ordered the magistrates of the districts through which telegraph lines pass to report the amount of damage done in their several districts. The government wil begin repairs as soon as the reports are in.

The Governor of Seoul reports that the people of five villages in Pa Ju, numbering some 300, brought seven highwaymen to the magistrate and asked for permission to kill them, whe he did reluctantly for fear of personal injury.  The infuriated mob threw the men into the river.

Leiut. Kim Pyung Wak reports that a policeman Pak Chun Sup wnet in disguise into the stronghold of insurgents in Po Sung district and seized the chief Kim Chang im and his son Kim Suk Heun and successfully brought them out and delivered them to the authorities at Chun Ju where they were shot.

The Governor of Tai Ku reports that the Seoul officers have dispersed the insurgents in Chin Ju district but they are still going about in small bands disturbing the villages. If the soldiers are withdrawn these bands will reunite for further mischief.  The Governor asks the War Office to let the troops remain in Chin Ju for three months more.

We are informed that some disbursing clerks of certain departments lend money as a matter of accommoation to their friends as well as for financial gain.  It is not only dangerous but a criminal practice and should be dealt with severely by the heads of departments.

The new chief of the Government Steamship company in Chemulpo, the Yi Won Sa, named Pang Nam Ju, has been dismissing the old employees of the company without cause and replacing them by his friends who have no knowledge of the shipping business. He said it was by order of the Minister of Agriculture to dismiss the employees who were appointed by the former chief. We do not believe the Minister gave any such order as we know him to be an honest and conscientious offical.

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