Seen in Jeonju

The Independent: May 30th, 1896

21st April 2012

Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, his week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 24 from Saturday, May 30th, 1896. In this issue: Problems arise between soldiers and the police of Seoul, the Magistrates ignore royal edicts and a rivalry starts between the Independent and some Japanese papers



** The May number of our Seoul cotemporary The Repository appeared on Wednesday.  The range of subjects treated in this number is very large, including Korean history, travel, missions, poetry, politics, correspondence, notes and comments. It provides a variety of broad enough to please all its subscribers.  It is a distinctly new departure in jounalism in the East in that it proposes to interest those who have the mission cause at heart and also those who are engaged in business or other pursuits; and to please all parties is probably not as easy as it looks.  We believe that people in the East are willing to read an occasional paper on missionary subjects if it is well written, to the point, fresh and not too long.  It must have something to say that has not been so often as to become stale. It is not so much the saying of something new as the saying of old things in a new way. Absolute originality is a thing unknown in these days. We consider that the Repository has shown a good taste in its Missionary utterances thus far.

***  Our attention has lately been called to a product of Korean soil which we believe will one day take a prominent place in the exports of the country.  We refer to what the Koreans call Mo-si or grass-cloth.  It is supposed to have originated among the Malays who call it ramie. It is a plant of the thistle family but without briers.  The fibre is obtained from the inner layer of bark. For many decades attempts were made in the West to invent a way by which the fibre could be separated without leaving it rough and knotty and at last t has been accomplished by French experts. Clothing has been a universal necessity for some six thousand years or more and will doubtless continue to be and any people does well to foster the production of fibre producing plants.  Korea seems specially suited for the raising of this plant and we hope that when the time comes for the Government to appoint a commission for the purpose of examining into the agricultural status of the country with a view to improvement of wasteland this promising vegetable will not be overlooked.

*** The Official Report on matters connected with the events of Oct. 8th and the Death of Her Majesty, a translation of which was printed by the Repository in its March issue, has been put into the Unmun for distrobution among the officials but there has been such a demand for it outside that it has been found necessary to reprint it.  We canot admit the statement of the Japan Mail that everything was done that could be done to incriminate the Japanese.  It was the facts that did it and not the court. The Gazette is tired of thequestion but we are also tired when we think of the Korean Government paying an indemnity over the dead body of its Queen. This truly fatigues us.

Brief Notice

Kwak ChongWun, of Seoul, owns some rice fields inYong Tam district and last year he gathered 600 bags of rice from them.  The Magistrate seized it immediately. Kwak complained to the Home Department and an order was issued to the magistrate to return the grain to the owner. The Magistrate was highly indignant at Kwak for daring to make a complaint to the Department. He however disgorged 200 ofthe sacks, keeping 400 back. We advise Mr. Kwak to make two more complaints and get the rest of his rice.

We learn from several sources that all edicts and laws have been copied andsent to the different districts throughout the country, but the Magistrates do not proclaim them to the people. Hence the people do not learn the real intentions and wishes of His Majesty and the government. We hope the Home Department  will find some way of informing the people in the country of the actual condition of the government and that the new laws and edicts may reach even the most distant villages.

The police arrested and turned over the the War Office three soldiers who were found gambling outside the South Gate.

Yi Chang Sik of Sa Dong came home on Monday night in a drunken condition.  His wife scolded him for his disorderly conduct and put him to bed. At midnight a policeman passing his house heard a peculiar noise or grunt in the room near the street. The policeman entered the house and made investigation of the matter and found that the drunken man had got up from bed and gone into the room near the street where he had hanged himself from a beam.  The man was soon untied by the policeman and restored to consciousness. The man’s wife was in her room and could not get out as the door was locked outside evidently by her husband lest she might come to his rescue.

On Tuesday evening Policeman Kim Tal Ryong while off duty went to call on a friend outside the little West gate with three other friends. While he was in the house the three other friends were waiting outside. As Kim did not come out for some time there three men looked in at the gate to see what was the matter. All of a sudden a soldier with a crowd of men pitched into the three policeman and beat them unmercifully on the ground that they had looked into a private house. The Police Department reported the case to the War Office and the soldier was promptly discharged. 

The Japan Mail thinks that the Independent does not exercise enough care in choice of its news taken from Japanese papers.  It refers to a secret treaty between Japan and Russia regarding Korea. The fact is we find in the April 24 issue of the Kobe Chronicle and the may 5th issue of the Herald the same statements as taken from Japanese papers. We would print to the fact that none of the Japanese papers contain reliable news from Korea except now and than an item which is better obtained in Tokyo than in Seoul and it is a choice of evisls either way.  (The Independent later prives to be correct when Russia reveals most of the contents on the secret treaty a year later–tom)

From the 5th of June the Communication Bureau will establish a postal system to Hai Ju, Hong Ju, Chun Chon, Ham Heung and Wonsan districts.  The mail carriers will leave Seoul every day.

We reported in a previous issue the case of So Yung Sik, formerly a Chusa in the Home Department, who issued a false order exemting the tax on a Salt manufactory. So has been discharged by the Department and fined $22.40.

The students of the government schools will have a picnic outside the East gate today. They will have some athletic excercises and other sports.

The Seoul court has posted a notice in conspicuous places in the city, regarding criminal law. Itis hoped this will tendto lesson the number of offenders.

Pak Pang Kil of Seoul is a well known character here as a bunco-steerer.  He was in prison forsome months on account of some grave offense, but was released after the edict of general amnesty on February 11th.  Lately he passed himself off as a chusa in the Foreign Office, also he claimed to know every high official in the Government. He claimed to have the power of appointing policemen through his influence with the high officials, buthe must be paid at least eight dollars to secure the appointment. Several men paid him the desired amount hoping to get appointed. He collected $126 from them. The police arrested him yesterday and he is in jail awaiting trial.  (The term bunco, or bunko, steerer is used to refer to a con-artist– tom)

“There is a tradition in Japan, among some of the old residents, that Japan possesses an admirable climate,” remarks ‘Lookers-on’ in the Gazette.  “I have been in Japan some years now, and have never known two years alike. The weather has been as capricious as a Japanese Cabinet and as uncertain as the railway service.”

According to the Yusin Nippo, a telegram has it that the Chinese Government is negotiating another foreing loan– this time for 50,000,000 teals — and that the Emperor has sanctioned it.

The China Gazette says– It is reported on apparently good authority that the entire Russian fleet has been ordered to assemle at Chefoo to be ready to take over Port Arthur as soon as Li Hung Chang has signed certain documents in Russia.

Sunday Morning– Mamma: “Now, Johnny, I want you to tel me where you were yesterday afternoon. Your shoes are in a terrible condition, and your trouse are mud up to the waistband.”    Johnny: “Didn’t you tell me, mamma, that I should not talk about weekday matters on the Sabbath?”– Boston Transcript.

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