Seen in Jeonju

The Independent: June 2nd, 1896

25th April 2012

Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, his week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 25 from Tuesday, June 2, 1896. In this issue: The editor voices his complaints against Japanese actions toward Korea, the courts refuse civil cases until the king returns home and gunshots are heard in the city!  <<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>>



According to the Kobe Chronicle the English editor of the Yorodzu seems to have taken exception to our statements relative to the justice of Japan’s claims for indemnity for Japanese killed in Korea.  But the Chronicle gauged him rightly.  He proved to much. He claimed that Japan’s motives were purley philanthropic and unselfish in declaring war against China over Korea. Of course no reasonable man could accept this statement for it is quite patent that the Korean question was merely the key that unlocked the kennel of the “dogs of war” and was not the only cause at all. As to Japan’s having given large sums of money to Korea it is true that three million yen have been borrowed but the Korean government secured much of it from the Japanese Bank at an enormous rate of interest.

We advise the Yorodzu not to open the question of the fisheries dispute a few years ago for of all the outrages pepetrated again unoffending people this seems to us the worst in recent years. The Japanese simply wanted the fish and they practically drove Korea to the wall about it. From time immemorial the women of Quelpart have been accustomed to do the fishing, wading in the water, nude. (Quelpart was the name of the Ducth ship that was the first European vessel to spot Jeju Island after going off course on the way to Japan. Subsequently, Jeju Island was called Quelpart for decades by Europeans–tom).  Japanese  boats came in fleets and simply seized the whole industry and the people of Quelpart were left to shift for themselves. We cannot but conclude, all things taken together, that this talk of aiding Korea has not been demonstrated in facts. What the Japanese people want is the trade, the wealth of Korea and having, like the day dreamer in the Arabian Nights, kicked over the tray of wares that was tohave resulted in a princely fortune, they feel like the English editor of the Yorodzu whose consistency is of that quality that in one sentence he says the Japanese Government was horrified at the murder of the Queen and in the next says that her fate was inevitable and deserved. In  other words  he is an epitome of the Japanese people in that though horrified at the crime he was glad it was committed, but finding that he has been the cause of his own downfall, whines about it.  He “does not care whether Japanese subjects were provied with passports or not.”  The indemnity ought to be collected with fire and sword if necessary. That is to jump from the frying pan into the fire for as we have pointed out before, Japan and Korea mean much to each other and though Korea’s government be not as advanced as could be wished the wealth and resources are here which, properly developed, would prove a great benefit to Japan, but so long as Japanese merchants and pawn-brokers are allowed to impose upon Koreans, the door to Korea’s wealth will be shut tighter and tighter against Japan. We admire Japan and rejoice in her prosperity so long as she is fair and honest but we fear that she has so aroused the hatred of Koreans that even should “fire and sword” wrest from her indemnity, the key to her wealth would have been lost.

There is just one thing that we would say and say it loud enough to reach the ears of the most interested and that is that it makes little difference what kind and benevolent wishes and intentions the Japanese government has toward Korea so long as Japanese merchants are allowed to brow-beat Koreans and bully them into purchasing goods or so long as the Japanese residents are busy helping unscrupulous money lenders foreclose mortgages on Korean houses, they will make no progress toward gaining the commercial foothold in Korea that they desire.

Brief Notice

Hon. John Barrett, the US Minister to Siam, left Seoul on Sunday for Japan.

Hon. J. Komura, the Japanese Minister, has gone to Japan for a short visit. He left Seoul on Sunday.

Mr.Min Yung Chun, who was lately pardoned from his banishment has arrived in Seoul and now is in his country hone near Han Kang.

Prince Pak Yung Hyo arrived in Yokohama from San Francisco on May 21st and is now in Tokyo.

Lieut. Meister, BRN left Seoul on Sunday for Japan. He intends to go back to England by the earliest steamer.

We learn from Peking that the Chinese Government intends to make a start in the formation of a new navy with the consequence that Peking is full of agents of shipbuilding firms who are busily engaged in submitting pans and models of eery description of war ship– Pekeing and Tientsin Times.

Urgent reprots coming to the Departments from the Governors and Magistrates require immediate reply, but often these cases are replied to only after some months and a gread deal of inconvenience and trouble to the people in general result. It is hoped that the Department will dispatch al business that requires immediate attention.

HIGM’s Consul, F Krien, Esq., gave a dinner party on Friday night in honor of James Barrett, US Minister Resident and Consul General to Siam. The guests were Hon. John M.R. Sills, Hon. John Barrett, Dr. H.N. Allen, Lieut. R.R. Belknap, US Navy, Dr. Philip Jaisohn.

The Communication Bureau will establish a postal system to Kyeng Sung and Kang Ke districts. The mail carrier will leave Seoul once every day commencing with June 15th.

We have mentioned before the inconvenience caused by the rejection of certain cases in the law courts and we now learn that ‘until the Queen’s funeral takes place and His Majesty returns to the palace such matters will not receive official attention. ‘ Pray, what connection is there between the funeral of the Queen or the King’s return to the palace, and these civil cases? None whatever. The courts should act promptly and vigorously and clear the docket of all these cases that are pending, which block the course of general business.

Much trouble and delay is caused by the failure of officials to rise early enough in the morning to get to their offices by nine o’clock. They should remember that they are servants of the Commonwealth and should show a fair degree of energy and promtness in the discharge of their official duties.

Steps are being taken to establish a fire department in the city. An order has also been issued regarding the contamination of wells in the city.

The money collected by the city court in the shape of fines has been turned over y the Dept of Justice. It is principally in copper coins and is put away by the dispursing clerk in the Law Dept. At the end of the month the Fiance Dept orders the employees of the department to be paid out of this fund. Recently in counting this money it was found that two cents were missing from each package supposed to contain a dollar. Somebody surely must be responsible for this shrinkage. Let him be found.

The Police Department has issued an order to suppress the devil worship in and about the city. So far the police have closed 322 places of Mutangs and the like in Seoul <I just want to point out that the mudangs were/are not devil worshippers….tom>

Last Wednesday there were reports of two gun shots in the Japanese barracks in Ju Dong. The Korean police in that neighborhood went there and investigated the guns and found that a Japanese soldier had shot off the guns to chase away evil spirits. The police told them of the city ordinance against the shooting of guns in the city and the soldier confessed his ignorance of the regulation and apologized for the occurrence.

On Saturday the Minister of War and other officials of the government with a few foreigners went to the front of the palace and saw the calvary drill.

We are glad to learn that the chief of the Government Steamship company Pung Nam Ju did not discharge the employees under him with the view of putting his friends in the places, but in compliance with the orer from the Dept. The Department is taking steps to reduce the unnecessary expenses of all branches of government service and this company is also included in the list of reduction and hence the dismissals of the less important clerks.

The Minister of Education, Shin Ki Sun returned to Seoul yesterday.

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