Seen in Jeonju

The Independent, June 6th, 1896

9th May 2012

Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, this week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 27 from Saturday, June 6, 1896. In this issue: The war between the Independent (progressives) and the Minister of Educuation (conservatives) begins in earnest! Also, a mudang predicts disasterous years ahead for Korea that only she can stop and stone-throwing children cause property damage! <<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>>



The Minister of Education, Sin Ki Sun, has memorialized the Throne to the effect that the adoption of foreign clothes by the soldiers, policemen and Government students and the cutting of the hair is the first step toward making them barbarians; that the use of the unmun (hangul) and the adoption of the western calendar is the first step toward throwing off the yoke of China, that the new regulations for the Cabinet, giving them freedom to discuss public matters, deprives His Majesty of some of his power and encourages the freedom and liberty of the people. These were things contemplated by the former traitorous Cabinet.  He has been appointed Minister of Education but he cannot perform the duties of the office so long as the students have their hair cut and wear foreign clothes. The use of the unmun is the act of a beast and is like going into the fire with powder, and is the beginning of the destruction of the government and the venerable Chinese classics. He therefore hopes His Majesty will dismiss him from the Cabinet.

We are sincerely glad the Minister has thus delivered his opinion. Nothing could have been better for the country; for, as the mouth-piece of the conservative party, he has put hinself and his following into such an extreme situation that they must be discredited before the Korean Government and people. In this memorial he completely disarms himself and his party. The “yoke of China” forsooth!  It is refreshing; the best joke of the season. Let someone tell the venerable Minister that Yuan no longer brow-beats the Korean ministery and court, that China herself is tottering to her fall, that the boasted Chinese classics which  have striven for three thousand years to elevate Korea have only plunged her deeper and deeper into the mire. Let someone tell him that Korea can no more go back to ten years ago than he can go back to his swaddling clothes. He must have been asleep these last two years not to see the impossibility of his proposition. It will be a glad day for Korea when the generation which hob-a-nobbed with the sometime Chinese “resident” and his fellows is dead and gone. He thinks that discussion of public questions by the Cabinet infringes upon the Royal pregogative, and wants to go back to the time when the King, hedged about and kept in ignorance of the actual state of things, was at the mercy of anyone who could by hook or crook gain his ear. In other words a return to an utterly corrupt and corrupting form of Government.  He wants, again, to make the provinces the prey on which officials of the capital shall fatten. He wants to make the government, again, a field for personal exploitation, for indirection and intrigue. This is what his memorial means and what everyone knows it means. It should call down upon itself the scorn and ridicule of the world for its utter lack of knowledge of the actual state of things today and the needs of the country.  We sincerely hope his request will be granted and that he will retire to some quiet place and watch the evolution of his country which he has vainly tried to obstruct.

Brief Notice

Lieut. Yu Sung Won reports that he has dispersed 600 insurgents in Jin Chon districts.

Capt. Kim Hong Kwon reports that the insurgents in Chun Chon surrendered themselves to him and promised to go back to their homes in peace and begged for mercy. This having been granted a large number of the insurgents have disbanded.

The supreme court of Seoul has begun to receive the civil cases of law suits, but the common Seoul court still rejects them. We hope the latter will follow the example of the former.

The Governor of Tong Nai reports the Province of Tong Nai has no force to resist the insurgents that may come in there any day from the neighboring districts so he has established a company of forty soldiers for emergencies.

A sorceress named Han, who pretends to reprent the Great Spirit of Tai Kak Mountain in Kok San, has established herself in Mo-Hwa-Kwon. She claimed that this great Spirit told her Korea will have nine years’ drought and eight years’ war, but if the Government should pay her $6000, she will intercede with the Spirit to prevent the coming evils. The police arrested her a few days ago and she is now in jail awaiting trial.

Three hundred soldiers used to form a company of pioneers, but lately the company has been abolished and the man are now distributed among the infantry regiments.

A Policeman made disturbance without cause in Bong A-Dari outside the little West gate while he was on duty. He was promptly discharged.

Col. Yi Kyem Chai reports that Lieut. Wo Nam Kiu had an engagement with the insurgents on the 15th of May.  The latter lost twelve and two were taken prisoner.  The Colonel further reports that Capt. Yi Eui Sup captured the Chief of the insurgents Kwon Chong Ok in An Dong.  During the engagement the insurgents lost eighty and fourteen were taken prisoner. The Governement troops did not sustain any injury.  After the crushing defeat in Ye Chon and An Dong the insurgents in Kyeng Ju and neighboring districts dispersed immediately.

Magistrate of Chi Pyeng reports that a company of Seoul soldiers routed the insurgents in Che Chon, but they reunited in Ye Ju and now they number eight thousand.  The chief of this band is Myung Il Ho who is a man of some ability and influence in these places, hence he compels the law-abiding citizens to join his gang and so far he has had great success.

Some urchins and toughs of Seoul often congregate on the top of the city gates or walls and from there they throw stones down upon the houses and people below. Lately quite a number of houses under the walls have sustained damage by these missiles. It is a matter the Police ought to look after.

The mudangs of Seoul and the vicinity have been pretty well suppressed lately, and we congratulate the authorities on the faithful manner in which the law has been enforced.  Now, we suggest that the blind fortune-tellers and ‘blind devil chasers’ have a dose of the same medicine. They are just as bad, as if not worse, than Mudangs, and as a rule they play a larger game of deception among the poor people.

Col Nienstead of the Army is taking steps to organize a thorough system of business methods in the Pay Department, and he looks after the properties in general that belong to the War Office. A day or so ago one of the Independent staff had the pleasure of accompanying the inquisitive Colonel in his inspection tour among the sentries in front of the Russian Legation and other points in Chong Dong. The Colonel’s smile disappeared from his face when he found the guards didnot carry proper cartridges for their guns. They carry Remmington rifles but some of the cartridges they had were for Mauser rifles. That was not all, when he found another sentry standing there who did not have any cartridges at all, the Colonel muttered something under his breath that sounded like irun, chemi.

We are glad to learn that Pai ChaiSchool is making steady growth. The daily attendence of the students is now over one hundred. They all seem to be very much interested in the weekly lecture which Dr. Jaisohn delivers ever Thursday in the school.

Captain Sarnow, commander of the German Cruiser Arcona and two officers arrived in Seoul Thursday.

To the Editor of the Independent:  Sir– We are common citizens of the commonwealth and probably haveno business to say anything  concerning the affairs of state orcriticise the opinions of the Cabinet officers, but we consider the Independent to be the friend of the country at large; hence we venture to say a fwe words in regard to the memorial that has been sent to His Majesty, our gracious Sovereign by the Minister of Education, Sin Ki Sun.  He does not seem to know the present state of things at home and abroad. We think he has been with the “righteous army” or Tong Haks or “looters” so long that he has absorbed their ideas.  He wants Chinese classics instead of our own unmun, and he desires to use the Chinese calendar in place of the Gregorian. It is true that the Gregorian calendar is not our own, but it isused by all civilized countries of the world and each country can claim it herwon when it is printed in the language of the country. The Chinese calendar is written in Chinese and there is a great significance in the use of it. It is the custom in China that all dependent countries or tributaries must use the calendar which is given to a vassl King by the Emperor of China.  One of the conditions of the treaty between Korea and China 335 years ago was that Korea must send an ambassador to Peking every year to get the calendar from the Chinese court. It was considered a mark of  vassalage. By the help of God we threw off the shameful name of Chinese dependency and our Sovereign has become the equal of any Emperor or King of te world. At this time every patriotic citizen of our country ought to lend a hand in forming a progressive and independent Government. But the new Minister of Education memorialized the Throne to the effect that Korea must give up everything that may tend to make her a progressive and independent nation, and take up everything Chinese.  We consider that a man holding such an opinion would not be ofmuch benefit to the present Government. Your truly, Citizens of Chemulpo.

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