Seen in Jeonju

The Independet: June 9, 1896

16th May 2012


Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, this week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 28 from Tuesday, June 9, 1896. In this issue: The insurgents once again  building their forces. The Minister of Education tries to abolish the idea of resting on Sundays and the Editor of the Indepedent wants to overhaul how the government recognizes services rendered. <<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 time has come when the Korean Government might well consider the subject of providing some way of recognizing the services of her own officials or of foreigners. It has been customary for the Government to send from time to time presents of fruit or meat or fans or the like to various foreign or native employees and to others.  Necessarily this system must give way to one more feasible and less expensive. It often happens that a Korean or a foreigner carries through some piece of work for the Government which it would be well for the Government to recognize not by a gift of money or of rolls of silk but by means of something that is durable and which without suggesting payment will show the appreciation of his services and be a lasting reminder of things accomplished and the commendation which followed.

In the past such service has often been recognized by giving to the person some rank or office for which perhaps he was not fitted and which was quite out of proportion to the service rendered. If a man gets paid for his work regularly he needs no more pay but at the same time he deserves an expression of appreciation for the services, wholely outside the question of money.

To meet this demand we find that in most countries the government has some system of decorations which it comparatively inexpensive and yet covers the ground perfectly. We believe the time has come for some such system to be adopted here.  If Korean finances are to be put on a sound basis the revenue must be levied more and more in hard money and less and less in produce. The government cannot forever be the middle-man for the distribution of the country’s produce.  It is a relic of the times when barter was the only form of trade.  As this change comes the government will have less fans, screens, silk, pheasants, fish, persimmons and chestnuts to handle and more round coins with a hole through them. Consequently the giving of presents will come to an end and services will have to become recognized in some other way.

Of course the thing can be overdone and for a time the natives may tumble over each other in their efforts to get a decoration but when they find that they have got to do something before the decoration is forthcoming their zeal will cool.  There may be some grumbling too when unctuous chusas find that their exhausting services are to be recognized only by a silver badge and a silk ribbon over and above their salaries but it may be a good lesson for them to learn that there is a limit even to the emoluments of a chusa and that the government has a right to get its work done in the cheapest market.  The idea that a government official should get two or three times as much pay for a certain service as he would get outside is a bad policy and harmful to public morals. In well regulated countries there is o purely financial inducement for a successful lawyer, doctor, architect, merchant or civil engineer to leave his position to accept a government position.  He ordinarily wlll lose money by it, but in the East generally the pot of gold is a government position. This should not be and the sooner the giving of costly presents and of fat offices in recognition of services is done away the sooner the public mind will attain a healthier tone.  Let the system of decorations be adopted and put in charge of a competent commission and let the decorations be given judiciously and only in thoroughly deserving cases.

Brief Notices

Th insurgents in Ri Chun are getting reinforcements from the neighboring districts and now they are numbering 8000.  They set fire to the Government buildings in the Magistracy and are looting the whole district.  Capts. Sin Wo Kiun and Kwon Sup Chin with two companies of the Seoul troops have left for the scene.

Rev. Alex Kenmore has gone to Pyeng Yang for a visit.

Mr. Muhlensteth has gone to Japan for a fortnight’s visit. 

The Methodist Mission of Seoul has completed the bookstore in Chong No and opened it formally yesterday afternoon under the mos auspicious circumstances.  There were a large number of friends of the Missionat the new store to offer their good wishes and congratulations.

Mr. H.I. Muhlensteth has been employed by the Communications Bureau as an Instructor and Manager of the Government Telegraph Office.  His service will begin on the 1st of July.

The Commen Court of Seoul will begin to receive the civil cases of law suits from Monday. This is good news for the people.

A littel female child of Kim Sun Heung while playing near the pond outside the South gate fell into the water. Policeman Cho Kyeng Sun jumped in after her and rescued the child from drowning.

Kobe Chronicle states taht since it has been found impossible to permit  the firm of Armstrong, Mitchell & Co. to build large docks in Japan, an order has been entrusted to the two directors now in Japan for two ironclads and two cruisers.

The same journal also states under the caption of “The Russo-Japanese Alliance in Korea” that the scheme for cooperation in Korea in nearly agreed upon by both parties and the new policy is expected to come into force after Mr. Komura has discussed the situation with the Government.

Prince Pak Yong Hyo has left Tokyo for Kobe.  He intends to seclude himself in the country near Kyoto.

It is reported that the Minister of Education has broken out in a new place. He told the officials, it appears that Sunday was no use and was not to be observed in his Department. The said officials thought otherwise and with great good sense declined to put in an appearanceon the day of rest. Go to it, Mr. Minister. We vividly remember the story of the goat who was allowed an abundant length of rope.

The Governor of Ham Heung reports that the murderers of the Mayor of Ham Heung and two Chusas were caught by the police and placed in jail for trial, but the criminals escaped from jail.  We think the Governor is responsible for their escape and ought to be examined sharply as to its true cause.

The Governor of Kang Ju reports that MajorPaik Nak Wan captured the Chief of insurgents in that district and immediately shot him.

The people in Ri Chun district made complaints to the Department of Justice that there were two murder cases in the district, two months ago, but the Magistrate has not yet held and inquest hence the corpses have not been buried. The Magistrate is reported to stay in his an bang (the interior room of a house. These days, the term anbang is used to describe the master bedroom–tom) and let these poor bodies decay. We hope the Home Department will make the Magistrate wake up and attend to the duties for which he is paid. 

There was a fire on one of the Royal graves outside the West Gate, and the Keepers and servants of the unfortunate Royal grave were arrested for the negligence.

The War Department has taken steps to establish military barracks in Tong Yung, Tai Ku, Kang Wha, Kong Ju, Hai Ju, Puk Chung, ChunChon and Kang Ke districts. The total number of men will be 2300 including the officers, and the total amount of expense will be $114,085.20

We congratulate Rev. and Mrs. Pell for the new arrival of their heir. We extend the same to Rev. and Mrs. Junkin of Kun San.

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