30th May 2012
Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, this week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 30 from Saturday, June 13, 1896. In this issue: The editor predicts the strong possibilty of food shortage in Seoul with the growing insurgency, the shamans figure out a successful ploy to slow down their persecution, and the insugents are in Suwon… less than a days march from Seoul. <<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. >>
It probably takes in the neighborhood of 3000 bags of rice a day to feed the people of Seoul and its suburbs. An inquisitive person might ask where the supply is kept and how it is doled out to the public. A great part of it is kept in the towns near the city especially at and near the town of Ryong San <Now Yongsan, a district of Seoul.. the town was absorbed as Seoul grew..tom> These great granaries are kept supplied by junks from various parts of the coast, principally Kiung Sang and Chulla provinces, although more or less comes in from the immediately surrounding province. Speaking in a general way, however, we may say that Kiung Ki province does the market gardening for the capital while the actual back bone of its appetite is broken by the produce of the fertile rice fields of the South. Seoul would fare but poorly if cut off from this main source of supply.
The present actual supply now in the river granaries is sufficient to feed the people for the next two months. This being so the question arises, why has not the price risen more rapidly? On the answer to this question great interests hang. It can be answered in two ways; either because the present supply is so abundant and the promise of the coming crop so good that holders are willing to sell at fairly low prices rather than have a lot of old rice left on their hands or else it is because the fear of disturbance and consequent loss makes them wish to get rid of their stock as rapidly as possible and thus get their capital into a money form more easy of concealment. If we analyze the first answer we shall find that it does not match the present conditions; for in the first place the present supply is not abundant. It will be four months before the new crip is harvested and the present supply is good for only half that time. In the second place the prospect of this supply being largely augmented is by no means good for we are informed, we hope falsely, that there is no rice in Kiung San province to send up here and the disturbed condition of affairs in Chulla province does not augur well for aid from that portion of the country. Again the next condition is not met for the promise of the coming crop is anything but good. The reasons are patent. The time for planting has come and there has not fallen a quarter of the rain that is necessary. In a vast number of districts so little security is felt that no attempt is being made to cultivate the fields. We are told that in some districts only two or three able bodied men are left, so many have wandered away with the insurgent element and so many have been killed. Again last year was a bad one for cattle. Thousands died of the cattle plague last Autumn so that there is a very great scarcity in large portions of the country. With these facts in hand who can conclude that prices are now low because of the prospect of a good crop? We are forced to conclude that the other answer is the proper one and it is truly a gloomy outlook. We are think it would be well for the government to look into the matter and ascertain the exact facts of the case and take steps for supplying the capital from outside sources if necessary. The work of the alarmist is a thankless one but we believe in looking facts squarely in the face and preparing for all contingencies.
The Police Department has been suppressing devil worship in the city ad a large number of pictures of different deities have been destroyed by the police. The benefit of such an order is simply enormous to the people at large. But some of these Sorceresses or mutangs go around and circulate stories that they ahd protraits of former Kings in their temples and worshipped them together with evil spirits, but the police have dared to destroy such portraits therefore they ought to be punished. We are told eight or nine Police Officers and policemen have been dismissed and threatened with life imprisonment with hard labor or hanging. We don’t believe such punishment will have a good effect on the discipline of the police nor on the community at large. These so-called portraits of former Kings are not real representations of these Royal personages but anybody can paint a human form and call it the representation of some Royalty of four or five hundred years ago. Supposing they are the portraits of such persons they have no business to place such august personages in the company of evil spirits. It is nothing but a scheme to evade the order of suppressing devil worship and to bring about a reaction in order to re-establish their temples of deception and fraud. It will teak a “wide-awake” and bold man to carry out the order successfully and see the scheme played to a finish by these devil worshippers. WE have the deepest sympathy for those unfortunate policemen and their officers who performed their duties faithfully for the good of the service as well as the people, but instead of receiving a reward, severe punishment has ben their lot on account of the traps laid by the sorceresses.
Japanese Minister Mr. Komura has been appointed Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Hara, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs succeeded Mr. Komura as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Korea.
Baseball game this afternoon at 2 o’clock. Do not fail to be there.
Captain Sin Wo Kiun reports that the Magistrate of Su Won had run away from the Magistracy in fear of the insurgents. The captain entered Su Won and gathereed one hundred soldiers originally belonging to the district and kept them under his command. The district is comparatively quieter than ever before and insurgents can not be found anywhere in Su Won.
Of late, high Government Officials when passing through the street have been accompanied by eight or ten policemen. The people need the services of these policemen more than the officials do and we hope they will not be thus diverted from their legitimate duties.
Count Mutsu, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs has resigned and the Marquis Saionj has been appointed acting Minister.
Major General Katsura has bee appointed Governor General of Formosa to succeed Count Kaba-yama.
The HBM Man-of-War Pique leave Chemulpo today to join the British Squadron at Chefoo.
The fourth and fifth regiments have moved into the new barracks in front of the Palace, and they are drilled every day by Captain Ye Pyeng Mu.
Captain Whang Si Chung reports that Lieut. Kim Kui Sung and the Magistrate of Kwang Ju captured two Commanders and four of the rank and file of the insurgents in Kwang Ju district and shot them on the spot, also two leader of another band in Yang Keun were captured and received the same punishment.
Major Yi Choi Hyeng reports that the insurgents of Kyeng Sang province were driven out of the province by the Seoul troops, but the scattered remnants came over to Chung Chong province and looted the villages of Chung Ju district, and stopped the law-abiding citizens from agricultural work. The Major as dispatched 30 soldiers to the scene.
A letter from a friend in Pyeng Yang says on Sunday, the 31st of May, 13 men were received by baptism into the Presbyterian church at Pyeng Yang, and 40 persons partook together of the Lord’s Supper. A congregation of between three and four hundred was present, filling the church to overflowing. The enlargement of the room and curtaining off part of it for women forms a good sized house of worship. The financial report for the past eight montsh showes offerings to the amount of $42. This church came into existence since the war.
The Chinese residents on Kobe, Japan presented Mr. J.F. Connelly, the US Consul for that port, a handsome chased silver tea set in addition to a masive piece of silver plate and two large and beautifully made cups as a mark of their esteem and gratitude for the invariable kindness and consideration they received from him while the Chinese had no consul of their own during the war.
A terrible catastrophe has occurred at Moscow during the holding of the people’s fete. The impatience of the crowd to reach the sheds from whence food and presents were being distributed, caused a crush in which over two thousand one hundred persons were trampled to death or seriously injured.
The Governor of In Chun reports that a man named Han Kyeng Rip of Pu Pyeng stole his uncles ox and sold it, then bound his uncle with rope and took him to a quiet ravine in the neighborhood and killed him. A few days later the crime was discovered and murderer was arrested immediately.
There are two street outside the South gate called Pul Mu Kol and Sun Chung Kol where all the “hoodlums” of the neighborhood congregate every afternoon and make trouble for the people who pass by. Country folks are their favorite prey. The police ought to put a stop to this is rowdysism.
Policeman Pak Kin Wan found on the street two dollars wrapped in a handkerchief. He kept the money in the station and advertised in the neighborhood. The owner put in appearance and recovered the money.
(May 29) A fearfully destructive cyclone has swept over the city of St. Louis, MO. It is estimated that upwards of a hundred persons have been killed whilst thousands have been rendered homeless. The damage is set down at $25,000,000 and the disaster is described as the worst that has occurred in the United States since the Johnstown calamity.
(May 27) A dispatch from Crete states that the Turkish soldiers in the town of Canae have massacred and pillaged Christians. A British ironclad has been ordered to the island, all the Consuls having cabled for warships.