Seen in Jeonju

The Independent: June 16th, 1896

6th June 2012


Continuing the weekly project of retyping Korea’s first English-language newspaper, this week’s issue is Vol.1, No. 31 from Tuesday, June 16, 1896. In this issue: The editor seems all over the place as he expresses his views on Japanese trade in Korea, Yang Ju is attacked and overwhelmed by 15 insurgents, and the Americans in Seoul start planning a Fourth of July forming committees. <<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 is fairly safe to say that the interest of Japan in Korea is largely a commercial one. She may have some sentimental ideas about the “debt of gratitude” which Korea owes her and her ambition may include Korea in her “sphere of influence” politically but, after all, the Japanese people as a whole are much more interested in the commercial aspect of the case than in the politcal.  Great as has been Japan’s advance politically her industrial progress has been greater still and the nations of the world see in Japan not so much a rival in the arts of war as a rival in the arts of peace. The Japanese do not appear to think so but as the prizes of war slip one by one through their fingers they will come to see that this is true, and act upon it.

Now notice that commerce is the most democratic thing in the world. The merchant would as lief sell his goods to a coolie as to a prince, to an idiot as well as to a scholar.  The supply adapts itself to the demand whoever it is that demands. The trader would rather have good will of themasses tan of the government unless the latter uses its power to curtail his business and the favor of government would be curred not for its own sake but to open up a way again to the masses.  What is the bulk of Korean imports? Cotton goods.  Who uses them? The common people. What forms the bulk of Korea’s exports? Rice, beans and hides.  Who raises them? The common people.

Ordinarily the common people think little about about government so long as things run smoothly. It’s like nerves.  You know nothing about them till they get out of order.  The common citizen is most interested in the man he sells his goods to and the man he buys from.  To his mind Government is made for evil doers, not for law abiding citizens and if he has a good market to buy and sell he is pretty well content.

That the Japanese have not grasped this fact is evident from the way Japanese merchants are treating the Korean people. A rather timid countryman, who is wholesomely afraid of the Japanese, comes into the Japanese settlement to look about and see the goods displayed. He has always been accoustomed to handle and examine goods before purchasing and he stops before an open shop window where the goods are all within reach of the hand and he picks up an article and looks at it.  Suddenly the proprietor rushes out at him, heaps abuse upon him, cuffs him perhaps, and tell shim he must pay for the thing now he has handled it. The poor fellow is frightened nearly to death and hands over the money exactly as he would hand it over to a highwayman who had a revolver at his head.  But you say these are rare cases. They are not. You can see such any day if you will stand a few minutes in the streets of the Japanese settlement. The tactics pursued in getting Korean’s houses away from them has been too well aired in our columns to need comment here. The following is a sample of Japanese business methods. Some months ago two Japanese laid before a wealthy Korean a scheme for making money.  The Korean was to supply capital, Japanese laborers were to be sent into the country to cut timber and from the proceeds both Koreans and Japanese were to make a handsome profit.  When the timber  was all cut and ready for market one of the Japanese suddenly left for Japan and the other one told the Koreans that as he was in partnership with the absent man he had no pwer to settle the matter till the other one came back, which of course he will not do; and the Korean has simply been done out of two or three thousand dollars.  Every time a Korean gets a bit in this way a hundred others hear of it and vow they will have nothing to do with the Japanese unless absolutely driven to it.  If this is the way the Japanese think to build up trade here they are a much shorter sighted people than we had supposed.

Brief Notice

The Governor of Kong Ju reports that the Police inspector of that province captured a band of robbers in Kong Ju and recovered a large quantity of stolen goods among which were sixty-nine rolls of linen belonging to some Chinese merchants, and these were returned to the owners.

The Governor of Seoul reports that a man named Cho In So calling himself a leader of the ‘righeous army’ arrived in Yang Ju Magistracy with fifteen followers and raised a disturbance.  The Magistrate has run away and the officials of the district are in hiding. The insurgents are having every thing their own way as thre is no resistance from any source.  They have killed three inoffensive citizens and are robbing every house in sight.

The Governor again reports that a company of Seoul troops were dispatched to Yang Ju and captured the band of insurgents but the leader got away.

The general subscription is being taken up in Japan among the foreign communities there for relief of sufferers in Armenia.  Korea cannot be left behind in such a praise-worthy effort and the Independent  takes pleasure in opening its column to forward such an enterprise. The project does not originate with us but has been suggested and as the Independent office iscentrally located we may without impinging upon any one else’s province offer to receive and forward any sums which the worthiness of the object may prompt the people of Seoul to give. Itwill go direct to the relief headquarters at Constantinople as Korea’s substantial evidence of sympathy.  The Independent takes pleasure in starting the subscription by putting down ten dollars which we wish might be ten thousand dollars. Will the Ladies and Gentlemen honor themselves by participating in this gift of Korea to suffering Armenia? Strict account will be kept and all sums will be published either under the donor’s name or anonymously if desired.

The students of Pai Chai School are looking well in the new caps and uniforms.  They seem to be proud of their new dress and all regret that they did not adopt it sooner. They are drilled by the Sergeant of the US Marines who kindly comes over to the”School grounds every afternoon to train them. Long Live Pai Chai < This may seem like a superfluous article however, the unwritten meaning is that the students are currently in violation of the Minister of Education’s order that students may not wear Western clothing in school. There will be consequences… tom>

At the meeting of American citizens held on Friday afternoon for the purpose of discussing the 4th of July, it was unanimously decided to celebrate the day in appropriate manner, and the following Committees were appointed. Committee on Programme, Philip Jaisohn, HG Appenzellar, Mrs Bunker.  Committee on Arrangements, HR Hulbert, DA Bunker, Eugene Bell.  Committee on Refreshments, Mrs MF Scrantan, Mrs HN Allen.  Committee on Invitation, HN Allen, JB Busteed.  Some contribution is necessary to defray the expenses of printing, refreshments, etc.  Every American is requested to forward his or her share to any members of Committe on Programme as the financial matter was deferred to this Committee. The Committee has recieved already contributions amounting to $30.

The report of the appointment of Herr Von Brandt as Advisor to the Chines Foreign Office is unfounded.

Dr and Mrs Underwood have returned from their trip to Chefoo.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir— I voice the sentitment of the law-abiding and patriotic citizens of Yang Ju and beg to say a few words to the public through your valuable paper in regard to the memorial and the order which the new Minister of Education, Mr Sin Ki Sun has written since his appointment to the office.  All of his sentiments expressed in these documents clearly indicate that he is in perfect accord with the so-called ‘righteous army’ now robbing and looting the peaceful and law-abiding citizens throughout the country. We, the patriotic citizens of Korea, have horror for these lawless gangs of the ‘righteous army’ and only pray and hope that the Government will soon crush thm out and make them obey the laws of the land.  But the new Minister of Education champions the cause of these robbers by saying that the use of Korean unmun by Korean people is a sign of ‘turning men into beasts;’ and the wearing of European costumes by the students of the Government schools is an indication of ‘making civilized men into barbarians.’  and adopting the Gregorian calendar in place of the Chinese is a step toward ‘becoming disloyal to the Chinese Emperor.’  These are exactly the sentiments this ‘righteous army’ entertain and champion at the present. If the Government entrusts such a high position as Minister of Educati0n to a  man who holds the same views as these enemies of the commonwealth, how can the peace loving citizens of theland hope to see the day when enlightment and progressiveness shall reign supreme over all Korea?  Yours faithfully, Chung To Sun, Yang Ju

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