Seen in Jeonju

The Independent, Saturday, June 27th

4th July 2012

Continuing with my project of retyping the issues of Korea’s first English-language newspaper, The Independent, this week features the next edition, vol. 1 no. 36 from Saturday, June 27th, 1896.  <<REMINDER:  The opinions expressed in The Independent DO NOT represent my views and are merely presented here for historical context.–tom>> In this issue:  The editor continues his campaign against the Minister of Education, a 10 year old boy nearly sets off an international incident, and Miss Doty takes a vacation.




In a paragraph in our last issue we referred to a memorial which the students of the Royal English School presented to the Minister of Education.  As the subject matter of the memorial is one of considerable importance to all friends of progress and lovers of freedom as well as to the students themselves, we published an unmun translation, and now give a translation in English. <Unmun is the original word for ’hangul’ or Korean writing–tom> From this it will be seen that the memorial is couched in most respectful terms, and the attitude of the students is one of loyal obedience to His Majesty’s Government.  We feel sure our readers after perusing it will sympathize with the students whose action so far we most cordially approve.  It is too soon to anticipate what the Minister’s reply will be, but he is known to be well versed in classical lore, and as an ardent disciple of Confucius who said, ‘The sages conduct is affection and benevolence in operation” and again “The perfect man is not governed by private affection or interest, but regards only the public good or right reason” we have hopes His Excellency will reconsider his instruction and allow the students to wear their uniform. We most sincerely hope the Minister will take the precepts of Confucius to heart and by actin in the spirit of the Great Sages give all Government students the great advantage of his support and the encouragement they so richly deserve and desire.  We imagine the minister has issued the instruction from a notion that the premptery stopping of all progress in matters of Education will allay the discontent and trouble of the brigands and insurgents in the country. That idea is entirely wrong. The Minister as a loyal servant of His Majesty, ought not to countenance or in any way truckle to these bands of insurgents whose only aim is trouble, rapine and plunder.  The remedy is not to be found in abolishing foreign shaped uniforms, discontinuing drill and physical exercise, objecting to the use of mixed script, or enforcing the wearing of manguns and top knots. <Manguns–probably better romanized as Manggeons–are headbands made of horsehair. The topknots have been an issue since the murder of the Queen and the house arrest of the King and Crown Prince. During that period, the Japanese and their Korean allies passed many false edicts in the King’s name. The most infamous of these was the cutting off of the traditional topknots. To do so was seen as a sign of emasculation by traditional Koreans and was one of the many events that initially set off the insurgency- tom> The obvious imperative duty of the government is the stern suppression of disorder together with the enforcement of a just system of taxation. Disturbances will cease as soon as the government show their earnestness in this matter.  And we fondly imagine that this is what Mencins and Confucius would advocate could they revisit the earth.  We are scarcely able to believe that the Minister seriously intends to compel the students to throw aside their uniforms. Such action will not moderate the troubles in the country, rather it will afford encouragement to the disorderly bands of insurgents. The Minister’s action will be construed by them as an ignoble yielding. They will imagine they have friends in their lawless demonstrations.  If the students are compelled to disgard their uniform by the enforcement of any Departmental  order it will be a direct violation of His Majesty’s gracious edict published broadcast throughout the Kingdom only for months ago, and which still remains in force.

If the Minister thinks the wearing of a Korean uniform, cut after the foreign style, so objectionable to the interest of law and order that he feels bound to condemn it, the only course open to him is to petition His Majesty to cancel the edict granting His subjects to right to dress as they please and wear their hair as they like.  We maintain that until the edict is cancelled the students of any and every Korean School have a perfect right to choose and wear their own uniform.  Any attempt to force them to do otherwise is certain to bring His Majesty’s Government and His Majesty’s Edict into contempt.  We await with much interest the reply of the Minister to the Memorial.  <Apparently, the English translation of the Memorial was published on a separate paper and inserted into the newspaper.. I have been unable to locate a copy of it– tom>

Brief Notice

Miss Doty started yesterday for America for a vacation. She has been in Korea for over six years working earnestly for her Master, and has accomplished a great deal of good among the natives, especially the girls who need more Christian education than any other class in the land. We wish her bonne voyage and hope that she will return to her chosen field of labor with renewed strength and vigor.

The Pai Chai School will close today for the summer vacation. The English, French, and Russian Schools will also close in a few days.

Steamer schedule:  Higo due on the 28th and will for for  Japan on the 29th.

Those who have subscribed to the Armenian Fund are requested to remit the money to the Independent before the 1st of July. The money will be sent to the US Minister in Constantinople through our Minister in this city.  Also, the Committee on Celebration of the Fourth of July requests to send the contributions to either of the following persons, Mrs DA Bunker, HG Appenzeller or Philip Jaisohn.

A Korean boy, ten years old, while playing in front of a Japanese butcher shop outside the west gate saw that a piece of wall paper was detached from the wall and hanging loose.  The boy mischievously pulled off the paper for fun. The Japanese butcher siezed the boy and tried to take him to the Japanese police, and charges him with stealing the front gate and the boards on the wall.  A Korean police interfered and took him to the Police Station for examination.  Two Japanese policemen came to the station and demanded possession of the urchin saying that he had stolen several peices of boards and the front gate. The Korean Police did not yeild to the demand but retained the boy in the station.  We do not attempt to criticise the merits of the case but one thing leads us to believe that the boy is innocent, namely that he can not lift either the front gate or the boards on the wall, and we don’t see how the boy could have stolen them. Supposing the boy has committed robbery why should he be punished by the Japanese police? He is Korean and amenable to the law of Korea and not to any other.

A Chinaman was cutting trees in the South Hill and was arrested by the police.  He has been turned over to the English Consul under whose jurisdiction the Chinses are now living in Korea.

We earnestly hope the authorities will take proper steps to look into the sanitary matters of the city. Two more suspected cases of cholera have been reported, and the prompt and energetic measures of prevention of the dreadful epidemic are absolutely necessary.  Before doing anything else clean out the gutters so that the filth can flow out; prevent the accumulation or deposition of garbage on the street corners; stop the washing of green vegetables in the waters of the gutters; and last but not least the children must not run about in the hot sun without clothes. We beg the Chiefs of the Police and the Sanitary Departments to take some vigorous action in regard to these few matters right now, and let the top knot and yangban question rest for a while.  The people would not die off like flies even if the police should go about without top knots  or if some lower class people should receive respectful treatment from yangbans. <Yangbans were the noble class known for their pride. Today it is an insult to call someone a yangban–tom>

It is reported the former Chinese Consul Tong has arrived in Chemulpo on some oficial business, the nature of which is not known. He intends to come to Seoul immediately to see Mr Walter C Hillier, HBM’s Consul General, but there was a fight between a Japanese and a Chinaman in Chemulpo and the latter was killed. He is looking after that matter just at the present, hence the delay in coming to the capital.  If some more disturbances like this occur before he goes back to China we are afraid Mr Tong may lose some of his yellow jackets, as did his Excellency Li Hung Chang, during the late war.  <Yellow clothes were forbidden in China as it was the color worn solely be the Royal Family. To recieve a yellow jacket from the Emporer was the highest honor–tom>

There was a rumor that the Governor of Seoul was arrested on some charge or other but the rumor was found to be groundless. 

The new Japanese Minister to Korea, Mr Hara is expected to leave Japan before the end of this month.

Japanese Consul Mr Uchida has been relieved at Seoul, and Mr Kato has been appointed in his place.

Yi Kiu Chin, a chusa in the Home Department was sent to Kyeng Sang Province on official business last Winter. He robbed toe people on false pretense. His actions were reported to the Department of Justice by the Governor of Tong Nai. The Department ordered his arrest and he will be tried when he is brought back to Seoul.

Letter to the Editor

Sir– In looking over the order of the Minister of Education to the Government Schools in the matter of prohibiting the students wearing European dress, I find that if the students do not obey the order the Department will punish the teacher second in command. It seems to me very odd why the Minister intends to punish the second teacher.  All the schools are under the supervision of the Head Master’s directions in school affairs. Supposing the wearing of European dress was not suitable to his Confucian taste and it is intended to punish any one who disobeys his order, he might say like a man that he will punish the Head Master. He knows the Head Master is too much for him hence he threatens the second man.  This is simply an act of a child who dare not challenge a big boy but threatens some one whom he thinks he can scare.  But I want him to understand that the second teachers are not very much scared.  They are loyal citizens of His Majesty our Sovereign, and they will obey his edict first and Mr. Sin’s afterwards. They know that they are in the right and will stay right to the bitter end. We believe that no court in the land will punish a man because he has obeyed the edict of his King and the instructions of his superior officer. Yours sincerely, Ye Myeng Won

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