DS 916 .M2

Mackenzie, Frederick Arthur 1869-1931 .

The tragedy of Korea

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THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

Photograph by ]

. -

[F. A. McKenzie.

A KOREAN IN OLD-STYLE DRESS.

THE

TRAGEDY OF KOREA

v/BY

F. A. McKENZIE

AUTHOR OF THE UNVEILED EAST,” FROM TOKYO TO TIFLIS,” ETC,

WITH TWENTY-SEVEN ILLUSTRATIONS

E. P. DUTTON & CO.

31 West Twenty-third Street

NEW YORK

UNWIN BROTHERS, LIMITED, THE GRESHAM PRESS, WOKING AND LONDON.

PREFACE

I HAVE to tell the story of the awakening and the destruction of a nation. My narrative, save for a few introductory pages, covers a period of less than thirty years, and the greater part of it has to do with events that have happened since King Edward came to the throne. The brief and tragic history of modern Korea has been linked to great international developments. It gave excuse for the opening moves of what promises to be the main world-conflict of the twentieth century the struggle between an aroused China and an ambitious Japan. It afforded a reason for the Mikado’s declaration of war against Russia. It supplies us to-day with a touchstone by which we can test the sincerity of the Japanese professions of justice, peace, and fair play.

No unbiassed observer can deny that Korea owes the loss of her independence mainly to the corruption and weakness of her old national administration. It is equally true that the Japanese policy on the peninsula has been made more difficult by the intrigues and obstinacy of the old Court party. Yet, when all hindrances have been allowed for,

vi THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

those of us who have witnessed the acts follow- ing the Japanese occupation of the land own to a sense of grievous disappointment. Affairs have now reached a stage when there comes a question of the duty of the British people in the matter. I, for one, am convinced that we owe it to ourselves and to our ally, Japan, to let it be clearly known that a policy of Imperial expansion based upon breaches of solemn treaty obligations to a weaker nation, and built up by odious cruelty, by needless slaughter, and by a wholesale theft of the private property rights of a dependent and defenceless peasantry, is repugnant to our instincts and cannot fail to rob the nation that is doing it of much of that respect and goodwill with which we all so recently regarded her.

Many of the doings related in this book came under my own purview : some chapters, more par- ticularly the description of the scenes in the rebellion of 1907, are direct individual narrative. Wherever possible, I have elected to support my own account and conclusions by the evidence of other witnesses. In the case of the recent rebellion, my readers must rely mainly on my personal observations, as I was, at the time when I made my journey, the only white man to have travelled through those districts during the fighting. I am indebted to many who played a prominent part in the events here recorded for their kind and generous assistance and advice.

F. A. MCKENZIE.

CONTENTS

PAGE

PREFACE ..*•••• v

CHAPTER I

THE HERMIT KINGDOM ..... I

CHAPTER II

QUEEN V. REGENT . . -13

CHAPTER III

THE COMING OF THE FOREIGNER ... 25

CHAPTER IV

THE CHINO-JAPANESE CONFLICT . . . -37

CHAPTER V

THE MURDER OF THE QUEEN . . . . 5*

vii

viii THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

CHAPTER VI

PAGE

AFTER THE MURDER . . . . .67

CHAPTER VII

THE ESCAPE OF THE KING .... 76

CHAPTER VIII

THE RUSSIAN REGIME . . . . .89

CHAPTER IX

THE RE-ENTRY OF JAPAN .... 98

CHAPTER X

THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW ERA , . . 108

CHAPTER XI

TREATY-MAKING AND TREATY-BREAKING . . 130

CHAPTER XII

THE RULE OF PRINCE ITO . . . . . 142

CHAPTER XIII

THE ABDICATION OF YI HYEUNG

156

CONTENTS

IX

CHAPTER XIV

PAGE

THE CROWNING OF THE PUPPET EMPEROR . . 163

CHAPTER XV

A JOURNEY TO THE “RIGHTEOUS ARMY” . . 168

CHAPTER XVI

THE STRONG HAND OF JAPAN . . . .185

CHAPTER XVII

THE RUINS OF CHEE-CHONG . . . . 191

CHAPTER XVIII

WITH THE REBELS . . . . . .197

CHAPTER XIX

THE SUPPRESSION OF FOREIGN CRITICISM . . 209

CHAPTER XX

THE PROSPECTS FOR FOREIGN TRADE . . ' . 241

CHAPTER XXI

THE WIDER VIEW

250

X THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

APPENDICES

1. The Trial of Viscount Miura

2. Treaties Relating to Korea

Japan- Korean, 1876.

American-Korean, 1882-3.

British-Korean, 1883.

Convention between China and Japan, 1885. Treaty of Shimonoseki, 1895. Russo-Japanese Agreement, 1896.

Anglo- Japanese Alliances.

Korea at the Portsmouth Conference.

Japan- Korean Treaties, 1904-7.

PAGE

. 263 269

3. Petition from the Koreans of Hawaii .

311

ILLUSTRATIONS

a KOREAN IN old-style dress . . . Frontispiece

FACING PAGE

A VILLAGE IDOL . . . . . .II

GESANG, THE GEISHA OF KOREA . . . . .29

JAPANESE INFANTRY ON THE WARPATH ... 39

A GATEWAY OF CHONG-JU . . . . -SO

THE COURTYARD OF THE OLD PALACE IN SEOUL, FORSAKEN AFTER THE MURDER OF THE QUEEN ; WITH WEEDS

GROWING BETWEEN THE STONES ... 70

THE AUTHOR’S “NUMBER ONE BOY,” WITH WIFE AND CHILD 82

SOLDIERS OF THE OLD KOREAN ARMY, AROUND THE PALACE,

SEOUL . ..... . 86

THE PASSING OF THE OLD A RUINED GATEWAY IN SOUTH- EASTERN KOREA ...... 98

JAPANESE TROOPS DETRAINING TO ATTACK KOREAN REBELS . I04 THE APPEAL TO THE CROSS, YAN-GUN . . . II4

PUNISHMENT IN KOREA UNDER THE JAPANESE ADMINISTRA-

TION ; PRISONERS MEN AND A WOMAN OUT OF ONE CELL, PING-YANG . . . . . . Il8

THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

xii

FACING PAGE

PUNISHMENT IN KOREA UNDER THE JAPANESE ADMINISTRA- TION ; PRISONERS IN SUN-CHON . . . 120

PRINCE ITO ....... 142

A JAPANESE RAILWAY GUARD ON THE SEOUL-FUSAN LINE . 150

THE EX-EMPEROR, EMPEROR AND CROWN PRINCE OF KOREA,

WITH PALACE EUNUCHS . . . . . 156

AN OUTPOST OF KOREAN REBELS . . . 1 72

THE STRONG HAND OF JAPAN THE REMAINS OF A VILLAGE

INN ........ 182

IN THE WAKE OF THE JAPANESE ARMY A BURNT-OUT TOWN

OF KOREA ....... 188

THE STRONG HAND OF JAPAN A MOTHER MOURNING HER TEN-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER SHOT BY THE JAPANESE SOLDIERS ....... 193

THE STRONG HAND OF JAPAN THE CHIEF THOROUGHFARE

OF CHEE-CHONG BURNT DOWN BY THE JAPANESE TROOPS I94

VILLAGE DESTROYED BY THE JAPANESE ARMY . . 198

A COMPANY OF KOREAN REBELS ..... 206 MR. E. T. BETHF.LL, EDITOR OF THE KOREA DAILY NEWS 212

JOURNALISM IN KOREA A GROUP OF SUB-EDITORS . 220

JOURNALISM IN KOREA THE COMPOSITORS’ ROOM OF A

DAILY PAPER ....... 230

JAPANESE INFANTRY OUT AGAINST KOREANS . . 244

CHAPTER I

THE HERMIT KINGDOM

ATE in the seventies, when Pekin was still

the city of mystery, one annual event never failed to arrest the attention of Europeans there. During the winter months a large party of strangers would arrive, men of odd dress and unfamiliar speech. Their long, thickly padded robes were tied with short strings, not buttoned like the Chinese, and their outer garment was parted in the middle, instead of the Chinese style, on the right hand. Their dress resembled that of the Pekin folk before the Tartars had come, many centuries earlier, and they took off their shoes on entering a room, like the Japanese. They wore extraordinary hats, often of gigantic size, made of horse-hair or of bamboo, and their hair was tied in a knot on the top of their heads. They were dark-skinned, flat- nosed, and black-eyed, and yet there was a strange suggestion of the Caucasian in their Mongol coun- tenances.

The visitors, who never exceeded two hundred in number, were the ambassadors, tribute-bearers, and traders from Chosen, the Hermit Kingdom.

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THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

The three chiefs, with their three right-hand men, entered into the very heart of the Forbidden City, paid their dues to the Emperor, kow-towed, and were entertained at an official dinner. The traders sold their ginseng most famed of all Eastern sudorifics their brassware, and their rolls of oiled paper. Europeans often tried to hold intercourse with them, but without much success. At the end of forty days, the embassy and its followers returned, back over the great Pekin road, where splendid towers had been built centuries since to mark their annual march back over the high pass of Motienling, where the world seemed stretched out beneath their feet, past the line of stakes, built to separate China from its neighbour, under the shadow of the now decaying cities of refuge, and through the dreaded bandit belt of the Yalu. Then they were swallowed up again in the darkness and mystery of their own land.

At that time, less than thirty years ago, Chosen, now known as Korea, was a country that still reso- lutely shut itself off from the outside world. Its land borders to the north had for centuries been edged by a lawless region, where bandits were allowed to live without molestation, and through which ordinary travellers could not pass. Even Chinamen who crossed the river Yalu were quickly decapitated by the stern yangbans on the Korean side. Its long, rocky, and forbidding coast line was carefully avoided by most foreign ships. Now and then an exploring navigator might call at a point of the coast, only to be met by a dignified repulse.

THE HERMIT KINGDOM

3

In the seventeenth century two or three dozen Dutch sailors were wrecked at different times on the Korean shores. Some of them were compelled to spend the remainder of their lives there. Others escaped, and among them was one Hendrick Hamel, who wrote a book on the country which gave very little information. Du Halde, the great geographer of the eighteenth century, described the people of Korea as “generally well made and of sweet and tractable disposition ; they understand the Chinese language, delight in learning, and are given to music and dancing.” He further told that their manners were so well regulated that theft and adultery were crimes unknown among them, so that there was no occasion to shut street doors in the night ; and although the revolutions, which are fatal to all States, may have somewhat changed this former innocence, yet they have still enough of it left to be a pattern to other nations.”

In the latter half of the eighteenth century, some Korean literary men and officials came under the influence of the Catholic missionaries at Pekin, and started a campaign for the conversion of Korea. They obtained considerable success, and quickly aroused bitter official opposition and persecution. Many of their converts were tortured and put to death, but the faith continued to spread secretly. A French missionary tried, in the bravest manner, to force his way into Korea. He penetrated the bandit lands north of Chosen in the depth of winter, crossed the Yalu on the ice, crawled into the town of Wi-ju through a drainage hole in the wall, and

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THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

reached Seoul on horseback. Others followed him, and the story of their perils and adventures is one of the most romantic in the annals of travel. Some- times the missionaries entered by small boats from China, sometimes overland. They had endless disguises, an elaborate secret post, and many ways of escaping detection. A priest would be known by different names in different places ; he would sleep by day and travel by night ; he was now a beggar, now a pedlar, and now a high official in mourning garb. The French priests and their converts had the sword ever hanging over them. Once, after the authorities had attacked and killed a number of their converts, the French bishop, Imbert, and two of his comrades came out and surrendered themselves, to avoid further bloodshed. They were imprisoned and tortured in the most diabolical fashion. As a preliminary, they were given each sixty-six strokes with a paddle, a punish- ment that alone would have killed many men. On the day of execution they were taken out to the decapitation ground, and there publicly tormented in a way impossible to describe in full, before being killed.

Imbert died in 1839; Ferreol was consecrated as his successor in 1843. Ferreol dared everything, and forced his way into the land. Others followed him. By i860, the native Christians numbered not far short of twenty thousand. Then a fresh persecution began, more formidable than the first. The Church was apparently stamped out, only three missionaries escaping, while fourteen, mainly Frenchmen, were slain.

THE HERMIT KINGDOM

5

This last persecution led to political action. The French Charge d’Affaires at Pekin, M. de Bellonet, informed the Chinese Government, in very emphatic and boastful language, that the French Emperor had decided to punish the King of Korea for illtreating and killing the missionaries. The government of His Majesty,” wrote M. de Bellonet to Prince Kung, “cannot permit so bloody an outrage to be unpunished. The same day on which the King of Korea laid his hands upon my unhappy countrymen was the last of his reign ; he himself proclaimed its end, which I, in turn, solemnly declare to-day. In a few days our military forces are to march to the conquest of Korea, and the Emperor, my august Sovereign, alone has now the right and the power to dispose, according to his good pleasure, of the country and the vacant throne.”

Seven French vessels, with a thousand troops, arrived at the Han river, and attacked the forts on the Kangwha island. Then the troops landed on the shore, and advanced against the walls of the town of Kangwha. As they approached, a number of natives opened on them from behind the walls with fire guns, bows and arrows, jingals, and ancient matchlocks. The French troops stormed the city, swept the natives on one side, and burnt the place to the ground. Then they attempted to push their success further. The Koreans met them by trickery and delay. One expeditionary force of 160 men that set out from the fleet against a more distant fortress was surprised and largely destroyed. The French were harried by constantly increasing armies

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THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

of natives, who hung around their flanks whenever they moved. At the end of a few days the French Admiral ordered his troops to embark, and the expedition returned to China.

A country thus unknown could not fail to be the centre of many marvels. It was stated that in Korea the horses were 3 feet high ; that there were fowls with tails 3 feet long, that the tombs of the kings were made of silver and gold, and the bodies of the dead studded with precious stones; and that there were hills of silver and mineral resources of fabulous value. These stories naturally served to excite the cupidity of shady cosmopolitan adven- turers around Shanghai. At least two buccaneering expeditions were started against the country, and one of them ended in tragedy. In 1866 an American schooner, the General Sherman , whose crew con- sisted of Captain Preston, three Americans, an Englishman, and nineteen Malay and Chinese sailors, left Tientsin for Korea. She was loaded with guns, powder, and contraband articles, and was said to be despatched for the purpose of plundering the royal tombs at Ping-yang. The ship entered the Tai Tong river, and was there ordered to stop by local authorities. Its visit roused great excitement as it was believed to be made in connection with the French Catholics, against whom the Government was then in full opposition. The Regent of Korea, the Tai Won Kun, sent orders that the foreigners were not to be allowed to land, and that they were either to be driven back or killed. The people of Ping-yang prepared for war. Their weapons were

THE HERMIT KINGDOM,

7

primitive. They had the fire-arrow or wha-jun, which was said to be able to shoot 800 feet and then explode with considerable force. The soldiers dressed themselves in their dragon cloud armour, cloth of many folds reputedly impervious to bullets. The bowmen were paraded, and some old style cannon brought out. Parties of Koreans on either banks of the river opened fire on the ship’s crew, and for four days an intermittent duel was maintained. The ship’s guns did considerable execution, but for every Korean killed there were a dozen to step into his place. Being ignorant of the navigation of the river, Captain Preston ran his ship on the banks and was unable to float it off.

After some days’ fighting, the Koreans had accomplished very little. Their archers and soldiers would not approach the ship near enough to do much damage, and they soon refused to expose themselves to certain death from gun fire. An ancient armoured float was brought into play, the tortoise boat, a scow mounted with cannon and protected by a covering of sheet iron and bull hide. The front part of the armour lifted when the shot was fired and closed immediately after- wards. Even the tortoise boat failed to injure the foreign ship. Then a drill-sergeant Pak by name made himself for ever famous by proposing another plan. He fastened three scows together, piled them with brushwood, and sprinkled the wood with sul- phur and saltpetre. The scows were secured by cords, were set alight, and then sent down the river towards the General Sherman. One failed to do

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THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

any damage. A second trio was prepared, but the now fearful crew of the American ship managed to keep it off when it approached them. Then came a third trio of burning boats, and this set the General Sherman on fire.

The crew were almost suffocated by the stench and vapour of the burning sulphur and saltpetre. They tried in vain to put out the flames, and as the smoke grew thicker and thicker they were forced one by one to jump into the water. They were seized by the Korean soldiers, now hurrying up in boats. Some of the invaders had white flags, which they waved wildly but waved in vain. Most of them were hacked to pieces before they reached the shore. Others were brought to land, where they tried by friendly smiles and soft words to win the goodwill of the people. But they were not allowed many minutes to live. They were pinioned and then cut down, mutilated in abominable fashion, and the bodies torn to bits. Parts were taken off to be used as medicine, and the remainder burnt. The General Sherman itself was consumed by flame to the water’s edge. The anchor chains were rescued from the river, dragged in triumph to the south gate of the city of Ping-yang, and hung high as a warning to all men of the fate awaiting those who would dare to disturb the peace of the Land of the Morning Calm. When I last visited Ping-yang, they were hanging there still.

A French missionary priest, M. Feron, who had been driven from Korea in the great persecution, planned another expedition with one Ernest Oppert,

THE HERMIT KINGDOM

9

a Hamburg Jew. Feron knew that the Regent laid great store upon the possession of some old relics, which had been in his family for many years, and which were now buried in one of the royal tombs. He thought that if these relics were seized the Regent would consent to abandon his persecu- tion of the Christians in order to have them returned. Oppert, probably fired by the stories of the wealth to be had in the tombs, fell in with his scheme. He was accompanied by an American named Jenkins, a fighting crew of 120 Chinese and Malays, and a few European wastrels. They left Shanghai in the China , on April 30, 1867, landed near the capital and made for the tomb. The people at first fled from them. They cleared away a heavy mound of earth over the sarcophagus, only to find that the coffin itself was covered with strong granite slabs which they were unable to move. Thanks to a heavy fog, they were able to work for a time before their purpose was discovered, but soon they were surrounded by a crowd, which began stoning them. The crew threatened to retire and leave their leaders to the mercy of the Koreans. Oppert and his party regained their ship with slight loss of life. Later on the American, Jenkins, was brought to trial before the American Consular Court at Shanghai, but escaped owing to lack of legal proof. Oppert himself afterwards published a full account of his expedition in volume form. He admitted that his purpose was plunder, but justified himself by the plea that by securing the relics in the royal tomb he and his companions would have

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THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

been able to obtain safety for the Roman Catholic converts in the country.

When the news of the loss of the General Sherman reached Shanghai, the American Admiral there ordered Captain Shufeldt, Commander of the Wachusett to proceed to Korea and obtain redress. Shufeldt mistook the line of coast, which was unsurveyed, and anchored in a small inlet about thirty miles north of the entrance to the Han river, the approach to Seoul. In an account given by himself sometime afterwards Shufeldt said :

From this point I addressed a letter to the King of Korea, asking him the reasons for the destruc- tion of the General Sherman and the murder of the crew, and expressing my surprise at the barbarism of the act, particularly as I knew that on the pre- vious occasion of the shipwreck of an American vessel the King of Korea had transported the crew with all their effects, with great care, to the boundary of China, where they safely reached their own country. After some days’ delay, we succeeded in getting the official of the village before mentioned to send this letter to the Governor of the Province, with the request that it might be forwarded to the capital of Korea.

After remaining at our anchorage for ten or fifteen days from the despatch of the courier, finding the ship was gradually being frozen in, and apprehending that we might not be able to get out until the spring, by which time our pro- visions would have been exhausted, I determined

Photograph by~\

A VILLAGE IDOL.

[F. .1. McKenzie.

THE HERMIT KINGDOM u

to leave without waiting longer for a reply, with the intention, however, of returning later in the season after reprovisioning.”

Events occurred to prevent Captain Shufeldt from carrying out his original intention, but the full reply to his letter, which was received later, convinced Americans that the attack on the General Sherman was made under strong provo- cation. However, in 1871, the American Minister at Pekin, Mr. Low, directed Admiral Rodgers to proceed to Korea and attack the defences at the mouth of the Han river, as a reprisal for Captain Preston’s death. The attempt was no more glorious than that of the French. The Americans were able, by their superior weapons, to slaughter a considerable number of Koreans. The latter fought with great valour, as the invaders themselves admitted. After a spell of aimless and needless destruction the invaders withdrew.

All this time greater forces were making for the opening of the country. The Korean Govern- ment was seriously alarmed by the advance of Russia to the north, and by the fact that General Ignatieffs brilliant statesmanship had secured the Usuri provinces for Russia. In Korea itself two great parties, that of the King and that of the Regent, were fighting for supremacy, just as a little time before the adherents of the Emperor and the Tycoon had been struggling in Japan. The King, who year by year was becoming more powerful, was inclined to favour the admission of foreigners. The Regent was opposed to it. China

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THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

had for long refused to admit that she could control Korea in any way, but now, driven by various reasons, Li Hung Chang began to use his undoubted authority in favour of breaking down the barriers. Last, and greatest of all, a new Far Eastern power had arisen that would not brook denial. New Japan was revealing herself, strong, modern, and resolute. The Japanese Govern- ment, still struggling with medievalism and reaction at home, found time to send its agents to Seoul. These agents secured admission where Europeans could not. Able to make themselves understood, familiar with all the tricks and wiles of Oriental statesmanship, learned in Chinese courtesy, they were not to be repulsed. They came, backed by gunboats. In 1876 General Kuroda and Count (then Mr.) Inouye anchored off Seoul with a fleet of two men-of-war and three transports, and announced that they were there to make a treaty or to make war. In less than three weeks a treaty was concluded. In this treaty Japan ad- mitted that Korea was an independent state, enjoying the same sovereign rights as itself. In- tercourse was henceforth to be carried on in terms of equality and courtesy, each avoiding the giving of offence by arrogance or the manifesta- tion of suspicion.” Japan was granted the right to have an establishment at Fusan ; various ports were opened to Japanese trade, and a Japanese officer was to reside at each of the open ports for the protection of his nationals.

CHAPTER II

QUEEN V. REGENT

THE Japanese quickly planted their outposts throughout the country. Mr. Hanabusa, their representative, established a Legation outside the west gate of Seoul. Settlements were made at Gensan and Fusan, and a number of enterprising Japanese traders settled at those places. Over a hundred Koreans were sent to China and Japan to study foreign affairs.

At this time Korea was torn asunder by acute dissensions in the royal house. For many years, up to 1873, the regent, the Tai Won Kun, had ruled during the minority of the King, his son. The King had been adopted by the previous monarch, and had succeeded him. The Tai Won Kun was without question one of the most remarkable characters of his day in the Far East. About 5 feet 6 inches high, erect and vigorous, with grey, wonderfully bright and clear eyes, he looked what he was, a real leader of men. In the first days of his rule, he took up a strong line for the maintenance of the kingly power against that of the nobles. He was a resolute opponent of foreigners, and it was under him that

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THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

the worst persecutions of the Roman Catholics had taken place. In 1871 he had tablets erected in the city of Seoul, calling on the people to drive out foreigners:

The barbarians beyond the sea have violated our waters, and invaded our land. If we do not fight we must make treaties with them. Those who are in favour of making a treaty, sell their country.

Let this be a warning to ten thousand genera- tions.”

Absolutely without scruple, and indifferent to his methods so long as he succeeded in the end, the Regent for many years carried on his successful warfare against foreigners on the one hand, and the nobles on the other. To defeat the foreigners should they attempt to land, he raised regiments, clad them in bullet-proof armour, consisting of seventy-two thicknesses of cotton cloth, armed them with the weirdest weapons, and cast cannon from bells for their artillery. To break the power of the nobles he removed many of their privileges of dress and of freedom from taxation. The common man was allowed to wear black shoes, hitherto a privilege of the highest. The enormous size of ancient hat brim was cut down. Rich and poor were ordered to reduce the volume of their sleeves. High offices of state were thrown open to the capable, whether born nobles or commoners, in place after place the Regent built magnificent palaces, a mania later on adopted by his son, the King, for it is a tradition in Korea that when the monarch ceases building his reign comes to an end.

OUEEN v. REGENT

15

After the King had emerged from his minority, the Regent still attempted to be the real ruler. He was given the title of Great Elder,” and at first he remained the power behind the throne. This was not to continue long, for a new force was arising in the state. The King himself, a weak, good- natured, and kindly man, had married a daughter of the Ming family. After she had given birth to a son, the authority of the Queen grew daily. She was, in her way, as resolute a character as the Regent himself, and soon the fiercest of fights were raging between the two. The Queen’s brother, Ming- Seung-ho, became Prime Minister, and the Regent was gradually robbed of his offices. The Tai Won Kun was not to be so easily brushed aside. He set on foot a thousand schemes of agitation. Mysterious risings began in the provinces, and long complaints of bad government poured in on the rulers. One day a side of the Queen’s bedroom was blown to pieces, and it was whispered from man to man that one of the Regent’s servants had put a charge of gunpowder there. On another day, the Prime Minister was offering sacrifice to his ancestors, when he received a box, seemingly from the palace. His family, wondering what great honour this was that had been sent to him, pressed round to see the contents. As the box was opened, it exploded. It was an infernal machine, and the Prime Minister’s mother and his son were killed. The box had come from the Tai Won Kun.

The conclusion of a treaty with the Japanese was made in opposition to the Regent’s advice, and he at

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THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

once used this as a weapon of attack against the Queen. Literary men were sent about the country to whisper of the sufferings these foreigners would undoubtedly bring upon the nation. If we admit the Japanese,” said one to the other, we must admit the white men, and if we admit the white men we must adopt their wicked faith.”

The Tai Won Kun’s great opportunity did not arrive until the year 1882. Negotiations were rapidly proceeding at this time for closer relations with white Powers, and in the month of May a treaty was signed at Chemulpho between Korea and the United States, by which the country was opened to Americans. That summer a great drought fell on the land ; crops failed, Government funds were exhausted, soldiers and civil servants were without pay, and food was scarce. “It is the anger of heaven against us,” the people said in whispers. We have admitted foreigners, and this is the result.” The agents of the Regent were busy every- where, and on the evening of the 23rd of July a mob, led by them, attacked the King’s chief ministers in their homes and hacked them to bits. They then proceeded to the palace itself. The soldiers and the mob were one, and a cry went up from all to destroy their ruler. The King escaped as though by a miracle, and the mob gazed on what they thought was the dead body of the Queen. Every one knew that she was to have been poisoned by the Regent’s order, but she had heard of what was coming and had prepared. A female attendant was poisoned in her place, she slipped out of her rooms, and one of

QUEEN v. REGENT

1 7

her household servants took her on his back and made his way through the furious crowds to a place of safety. Man after man stopped them demanding to know who he was, whom he was carrying, and where he was going. His reply always was that he was a minor official taking his sister out of the trouble. She went to a private house in the city, and from there she was carried in a chair into the country. One of her chair bearers was a humble water carrier, Yi Yong Ik by name, who acted very courageously in smuggling her away. That day he laid the foundation of his fortunes. Within twenty years he was serving his King and country as Prime Minister.

While a section of the rioters was running amok in the palace, another party attacked the Japanese. Isolated Japanese who were found in the streets were at once murdered. A great crowd threw itself against the Japanese Legation, but was repulsed time after time by the steady fire of the Minister and his assistants. Then some Koreans set fire to the building, and the Japanese had to quit it to escape the flames. They kept together, and fought their way through the city to the palace, where they demanded shelter. The General in charge shut the gates more securely and ordered them off. By this time, happily for them, darkness was coming on, and they made their way out of Seoul down to the river, and on to Chemulpho. They were again attacked on the road, and five of them were killed. At Che- mulpho they put out to sea in a fishing boat, were rescued next day by a British surveying ship, the Flying Fisk, and were taken home.

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THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

A cry went up in Japan for instant vengeance against the Koreans. Volunteers from every part of the country clamoured to be allowed to go and fight these barbarians, and public subscriptions were raised, in which foreign merchants joined with the islanders. The Japanese Government, however, adopted a more conciliatory line. Mr. Hanabusa was sent back to Seoul in August with a considerable armed escort, to demand redress. China, recognising that unless she acted now she must ever forfeit her claim to a suzerainty over the country, despatched a force of 4,000 men to put down the rioting. The Queen, from her country home, had sent strong repre- sentations to Pekin demanding protection, and pointing to the Regent as the guilty party. The Regent himself, seeing that his plan had miscarried, was foremost among the apologists for the outbreak. He assured Mr. Hanabusa that it had occurred despite his strong efforts to prevent it, and that it was nothing but the work of crowds of ignorant and misinformed peasants and soldiers.

The Chinese Generals took command of the city. The Japanese were promised a heavy indemnity, a new Legation, and greater facilities for trade and travel. The Chinese troops arrested over a hundred men, executed the leaders with every accompaniment of degradation and shame, exposed their mangled heads on the city walls, and threw their tortured bodies on the dungheaps for the dogs to eat. The Regent himself was not allowed to go free. He was invited to a banquet at the Chinese camp. As soon as he arrived he was seized, sent down to the coast,

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and put on board a Chinese vessel. While his wait- ing attendants and his armed men were yawningly wondering when the feast would finish, he was already on his way to China. There Li Hung Chang sent him as a prisoner to Paotingfu, where he was kept for several years, but even at Paotingfu he managed in one way and another to continue his plotting against the throne.

The attack on the Japanese Legation and the intervention of China raised a question that was later to be settled by the Chino- Japanese war. Centuries before this, both China and Japan claimed suzerainty over Korea. Japan had perforce been obliged to abandon her claims in the face of her stronger rival. But the Japanese Government was by no means willing now to permit China to increase her authority at the Seoul Court. For a time there was consider- able danger of war between the two Powers, but the Japanese Government, following its uniform policy, submitted for the moment, and gathered strength to strike a real blow in the early future.

The Queen returned to the palace, her power more fully established than ever before. The King, follow- ing the custom of his ancestors, issued a public pro- clamation, which is still of great interest to those who would follow the working of the national mind :

For 500 years we have carefully guarded our coasts to prevent intercourse with foreigners, therefore we have seen and heard but little of other people. In Europe and America many wonderful things have been invented ; they are all wealthy countries, their railways and steamers are all over

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THE TRAGEDY OF KOREA

the world, they compete with each other in the per- fection of their armies, and are honest in all their dealings with each other. Formerly China was the first of all nations, but now these kingdoms are her equal, and she has made treaties of friendship with them. Even Japan, on the extreme edge of the sea, has entered into commercial relationship with these countries. In the year Ping-tsz (1876), my kingdom made a treaty with Japan by which three ports were opened to them, and now, contrary to our ancient customs, I am about to make treaties with England, America, and Germany. For this change I am abused by all the scholars and people in the king- dom, yet I bear it patiently, knowing there is nothing to be ashamed of. Our intercourse with these countries will be on terms of equality, and you have no reason to be grieved if we permit foreigners to dwell in our kingdom.

History proves that from ancient times it has been the custom of nations to trade with each other, yet you stupid literati consider this is an evil custom, and wish me to keep aloof from all other nations. Why do you not consider that if when foreigners come as friends we call out our soldiers and drive them away, we shall make enemies of all the people under heaven ; we shall stand alone without a friend while all other countries are bound together, and if they send their armies against us we shall certainly be defeated ?

“You say that if we admit foreigners into our country we must of necessity admit their false religion also. But we can be friendly without accepting their

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religion. We could treat them according to the rules of international law, but must not allow them to preach their doctrines. Hitherto, you have only read the books of Confucius and Mencius, and their doctrines are so firmly rooted in your hearts, that even if the foreigners should attempt to propa- gate their religion, it is impossible for you to be influenced thereby. If some stupid, empty-headed people should learn and believe the foreign doctrines, we have an unalterable law by which they must die and may not be pardoned, so that it will be easy to get rid of that religion. The foreign religion is wicked and sensual, but consider how greatly our people will be benefited by learning their arts and manufactures. Their methods of agriculture, med - cine, and surgery, their carriages, steamers, guns, &c are all excellent, and why should not we learn of them ? To learn their trades is one thing, to learn their religion is another. Foreign countries are strong, we are weak, so unless we learn their ways how can we stand against them ? If we can reform our home affairs and besides be on friendly terms with outside kingdoms,