Reading “History of the Church of Korea” – INTRODUCTION

I looked for the English version of “Histoire de L’Eglise de Corée; Preceded by an introduction on the history, institutions, language, Korean customs″ published in French in 1874 by Claude-Charles Dallet in vain. The most comprehensive book on the annexation of Korea is OUT OF PRINT.

I could get them from Amazon Japan and read them in Japanese just fine, but how the heck English speaking “historians” learn history without reading the original materials? … How many of so-called “historians” in the West read Japanese, Chinese, and Korean? If you call yourself an expert of East Asian history, you have to be able to read at least Japanese and Chinese. But, in reality, most of the historians in the West don’t even read any of the languages while Japanese historians do read both…. and Japanese can read books translated from English, French, German, etc…

Today, the most of American and European “historians” and journalists talks about Japan with very limited and superficial knowledge. And they are still trapped in a bias of “Japan; evil enemy we defeated”. Anything to refute the image/bias is considered as “a challenge against our battle of justice” and they begin justifying their side of story by attacking Japan’s past wrong doings. They are unable to see the whole picture straight.


So, I used Google translator since I could not find a English translation. I could have bought a Japanese translation at Amazon Japan, but for the heck of it….  yes, I cheated.



The first book about Korea by a Westerner was a captivity narrative published in 1668 by the Dutchman Hendrik Hamel, who had been shipwrecked off the Korean coast and prevented from leaving the Korean kingdom for 13 years. More than 200 years passed before another book about Korea by a Westerner appeared.

This book was Charles Dallet’s History of the Korean Church, published in French in 1874. Covering the years 1784 to 1866, it has the honour of being the first work of Korean history by a Westerner. Dallet (1829-1878) was a member of the Paris Foreign Mission, the organization that undertook the Catholic evangelization of Korea and many other countries in Asia.

Dallet himself never set foot in Korea. All of his information came from the letters and records of the French missionary priests who served in Korea between 1839 and 1866, which he transcribed, synthesized and arranged.


In addition to the history of the church, however, there is also a 192-page ‘Introduction.’  This so-called introduction is in fact a 15-part ethnography of Korea as observed by the French priests in the middle decades of the 19th century.  Although it’s not entirely reliable, since the priests did not always have complete information, or were misinformed on some points, or misinterpreted the information they were given, it is nonetheless a fascinating document that gives vivid glimpses of what I call Old Korea, the pre-modernization, pre-colonial Korea that has vanished forever.

And here is the Introduction.


On history, Korean institutions, language, customs and customs.

I   Physical geography of Korea. – Ground. – Climate. – Productions. – Population
II  History of Korea. – Its state of vassalage with respect to China. – Origin of the various political parties
III Kings. – Princes of the blood. – Eunuchs of the palace. – Royal Funerals
IV  Government. – Civil and military organization
V   Courts. – Praetorians and satellites. – Prisons. – Supplices
VI  Public examinations. – Grades and dignities. – Special schools
VII The Korean language
VIII  Social state. – Different classes. – Nobility. People. – Slaves
IX   Status of women. – Wedding
X    Family. – Adoption. – Relationship. – Legal bereavement
XI   Religion. – Worship of ancestors. – Bonzes. – Popular Superstitions
XII  Character of the Koreans: their moral qualities, defects, habits
XIII Games. – Comedy. – New Year’s celebrations. – The Hoan-kap
XIV  Housing. – Clothing. – Various Customs
XV  Science. – Industry. – Trade. – International relationships


II  History of Korea. – History of Korea – Her Status as a Vassal of China – Origin of the Various Political Parties.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to make a serious and continued history of Korea for lack of documents. The various Korean stories, written in the Chinese language, are, according to those who have been able to cover them, only indigestible compilations of more or less imaginary facts, serving as a text for emphatic declamations. The Korean scholars themselves add no faith to it, and never make it an object of study; They limit themselves to reading the history of China. It is true that there are abridgments of history in the Korean language, but they are merely collections of curious anecdotes, true or false, arranged for the amusement of the ladies, and which a scholar would blush to open.
These various collections, moreover, relate only to the ancient history of the country, for it is strictly forbidden to make or print modern history, that is to say, that of the princes of Current dynasty. Here is how the documents are kept. Some dignitaries of the palace secretly inscribe, and as they hear, all that is going on; Then these sealed documents are deposited in four chests preserved in four different provinces. When the dynasty is extinct, and another has succeeded to it, the official history will be composed with the help of these diverse compositions. It is usual, however, in most great noble families, to record in particular records the principal events, but with the precaution of never showing any judgment or opinion on the acts of ministers or even of subordinate agents ; Otherwise the writer would risk his head.
It was therefore mainly with the aid of the Chinese and Japanese books that a few certain notions of Korean history could be gathered together. Instead of wearying the reader with boring citations and dissertations, Our aim, we shall give in a few words a succinct analysis of what it is important to know [1] .
The early missionaries and travelers in China believed that the Korean language was only a patois of the Chinese language; They concluded the original identity between the two peoples. It is now known that the two languages ​​and the two peoples differ, and it is certain that the Koreans are not Chinese, but Tartars of origin.
There is absolutely nothing known about the history of Korea before the first century of the Christian era. Then only the traces of three distinct states are to be found which divide the peninsula: to the north and north-east the kingdom of Kao-li, to the west that of Pet-si, to the south-east that of Sin-la. A chaos of interminable civil wars between these rival states, incessantly renewed quarrels between the kingdom of Kao-li and China on the one hand, between the kingdom of Sin-la and Japan on the other hand, that’s the story Of Korea for more than ten centuries. What seems evident is that towards the end of this period the kingdom of Sin-la had a marked preponderance over the other two. In fact, the stories of Korea give the name of Sin-la to the dynasty that preceded that of Kao-li or Korie. Another proof of this superiority is that the west and the north seem to have almost always been, by will or by force, under the suzerainty of China, while the south or kingdom of Sin-la Centuries, the war against Japan, with alternatives of success and setbacks. The annals of Japan mention about fifty successive treaties between the two peoples.
In any case, it was towards the end of the eleventh century, under Ouang-kien, that is, Ouang the founder, that the three Korean kingdoms were definitively united into one. The king of Kao-li, supported by China, conquered the states of Pet-si and Sin-la, formed a single monarchy, and in gratitude for the assistance which had been given him by the Mongol dynasty which was then established at Peking, Officially recognized the sovereignty of the Emperor. Chinese historians give this revolution a slightly different version. According to them, Tcheou-ouang, the last emperor of the Yn dynasty, a cruel and debauched prince, had disgraced and sent into exile his nephew Kei-tsa, whose Remonstrances were disagreeable to him. Ou-ouang having overthrown Tchéou-ouang and put an end to the Yn dynasty, recalled Kei-tsa, made him king of Korea, and gave him the army of the troops that had served his uncle.
The descendants of the founder of Korean unity reigned peacefully for more than three hundred years. It is these princes who, in the books and traditions of the country, are referred to as the Kaoli or Korie dynasty.
In the 14th century, the fall of the Mongol dynasty in China resulted in the fall of the vassal dynasty in Korea. Tai-tso, whom the Chinese stories call Li-tan, protected by the Ming dynasty which had just supplanted the Mongols, seized power in Korea in 1392 and founded the present dynasty, whose official name is Tsi -tsien. The new emperors of China took advantage of this revolution to extend their rights of suzerainty, and it was then that the use of Chinese chronology and calendar was imposed on the Koreans. Tai-tso, established on the throne, left the city of Siong-to or Kai-seng, where his predecessors had resided, and established his capital at Han-iang (Seoul). He divided the country into eight provinces, and organized the whole system of government and administration which is still preserved to-day.
The first successors of Tai-tso seem to have gained a considerable power, for under King Ziong-siong who occupied the throne from 1506 to 1544 there is mentioned a war with Japan on the occasion of the revolt of Taima- To (island of Tsou-sima or Tsou-tsima), and some other Japanese provinces that were then tributary to Korea. But, a few years later, Japan took its revenge, and Taiko-Sama put Korea on the verge of its loss. In 1592, this prince, as great a warrior as he was polite, sent an army of two hundred thousand men to Korea. His plan was to pave the way for the invasion of China. In vain the Chinese hurried to the aid of the Koreans against the common enemy, and were beaten in several encounters; And three-quarters of Korea fell into the hands of the Japanese, who would probably have remained masters of the whole country if the death of Taiko-Sama in 1598 had forced his troops to return to Japan by abandoning their conquest. In 1615, at the fall of the Taiko-Sama family, the leader of the present-day dynasty of Japan definitively signed peace with the Koreans. The conditions were very hard and very humiliating for the latter, for they had to pay each Year a tribute of thirty human skins. After a few years this barbarous tax was changed into an annual royalty of money, rice, canvases, gen-seng, & c. In addition, the Japanese kept the property of the port of Fousan-kai, on the south-east coast of Korea, and they are still the masters of it. This important point is occupied by a colony of three or four hundred soldiers and workers, who have no relations with the interior of the country, and can trade with the Koreans only once or twice a month for a few hours. Fousan-kai is under the authority of the prince of Tsou-tsima [2] . Until 1790, the King of Korea was obliged to send an extraordinary embassy to Japan to notify his accession, and another every ten years to pay tribute. Since that time, the embassies only go to Tsou-tsima, which requires much less pomp and expense.
In 1636, when the Manchu dynasty that now reigns in China overthrew the Ming, the king of Korea took part in the latter. His country was at once invaded by the Manchus, and he could not oppose any serious resistance to the enemy, who came to dictate to him laws in his own capital. There is still today, near one of the gates of Han-iang (Seoul), a temple Built in honor of the Manchu general who commanded the expedition, and the people pay him divine honors. The treaty concluded in 1637, without seriously aggravating the actual conditions of the vassalage of Korea with respect to China, rendered this submission much more humiliating in form. The king was obliged to recognize to the Emperor, not only the right of investiture, but direct authority over his person, that is to say, the relation of master to subject (koun-sin).
One of the articles of this convention, signed on the 30th of the third moon of tieng-tsiouk (1637-38), regulates the payment of the annual tribute as follows:
“Each year it will be presented: One hundred ounces of gold. “A thousand ounces of silver.” – Ten thousand bags of grain rice without the bullet. “Two thousand pieces of silk.” “Three hundred pieces of mori (a kind of linen).” “Ten thousand pieces of plain cloth.” “Four hundred pieces of hemp cloth.” – A hundred pieces of fine hemp cloth. – A thousand rolls of twenty sheets of large paper. – A thousand rolls of paper. “Two thousand good knives.” “A thousand buffalo horns.” – Forty mats with drawings. “Two hundred pounds of dyed wood.” – Ten bushels of pepper. – A hundred skins of tigers. – A hundred skins of deer. “Four hundred skins of beavers.” “Two hundred skins of blue rats, & c. – This shipment will begin in the autumn of the year kei-mio (1639). ”
The sack of rice mentioned here is the load of an ox, a little less than two hectoliters. A few years after the treaty, in 1650, the Korean ambassador, whose daughter, taken captive by the Mandchus, had become the sixth wife of the emperor, obtained a reduction of nine thousand sacks of rice. The other articles of the treaty lay down in detail all the relations between the two countries, and except for a few insignificant modifications on points of detail, it is this treaty which hitherto is international law.
A Korean embassy goes to Beijing each year to pay tribute and receive the calendar. The latter clause is, in the minds of these peoples, of capital importance. In China, the fixing of the calendar is an imperial right reserved exclusively for the person of the Son of Heaven. Different tribunals of astronomers and mathematicians are in charge of preparing it, and each year the emperor promulgates it by an edict, furnished with the great seal of the State, defending, under pain of death, Publish another. The great dignitaries of the empire will solemnly receive him at the palace of Peking; The mandarins and Subordinate employees receive it from the governors or vice-kings. To receive this calendar is to declare itself a subject and a tributary of the emperor. To refuse it is to open an insurrection. The kings of Korea have never, since the treaty, dared to dispense with the imperial calendar; But to preserve their authority over their own subjects, and to give themselves a certain air of independence, they affect to make some changes, placing the long lunars (those of thirty days) at different intervals, advancing Or delaying intercalary months, etc., so that the Koreans, in order to know the civil dates and the time of the official festivals, are forced to await the publication of their own calendar.
Moreover, each new king of Korea must, by an express embassy, ​​demand the investiture of the emperor; He must account for all that concerns his family, and the principal events which occur in his kingdom. Most of the Chinese ambassadors in the Imperial hierarchy are of a higher rank than the King of Korea, he must go out of his capital to receive them and offer them his humble greetings, and he must take another door Than that by which the ambassador makes his entry. The latter, during his stay, does not leave the palace which is destined for him, and everything that appears every day on his table, dishes, silverware, etc., becomes his property, which causes the Korean government to incur enormous expenses . It also appears that the Korean ambassadors are not allowed to pass through the gate of Pien-men, the first Chinese city on the border, and that they are obliged to make a detour. Imperial color is forbidden to the King of Korea; He can not wear a crown like that of the emperor; All civil acts must date from the years of the emperor; And when something serious happens in Peking, the king must send by an extraordinary embassy his congratulations or his condolences, as the case may be. The treaty also says that the Korean government has no right to beat money, but this article is no longer observed.
In Duhalde we find a curious example of the official relations between the two courts: it is the placet presented to the Emperor Kang-hi in 1694 by one of the princes of the Ni dynasty. It is designed in these terms:
“The kingdom of Chao-sien presents this placet, in order to put order in his family, and to make the wishes of the people heard.
“I, your subject, am a man whose destiny is not very fortunate; I have long been without a successor; Finally I had a male child of a concubine. His birth has caused me an incredible joy: I immediately took for the queen the mother who had begotten her; But I have committed a fault in this, which is the source of many suspicions. I forced Queen Min-chi, my wife, to retire to a private house, and made my second wife, Tchang-chi, queen in her stead. I then informed Your Majesty in detail of this affair. Now I reflect that Min-chi received your Majesty’s credentials, that she ruled my house, that she helped me in sacrifices, that she served the queen my queen and the queen my mother ; That she has mourned for three years with me. According to the laws of nature and equity, I ought to treat her with honor; But I have been carried away by my imprudence. After the thing was done, I was extremely sorry. Now, in order to conform to the desires of the people of my kingdom, I endeavor to restore to Min-chi the dignity of a queen, and to restore Tchang-chi to the rank of concubine. By this means the government of the family will be in order, and the foundation of good morals and the conversion of an entire State will be rectified.
“I, your subject, although I dishonor by my ignorance and stupidity the title I have inherited from my ancestors, yet I have been serving your supreme Majesty for twenty years, and owe all that I am to its benefits , Who cover me and protect me like Heaven. There is no domestic or public affair of any kind whatsoever, which I venture to hide from her. That is what gives me the boldness to annoy your Majesty two or three times over this affair. In truth, I am ashamed to pass the limits of duty; But as this affects the order which ought to be kept in the family, and it is a question of making the wishes of the people heard, the reason is, that I should make it known with respect to your majesty. ”
The emperor replied to this placet by the following edict:
“Let the court to whom it belongs, deliberate and warn me.” ”
The court in question is that of the rites. She judged that the king should be granted his request, which was ratified by the Emperor. Her Majesty’s officers were sent to carry to the queen new letters of creation, magnificent clothes, and all that was necessary to carry out the usual formalities.
The next year the king sent another place to Kang-hi. The Emperor having read it, bore this edict:
“I have seen the King’s compliment; I know it. Let the court to whom it belongs know the terms of this placet are not suitable; We lack respect. I order that we examine and be warned. ”
On this order the king of Korea was ordered to pay a fine of ten thousand ounces of silver, and to be deprived for three years of the presents which the emperor gave him in exchange for the annual tribute [ 3] .
The plays which have just been read, and other analogues which we shall see in this history, show that the suzerainty of China over Korea is very real. According to circumstances, according to the respective character of the sovereigns of each country, the ties of subordination are more or less tightened or loosened, but they always exist.
Moreover, the Chinese emperors, skilful politicians, spared the resources and susceptibilities of the Korean government. They receive the tributes mentioned above, but they exchange annual presents to the Korean ambassadors and their followers; They send to each new king a royal mantle and ornaments of price. In the same way, they have the right to ask for food, ammunition and soldiers subsidies from Korea, but they hardly ever use them, and above all, though they may be strictly according to the letter of the treaties, Do not interfere in any way with the internal administration of the kingdom. The Ouang dynasty (Mongol) once intervened on several occasions to make or defeat the kings of Korea, and because of this, its memory is execrated in the country. The Ming, more wise, treated the Koreans as allies rather than as vassals; They sent an army to the assistance of the King of Korea at the time of the great Japanese invasion, and to this day the affection and the recognition of the Korean people is gained, to such a degree that various contemporary uses of this dynasty , Although they were abolished in China by the Manchu emperors. The latter are not beloved in Korea, and in the registers of individuals, the events of the years of their reign are not dated. Nevertheless, their yoke is not very heavy, and the thought of shaking it does not come at the head of anyone. It is generally believed in Korea that one of the articles of the treaty of 1637 provides for the case where the Manchu, losing China, Would be forced to withdraw to their own country. Korea is said to have given them three thousand oxen, three thousand horses, to pay them an enormous sum of money, and to send them three thousand young girls of choice. It is said that if there are still so many slave girls in the various prefectures in Korea, it is for the government, if need be, to fulfill this clause of the treaty. But the missionaries have never been able to discover an official document on this subject.
Since 1636, Korea has had no wars either with Japan or with China. This people had the good sense not to renew struggles too unequal, and in order not to attempt the ambition of its powerful neighbors, it has always affected to make itself as small as possible, and always to put forward its weakness And the poverty of the country and the people. Hence the defense of exploiting the gold and silver mines, the sumptuous laws frequently renewed, which maintain within narrow limits the luxury and splendor of the great. Hence also the almost absolute prohibition of communicating with foreigners. By this means peace has been preserved, and the history of the last centuries offers us other events than palace intrigues, which, once or twice, succeeded in replacing a king by some other prince of the same And, more often than not, succeeded only in the execution of the conspirators and their accomplices, real or supposed. Besides, not a change, not a serious improvement. What we call political life, progress, revolutions, does not exist in Korea. The people are nothing, do not meddle in anything. The nobles, who alone have power in their hands, occupy themselves with the people only in order to press them and draw as much money as possible from them. They are themselves divided into several parties, which pursue each other reciprocally with a fierce hatred, but their divisions have neither the cause nor the motto of different principles of politics and administration; They dispute only dignities, and influence in affairs. For nearly three centuries the history of Korea has been only the monotonous account of their bloody and sterile struggles.
Here, according to some Korean documents and the universal traditions in the country, the origin of these different parties.
During the reign of Sieng-tsong (1567-1592) a dispute arose between two of the most powerful nobles of the kingdom, on the occasion of a great dignity entrusted to one of them, Another claiming to have rights. Families, friends and Dependents of the two competitors took part in the quarrel; The king, by prudence, spared each other, and they remained divided under the names of Tong-in (oriental) and Sie-in (western). A few years later, such a futile cause led to the formation of two other parties, Nam-in (southern) and Pouk-in (northern). Soon the Oriental joined the southerners and formed only one party under the name of the latter: Nam-in. The numerous northerners at first divided among themselves, and formed the Tai-pouk and Sio-pouk, that is to say, great and small northern. The Tai-pouk mingling with conspiracies against the king were almost all put to death, and what remained soon joined the Sio-pouk, so that at the accession of Siouk-tsong, 1674, there were three well-marked parties, namely, the Si-in (Western), the Nam-in (southern), and the Sio-pouk (small northern).
During the reign of Siwk-tsong, a ridiculous incident brought about new changes. A young noble Sese-in, named Iun, had for his preceptor a scholar of great reputation called O-nam. The father of Iun being dead, the latter prepared an epitaph, but the preceptor proposed another. No agreement was reached; Each editorial had its supporters, and it became so hot that the Siie-in party was divided into two new parties, that of Iun under the name of Sio-ron, that of O-nam under that of No-ron.
Such is the origin of the four parties which still exist in Korea. All the nobles necessarily belong to one of these factions, whose only concern is to seize the dignities and to close their access to their enemies. Hence, continual discord, struggles, which most often end in the death of the chief leaders of the vanquished party; Not that weapons or assassination are commonly used, but those who succeed in supplanting their rivals, compel the king to condemn them to death, or at least to perpetual exile. In times of calm, the dominant party, while preserving for itself with jealous precaution the influential positions, allows the common offices and duties to be divided among the nobles of the other party, in order to avoid too violent opposition; But the government never tolerates, and the government tolerates that members of opposing factions do not speak to one another, even when the performance of their administrative functions seems to require it.
These hatreds are hereditary; The father transmits them to his son, and There is no example that a family or an individual has changed party, especially between the Nam-in and the No-ron, who have always been the most numerous, the most powerful and the most fierce. Never before have we heard of marriages between the families of opposing camps. The nobleman who by the intrigue of an enemy loses his dignity or his life, leaves to his descendants the care of his vengeance. Often he gives them an external pledge; For example, he will give his son a suit with an order not to strip him until he has avenged him. He will bear it unceasingly and, if he dies before he has succeeded, will pass it on to his children with the same condition. It is not uncommon to see nobles clothed in these rags who, for two or three generations, remind them night and day that a debt of blood remains to them to pay to appease the souls of their ancestors.
In Korea, not to avenge his father, it is the denier; Is to prove that one is illegitimate and that one has no right to bear his name; Is to violate in its fundamental point the religion of the country, which consists only in the worship of ancestors. If the father has been put to death legally, his enemy or the son of his enemy must have the same fate; If the father has been exiled, his enemy must be exiled; If he has been assassinated, his enemy must be assassinated, and in such a case the impunity of the guilty party is almost complete, for he has the religious and national feeling for the country.
The means most commonly employed by rival factions is to accuse one another of conspiring against the life of the king. We multiply the petitions, the false testimonies; They corrupt the ministers by dint of money. If, as often happens, the first petitioners are imprisoned, beaten, fined or exiled, co-payments are made, and new attempts are made which, thanks to the venality of the senior officials and To the weakness of the king, succeed. Then those of the conquering party curse places and dignities; They use and abuse power to enrich themselves, to ruin and persecute their enemies, until they find a favorable opportunity of supplanting them in their turn.
The different parties mentioned above have again been subdivided into two colors or rather two shades. Here is the occasion:
The king who occupied the throne of Korea in 1720 had no son to succeed him. The division was among the great men of the kingdom; Some wanted to proclaim immediately Ieng-tsong, brother of the king, a skillful and cruel prince; The others preferred to wait, hoping always that the king would not die without posterity. The first Piek or Piek-pai, the second Si or Si-pai were named. The Piek sent secretly to Peking to obtain the investiture in favor of Ieng-tsong; But the Si, warned in time, pursued the emissaries who were joined on the Korean territory and decapitated. However, the old king died without leaving a child, and Ieng-tsong ascended the throne in 1724. The public voice accused him, not without reason, of having made his way to power by a double crime, Prevented by various medicines, that his brother had no descendants, and then poisoned him. Exasperated by these rumors and supported by the Piek, the new king, scarcely crowned, destroyed a great number of Si, whom he knew to be his enemies. Some years afterwards, his eldest son died at an early age; he declared his second son, named Sa-to, heir to the throne, and associated him with the government. This young prince, whom everyone agrees to represent as an accomplished man, often urged his father to forget his past grievances against the Si, to proclaim a general amnesty, and to frankly attempt a policy of reconciliation. Ieng-tsong, irritated by these reproaches, and driven by the Piek, resolved to put his son to death. A large wooden chest was made, where Sa-to was ordered to lie down alive, then closed the coffin, sealed it with the royal seal, covered it with herbs, and after a few hours the young prince died muffled.
His death increased the exasperation between the Si, his partisans, and the Pieks, who had condemned him to execution, and the quarrel still continues. The Si wish that Sa-to, having been proclaimed prince heir and associated with the administration of the affairs of the State, be placed among the kings. The Pieks have always opposed it, and so far they have succeeded in preventing this posthumous rehabilitation. The distinction between Si and Piek is found only among the two most important parties, the Nam-in and the No-ron.Each is associated with a particular color according to personal inclination, and often it happens that the father Piek while the son is Si, or two brothers are different in color. These policies shades do not prevent marriages between the families, and it is this above all that if and Piek differ from political parties themselves, which we have mentioned above. In general, restless and ambitious people start the party of Piek, while if have always been more moderate and more likely to conciliation.
When Christianity was introduced in Korea at the end of the last century, most of the nobles who were first converted If, and belonged to the party in Nam; it was enough to rouse against her the Piek and No-ron, and we will see in this story that these were political hatred for many in the first persecution. The party Nam-in, extremely powerful until 1801, could not stand the shock; he was completely reversed, most of its leaders were killed, and today the No-ron, in full possession of power, no longer have to fear serious competitors. Sio-ron’s, but many party soft and complacent, get quite a number of honors. We some grants, but with reservations, the Nam-in and Sio-Pouk. The latter, however,are few in number and do not have any influence in the country.
Here is how a Korean cartoon represents this state of affairs. No-ron richly dressed sits at a sumptuously laid table, and savored at ease the best bits. The Sio-ron sitting next, but a little behind, gracefully made the servant of office, and the price of his obsequiousness receives a portion of the food. The Sio-Pouk, knowing that the feast is not for him, sits much further serious and still air; there will be some leftovers when others will be filled. Finally Nam-in rags, standing behind the No-ron he did not notice; it vexes, grinds his teeth, and his fist, like a man who promises a signal vengeance. This cartoon, published it twenty or thirty years, give a very accurate picture of the relative position of the parties to thepresent.



Public examinations. – Grades and dignities. – Special schools.

Everybody knows that in China there is not, legally, any other aristocracy than that of the scholars. In no other country is such admiration for science so profoundly esteemed for men who possess it. The study is the only way of dignities, and the study is accessible to all. Under the present dynasty, it is true that the Manchoux alone occupied almost all the military offices of the empire, and the military mandarinates of the first order were reserved for those of that race who had a title of hereditary nobility. The Manchu emperors wanted to counterbalance the influence of the Chinese dignitaries. But that is the only exception. In order to be entitled to the highest offices of the civil order, in order to obtain jobs, places, favors, it is necessary and sufficient to have succeeded in public examinations. No one inquires as to the origin or fortune of the person who has proved his worth. Those alone are excluded who have exercised a profession deemed infamous. In theory, every individual, however poor and humble he may be, may, if he has conquered the highest literary ranks, become the first mandarin of the empire; But he who fails in the examinations, even if he is the son of a minister or a merchant ten times a millionaire, is legally incapable of exercising any public office. Doubtless this fundamental law is often eluded in practice, but all recognize it, and it forms the basis of the administrative organization of the Celestial Empire.
Korea, having for several centuries been the humble vassal of China, and having never had relations with any other people, it is easy to understand the powerful influence exercised by religion, civilization, Chinese ideas and customs . So we find in Korea the same respect for science, the same enthusiastic veneration for great philosophers, and, at least in theory, the same system of literary examinations for jobs and dignities. Off-line scholars are considered preceptors of the whole people, and consulted on All difficult materials. The highest dignities are accessible to them, and if they renounce them, their credit is all the greater, and their influence near the king and the ministers more real. When Christianity invaded Korea, most of the neophytes were famous doctors, and King Tsieng-tsong had such a high regard for them that, in spite of all the intrigues of their political and religious enemies, he was never able to decide To sacrifice them. It was not until after his death in 1800, and during a minority, that they succeeded in having them condemned to death. It is not uncommon to meet, even today, pagans brought to faith by the scientific and literary fame of these early converts.
There are, however, two notable differences between China and Korea regarding literary studies and public examinations. The first is that in Korea, studies are absolutely nothing national. The books we read are Chinese books; The language being studied is not Chinese, but Korean; The history of which we are occupied is that of China, to the exclusion of that of Korea; The philosophical systems which find followers are the Chinese systems, and by a natural consequence, the copy being always below the model, the Korean scholars are very far from having equaled the Chinese scholars.
Another far more important difference is that, while the whole of China is an egalitarian democracy under an absolute master, there is in Korea, between the king and the people, a numerous nobility, exceedingly jealous of its privileges, and All-powerful to keep them. The system of examinations in China comes naturally from the social state; In Korea, on the contrary, it is antipathetic. Thus, in the application, let us see what always happens in such a case, a kind of compromise between contrary influences. By law, and according to the letter of the law, every Korean may compete for examinations, and if he gains the necessary literary ranks, be promoted to public office; In fact, there are only nobles who present themselves to the contest, and the one who, as a licentiate or a doctor, does not join a title of nobility, obtains with little difficulty some insignificant place, without any hope of ‘advancement. It is unheard of that a Korean, even a nobleman, has been appointed to an important mandarin, without having received his university degree; But it is even more unprecedented that, with all possible degrees, a non-noble Korean has been honored with some high administrative or military function.
The examinations which take place in each of the provinces are of value only for the subordinate posts of the prefectures. If one wishes to arrive higher, one must, after having undergone this first trial, come and pass another examination at the capital. No certificate of study is required; Each one studies where he wants, as he wishes, and under the master who pleases him. Examinations are made on behalf of the Government, and the examiners are appointed by the Minister, either for the literary examinations themselves, which open the door to civilian employment, or for military examinations.
Here’s how things usually go. At the appointed time, once a year, all the students from the provinces set out for the capital. Those of the same city or district travel together, almost always on foot, in bands more or less numerous. As they are supposedly summoned by the king, their insolence has no bounds; They commit all sorts of excesses with impunity, and treat the innkeepers of the villages as conquered people, to such a degree that their passage is dreaded as much as that of mandarins and satellites. When they arrive at the capital, they disperse, and every one lodges where he can. When the day of the competition comes, the first point is to settle in the designated space, which is as narrow and as ill-disposed as possible. Accordingly, from the day before, each candidate makes some provisions, brings with him one or two servants if he has any, and hastened to take his place. One can imagine the frightful crowd that results during the night from the presence of several thousand young people in this confined and dirty space. Some obstinate workers continue, it is said, to study and prepare their answers; Others try to sleep; The greater number eat, drink, smoke, sing, shout, gesticulate, jostle, and make an abominable noise.
When the competition is over, those who have obtained degrees are dressed appropriately in their new title, and then, on horseback, accompanied by musicians, make the label visits to the principal dignitaries of the State, their patrons, examiners , Etc. This first ceremony ends, and another which, without being prescribed by law, is nevertheless absolutely necessary if one wishes to be recognized by the nobility, and later, to be presented to the public offices. It is a kind of ridiculous initiation which recalls the grotesque scenes of the baptism of the line, and of which we find the analogous, even Today, in the most famous schools and universities in Europe. One of the relatives or friends of the new graduate, a doctor himself, belonging to the same political party, is to serve as his godfather and preside over the ceremony. On the day marked, the young bachelor or doctor presents himself before this godfather, salutes him, takes a few steps back, and sits down. The godfather, with the necessary gravity, smeared his face, first in ink and then in flour. Each of the assistants, in turn, causes him to undergo the same operation. All friends or acquaintances having the right to present themselves, have not missed such an opportunity. The pitfall of the game is to let the patient believe, on various occasions, that there is no one to torment him, and when he has washed, scraped, cleaned, for the tenth or fifteenth time, to introduce New characters to recommence his torture. During all this time, the goers eat, drink and feast at the expense of their victim, and if it does not run generously, it is tied, it is hit, it even goes to suspend it in the l To force him to untie the cords of his purse. It is only after this coarse farce that his literary title is recognized as valid in society.
The grades obtained in public competitions are three in number: tchô-si, tsin-sa, and keup-chiei, which could be compared to our university degrees of bachelor, licentiate, doctor; With the difference, however, that they are not successive, and that one can gain the highest without passing through the others. There are doctors (keup-chiei) who do not have the title of licensee (tsin-sa), and a licentiate has no more facility than another individual to obtain the diploma of doctor. As everywhere, the examination includes a written composition and oral answers. The diplomas are delivered in the name of the king, that of tsin-sa on white paper, that of keup-tchiei on red paper decorated with garlands of flowers.
The tsin-sa, according to the law and the custom, are chiefly intended to fill the administrative burdens in the provinces. A few years after their promotion, they became ordinary mandarins of districts, guardians of royal burials, and so on. ; But they can not claim the great dignities of the kingdom. The keup-tchiei have a special position. They are as connected with the State, and immediately fill, from degree to degree, and in turn, the offices of the palace, and the great administrative functions of the capital. They are often sent to the provinces as governors, or mandarins of Big cities, but this is only passing, and for a few years. Their place is at the capital, in the ministries, and near the king.
The military examinations are very different from the literary examinations proper. The nobles of the high family do not appear, and if by chance some of them wish to embrace the military career, they find means of obtaining a diploma without going through the formality of the public contest. The poor nobles and the common people are the only contenders. The examination focuses on archery and other military exercises; An insignificant literary composition is added. There is only one degree called keup-chiei. The person who obtains it may, if he is noble, and if he has talent and protections, pretend to all the ranks of the army; If it is not noble, it usually remains with its title alone. At most, after years of waiting, he will be given a miserable place as a subordinate officer.
Moreover, whatever may have been the value of public examinations and examinations, it is certain that this institution is now in a state of decline. Degrees are now given not to the most learned and the most capable, but to the richest, to those who are supported by the most powerful protections. King Ken-tsong began publicly to sell the literary ranks, as well as dignities and jobs, and since then the ministers have continued this trade to their advantage. In principle, there were protests and resistances; Today the use prevailed and no one claims. In the eyes of all, the young men who present themselves to the annual competitions buy literary mercenaries ready – made compositions, and it is not uncommon for the list of future graduates and doctors to be known even before the ” Opening of examinations. The studies are abandoned, most of the mandarins hardly ever know how to read and write Chinese, which nevertheless remains the official language, and the true literati fall into a deeper and deeper discouragement.
A few details of some of the government’s special schools will complement the previous notions.
Studies dealing with the exact sciences, linguistics, the fine arts, etc., are far from being of such great honor as literary and philosophical studies. Few noble scholars are involved, and when they do, it is for them a matter of pure curiosity. They are the exclusive prerogative of a number of families who form a class in Korea Who, being in the service of the king and the ministers, has special privileges, and enjoys considerable consideration in the country. It is often referred to as the middle class, in view of its intermediate position between the nobility and the people. The individuals of this class are usually married to each other, and their jobs pass from generation to generation to their descendants. Like the nobles, they can be degraded and rehabilitated. They are exempt from personal rating and military service; They have a right to wear the bonnet of the nobles, and these, in their relations with them, treat them on a certain level of equality. They are obliged to undertake certain specific studies, and pass special examinations to obtain their different degrees as interpreters, doctors, astronomers, etc., and once they have been received in one part or another, they can not move on to another. Before conferring ranks on them, as in the case of nobles, an examination is made of their extraction and kinship, and their appointment is made by the competent minister assisted by two other dignitaries. They, like all other Koreans, have the right to participate in public examinations, whether civil or military, and, if successful, can obtain mandarin offices up to mok-sa ​​and Inclusive, but not higher. Most of the piel-tsang (small military mandarins or sub-lieutenants), tsiem-sa (maritime sub-prefects), and pi-tsiang (secretaries of governors and other great mandarins) belong to the middle class.
The functions exclusively performed by members of this class relate to eight separate establishments or departments.
1. The body of the interpreters. It is the first, the most important, and the one whose jobs are the most popular. Their studies focus on four different languages: Chinese (Tsieng-hak), Manchu (Hon-hak), Mongol (Mong-hak), and Japanese (Oai-hak); And when they have graduated in one of these languages, they can no longer compete for another. There are always a number of interpreters with the Chinese Embassy. For that of Japan, which has long since lost its importance, it is an interpreter who himself serves as ambassador. In addition, another interpreter, who has the title of houn-to, resides continually at Tong-nai, in the vicinity of the Japanese post of Fousan-kai, for the usual relations between the two peoples.
2. The Koan-sang-kam, or School of Science, subdivided into Three branches, where astronomy, geoscopy, and the art of selecting favorable days are studied separately. This school is only for the service of the king.
3 o Ei-sa or School of Medicine. There are two subdivisions according to whether the students intend to serve the palace or to serve the public. In fact, however, the doctors who have left one or the other are also admitted to the palace and promoted to official posts.
4. The Sa-tsa-koan, or School of Charters, whose pupils are employed in the preservation of archives, and in the preparation of official reports sent by the Government to Peking.
The To-hoa-se or School of Drawing, for maps and plans, and especially for portraits of kings.
6 o The Nioul-hak or the School of Law. This institution is annexed to the Crimes Court. The penal code is studied above all, and its employees serve in some courts to indicate to the judges the exact nature of the penalties laid down by the law in any particular case according to the conclusions of the proceedings.
7 o The Kiei-sa or School of Computing, from which the clerks of the Ministry of Finance go. In addition to the usual accounts of receipts and expenses, they are responsible for assessing the presumed costs of various public works, and sometimes even presiding over their execution.
8 o Hem-nou-koan or School of the Clock. It is there that we take the directors and monitors of the government clock, the only one in Korea. It is a hydraulic machine that measures time, dropping drops of water at equal intervals.
The musicians of the palace are often counted as part of the middle class, but they are wrong. These musicians form a body in pan, and of a somewhat inferior condition.



Social state. – Different classes. – Nobility. – People. – Slaves.

Five centuries ago, in the early days of the present dynasty, Korean society was divided into two classes only; The nobles, and the serfs or slaves. The nobles were the partisans of the founder of the dynasty, those who had helped him to sit on the throne, and who, in reward, had obtained wealth, honors, and the exclusive right to possess the dignities and fulfill The public service. The mass of the population, under their authority, consisted of serfs attached to the soil, and slaves. The descendants of these first nobles, and those of some other persons, who at various periods rendered the services of kings to the kings, still form the Korean aristocracy. But by the natural force of things, it happened for the serfs, which was seen in Europe during the Middle Ages; The greater number have gradually conquered their liberty, and have formed, with time, the people of laborers, soldiers, merchants, craftsmen, & c., As it is today. So there are now in Korea three distinct classes, subdivided into various categories: the nobles, the common people, and the slaves properly so called. The latter are quite small.
The nobility is hereditary, and as jobs and dignities are the almost exclusive patrimony of the nobles, each family retains with jealous precaution its genealogical tables, as well as complete, detailed, and frequently revised lists of each of its living members. They are very careful to maintain close relations with each other, and with the representative of the main branch of their race, in order to find support and protection in case of need.
Formerly and for several centuries, the law recognized as nobles only the legitimate descendants of aristocratic families. There was no exception except for the bastards of kings who were always treated as nobles by right. But for more than a century, the natural children of the nobles, Formed a class apart and very inferior, have become so numerous and powerful, that they have gradually usurped all the privileges of the true nobles. In 1857, a royal decree overturned the last barriers which separated them from the legitimate children, recognizing them as the right to achieve almost all the dignities of the kingdom. Some are still excepted, by a remnant of respect for ancient customs, but the exception can not be long gone completely. Nevertheless, the true nobles always preserve in the depths of their hearts a great contempt for these parvenus, a contempt which is manifested frequently enough, although in the ordinary relations of life they are obliged to treat them with all the usual forms of respect and Of the label.
The devastation of manners was not the only cause of this important revolution in the customs of the Korean aristocracy. The violent struggles between the political parties, and consequently the enormous advantage for the great families of having as many supporters as possible, have contributed powerfully to it. Noble bastards, though they generally marry without distinction of civil parties, are always counted as belonging to the family of their respective fathers. It is this family that pushes them into jobs, protects them against criminal mandarins when they have committed some offense, and in return, these men naturally frondeurs, audacieux and turbulent, lend to him a powerful contest in times of troubles and concussions policies.
All the nobles have certain common privileges, such as that of not being inscribed on the roles of the army, that of inviolability for their persons and their dwellings, that of wearing the horsehair cap which is the distinctive sign Their rank, etc. In the nobility, however, there are various degrees, more or less elevated. The families of those who have rendered to the state some signal service, or performed some great act of devotion to the person of the king, or acquired an exceptional reputation of science, filial piety, & c., Are much more influential than the others , And monopolize the main charges of the court. The princes of the blood and their descendants have, in so far as they belong to the royal family, very honorable titles, but never important employments. The kings of Korea, like all absolute kings, are too jealous of their authority, and too suspicious of true or false conspiracies, to leave them any participation in the exercise of power. The same applies to the parents of queens. The first wife of the king is always chosen from some great family, and by virtue of his marriage with the sovereign, his father and his brothers obtain high dignities, sometimes even lucrative jobs, but almost never functions which give them authority real. It is only by indirect means, by the influence of queens, by all sorts of intrigues, or else in a minority of the heir to the throne, that they exert a more or less powerful influence.
The nobility is lost in various ways, by judgment, by misalliance, by prescription. When any nobleman is executed as guilty of rebellion or lese-majeste, his parents, his children, and the members of his family to a fairly distant degree, are all degraded, deprived of their employments and titles of nobility, and Relegated to the ranks of the common people. When a noble wife legitimately marries a widow or a slave, her descendants lose almost all the privileges of their caste, and the access of jobs is closed to them. Similarly, when a noble family has been excluded from all public employment for a considerable period of time, its liters are thereby annulled, and the tribunals deny him the privileges of his rank. The Korean aristocracy is relatively the most powerful and proudest in the universe. In other countries, the sovereign, the magistracy, the various corporations, are forces which maintain the nobility within its limits, and counterbalance its power. In Korea, the nobles are so numerous, and in spite of their internal quarrels, they know so well how to unite to preserve and increase the privileges of their caste, that neither the people nor the mandarins nor the king himself can fight against Their authority. A nobleman of high rank, supported by a number of mighty families, can have the ministers broken up, and brave the king in his palace. The governor, or mandarin, who would take it into his head to punish a noble high placed and well protected, would be infallibly dismissed.
The Korean nobleman acts everywhere as master and tyrant. If a great nobleman has no money, he sends his servants to seize a merchant or a laborer. If the latter executes with good grace, he is released; Otherwise he is taken to the house of the noble, imprisoned, deprived of food, and beaten until he has paid the sum demanded of him. The most honest of these nobles disguise their thefts in the form of more or less voluntary loans, but no one is mistaken, for they never return What they borrowed. When they buy from a common man a field or a house, they usually dispense with paying, and there is not a mandarin able to stop this brigandage.
According to the law and custom, every noble, rich or poor, learned or ignorant, owes all possible marks of respect. No one dares to approach his person, and the satellite who would dare to lay hands on him, even by mistake, would be severely punished. His dwelling is a sacred place; Even entering the court would be a crime, except for women, who, whatever rank or condition they may be, can penetrate everywhere. A man of the people who travels on horseback must dismount along the house of a nobleman. In the inns one dares neither question nor even look at him; We can not smoke before him, and we are obliged to leave him the best place, and to be uncomfortable for him to be at his ease. On the way, a nobleman on horseback brought down all the plebeian cavalry; They usually do so of their own accord, but if necessary they are pressed with a stick, and if they resist, they are forcibly drowned in dust or mud. A nobleman can not go alone on horseback; He needs a servant to lead the animal by the bridle, and, according to his means, one or more following. So he always goes at a pace, without ever trotting or galloping.
The nobles are very picky about all their prerogatives, and sometimes earnestly avenge themselves for the slightest disrespect. One of them, who was reduced to misery and poorly clothed, passed in the vicinity of a prefecture. Four satellites, thrown in search of a thief, met him, conceived some suspicions at his face, and asked him cavalier enough if he were not their man. “Yes,” replied he, “and if you will accompany me to my house, I will show you my accomplices, and show you the place where the stolen goods are hidden.” The satellites followed him, but he had scarcely arrived at his house, and the nobleman, calling his slaves and some friends, had them seized, and after having beaten them, he had both of them blinded to three of them, Fourth, and sent them away, shouting to them, “This is to teach you to see more clearly another time, I leave you an eye so that you can return to the Mandarin. It goes without saying that this act of savage barbarism remained unpunished. Such examples are not rare, so the people, especially in the country, fear the nobles as well as the fire. The Children by telling them that the noble comes; They are threatened with this evil being, as in France they are threatened with a Croquemitaine. Most often their injustice and insolence are suffered with a stupid resignation; But in many of the common people they create and maintain a hideous and lively hatred which, at the first favorable opportunity, will bring bloody retaliation.
Since the foundation of the present dynasty, and consequently since the origin of the Korean aristocracy as it exists today, there are sixteen or seventeen generations. Thus the number of nobles, which at first was considerable, multiplied in enormous proportions. This is the great plague of this country; It is from there above all that the abuses of which we have spoken. For at the same time that the aristocratic caste has become more powerful, a greater number of its members, who have fallen into absolute destitution, are reduced to live by plunder and exactions. Indeed, it is absolutely impossible to give dignities and jobs to all; All, however, seek them, all from childhood, prepare themselves for examinations, which ought to facilitate their access, and almost all have no other means of living. Too proud to earn their subsistence honestly, through commerce, agriculture, or some manual labor, they vegetate in misery and intrigue, riddled with debts, always waiting for some small employment to happen to them, bending to all the baseness To obtain it, and if they can not succeed, ending by starving. The missionaries knew that they only ate rice once every three or four days, spent the roughest winters without fire, and almost without clothes, and yet obstinately refused to engage in any work which, Procuring a certain ease, would have made them derogate from their nobility, and would have rendered them incapable of serving as mandarins. Christian nobles, who, since the last persecutions especially, have very difficulty in obtaining public office, are the most unhappy of all. Some have endeavored to become laborers, but, being unacquainted with the trade, and not having the strength of the long habit of the labors of the body, they can barely suffice for their most pressing wants.
When a nobleman arrives at some employment, he is obliged to provide for the maintenance of all his relatives, even the most remote. Because it is only Mandarin, the customs and the constant use of the country make it a duty to support all the members of his And if he does not show sufficient eagerness, the most avid use various means of procuring money at his own expense. Most often they present themselves to one of the subordinate receivers of the mandarin, during the absence of the mandarin, and ask for any sum. Naturally, the receiver protested that he did not have a single sapeque in the box; He is threatened, his arms and legs are tied to him, he is suspended from the ceiling by the wrists, a rough beating is inflicted upon him, and the money demanded is extorted. Later, the Mandarin learned the case, but he was obliged to close his eyes to an act of looting, which he himself had committed before being a civil servant, or that he was ready to commit tomorrow , If it loses its place.
Public employment being the only honorable career and often the only means of living for the Korean nobility, it is easy to understand what clouds of flatterers, parasites, petitioners, unhappy candidates, and buyers of places must encumber day and night. Night the salons of the ministers and other important dignitaries on whom the appointments depend. This crowd of avid mendicants speculates on their passions, flattering their pride, and constantly implements, with more or less success, but always without the least scruple, all the intrigues, all the flatteries, all the caresses, Human meanness is capable.
M. Pourthie, one of the missionaries martyred in 1866, amused himself by describing in detail, in one of his letters, the most common species of these solicitors, those called moun-kaik. His narrative, though somewhat long, brings out so well some interesting aspects of Korean character, that we give it in its entirety.
“The moun-kaik, as his name indicates, is a guest who has his entrances into the exterior salons; But this denomination is more especially applied to the poor and idle individuals, who spend their days in the houses of the great, and who, by dint of crawling and lavishing their services, manage to receive, in reward, some dignity. There are different categories of moun-kaik, according to the degree of nobility or pretensions. Others are those who haunt the king’s palace, others those who surround a little mandarin; But all resemble each other.
“As soon as the moun-kaik has found a plausible excuse for introducing himself to the minister, the mandarin, or the noble whose covetousness he covets, he is preoccupied by a single care. To know thoroughly the character, inclinations, and whims of his protector, and to gain his good graces by force of mind, suppleness, and protestations of devotion. He studied with care the prevailing tastes of the circle he frequented, and making good countenance against bad fortune, he yielded to it with an incomparable address. He is, in turn, a talker, when he is more inclined to be silent, content and radiant when the bad state of his family and his finances overwhelms him with sadness, carried away and furious, sad and weeping when his heart Is dominated by the feelings of happiness and joy. Would his wife and children succumb to the torments of hunger; he himself would spend long days on an empty stomach, but he must nevertheless arrive in the drawing-rooms, laugh with those who laugh, play with those who play; He must compose and sing verses about wine, feasts, and pleasures. It is his duty to have neither manners, nor colors, nor temperament of his own. The joyous or afflicted air, passionate or calm, living or dejected, which is seen on the features of his master, must be reflected on his own as in a mirror. It should only be a copy, and the more faithful the copy, the greater its chances.
“To a boundless complaisance, the moun-kaik must join a complete assortment of all that is called talents of society. It is always he who puts himself forward to revive the gaiety of the company, to support and interest the conversation. A living repertory of all stories and fables, he endeavors to recount often and with interest; He first knows all the news of the province and the capital, all the anecdotes of the court, all the scandals, all the accidents. It is, with the dignitaries, the fame with the hundred mouths, a true traveling newspaper. It penetrates all the designs, the secret plans, the intrigues of the different parties; He counted on his fingers the number, the name, the position, and the chances of all the mandarins, who ascended and descended the scale of the favors of the government; He recites with ease the universal catalog and the financial state of all the nobles of the kingdom.
“New Janus with double face, without consciousness, and true chameleon of politics, the moun-kaik takes care to expose his beautiful face to the rising sun of favor. All his kindness is exclusively for the side from which the dignities may come; But to all that is useless, or hostile, or inferior, he lets us see a low and greedy soul, governed only by the instincts of the coldest egoism. He turns with fortune, flattering Those whom it flatters, leaving aside those whom it abandons, always calculating whether it is in its interest to be stiff or supple, avaricious or generous, treacherous or faithful. Putting division where it serves it, separating parents and friends, arousing hatred and mortal hostility among the families in power, silencing alternately the springs of truth and falsehood, praise and calumny , Of devotion and ingratitude, are his most usual means of action.
“Knowing that in Korea the hearts of the great are only blossomed when they receive their eyes from the sight of the sapecs, he is on the quest of all people in trial, all criminals, all ambitious of low And offers them his intercourse, and promises them credit, for a good sum for himself, and a bigger one for the master whose power he must bring in. Once the money has been paid, the rustics, by its aid, become great doctors, the noble commoners, the innocent criminals, the magistrate thieves; In short, there are no difficulties which the moun-kaik and the money can not smooth, no defilement which they can not wash, no crime which they can not justify, no infamy, They do not succeed in concealing and ennobling.
“However, the moun-kaik does not lose sight of the fact that his present profession is only a way to reach the goal of his ambition. Always vigilant, always on the watch, he examines only the favorable moment when he can surprise or snatch from his protector the gift of some function, of some dignity. Unfortunately for him, his influence is not the only issue. Money, kinship, interest, and various solicitations, make the choice of the minister elsewhere, and often the unfortunate man spends many years in a painful expectation. In this case, the moun-kaik exhibits an admirable constancy. Moreover the dominant virtue of the Korean candidate is patience. It is not uncommon to see old men with white hair dragging with difficulty for the twentieth, fortieth or even fiftieth time at the exams of the baccalaureate. Our moun-kaik is also armed with heroic patience; Rather than despair and abandon the game, he will continue indefinitely to live on miseries and disappointments. Finally, if he can not carry the affair by gentleness and caresses, he will sometimes arm himself with impudence, and will act as a violence to his protector.
“A bachelor of the Hoang-hai province had been very assiduous in the salons of a minister for three or four years, and as he Had wit, no means of attracting a smile of fortune had been neglected. Nevertheless, no glimmer of hope still shone. One day, when he was alone with the minister, the latter, engaged in seeking a mandarin for a district, began to say, “Is such a district a good mandarin?” The bachelor rises abruptly, prostrate at the feet of the minister, and replies in a penetrated tone: “Your Excellency is really too good, and I humbly thank her for thinking of giving her little servant a district whatever is. The minister, who had no other intention than to ask him for information, remained forbidden before this reply, and not daring to distress the poor moun-kaik, gave him this prefecture.
“At other times it will be a wit, a buffoonery that will put the moun-kaik on the pedestal. The example I am going to quote, has remained famous in the country. A military bachelor made his court very faithfully to the minister of war. Fifteen years had elapsed since he had begun this hard trade, and yet nothing seemed to indicate that he was more advanced than the first day. At every moment appointments were made before his eyes, and yet he had not yet been able to detect either a sign or a word that denoted that he was being thought of. His talent for telling stories had made him the habitual society of the minister, and his absences, when they took place, produced a notable void in the assembly. A time came when he suddenly ceased to show himself in the drawing-rooms, and although the nobles in this country generally paid attention to these things, our minister remarked that his assidu moun-kaik But, imagining that he had fallen ill, or that he had gone on a journey for private affairs, he did not trouble himself about it. This absence of the moun-kaik had been prolonged for nearly three weeks, when at length, one fine day, he reappeared, sparkling with joy, and came eagerly to greet the minister. The latter, glad to see him again, has nothing more pressing, after having received his salvation, than to ask him how, after such a long disappearance, he has at length fallen from heaven. “Ah! Replied the moun-kaik. “Your Excellency says at this moment more true than she thinks!” “What, then,” replied the minister, “explain yourself, have you been ill?” “A bachelor who has been on the pavement for fifteen years, can not fail to have an illness which your Excellency knows very well, but nevertheless it is not so. Oh ! In this world it happens stories well Strange! “But do you explain why we should hold you in suspense?” – Me, hold you in suspense, never. I have just made such an experience that I no longer wish to be suspended in the air. The minister, more and more intrigued and impatient to know a story which seemed to be curious, said with a sad face: “If your story is strange, you must admit that you are even more so yourself; Once again, explain yourself without hesitation. “Since your Excellency commands it, I will reveal everything; But it is so extraordinary that it took nothing less than an order from Your Excellency to make me decide to make known a story to which no one will believe.
“Twenty days ago, wishing to free me from the boredom that was pursuing me, I thought of distracting myself by doing a fishing game. So I took my line, and was stationed on the edge of a large pond near the capital. Scarcely had my line touched the water, when thousands of storks came near me. Thinking at once that some of these birds might want to bite on the hook, and foreseeing that my wrist would not be strong enough to compress its frolic, I hastened to grasp the end of the long rope of my Line, and I fixed it firmly around my loins. This precaution was scarcely taken, when a big stork, more voracious than the others, threw himself upon the bait, and devoured him in the twinkling of an eye. Envy took me to let the captive gently swallow the hook; I did not move, and my stork on his side remained calm and motionless as one who meditates a bad blow. But these birds have such a hot stomach, and digestion so rapidly, that my hook, a minute and a half afterwards, reappeared to the other end. While I was stupefied by this wonder, another stork threw itself upon the bait, swallowed it and digested it in its turn. A third follows; In short: five, twenty, fifty storks come successively to slip in my line. Everyone would have gone to the last, but not being able to hold on to such a strange spectacle, I burst out laughing and stirred. Suddenly the frightened squadron takes flight, and as I was bound by the loins, I am carried with him into the air. The more we went, the more the storks frightened. It pleased me only to fly so, suspended at enormous distances above the earth, dragged to the right, to the left, higher; Below, through endless zigzags; but I Had no choice, and I clung as best I could to my rope, when finally, tired of seeing me thus, the storks went down to a vast desert plain.
“I had nothing more urgent than to deliver them by delivering myself. I revived; But was I in Korea? Or had they transported me to the end of the world? That’s what it was impossible for me to know. Besides, having unexpectedly gone on such a long journey, I had been unable to make any provision, and scarcely had I returned to this world, and I felt devoured by a canine hunger; But solitude surrounded me on all sides. Pesting against myself and the storks, I proceeded mechanically to an enormous rock which dominated the whole plain and whose summit seemed to touch the sky. I came very close, and to my astonishment, what I had taken for a rock was no more than a colossal statue whose head rose as far as the eye could see. More admirable still, a great pear tree loaded with magnificent fruit had taken root and stood majestically on the head of the colossus. The sight alone of these fruits caused my sweet liqueur to flow into my stomach, which seemed to do me great good, and excited all the more my appetite; but how could I pick them? How to reach this uncommon height? Necessity was, it is said, the mother of industry. The plain was covered with reeds. The thought occurred to me to cut a large quantity of it, then, threading them one after the other, I made a pole as long as the height of the statue. Then, pushing the end into the nostrils of the colossus, I pushed so much that the gigantic head of the statue, seized with a formidable sneeze, was agitated in terrible convulsions, and shook the pear so strongly that all The pears fell at my feet. Kindness equaled beauty; I was satisfied with these succulent fruits, then I went to the discovery of the country. I soon learned that the place where I was was the district of Eun-tsin (province of Tsiong-Tsieng, four hundred lys of the capital), and without delay I resumed the road to Seoul, where I am at last returned. Yet I must admit that, although I was dazed by the rapid succession of so many extraordinary events, I did not for a moment forget your Excellency, and in proof, here is one of those pears which I have carefully preserved to make you acquainted with it Sweetness, rather than to support the truth of my strange story. At the same time the moun-kaik placed an enormous pear in the hands of the minister. The Minister wanted to taste it on the spot, and found it delicious. The next day the moun-kaik was appointed Mandarin. ”
Besides the noble birth whom we have spoken so far, there are noble adoption. These are wealthy individuals who purchase price of money titles of nobility, not the king or ministers, but some powerful family. They thus get to be registered on the genealogical records as descendants of this or that, and therefore all family members recognize as parents before the government and the public, support and protect them as such in all circumstances. This practice is contrary to the text of the law; but it has happened today in morals, and the ministers and the king himself are forced to tolerate.
Mention finally the lower class of nobility, that is to say, the family is called: half-noble or noble province. These are the descendants of people who filled some important public office such as tsoa-hsiu or piel-kam [1] . These families have some privileges, including that of wearing horsehair cap, and when their members have often been honored by these side jobs they enjoy, in the same province, some consideration. We must use talking to them the same courtesies as towards the true nobility. But underneath their authority is much less, and outside their own district, it becomes almost zero.
Needless to add that in Korea as elsewhere usurpation of titles of nobility are not uncommon. Many adventurers, when they are in a remote province of theirs pose as nobles, take the hair cap, and use and abuse of all other caste privileges, with an insolence quite aristocratic. When the fraud is discovered, dragged them to the nearest prefecture, and they receive a strong caning; but if they have talent, skill, money especially the mandarins close their eyes, and the people are forced to endure. Often during the persecution of Christians have used this way to get immune to molestation, and, finding good, continue to impersonate noble. “From time to time, wrote Bishop Daveluyallow me to joke a bit these noble borrowing. But thesome Christians who are truly noble breed take the matter more seriously. They heard bitter complaints of abuse that is in their eyes a huge crime. They accuse me of a guilty tolerance for those commoners who dare to treat as equals, and I sometimes have difficulty in calming them. ”
Between the nobility and the people itself, is the middle class, which actually exists as the capital. It consists of families who for generations meet with government special functions, such as interpreters, astronomers, doctors, etc … We mentioned above.
Below the middle class is the people, who has absolutely no political influence. Legally, a man of the people can compete for public examinations for civil and military; but in fact any reason he gets even licentiate or doctor, he will never receive government only insignificant functions. To defend against the atrocities, cruelties and arbitrary noble people of various trades classes are joined together and formed associations which, over time, have become powerful enough, to the capital especially, and in major cities. Some of these corporations, such as makers of caskets, roofers, masons, porters, etc … have either written law or by prescription, the monopoly of their industry.They regularly pay to the royal treasury a specific contribution to prevent any other that their members to exercise a particular profession. Other companies do not have a monopoly; the sole purpose of their members is to protect each other, and to facilitate the means of work. These receive in their midst anyone present, worker or not, provided he pays his dues, and submit to the common rules.he pays his dues, and submit to the common rules.he pays his dues, and submit to the common rules.
This spirit of association, so natural and so necessary in a country where there are few other law than that of the richest or the strongest, is very common among Koreans, from princely families to last slaves. We reported in the various political parties that divide the aristocracy, the middle class, among the Praetorians and satellite courts. We find in all classes of the people. Each village forms a small republic, and has a common fund to which all families without exception must contribute. This money is invested in land or interest, and revenues are used to pay tax surcharges, utility objectspublic for weddings, funerals, etc … and other unexpected expenses. Individuals attached to the temples of Confucius and other great men; guards, porters, commissionaires, the variety of household royal palaces; employees of ministries, civil, military or judicial; all those, in short, who have a kind of work or interests, between them form corporations or companies, similar to those of actual workers, and those who belong by their state or condition to any of these companies are affiliated to it, for a more or less considerable sum, to find help and protection when needed.
One of the most powerful and best organized corporations is that of porters. Internal trade is almost always making the backs of men or beasts of burden, is entirely in their hands. Most of them are people widowed or by poverty could not marry; others hang in their wake, along the roads, their wives and children. Prevalent in the country at number eight or ten thousand, they are divided by provinces and districts under the orders of leaders, sub-leaders, observers, inspectors, etc … They speak a convention speech to recognize among them, welcome wherever they meet, and lavish the external marks of the most ceremonious respect. They are subject to strict rules, and punish their leaders themselves, sometimes to death,the crimes committed by colleagues. They claim that the government has no right to interfere in their affairs, and we never saw any in seeking justice in a mandarin. They usually go for honest and fair, and packages or bundles entrusted to them for the most distant provinces, are faithfully delivered to their address. It is claimed that their manners are very corrupt, and almost all are engaged in vices against nature. Nevertheless, their women are respected, and the one of them that strike at the wife of one of his colleagues would immediately be put to death. They are insolent vis-à-vis the people, and even fear are the mandarins. When they think they have to complain about an affront to any injustice, they retire en masse district or city,and retirement stopping trade and preventing the movement of goods, it is necessary to negotiate with them, and suffer their conditions, after which they return more proud than ever.
The most despised corporation is that of servants butchers or slaughterers oxen. The ox is an animal absolutely necessary for the cultivation and transport of loads, a very ancient law forbids killing without government permission, and public opinion, agree with the law, looks at the act of killing a beef as the most humiliating of all. cattle slaughterers thus form a class, the more degraded the eyes of all the slaves themselves. They can not remain in the interior villages; they live outside of the population that repels with horror, and only marry among themselves. It is among them that are taken executioners works. Only they have the right to slaughter the oxen, and other Korean who would be driven out of his village and his family,and forced to flee their homes. It is worth noting in passing that public contempt reaches only those who kill the animal, and not the butchers that sell meat. These are big figures appointed by the mandarins, to whom they pay a very heavy tax to maintain their monopoly. Any other individual who would slaughter an ox, would have to pay a fine of 54 to 56 francs regular price of a small ox.regular price of a small ox.regular price of a small ox.
The number of slaves is now less significant than before, and will always decreasing. One more little meeting, at least in the central provinces, as in noble families. Are slaves: those born of a slave mother; those that sell or are sold by their parents as such; finally abandoned children who are raised and bred; but in the latter case slavery is personal, and children of the man who has lost his freedom, born free. Slavery is very sweet in that country; usually we only keep and employs as slaves that young people, especially young girls for domestic service of the family. When they are old enough to marry, boys are often left free to retire when they want,solely responsible for paying the master species Annual decapitation; other times, the master keeps with him and marries them to some of his slaves. Girls remain in the master’s family, and after their marriage live in a small house apart. They are constrained to some work, and all their children belong to the master.
The master of life and death over his slaves; nevertheless, he used this right in ordinary circumstances, and even if he hit too hard, it would be triablecourts. Missionaries ensure that there is little excess of this kind. In short, the fate of slaves is often preferable to poor villagers, and it is not uncommon for ordinary people to take refuge with the great, ask to marry their slaves, and become slaves themselves, for to shelter abuses and violence of the nobles or of the mandarins.
Besides the slaves are the property of individuals, there has others that belong to the government. They are attached to the various administrations, ministries, prefectures, where they fill the lowest offices of domesticity. Some of these slaves are born; most have become the result of a conviction in criminal case, and these are convicts rather than slaves. This is slavery, especially for women, much more painful than ordinary slavery. Women slaves prefectures are treated almost like animals. They are to thank you, not only the mandarins, but Praetorian, satellites, valets, first come. Nothing equals the contempt we have for them, and condemnation to such easement,for an honest woman, a thousand times worse than death.



Status of women. – Wedding.

In Korea, as in other Asiatic countries, manners are terribly corrupt, and by a natural consequence, the ordinary condition of woman is a state of shocking abjection and inferiority. It is not a companion of man; it is only a slave, an instrument of pleasure or labor, to which law and morals recognize no right, and, so to speak, no moral existence. It is a generally accepted principle, consecrated by the courts, and which no one thinks of contending, that every woman who is not under the power of a husband or a relative is, like an animal without a master, the property of the first occupant.
Women do not have a name. Most girls, it is true, receive a certain nickname, by which older parents, or friends of the family, designate them during their childhood. But as soon as they reach the age of puberty, the father and mother alone can use this name; The other members of the family, as well as strangers, use periphrases such as: the daughter of such a, the sister of such. After marriage a woman no longer has a name. Her own parents most often refer to her by the name of the district where she was married; The parents of her husband, by the name of the district where she lived before her marriage. Sometimes it is called short; The house of such a (husband’s name). When she has sons, decency requires that the designation be used: mother of such. When a woman is compelled to appear before the courts, the mandarin, to facilitate the debates, imposes on her a name for the time that the trial must last.
In the upper classes of society, etiquette requires that children of both sexes be separated at the age of eight or ten. At this age, the boys are placed in the outside apartment where the men live. This is where they have to spend their time, studying, and even eating and sleeping. They are repeatedly told that it is shameful for a man to remain in the women’s apartment, and they soon refuse to set foot there. The girls, on the other hand, are locked up in the inner rooms, where their education is to take place, where they must learn to read and write. They are taught that they should no longer play with their brothers, and that it is improper for them to allow themselves to be perceived by men, so that, little by little, they seek of themselves to hide.
These practices are preserved throughout life, and their exaggeration has completely destroyed family life. Almost a good-natured Korean will never have a regular conversation even with his own wife, whom he regards as infinitely beneath him. Never, above all, will he consult her on anything serious, and although living under the same roof, one may say that the spouses are always separated, the men conversing and relaxing together in the outer rooms, and the women receiving their relatives or friends in The apartments reserved for them. The same custom, based on the same prejudice, prevents the common people from staying in their houses when they want to take a moment of recreation or rest. The men seek their neighbors, and the women, on their side, meet separately.
Among the nobles, when a young girl has reached a marriageable age, her own parents, except those of the nearest degree, are no longer allowed to see her or to speak to her, and those who are excepted from this law Speak to him with the most ceremonious restraint. After their marriage, noble women are unaffordable. Almost always kept in their apartments, they can neither go out nor even take a look in the street, without the permission of their husband; And hence for many Christian ladies, especially in times of persecution, the absolute impossibility of participating in the sacraments. This jealous sequestration is carried so far, that fathers have been killed, their husbands killed their wives, and women killed themselves, because strangers have touched them with their fingers. But very often, too, this reserve or exaggerated modesty produces the inconveniences which it is destined to avoid. If some shameless libertine manages to penetrate secretly into the apartment of a noble woman, she will not dare to utter a cry or to oppose the slightest resistance which might attract attention; For then, whether guilty or not, she would be dishonored for ever by the mere fact that a man has entered his room, while, the thing being secret, his reputation is saved. Besides, if she resisted, no one would be grateful to her, not Even her husband, on account of the unpleasant luster which would thus be occasioned.
Although women in Korea have absolutely no say in society or in their own families, they are surrounded by a certain amount of external respect. The honorable formulas are spoken of, and no one would dare dispense with them, except for his own slaves. We give way in the street to every honest woman, even to the poor people. The women’s apartment is inviolable; The agents of authority themselves can not set foot there, and a nobleman who withdraws into this part of the house will never be seized by force. The case of rebellion is alone excepted, because then women are supposed to be accomplices of the guilty party. In other circumstances, the satellites are forced to use cunning to attract their prey outside, in a place where they can legally stop it. When a buyer comes to visit a house for sale, he warns of his arrival, so that the doors of the rooms reserved for women are closed, and he examines only the outdoor lounges open to all. When a man wants to get on his roof, he warns the neighbors that the doors and windows should be closed. The women of the mandarins have the right to have carriages with two horses, and are not obliged to put an end to the cries of the servants of their suite in the precincts of the capital, which the highest officials ought to do, Even governors and ministers. Women do not genuflexion to anybody, except to their parents, in the desired degree, and according to the rules laid down. Those who are carried in chair or palanquin are exempt from dismounting by passing in front of the door of the palace. These habits seem to be dictated by the feeling of propriety, but there are others which evidently arise from contempt for the weakest sex, or from the license of morals. Thus, women, to whatever class of society they belong, are almost never brought before the courts, no matter what crime they may commit, because they are not supposed to be responsible for their actions. Thus, they have a right to penetrate all the houses, to circulate at all times in the streets of the capital, even at night; While from nine o’clock in the evening, when the bell gives the signal for the retreat until two o’clock in the morning, no man can go out except in the case of absolute necessity, without exposing himself to a heavy fine .
When children reach the age of puberty, they are the Parents who betrothed and married them, without consulting them, without worrying about their tastes, and often even against their will. On both sides one only deals with one thing, the suitability of rank and position between the two families. It matters little whether the spouses’ abilities, their character, their physical qualities or defects, or their mutual repugnance. The father of the boy makes contact with the father of the girl, whether or not they live in the neighborhood of each other, by letter if they are too far away. The various conditions of the contract are discussed, all are agreed upon, and the period which seems most favorable according to the calculations of the soothsayers or astrologers is marked, and this arrangement is definitive.
The day before or the day before the day fixed for the marriage, the lady invites one of her friends to raise her hair; The young man on his side calls one of his parents or acquaintances to render him the same service. Those who are to make this ceremony are chosen with care; They are called pok-siou, that is to say, a hand of happiness. This is the basis of this practice. In Korea, children of both sexes wear their hair in a single braid hanging on their backs. They always go bare-headed. As long as one is not married, one stays at the rank of children (ahai), and one must preserve this kind of hairstyle. We can then do all kinds of childishness and folly, without any consequences; One is not supposed to be able to think or act seriously, and the young men, whether they be twenty-five or thirty, can not take their places in any meeting where important matters are dealt with. But marriage brings civil emancipation, at whatever age it may be contracted, even at twelve or thirteen. From then on, one becomes a man made (euroun), the games of children must be abandoned, the new wife takes rank among the matrons, the bridegroom has the right to speak in the meetings of men and to wear hats from now on. After the hair was raised for the wedding, the men wear them knotted on the top of the head, a little forward. According to the old traditions, they should never cut off a single hair; But, especially in the capital, young men who wish to assert their personal advantages, and not have too much hair on the skull, are shaved at the top of the head, so that the knot does not No larger than an egg. Married women, on the contrary, not only preserve all their hair, but procure it forgery, in order to enlarge as much as possible the two braids which for them are Of strict rule. The women of all ranks in the capital, and the noble women in the provinces, with these two braids, form a big bun, which, held by a long silver or copper needle placed across, falls on the neck. The women of the people, in the provinces, roll the two braids round their heads, like a turban, and knot them on the forehead. Young men who refuse to marry, and men who have reached a certain age, have not been able to find a wife, raise their hair themselves secretly and in fraud, so as not to be eternally treated as children; It is a serious violation of customs, but it is tolerated.
On the appointed day, the young girl’s house is prepared with a more or less elevated platform, ornamented with all possible luxury; The relatives and friends are invited, and go there in crowds. The future spouses, who have never seen each other and never addressed themselves, are brought solemnly to the platform and placed face to face. They remain there for a few minutes, greet each other without uttering a word, then retire each in turn. The bride returns to the women’s apartment, and the groom dwells with the men in the outdoor salons, where he rejoices with all his friends, and feasts his best. No matter how great the expenditure may be, it must be carried out with good grace; If not, they will use every means imaginable, tying it up and hanging it on the ceiling, to force it to be generous.
It is this reciprocal greeting, by the presence of witnesses, which signifies consent, and constitutes legitimate marriage. Henceforth the husband, unless he has repudiated his wife in the proper forms, can always and everywhere claim her; And, had he repudiated it, he was forbidden to take another legitimate wife himself during the first lifetime, but he was free to have as many concubines as he could afford. As for concubines, it is enough for a man to prove that he has had intimate relations with a daughter or a widow, in order that she may become her legal property. No one can take it away, and the parents themselves are not entitled to claim it. If she runs away, he can have her taken home by force.
The next fact, which happened a few years ago in a village where a missionary was, will make us better understand these various laws and customs concerning marriage. A nobleman had to marry his own daughter and that of his deceased brother, both of the same age. He wanted for each of them, but for his daughter Especially, the most excellent husband who could meet, and in his desire to make the best choice, he had already refused several very suitable parties. One day, at last, a request was made from a rich and large family. After having hesitated for some time if he should give his daughter or niece, he determines himself for his daughter, and without ever having seen his future son-in-law, commits his word and agrees with the time of the nuptials. But three days before the ceremony he learned from sorcerers that the young man was a very ugly, very ugly, and very ignorant. What to do ? There was no way to go back. He had given his consent, and in such a case the law is inflexible. In his despair, he devised a means of damping the blow which he could not entirely parry. On the day of the wedding, in the morning, he went to the women’s apartment and gave his orders in the most absolute manner, so that his niece, not her daughter, would be dressed, dressed, and conducted on the platform Greet the future husband. His daughter, stupefied, had only to obey. The two cousins ​​being of about the same size, the substitution was easy, and the ceremony took place in the proper forms. The bridegroom, as usual, spent the afternoon in the men’s apartment, and what was not the astonishment of the old nobleman when he saw that far from being the idler whom the sorcerers had depicted for him He was handsome, well made, very witty, very learned, and very amiable. He was sorry to have lost such a son-in-law; he thought of repairing the evil, and secretly ordered that, in the evening, his niece, but his own daughter, was introduced into the nuptial chamber. He knew very well that the young man would suspect nothing, because during the official greetings on the platform, the new brides were so well dressed and overwhelmed with ornaments that it was impossible to distinguish their faces. Everything was done as he wished. During the two or three days spent with the family, the old nobleman, happy at the success of his stratagems, congratulated himself on having such a perfect son-in-law. The new groom, on his part, showed himself more and more charming, and gained so much the heart of his father-in-law, that at last, in an outpouring of affection, he told him all that had happened, The noises which had run on his account, and the successive substitutions of the niece to the daughter, and the daughter to the niece. The young man was at first forbidden, then regaining his composure. “Very well,” said he, “and very clever on your part. But it is clear that the two young people belong to me, and I demand both of them, your niece, who alone is my legitimate wife, since she has Makes legal greetings; Your daughter because, introduced by yourself into the nuptial chamber, she has become of right and fact my concubine. There was nothing to answer; The two young women were taken to the bridegroom’s house, and the old man, who was left alone, was flouted by all for his awkwardness and bad faith.
On the day of marriage, the girl must show the greatest reserve in her words. On the platform she said not a word, and in the evening, in the nuptial chamber, the etiquette, especially among men of high nobility, commanded her the most absolute silence. The young groom overwhelmed him with questions and compliments; She must remain silent and impassive like a statue. She sits down in a corner, dressed in as many dresses as she can wear. Her husband will undress her if he will, but she will not interfere. If she uttered a word or made a gesture, she would become an object of laughing and jesting for her companions, for the slave women of the house stand by the doors to listen, look through all the slits, and hasten to publish this They can see and hear. A young groom made a day with his friends the wager to snatch a few words from his wife at the first interview. She was warned. The young man, after having vainly attempted various means, took it into his head to tell him that the astrologers, by drawing the horoscope of his future, had assured her that she was mute by birth, that he saw that such was the case , And that he was resolved not to take a mute woman. The young woman could have been silent with impunity, for the legal ceremonies once completed, whether one of the two spouses is mute or blind, or impotent, marriage does not matter. But, stung by these words, she replied in a sharp, sweet tone: “Alas! The horoscope drawn on my new family is much more true. The soothsayer told me that I would marry the son of a rat, and he was not mistaken. This is the grossest insult to a Korean woman, and she reached not only the husband but her father. The bursts of laughter of the slave women on duty at the door increased the disappointment of the young man. He had won his bet, but the mockery of his friends made him pay dearly for a long time his unfortunate bravado.
This state of reserve and constraint between the newlyweds must, according to the laws of etiquette, last for a very long time. For months on end the young woman barely opened her mouth for the most necessary things. Point of Conversations followed with her husband, no confidences, never a shade of cordiality. Opposed to his father-in-law, the custom is even more severe; Often she spent whole years without daring to look up at him or to speak to him, except to give him from time to time some brief reply. With her mother-in-law she is a little more at ease, and sometimes allows herself to converse; But, if it is well brought up, these conversations will be rare and of short duration. Needless to say, the Christians of Korea have ignored most of these ridiculous observances.
From what we have just said, it is easy to see how few happy marriages, well-matched unions, must be in Korea. The wife has only duties to her husband, while the husband has none to her. Marital fidelity is compulsory only for women. If insulted, disdained as she is, she has no right to be jealous; The very idea does not come to him. Besides, mutual love between husband and wife is a phenomenon which manners render almost impossible. Decrees tolerate that a husband respects his wife and treats her properly; But they would make a cruel mockery of him who would give him a mark of true affection, and who would love him as the companion of his life. It is, and ought to be, for a self-respecting man, only a slave of a higher rank, destined to give him children, to watch over the interior of the house, and to satisfy It appeals to its passions and its natural appetites. Among the nobles, the bridegroom after spending three or four days with his new wife, must leave her for a long enough time, in order to prove that he does not make her too big a case. He leaves her in an anticipated state of widowhood, and compensates himself with concubines. To act otherwise would be in bad taste. Noblemen are mentioned, who, for having shed a few tears at the death of their wife, were obliged to absent themselves for several weeks from the saloons of their friends, where they were constantly pursued with jeers.
Among the women, a number accept this state of affairs with exemplary resignation. They are devoted, obedient, careful of the reputation and well-being of their husbands. They do not revolt too much against the often tyrannical and unreasonable demands of their mothers-in-law. Accustomed from childhood to bear the yoke, to regard themselves as an inferior race, they do not even have the idea of ​​protesting against established customs, or of breaking the prejudices to which they are subjected. But many other women Go to all their defects of character, are violent, insubordinate, place in their houses division and ruin, fight with their mothers-in-law, revenge themselves on their husbands by making life unbearable for them, and incessantly provoke scenes of Anger and scandal. Among the common people, in such a case, the husband does justice by blows with his fist or stick; But in the higher classes, since it is not customary for a nobleman to strike his wife, he has no other resource than divorce, and if it is not easy for him to resort to it and to pay the expenses If his wife, not content with tormenting him, is unfaithful to him, or runs away from the conjugal house, he can take her to the Mandarin, who, after having administered the Bastinado to the lady, gives her to concubine to some of her satellites or valets.
Sometimes, however, even in Korea, women of tact and energy know how to be respected, and to gain their legitimate position, as is shown by the following example, extracted from a Korean treaty of morality in action, for the use of Young people of both sexes. Towards the end of the last century, a nobleman of the capital, high enough, lost his wife, of whom he had several children. His advanced age made a second marriage difficult; Nevertheless, after a long search, the employers employed in such cases made him decide his union with the daughter of a poor nobleman of the province of Kieng-sang. On the appointed day he went to the house of his future father-in-law, and the two spouses were brought on the platform to make their usual greetings. Our dignitary, seeing his new wife, remained for a moment forbidden. She was very small, ugly, hunchbacked, and seemed as little favored by the gifts of the mind as those of the body. But there was no need to retreat, and he made up his mind, resolved never to bring her into his house, and to have no connection with her. The two or three days spent in the house of the father-in-law having passed, he set out again for the capital, and gave no news of him. The forsaken woman, who was a very intelligent person, resigned herself to her isolation, and remained in the paternal house, inquiring from time to time what was happening to her husband. She learned, after two or three years, that he had become minister of the second rank, that he had married his two sons very honorably, and a few years later that he was preparing to celebrate with all Pump, the festivals of his sixtieth year.
Immediately, without hesitation, despite opposition and remonstrances Of her parents, she takes the road to the capital, gets carried to the minister’s house, and announces as his wife. She comes down from her palanquin under the vestibule, presents herself with a sure air, looks at the ladies of the family together for the festival, sits down at the place of honor, gets a fire, and The greatest calm, lights her pipe in front of all the stupefied assistants. The news is carried immediately to the men’s apartment, but out of propriety no one seems to be moved by it. Soon the lady summoned the serving slaves, and in a severe tone: “What house is this?” She said to them; I am your mistress and no one comes to receive me. Where were you raised? I should inflict a severe punishment on you, but I will do this for you this time. Where is the mistress’s apartment? They hurriedly led him there, and there, among all the ladies, “Where are my daughters-in-law?” She asks, how come they do not come to greet me? They forget, no doubt, that by my marriage I became the mother of their husbands, and that I have a right to them in all respects due to their own mother. Immediately, the two daughters-in-law present themselves with a shameful air, and apologize as best they can to the confusion into which they have been so unexpectedly visited. She gently reprimands them, exhorts them to be more exact in the performance of their duties, and gives various orders in her capacity as mistress of the house.
A few hours later, seeing that none of the masters appeared, she called a slave and said, “My two sons certainly did not come out in a day like this; See if they are at the men’s apartment, and have them come. They arrived very embarrassed, and stammered some excuses. “How,” she said, “you have learned my arrival for several hours, and you have not yet come to greet me! With such a bad education, such ignorance of principles, what will you do in the world? I have pardoned the slaves and my daughters-in-law for their lack of politeness, but for you men I can not leave your fault unpunished. At the same time she calls a slave, and gives them a few shots on the legs. Then she adds: “For your father the minister, I am his servant, and have no orders to give him; But you, from now on, make sure not to forget the conveniences. ”
In the end the minister himself, much astonished at all that was passing, was obliged to comply, and came to greet his wife. Three Days afterwards, when the festivals were over, he returned to the palace. The king asked him familiarly whether everything had happened as happily as possible; The minister related in detail the history of his marriage, the unexpected arrival of his wife, and the manner in which she had managed to conduct herself. The king, who was a man of sense, answered him, “You have done very ill to your wife. She seems to me a woman of much wit and extraordinary tact; Her conduct is admirable, and I can not praise it enough. I hope you will make amends for the wrongs you have done to her. The minister promised, and a few days later the prince solemnly conferred on the lady one of the highest dignities of the court.
A wife legitimately married, unless she is a widow or a slave, enters into everything and for all in participation in the social state of her husband. Even if she were not noble by birth, she became so if she married a nobleman, and her children were so. If two brothers, for example, marry the aunt and the niece, and the niece falls to the eldest, she becomes the eldest sister, and the aunt will be treated like the younger sister, which in this country A huge difference.
In all classes of society, the main occupation of women is to raise, or rather to feed their children. The mother rarely dispenses with this duty, which is still more sacred in this country, where there is no idea of ​​artificial breast-feeding, and where, consequently, the children who lose their mother in the first years die almost all. The Koreans do not know how to milk animals, and never use cow or goat milk. The only exception is in favor of the king, who sometimes takes it. In this case they are procured by a very complicated operation. The cow is placed on the flank, in the presence of the whole court, and then with boards or sticks the breasts are pressed, and the milk, which the operators make it flow with the sweat of their foreheads, is carefully collected for the use Of Her Majesty.
When there are no other younger children, the mother nurses her infant until the age of seven or eight, sometimes even up to ten or twelve.This disgusting custom seems so natural in this country that the thing is done publicly, and we see children almost as large as their mothers breastfeed, and no one thinks of shock. The education of the rest requires little care. It usually consists of making all the wishes of the child, especially if it is a son, tobow to all his whims, and to laugh at all his faults, of all his vices, without correcting it. Apart from the care of their offspring, the noble women have nothing to do but run their servants, and maintain order in the interior apartments. Their life flows almost entirely in the most complete inaction. But the women of the people have a hard task. They must prepare food, make paintings, make clothes, wash and blanch, keep everything in the house, and more, during the summer, helping their husbands in all the work of the campaign. Men work in seedtime and harvest, but in winter they rest. Their only occupation is then cut to the mountains the wood to fire; the rest of their time is spent playing,smoking, sleeping, or visit their relatives and friends. Women, like true slaves, never rest.
The unjust gender inequality continues even after marriage is finally dissolved by the death of one spouse. The husband carries the half-mourning after the death of his wife, for a few months only, and may remarry immediately. The woman on the contrary, especially in the upper classes should cry her husband and mourn his life. It would be a shame for a fashionable widow so young it is, to remarry. The Sieng-tsung king, who reigned from 1469 to 1494, prohibits public examinations to children of noble women married his second wife, and forbade them to accept any job. Today, they are considered by law as illegitimate children.
This iniquitous prohibition of second marriages are necessarily the result of serious disorders, among a people as brutally passionate Koreans. Young noble widows will remarry points, but almost all are publicly or secretly, concubines of those who want to feed them. Besides, those who persist in living honestly in solitude are very exposed. Sometimes they are drunk unwittingly throwing narcotics in their drink, and they wake dishonored, next to a villain that abused them during sleep; sometimes removing them by force during the night, with some bandits bribed; and when, in one way or another, they were once victims of violence of one who covets, there is no possible remedy:they belong to him by law and custom. We sometimes see young widows to commit suicide immediately after the funeral of her husband, to better prove their loyalty, and put theirreputation and honor out of reach. Noble does not have enough votes to celebrate these women models, and they get almost always the king awarded them a public monument, column, or temple, intended to preserve the memory of their heroism. For twenty years, vague rumors of an upcoming civil war is widespread in the country, Christian missionary widows asked the permission to commit suicide if the armed groups approached their house, and the priest had great difficulty to make them understand that even in such cases, suicide is an abominable crime before God.
The common people, second marriages are forbidden either by law or by custom. In rich families, it takes quite often by self-love, to imitate the nobility in this as in other. But among the poor, the need for men to have someone who prepares their food, the need for women to not starve, make these sorts of fairly frequent weddings.


XI Religion. – Worship of ancestors. – Bonzes. – Popular superstitions.

According to local traditions, Buddhism or the doctrine of Fô penetrated into Korea in the fourth century of the Christian era, and spread itself more or less successfully into the three kingdoms which then divided the peninsula. When the Korie dynasty united these various states into a single monarchy, it protected the followers of this doctrine, which became the official religion. At the end of the fourteenth century, when the Korie dynasty was overthrown, the princes of the Tsi-tsien dynasty, who succeeded to it, yielding to the influence and perhaps the formal orders of the Peking emperors, adopted not only the chronology And the Chinese calendar, but also the religion of Confucius. They did not proscribe the ancient religion, but they abandoned it to itself, and by the natural course of things the number of Buddhists has always been diminishing, and their doctrine as well as their monks have now fallen In contempt. The doctrine of Confucius, on the contrary, established by law, has become the dominant religion; Its worship is the official worship, and any contravention of its regulations in grave matters can be punished with the final punishment, as evidenced by the documents of the trial of Paul Ioun and Jacques Kouen, and other documents that we give at length in this story.
We shall not speak here of this doctrine of Confucius in itself. The work of the missionaries and sinologists for two centuries has exhausted the question, and, through the opposite exaggerations of praise or blame, we have now succeeded in obtaining an almost exact idea of ​​it. Let’s just look at what it is in Korea. For the mass of the people, it consists in the worship of the ancestors, and in the observation of the five great duties: towards the king, towards parents, between spouses, towards old men, and among friends. To this is added a more or less vague knowledge of the Siang-tiei that most confuse with the sky. For scholars, we must add: the cult of Confucius and great men, the veneration of the sacred books of China, And finally an official worship to the Sia-tsik or protective genius of the kingdom. Sometimes, also, in the public acts of government, mention is made of good genii and destiny.
The missionaries often questioned Koreans who were very well informed about the meaning they attached to the word Siang-tiei without ever obtaining a clear and precise answer. Some believe that this is the supreme Being, creator and preserver of the world; Others claim that it is purely and simply heaven, to which they recognize a providential power, to produce, preserve and ripen the harvests, to avert diseases, etc .; The greater number admit that they are ignorant of it and that they do not care much about it. When public sacrifices are offered to obtain rain or serenity, or to ward off various plagues, the prayer addresses itself either to the Supreme Being or to heaven, according to the text which the mandarin in charge of the ceremony writes.
Here are some details of these sacrifices, which are not very frequent. When districts or provinces suffer from drought, the government sends an order to the mandarins, and each of them, on the appointed day, proceeds in the morning with his suite, praetorians, and satellites to the place designated for him. There he waits patiently without taking any food, without even smoking tobacco, that the propitious hour arrives. It is usually about midnight, and in any case, the mandarin must return home only after midnight past. At the precise moment, he immolates pigs, sheep, goats, whose blood and raw flesh are offered to the divinity. The next day he rested, to recommence the next day, and so on, from two to two days, until the rain was obtained. At the capital, the mandarins rise, so that the sacrifices take place every day. If, after two or three sacrifices, nothing is gained, the place is changed, and a more propitious place is set up. The various stations which are thus to be occupied are determined by ancient uses. If prayers are useless, the ministers come to officiate in the place of the mandarins; And finally, when neither the mandarins nor the ministers could obtain anything, the king himself came in great apparatus to sacrifice and obtain the salvation of his people. When the rain comes, neither the priest nor his followers have the right to take shelter; They must wait until after midnight before returning to their homes. All the people imitate them, for one would think they would injure heaven by seeking to avoid a rain so ardently desired, and if any individual has the An unfortunate idea of ​​taking his hat or opening his umbrella, they take from him those objects which are torn to pieces, and he is overwhelmed by blows and insults.
The mandarin after the sacrifice of which rain comes, is regarded as having deserved well of the country, and the king rewards him by giving him advancement, or by giving him some precious gift. A few years ago, a mandarin from the capital, for having performed the ceremony before the fixed hour, was immediately dismissed. But that very night the rain began to fall; He was reinstated in his office, and shared the reward with the mandarin of the following day, during the sacrifice of which the rain fell in great abundance. Each of them received from the king a deer’s skin, which was carried to their home with all the apparatus and all the pomp possible.
The sacrifices to obtain the fine weather are made at the capital on the great south gate. The hour is the same, the priest keeps the same abstinence, and during all the time these sacrifices last, the door remains closed day and night, and the circulation is stopped. Sometimes it is also forbidden, during this time, to transport the dead. Those who then raise the body and set out in spite of the defense, either because they do not know it, or because they hope to smuggle, or because the day of the convoy was fixed by the Diviners and can not be changed, are mercilessly arrested at the gates of the city. Since they can not return home before the funeral, they must remain in the rain, they and the coffins they carry, often for several days, until the return of serenity will lift the prohibition.
Sometimes, in great calamities, as in the time of cholera, private individuals contribute themselves or make quests to supply the cost of more sacrifices, and the king, on his side, seeks to appease the wrath of heaven by granting partial amnesties Or general.
Besides this official cult of Siang-tiei or of heaven, the government maintains a temple in the capital and regularly offers sacrifices to the Sia-tsik. “I have often asked,” writes Mgr Daveluy, “what this Sia-tsik is. The answers are very obscure. Most claim that Sia is the genius of the earth, and Tsik the inventor of agriculture in China, placed today among tutelary geniuses. Be that as it may, the people do not pay much attention to the Sia-tsik, and in the provinces their name and worship are unknown. But in the capital his temple is the most sacred; The temple where the tablets of the ancestors of the reigning dynasty are preserved comes only in the second place. ”
The main part of the religion of the scholars, the only one known and faithfully practiced by the vast majority of the population, is the cult of ancestors. Hence the importance of the laws on mourning, the place where tombs are to be placed, and the preservation in each family of the tablets of the deceased parents. With regard to royal funerals and the duties of kinship, we have already given details of the mourning and the tombs of the kings; Now, to complete, some notions on ordinary burials and on tablets.
The choice of a place of burial is a major matter for all Koreans; For high-ranking people, it can be said that this is their main concern. They are convinced that this choice depends on the fate of their family and the prosperity of their race, and they spare nothing to discover a propitious place. Also, geoscopes and diviners, which are a specialty of this study, abound in the country. When the place of burial is fixed, and the body is deposited there, it is now forbidden for anyone to bury it, lest fortune should pass on its side, and the prohibition extends to A distance more or less considerable, according to the degree of authority of him who establishes it. For the tombs of the kings, the reserved land extends several leagues all round, and includes the surrounding mountains from which one can see the tomb. For their part, the great and the noble take as much space as possible; They plant trees there which it is forbidden to cut, and which in time become true forests. If someone manages to sneak up on a mountain already occupied by others, this mountain becomes, in the eyes of the law, the property of the last inhuman, and in this case, when the first tombs belong to nobles or Rich people, we have the bodies unearthed, otherwise we just shave the graves and make them disappear, by leveling the ground. Hence quarrels, brawls, and violent hatreds, which, like all the hatreds of the Korean, are transmitted from generation to generation.
The law prohibits the removal of the body of an individual belonging to another family, the parents of the deceased alone have the right to touch it. A few years ago, behind the mountain where a missionary lived, a wealthy merchant, who had just lost his father, found a place of burial at his convenience. Near there were some noble tombs. The distance being legally Sufficient, the merchant had the right to bury; But the reason for the strongest in Korea is almost always the best, and the nobles opposed it. The merchant persisted, secretly praised a hundred determined individuals, in order to overcome any resistance on the part of the guards, made the interment according to the rules, and retired with his troop. It was about six o’clock in the evening. The nobles, the first possessors of the ground, remained three leagues away, and, although they had been warned in the morning, they could not arrive, with two or three hundred men, but half an hour too late. The mountain was delighted. Not daring to touch the freshly buried corpse, they threw themselves with their people in pursuit of the merchant, defeated his trustees, seized him himself, tied his feet and hands, and brought him, amid the most frightful vociferations , Even to the grave of his father. The poor wretch, half dead with fear and fatigue, gave the first blow of a spade. The others could then dig up the body, which was done in a few minutes, and the merchant had to look elsewhere for a place of burial.
The common people have recourse to every means to protect their tombs. One day praetorians wanted to bury one of their own in a poor family. The head of this family, seeing that all claims were useless, quietly attended the praetorian funeral, and after the ceremony offered wine to the gravediggers, who accepted it. Then, with the utmost coolness, he cut off the flesh of his thighs, and offered them the bleeding pieces to complete their meal. The Mandarin, hearing the fact, and hearing the execrations with which the people charged his praetorians, had them severely punished, and compelled them to excavate their death and restore the place to the first proprietor. Another time an ox-slaughterer was dispossessed of his father’s burial by a very powerful nobleman, who buried his mother in the same place, two steps away. The poor man, far from resisting, lent himself the best thanks to helping those who performed the ceremony, and obtained, in reward of his good will, to be appointed guardian of the new tomb. After a few days, he planted a hedge between the two corpses. The nobleman came to his usual visit to his mother’s grave and asked for explanations. “I have been compelled to do so,” replied the guard, “but it is impossible for me, even if I should die, to tell you the reason. The nobleman, very intrigued, flattered and caressed, lavished upon him the assurances of impunity. “How to talk about things Similar? Said the other. A few nights ago, I saw my father’s body stand up, walk straight to the tomb of your mother-I dare not finish; But in the morning I planted this hedge to prevent such a scandalous profanation. The nobleman, half dead with shame, did not answer a word. That evening he had his mother’s coffin removed, and carried him elsewhere.
Immediately after death, the tablet is manufactured in which the soul of the deceased must reside. These tablets are usually made of chestnut wood, and the tree is to be taken from the forests furthest away from any human habitation, which the Koreans express by saying: “For tablets one needs a wood which, To be cut off), never heard either the barking of the dog or the crowing of the cock. This tablet is a little flat plate painted with white lead, and on which the name of the deceased is inscribed in Chinese characters. On the side, holes are made through which the soul must enter. The tablet, placed in a square box, is preserved: among the rich, in a room or special room: among the common people in a sort of niche, in the corner of the house. The poor make their paper shelves. During the twenty-seven months of mourning, sacrifices are made every day in front of these tablets. They bend their foreheads in the dust; We offer a variety of carefully prepared dishes, from tobacco to smoking, and incense. After mourning, sacrifices are offered several times a month, on days fixed by law and custom, either before the tablets or on the tomb. In the fourth generation, the tablets are buried, and worship ceases definitively, except for the extraordinary men whose tablets are preserved in perpetuity.
In addition to this ancestor worship, which is common to all Koreans, scholars and nobles have that of Confucius and great men, to whom they offer sacrifices in special temples, not because they regard them as gods, but because , In their opinion, they have become spirits or tutelary spirits. But what do they mean by that? It is difficult to know. “In this country,” writes Daveluy, “there are no exact notions about the distinction between the soul and the body, nor on the spirituality of the soul. The words Hon , Sin , Link , etc., consecrated in our Christian books to designate the soul and its nature, are applied by the Gentiles only to the spirits or genii and souls of the deceased. A pagan, well instructed, to whom I said that every man has a soul, would not admit it. For us, he said, what moves us and animates us dissipates With the last breath of life; But for the great men, they still survive after their death. Did he speak of their souls, or did they pretend that they were transformed into spirits or spirits? I do not know, and he himself did not know. In each district there is a temple of Confucius. These are small buildings that are fairly beautiful for the country, with vast outbuildings. They are called hiang-kio. It is impossible to pass on horseback in front of these temples, and bounds placed at the extremities of the consecrated ground mark the place where it is necessary to dismount. It is in these temples that the scholars hold their meetings, and offer sacrifices at the new and full moon. When the revenues attached to the temples are insufficient to cover the expenses, the district fund must replace them. The scholars elect among themselves those who are to perform the functions of a priest for a given time.
The se-ouen are temples raised to great men with the permission of the king. Their portraits are preserved there, and a veneration almost equal to that of the tablets of the deceased is shown in these portraits. If these great men have left descendants, they are, by right, officials of their temples; If not, the scholars of the neighborhood fill the office of priest in turn. Some of them are very celebrated in the country, and the governor, or minister, who refuses to grant to the public moneys the sums, sometimes enormous, exacted by the officials of these temples for the expenses of the sacrifices, His position.
The sacred books of China are also the sacred books of the Koreans. There is an official translation in the vulgar language, to which it is forbidden to change a single word without the order of the government. The scholar or doctor, who would allow himself to give a different interpretation on a serious point, might well pay his head for such audacity. A few years ago a nobleman, persecuted for publishing some attacks against a wise man, a disciple of Confucius, almost perished in a riot of literary men, and the king had great difficulty in saving his life. Besides these books, there is in Korea a collection of prophecies or sibylline books, prohibited by the government, which circulates in secret. The book is attributed to a very great antiquity. It is said, it is said, for the holy year, it is clearly the establishment of a religion which will be neither that of F6 nor that of Confucius. But what is this holy year? No one knows.
Alongside the official religion is, as we have said, the Buddhism or doctrine of F6, which is now Full decadence. Before the present dynasty, the Korean Buddha, sometimes called Sekael (descended from the family of Se), was in great honor, as well as his monks. It was then that all the great pagodas were built, some of which still exist today. They were found in every district, and the largesses of the people and kings kept them in prosperity. When the voluntary gifts were insufficient, the public treasury provided for them. Several kings of the Korie dynasty wished, by devotion, to be buried in these pagodas, in the Buddhist manner, which consists in burning the bodies and collecting the ashes in a vessel, which is kept in a special place, We throw in the water. One of these kings even issued a decree to oblige every family with three children to give one to become a bonze. At the end of the fourteenth century, the new dynasty which established itself on the throne of Korea, without in any way prohibiting Buddhism, left it completely aside, and since then pagodas, bonzes and bonzesses have ceased In public veneration. Sometimes, even today, the government will officially invoke the name of F6, and the queens or princesses will, in special circumstances, make a small present at such and such a pagoda, but nothing more, and everyone, the Buddhists Themselves, admit that, in a few generations, there will remain of their worship but a memory.
The Buddhist pagodas, built in the Chinese genre, are generally not remarkable. The sanctuary where the statue of Fô is located is rather narrow, but it is always surrounded by numerous apartments which serve for dwelling bonzes, study rooms and meeting places. Of the greater number, there remain only ruins. These pagodas are usually situated in the mountains, in the deserts, and often the site is admirably chosen. During the summer especially, the scholars often meet there to engage in study and literary discussions. They find tranquility, solitude, and good air; And the monks, by means of a small reward, serve them as servants.
These monks are now almost helpless. Except in the province of Kieng-sang, where they have retained some influence, they are obliged, in order to live, to beg or engage in various manual labor, such as the manufacture of paper or shoes. Some cultivate small corners of land belonging to the bonzeries. As a result of the discredit Religion, they can hardly recruit themselves, and have had to abandon all kinds of studies. Those who make themselves bonzes today are, for the most part, unconcerned people who seek refuge in pagodas, individuals who have not been able to marry, widowers without children who do not want or can not live Alone, etc. The people despise them, regard them as quarrelers, charlatans, and hypocrites; Nevertheless, by habit, and perhaps also by a certain superstitious fear, they are readily given alms.
We also find, as in all other Buddhist countries, bonzesses living together in monasteries, not far from the pagodas where they are forbidden to reside. Like the bonzes, they are bound to keep continence during their stay in the bonzeries, and there is a penalty of death against those who have children; They are very well versed in the infamous art of abortions. Their manners are considered abominable. Besides, bonzes or bonzesses are perfectly free to leave their convents whenever they like to return to the common life, and this is what happens every day. We enter these houses because we do not know what to do, and after a longer or shorter stay, if we are bored, we leave them to seek fortune elsewhere.
Such is, in Korea, the present state of the religion of Confucius and that of F6. These two doctrines, as has been remarked very often, and in our opinion very accurately, are basically only two different forms of atheism. From their legal coexistence, their necessary mixture in the minds of a people who hardly reasoned for their religious faith, this practical unbelief, that carelessness of the future life which characterizes almost all the Koreans, emerged. All make prostrations and offer sacrifices before the tablets, but few seriously believe their effectiveness. They have a confused notion of a higher power and the existence of the soul, but they do not worry about it, and when we talk to them about what will follow death, they respond as stupidly as our free thinkers of High and low floor: “Who knows? No one has returned; The important thing is to enjoy life while it lasts. But if almost all Koreans are practically atheists, on the other hand, and by an inevitable consequence, they are the most superstitious of men.
They see the devil everywhere; They believe in the good and evil days, the propitious or unfavorable places; Everything is a sign of happiness or misfortune. They constantly consult the fate And soothsayers; They multiply conjurations, sacrifices, and sorceries before, during, and after all their important actions or undertakings. In each house there are one or two earthen pitchers to enclose the penate gods: Seng-tsu, the protector of birth and life; Tse-tsou, the protector of dwellings, & c., And from time to time great prostration is made before these pitchers. If any accident happens while passing over a mountain, it is necessary to make some offering to the genius of the mountain. Hunters have special observances for days of success or failure; The sailors even more, for they make sacrifices and offerings to all the winds of heaven, to the stars, to the earth, to water. On the roads, and especially on the summits of the hills, there are small temples, or only heaps of stones; Each passerby will hang a paper, ribbon, or other sign on the temple, or throw a stone into the heap. The serpent is here, as everywhere and always among the pagans, the object of a superstitious fear; Very few Koreans would dare to kill one. Sometimes even they supply food in abundance, and regularly, to the snakes which lodge in the roofs or the walls of their hovels. A man in mourning can not kill any animal; He dares not even get rid of the vermin that devours him. The women, who in this country do all the possible jobs, would never want to kill a chicken, or even empty it after it had been killed by another person.
Most families preserve fire in the house, and make sure never to let it go out. If such a misfortune should happen, it would be for the family the prognosis and cause of the greatest misfortunes. In order to avoid it, every day, after preparing the morning or evening meal, the remains of burning coals with the ashes are placed in an earthen vessel, in the form of a heater, and the necessary precautions are taken to Keep the spark that will be used to re-ignite the fire at the next opportunity. One day a nobleman, who had great company in his drawing-rooms, saw a slave come out, a straw cap in his hand, at the moment when the meal was to be prepared. ” Where are you going ? He cried. “I go to the neighbor to get fire,” replied the slave; There is nowhere in the house. “Impossible,” said the master, turning pale, and immediately leaving his guests, he ran to the vases where the fire was kept in the various apartments, and, on his knees, with tears in his eyes, he returned the ashes with feverish attention. At the end he sees a Low light; He blows and manages to ignite a match. “Victory! “He exclaimed, returning to the drawing-room,” the destinies of my race are not yet finished; I have recovered this fire which my ancestors have faithfully transmitted for ten generations, and I, in my turn, will be able to leave it to my descendants. ”
We have already said how small the pox is terrible in Korea. When men are expected to arrive in a village, men and women bathe their heads with fresh water, and often repeat these ablutions, in order to prepare themselves to receive the visit of this illustrious lady. If sea water can be obtained in such a case, it is much more efficient than fresh water. At the same time, under the vestibule or at the door of each house, a table is loaded with fruit. When the disease has broken out in a house, a small flag is placed on it, or the door is yellowed with yellow earth, to prevent strangers from coming by their presence to disturb or to thwart the terrible hostess. We try to treat her well enough to obtain her good graces, we prostrate, we pray, we sing, we multiply the sacrifices in her honor, we make cakes of rice to regale in her name all the neighbors, and if the Rice was begged from door to door, the work is much more meritorious. The mou-tang or sorcerers are brought in with all their superstitious apparatus, and each one, according to his fortune, is fined by a grand ceremony, to discharge the lady with all the necessary pomp. All are convinced that during the illness the attacked children are in communication with the genii, that they have the gift of second sight, and that they perceive through the walls what is happening even at great distances. A few years ago, when a child of twelve or thirteen was ill in a house, a nobleman from the village came in without paying attention to him in the adjoining courtyard, the horsehair hat on his head. The child, who kept a grudge against him for a few blows with a stick which he had received, saw him come and exclaimed; “This nobleman who comes here with his cap, irritates the lady, redoubles my sufferings and is going to be the cause of my death. We must beat him on the back to appease the fury of the lady. “The noble, frightened, recognized his mistake, and to divert the misfortunes which threatened this terrible anger, consented to receive forthwith the atoning beating.
These superstitions and a host of others too numerous to list in detail, are very widespread in the country. Some men of the educated class look down and there were nofaith, but women of all conditions to take it as their life, and husbands, not to endanger the peace of their household, the same tolerated by refusing to take part in it, so that from the palace to the last hut, they are universally practiced. spoke to how many can be judged to be charlatans, astrologers, soothsayers, jugglers, fortune tellers, and one of the other sex, who live in Korea public credulity. We found everywhere who, for finance, just examine own land to build or to bury, determine the fate favorable day for business, take the horoscope of the intending spouses, predict the future, ward off misfortune or accident , chase the bad air, reciting formulas against a particular disease,exorcise demons, etc., and always with great ceremonies, noise strength and amount of food, because gluttony soothsayers is proverbial in Korea.
Those who have the most success and reputation in this business, are blind, almost all the exercise from their infancy, and transmit their secrets to children afflicted with the same infirmity. It is almost their natural motion, and often their only means of livelihood. In remote districts, each of them exercises separately at his own risk; but in the cities and especially the capital, they form a powerfully organized corporation that is recognized by law, and pay taxes to the government. Only they have the right to walk the streets at night. The day we meet them, two or three together, pushing a special shout to get the attention of those who may need their services. To be received definitively member of society,it must pass through a novitiate of three years. This time is devoted to study the secrets of the art, and especially the streets and alleys of the capital. This is something prodigious, and that seems naturally inexplicable as their address to find themselves in the maze of winding streets, cul-de-sac, dead ends that form the city of Seoul. When we told them any house, they go there, fumbling a bit with their stick, almost as quickly, and as safely as any other individual.dead ends that form the city of Seoul. When we told them any house, they go there, fumbling a bit with their stick, almost as quickly, and as safely as any other individual.dead ends that form the city of Seoul. When we told them any house, they go there, fumbling a bit with their stick, almost as quickly, and as safely as any other individual.
They are brought to indicate the future, discover the secret things, draw horoscopes, but especially to drive the devils. In the latter case, they should be more together; ceremonies then have a faster and more effective. They start chanting various formulasa serious, slow voice, then gradually raise the tone, accompanying the monotonous rolling and growing fast their sticks on the floor and on vases of earth or copper. They soon fall into a kind of strange frenzy; the rhythm of their songs becomes increasingly choppy, and at the end, it’s a terrible din of screams and shouts evil. “What lungs! exclaims Mgr Daveluy, from whom we borrow these details; I assure you that there are actually enough to escape all the devils in hell. Every exorcism takes three or four hours, and sometimes we start again, louder, three times in one night and several nights. Woe to neighboring houses where such scenes are going!it is absolutely impossible to close their eyes, as I have several times the experience. “In the end though, the operators are able to defeat the devil; they are forcing in a corner, shaking it from all sides, and eventually force him to take refuge in a pot or in a bottle that one of them is holding. One string mouth and you immediately that bottle with great care, and, the house being stripped of its uncomfortable host, it begins the song of victory. During the ceremony it has been offering to the devil all sorts of dishes to earn it; these dishes become the property of the blind, who also is given a sum of money more or less round.operators manage to defeat the devil; they are forcing in a corner, shaking it from all sides, and eventually force him to take refuge in a pot or in a bottle that one of them is holding. One string mouth and you immediately that bottle with great care, and, the house being stripped of its uncomfortable host, it begins the song of victory. During the ceremony it has been offering to the devil all sorts of dishes to earn it; these dishes become the property of the blind, who also is given a sum of money more or less round.operators manage to defeat the devil; they are forcing in a corner, shaking it from all sides, and eventually force him to take refuge in a pot or in a bottle that one of them is holding. One string mouth and you immediately that bottle with great care, and, the house being stripped of its uncomfortable host, it begins the song of victory. During the ceremony it has been offering to the devil all sorts of dishes to earn it; these dishes become the property of the blind, who also is given a sum of money more or less round.One string mouth and you immediately that bottle with great care, and, the house being stripped of its uncomfortable host, it begins the song of victory. During the ceremony it has been offering to the devil all sorts of dishes to earn it; these dishes become the property of the blind, who also is given a sum of money more or less round.One string mouth and you immediately that bottle with great care, and, the house being stripped of its uncomfortable host, it begins the song of victory. During the ceremony it has been offering to the devil all sorts of dishes to earn it; these dishes become the property of the blind, who also is given a sum of money more or less round.
As for the real action of the devil in these cases and the like, it is difficult to determine. There is often a lot of juggling and quackery, no doubt. But, occasionally, the devil truly manifests his presence and action in people or things by opposite phenomena to the laws of nature; there are real witches, witches above all, by magic rites begin directly related to the infernal powers, the fact is absolutely certain. The missionaries testify that the actual possessions sometimes encounter; likewise, obsessions, while not common, are not rare, even among Christians.
Moreover, the facts of this case, arriving in Korea, are those who have passed and still pass in all pagan peoples. All pages of the Bible, in the New as in the Old Testament are full of similar examples; and now that world history is better known, no serious scholar would dare deny the possibility.


XII Character of the Koreans: Their Moral Qualities, Their Defaults, Their Habits

The great virtue of the Korean is the innate respect for and daily practice of the laws of daily fraternity. We have seen above how the various guilds, and families above all, form intimately united bodies to defend, support, lean on, and help each other reciprocally, but this feeling of confraternity extends well beyond the limits of blood relationship and association; mutual assistance and generous hospitality towards all are distinctive traits of the national character, qualities, it must be admitted, that put the Koreans well above the selfish peoples of our contemporary civilization.

On the important occasions of life, such as a marriage or funeral, everyone takes on a task to help the family directly concerned. Everyone brings an offering and renders every service in his power. Some take on the responsibility of doing the shopping, and others organize the ceremonies; the poor, who cannot give anything, go to notify the relatives in villages near or far, spending day and night on the march, and voluntarily do all the drudgery and necessary chores. It would seem that it is a question not of a personal matter, but rather of the highest order of public interest. When a house has been destroyed by a fire, a flood or some other accident, the neighbors hasten to bring stones, wood and straw to rebuild it, and they all donate two or three days work in addition to the building materials. If a stranger comes to live in the village, everyone helps him to build a small dwelling. If someone is obliged to go deep into the mountains to cut firewood and make charcoal, he is sure to find a bed in the nearest village; he has only to bring his rice, and it will be cooked for him with the necessary seasoning added. When an inhabitant of the village falls ill, those who have a remedy in the house do not tarry to give it if it is asked of them; most often, they hurry to take it themselves, and do not want any payment for it. Gardening tools and other implements are at the disposal of anyone who comes to ask for them, and often even oxen are lent quite readily except during the ploughing season.

Hospitality is considered by all to be the most sacred of duties. According to the dictates of morality, it would be not only a shame, but a grave failing to refuse a measure of rice to anyone, known or unknown, who appears at mealtime. Poor laborers who eat their food by the side of the road are often the first to offer to share it with passersby. When, in a given house, there is a small party or formal meal, all the neighbors are always invited by right. A poor man who has to go to a distant place on business, or to visit relatives or friends far away, has no need to make long preparations for the trip. His stick, his pipe, a few rashers of bacon in a little packet hung from his shoulder, a few coppers in his purse, if he even has a purse and coppers to put in it, and that is all. Come nightfall, rather than going to an inn, he goes into a house whose outer apartments are open to all comers, and he is sure to find food and shelter for the night. When the dinner hour arrives, he is given his share; he has a corner of the mat that covers the floor to sleep on, and the end of the piece of wood set against the wall that serves as the common pillow. If he is tired, or if the weather is too bad, he will pass one or two days in this manner, without anyone dreaming of reproaching him for his indiscretion.

In this fallen world, the best things always have a bad side, and the highly patriarchal habits that we have just described produce some ill consequences. The most serious is the encouragement that they give to the laziness of a whole crowd of bad eggs who speculate on the public hospitality, and swan about from one end of the country to the other in a state of total idleness. Some of the most brazen come to stay, sometimes for weeks on end, with rich or well-off people, and even extract gifts of clothing, which one dare not refuse them for fear of being slandered and calumniated by them afterwards. It is said that especially in the province of Pieng-an, these cases occur pretty frequently. In the mountains of Kang-ouen, whole bands of them establish themselves in a village, live there for two or three days at the expense of the inhabitants, then move on to another, and so on, for months on end, while the government dares not intervene to protect the people. Itinerant peddlers, actors and astrologers take the same liberties; it is the custom, and no one claims the right to rid himself of these inconvenient guests by force, or even dreams of it. In addition, there are mendicants properly speaking. These are the infirm, the crippled, and the indigent elderly, to whom everyone gives a little rice or a few coppers. In Seoul, there is a female beggars’ cooperative which shares out the different districts of the capital and go from door to door every day. They are generally detested for their mean-spiritedness and insolence; however, the fear of attracting the mischief of the whole group forces the hand of the peaceable residents, and they collect abundant alms. Among the proper mendicants, we must also count the Buddhist monks. Some beg out of necessity, others out of virtue; the latter are called San-lim. Although the Buddhist religion has now fallen into universal discredit, they are almost always given a few handfuls of rice, whether out of pity or out of residual superstition.

Visits, evening parties, and other common social events are very numerous, and the greatest liberty reigns in them. The women never show themselves in these meetings; they pass their lives in the inner rooms, and only call on each other. The comfortably off men, however, especially the nobles, who are naturally talkative and lazy, continually move from drawing room to drawing room to kill time, telling or inventing the news. These drawing rooms or outer rooms are at the front of the house, and are open to all comers. The master of the house makes his usual abode there, and prides himself on receiving and providing lavish hospitality for as many friends as possible. Naturally, conversations hardly turn on politics; no one bothers himself about it, and in any case, such a subject would be dangerous. One does, however, recount the latest stories from the court and the town, retail the gossip of the day, quote the witticisms of this or that grand personage, recite fables, or talk of science and literature. In the summer especially, these meetings between literati turn into little academies, where they assemble three or four times a week to discuss questions of literary criticism, deepen their knowledge of famous works, and compare different poetic compositions. The common people, for their part, meet in the streets, by the roadside or at inns. When they are two or three together, the conversation starts up immediately and never lags. They ask each other the most indiscreet questions about topics such as their names, their age, where they are from, their occupations, their business, the latest news they have heard, etc. A Korean cannot keep a secret of anything he knows; he has an incredible itch to learn all the latest news, even the most insignificant, and to communicate it immediately to others, ornamented with every possible exaggeration and lie.

In Korea one always talks at a very loud volume, and these meetings are extraordinarily noisy. Shouting as loudly as possible is to show good manners, and he who spoke at a ordinary volume in a gathering would be ill-regarded by the others, and would be seen as an original type who sought to set himself apart. The love of noise is innate to them, and in their view nothing can be done expediently without a lot of racket. The study of letters consists of the full-throated repetition, every day for hours on end, of one or two pages of a book. Workmen and laborers distract themselves from their fatigue by competing to see who can shout the loudest. Each village has a drum, horns, flutes, and a few cauldron lids that double as cymbals, and often during the hard work of the summer, there is a pause for a few moments and the laborers divert themselves with a concert at full blast. At the prefectures and tribunals, the orders of the mandarins are relayed in the first instance by one crier, then by many others stationed on all the street corners in such a way they echo through all the surrounding areas. If a public official leaves his house, the piercing cries of a multitude of valets clears his path. In the rare circumstances that the king shows himself in public, a crowd of people is posted at intervals to raise the loudest clamor, and they share this duty alternately among themselves to ensure that there is never a moment’s silence. The smallest interruption in such a case would show a lack of respect towards the King’s majesty.

Koreans of both sexes are very passionate by nature, but true love is hardly to be found in the country because passion with them is purely physical, and the heart counts for nothing. They only know the animal appetite, the brute instinct that in need of satisfaction hurls itself blindly at the first object within reach; the corruption of morals accordingly surpasses everything that can be imagined. It is such that it can be affirmed boldly that half of the people do not know who their real parents are. Several times, Christian ladies on the point of being raped by pagans stopped them with these words: “Do not come near me, I am your own daughter.” The pagans retreated, knowing that the fact was, if not probable, at least highly possible. In any case, how could it be otherwise in a country where no religious restraint controls the passions, and where the customs and necessities of material life often forces poor women, which is to say half the population, to forget the laws of decency? In effect, the houses of the poor are nothing but miserable earthen huts. They do not have the means to have two rooms, or if they do have two, they cannot heat both of them during the winter. Accordingly, father, mother, brothers and sisters all sleep together, under the same blanket if they have one, and if they do not have one, pressed one against the other to warm themselves a little.

Nearly all children up to the age of nine or ten years, sometimes even more, live absolutely naked in the summer, or dressed only in a little jacket descends just to the waist. Christian children are generally dressed in a more decent manner, but the missionaries had a lot of trouble obtaining this concession. Every man, married or not, is free to have as many concubines as he can support in his household. When a woman arrives in a village, she always finds a berth. If no one is rich enough to keep her with him, everyone will take her into his house in turn and feed her for a few days. A woman traveling alone who spent a night at an inn would inevitably be the prey of the first comer; sometimes even the company of a man, at least if he is not well-armed, does not suffice to protect her. It is useless to add that prostitution is perpetrated in broad daylight, and that sodomy and other crimes against nature are fairly frequent. All along the roads, especially at the entry to villages, prostitutes of a tender age install themselves with a bottle of rice liquor, which they offer to passersby. Most stop to have the girls sing or chat with them; if someone passes without looking at them, they are not at all shy about pulling at their clothes to stop them and even blocking their path.

But let us avert our eyes from this sad spectacle, and hasten to move on to another subject. The Koreans generally have an obstinate, difficult, choleric and vindictive character. It is the fruit of the semi-barbarism into which they are still plunged. Among the pagans, moral education is non-existent; among the Christians themselves, it cannot bear fruit but in the long term. The children are almost never corrected, and one is content to laugh at their continual tantrums; they grow up this way, and later men and women incessantly give in to an excess of fury that is as violent as it is blind. In this country, to express a firm resolution, one pricks a finger and writes one’s oath in blood. In a paroxysm of fury, people hang or drown themselves with inexplicable ease. A small sign of displeasure or an unkind word drives them to suicide. They are as vindictive as they are irascible. Out of fifty conspiracies, forty-nine are betrayed in advance by one of the accomplices, almost always to obtain satisfaction for some specific rancor, or to take revenge for a word that was a little too sharp. It matters little to them that they themselves will be punished if they can bring punishment down on the heads of their enemies.

Another great fault of the Koreans is their voracity. On this score, there is not the least difference between the rich and the poor, the nobility and the common people. To eat a lot is an honor, and the great merit of a meal consists not in the quality, but the quantity of the dishes served to the diners. Accordingly, one talks very little while eating because each sentence could cause one to miss one or two mouthfuls. From childhood, the stomach is trained to be as elastic as possible. Mothers often take their little children on their knees, stuff them with rice or other food, tap them on the stomach from time to time with a spoon to see if it is sufficiently extended, and do not stop until it becomes physically impossible to inflate them further. A Korean is always ready to eat; he falls upon whatever he encounters and never says, “It is enough.” People in comfortable circumstances have regular meals, but if in the interval an opportunity arises to swallow some wine, fruit, pastry, etc., in whatever quantity there may be, they profit by it, and when the hour of the regular meal comes, they seat themselves at table with the same appetite as if they had fasted for two days. The ordinary ration of a worker is about one liter of rice, which after cooking amounts to a good bowl. This, however, does not suffice to satisfy them, and many among them take three or four portions when they can. Certain individuals, it is said, absorb up to nine or ten portions with impunity. When an ox is killed and meat is served liberally, a heaping bowl of it does not intimidate any one of the diners. In decent households, ox or dog meat is cut into enormous slices, and as each diner has a small table to himself, it is possible to show generosity to this or that diner while not giving to the others any more than is strictly necessary. If fruit is offered, for example peaches or small melons, the most moderate eaters will take up to twenty or twenty-five of them, which they will very quickly make disappear without peeling them.

It is useless to add that the inhabitants of this country are far from taking in the quantities of food every day that we have been speaking of. All are ready to do it, and in fact do when they have occasion to, but they are too poor to do it often. Ox meat, especially, is quite rare. We have mentioned above that the butcher is a kind of public servant named by the government, and who pays a considerable amount of tax for the exclusive right to slaughter oxen. Some highly placed nobles permit themselves to have personal butchers. This is an abuse that is tolerated in default of being able to stop it. Sometimes, also, in extraordinary circumstances, the king permits the slaughter of an ox in each village, and then it is a universal holiday, and his name is blessed from one end of the kingdom to the other.

One excess leads to another, and the abuse of food leads naturally to the abuse of alcohol. Drunkenness is also a great honor in this country, and if a man drinks rice wine to the point of oblivion, no one will regard it as a crime. A mandarin, a great dignitary, even a minister, can roll onto the floor without consequences at the end of a meal. He will be left to sleep it off quietly, and the other attendees, far from being scandalized by this disgusting spectacle, mentally congratulate him on being rich enough to procure such a great pleasure for himself.

As for the preparation of food, the Koreans are not difficult to please; everything is good to them. Raw fish, raw meat, especially intestines, pass for delectable dishes, and among the common people, they are hardly seen on their tables because such morsels are devoured as soon as they appear. Raw meat is usually eaten with pimento, pepper or mustard, but often no seasoning is used. On the banks of streams and rivers, large numbers of fishermen are to be met with, of whom the greatest number are noblemen without means who do not want to or cannot work for a living. Beside them is a small jar containing diluted pimento powder, and as soon as a fish is caught, they seize it between two fingers, dip it in the sauce and swallow it without ceremony. The bones do not bother them; they eat them with the rest of the fish, as they also eat the bones of chickens or other fowl in order not to waste anything.

Let us say a few words, to finish this chapter, on the differences of character between the inhabitants of the various provinces. Those of the two northern provinces, Pieng-an particularly, are stronger, wilder, and more violent than the other Koreans. There are very few nobles among them, and consequently few dignitaries. It is believed that they are secret enemies of the dynasty; the government, while treating them tactfully, watches them closely, and always fears an insurrection on their part that would be very difficult to quell. The people of Hoang-hai are thought to be shallow and narrow-minded. They are accused of being very greedy and of bad faith. The population of Kieng-kei, or the capital province, is light-minded, fickle, and given over to luxury and pleasure. It is the one that sets the tone for the whole country; it is to this population that what we said above about the ambition, rapacity, prodigality, and ostentation of the Koreans applies. Dignitaries, nobles and literati are excessively numerous there. The people of Tsiong-tsieng resemble those of Kieng-kei in all points; they have their vices and good qualities in a lesser degree. In the province of Tsien-la, few nobles are to be found. The inhabitants are regarded by other Koreans as coarse, hypocritical, deceitful people, only looking out for their interests, and always ready to commit the most odious treachery if is to their profit. The province of Kieng-sang has a character apart. Habits are much simpler there, morals less corrupted, and the old customs more faithfully conserved. There is little luxury, and little wild spending; small inheritances are also transmitted from father to son for many years in the same families. The study of letters flourishes there more than elsewhere, and one often sees young men, having worked in the fields all day, giving the evening and part of the night over to study. Women of quality are not confined as strictly as in the other provinces; they go out during the day, accompanied by a slave, and do not have to fear any insult or disrespect. It is in Kieng-sang that Buddhism holds on to the most believers. They are very attached to their superstitions and difficult to convert, but once they become Christians, they remain firm and constant in the faith. The nobles, very numerous in this province, almost all belong to the Nam-in party, and since the recent upheavals about which we have supplied the details in this history, have no part in public office or dignities.



Housing. – Clothing. Various customs.

The following excerpt from a letter by Mr. Pourthié summarizes in the most interesting way various notions of daily life in Korea, how to get lodged, dress, feed, etc.
“Would you,” writes the missionary, “wish you a ride in the country with me? I think you will hardly have the courage to do so. At first you will only be wearing straw sandals, which allow the entrance to rain, snow, mud, and all the unhappy; Then, as no one in Korea knows how to maintain the roads, you will soon be tired of jumping from stone to stone; You will grow tired of these continual ascents and descents, often very rude; Finally, if you pay no attention to it, your toe, which protrudes beyond the end of the sandal, and advances alone and without protection, like a lost sentry, will strike against the stones or against the stretches of brush, Will scold you, and will force you to give up your business. Let us rather stop to examine these houses, which you see sheltered from the wind in all the valleys, and which at a distance resemble large black spots on the snow.
“You have sometimes seen miserable huts; Still cast off the beauty and solidity of the poorest hovels you know, and you will have an almost exact idea of ​​the feeble Korean dwellings. It may be said, in general, that the Korean dwells under the thatch, for the houses covered with tiles are so rare, either in the towns or in the country, that one could not count one out of two hundred. We do not know the art of constructing stone walls for houses, or rather, most of the time, there are not enough sapecs for such an expense. A few scantily shredded trees, some stones, earth and straw are the ordinary materials. Four pillars supported in the earth support the roof. A few transverse beams, to which other pieces of wood cross diagonally, form A network and support a kneaded wall of eight to twelve centimeters thick. Small openings, closed by a trellis woodwork, and covered for lack of glass with a sheet of paper, serve as both doors and windows. The bare ground of the rooms is covered with very humble mats, if you compare them with the mats of China or India; Misery will often force it to content itself with hiding the soil under a layer of straw more or less thick. Rich people can line these mud walls with a sheet of paper, and to replace the floors and slabs of Europe, they will stick to the floor thick sheets of oiled paper. Do not look for multi storey houses, it is unknown in Korea.
“But let us penetrate into the interior, and first take off your sandals; Use and cleanliness demand it. The rich keep their stockings only, the peasants and the workmen are usually barefoot in their rooms. Once in, try not to bump your head against the molded earth and the branches that form the ceiling; Crouch rather on the mat, and beware of seeking a seat, for the king himself, when he receives the prostrations of his court, is crouched on a carpet, his legs crossed like our tailors. Maybe you want to take notes on the curious things you see? It is useless to ask for a table, the Koreans have only for the sacrifices to the ancestors and for the meals. Put your note-book on the knee, and write as if it were a habit for you, which you find very natural and very convenient.
“We are in November, and the north-west wind, while providing a dry and serene autumn, will make you shudder on your mat. You want to close the door, but the many holes made in the old papers of the windows will make the precaution almost useless. Moreover, the address of the Korean carpenter will always have managed to spare you enough cracks so that there is no danger of asphyxiation. And in this, all the wrong is not on his side, for at last a door of twelve or twenty sous, most often completed with the sole aid of the ax and chisel, can it be a perfect work? The only way is to have recourse to fire: but no chimney, and how to light a fire on the mat? It has been provided. Outside the house, on the side, is the kitchen fireplace, which leads to various ducts that pass under the floor of the room. These ducts or pipes are covered with large stones, the interstices of which have been filled and filled with inequalities The ground kneaded; It is on this that is spread your mat. The smoke and the heat passing through these pipes to get out of the other side of the house bring to you a beneficent heat which, thanks to the thickness of the stones, will be maintained for a long time. You can see that the Koreans have known the use of heaters long before us. It is true that smoke passes in abundant puffs through the cracks of the ground, but one must not be too delicate, and besides, in this world, what is the good thing which does not have its disadvantages?
“You hasten to take a look at the furnishings. And first, in fact beds do not believe discover some one of those solemn clusters of mattresses with canopy and draperies. Almost all of Korea lies on mats. The poor, that is to say the vast majority, lay on them with no other cover than the rags of which they are clothed day and night. Those who have a few sapèques give themselves the luxury of having a blanket, and in the well-to-do class they often join a little mattress one to two decimetres thick. All, rich and poor, have in a corner of the room a small stretch of quadrangular wood, thick of a few inches, which serves as a bolster. As for the other furniture, the poor have none; The ordinary people have a cross-stick on which is suspended a spare; The individuals at their ease have a few baskets hoisted on wooden bars or hung from the roof; Among the rich are coarse trunks; The merchants are seated beside a small box containing the inkstand, the brushes, and a roll of paper. The young ladies have a little black trunk with two skirts, one red and the other blue, the indispensable wedding present. Finally, among the great civil servants and in the houses of the high nobility, are found some Chinese books and varnished cabinets of modest dimensions.
“Now how will you dress?” I have already spoken of the sandals of straw, I will not try to describe them to you; It is necessary to see them in order to form an idea of ​​them. It is the ordinary shoe of the country, especially in traveling. The braided sole made of rice straw protects the soles of the foot slightly against the pebbles, but this is its only use. So it is not a small mortification, in the severe winters of Korea, to walk with slippers, feet in the snow or in an icy mud. During the summer, the only inconvenience is sometimes to take foot-baths; But when water is not to be feared, your Shoe has the advantage of being less warm than our shoes. With these sandals, you can make up to ten leagues in succession, sometimes much less. They must therefore be renewed at every moment; However, it can be done without much expense, for the price varies from three to eight sapeques (two and a half are worth a penny from France). Other sandals, somewhat more beautiful and more expensive, of the same shape, are made with hemp or with the bark of the shrub morus papyrifera , but these latter are lost at the slightest contact with the water. There are also leather shoes that are rather odd, nasty, and inconvenient, but besides that the ninety-nine hundredths of the population can not afford such luxury, this shoe is good at most to circulate in the House ; No one would dare set out on foot with such fetters.
“But at least you will have stockings, for every Korean, when he is not employed in the fields, can give himself this satisfaction, unless he is reduced to extreme poverty.” Do not, however, believe that they are elastic silk stockings, woolen stockings, cotton stockings, or any other material used in Europe for this purpose; Two simple pieces of coarse cloth sewn so as to end in a point and follow the contours of the foot will embarrass you, if you will, very often, but they will cover your feet, and they will be your Korean stockings. A pair of pants, as ample as that of the Zouaves, but with much less graceful forms, replaces the trousers with modesty; Narrow gaiters and canvas come to tie under the knee and retain the legs of the pants folded against the calves. To cover the upper body you will have a jacket which for shape and length, corresponds to the carmagnole carried by the French peasants in some provinces. The proprietors, who are at ease and do not work, usually put on a coat, with large sleeves, split on the sides, and falls to the knees in front and behind, in much the same way as The great scapular of the Carmelite monks; The peasants, on the contrary, wear this habit only when they are traveling or visiting. Fashion has taken the place of replacing it in winter with a frock coat, which among the dignitaries must always be split from behind like our French frock-coats, while ordinary people can not wear it split. Finally, a ceremonial one, which differs from that which we have just described, Sleeves even wider, crowns the whole and serves in travel or in great circumstances.
“Neither the razor nor the scissors ever pass over the head or the beard of the Korean. In these latter days, when everything is degenerating in Korea, as elsewhere, young men sometimes allow themselves to be shaved off part of the head, so that their raised hair does not form an ungainly bun in too great a thickness, but it is a violation rules. Do not, however, believe that the thick scalps or the strong beards are common in the country. The children of both sexes plait their long hair and bring them back from behind in the shape of a tail. The bridegroom, before going to fetch his bride, makes her tail disappear, turns up her hair, and ties them to the top of her head; The bride, on her side, buys, according to her faculties, a false hair, adds them to her tail, and thus forms a long rope which rolls over her head in several turns. This mass of hair, heavy and shapeless, can only be very disgraceful in the eyes of strangers; For the Korean, on the contrary, it is of the highest tone and the best taste. Women and children always go bare-headed; The married man holds his hair rounded up by means of a headband of hair braided into a net.
“Finally a ridiculous hat completes the clothing. Imagine a closed pipe, round as in European hats, but much narrower and slightly conical, which fits on the top of the skull, and in which the hair bun only can penetrate. This pipe has wings like the hats of Europe, but wings so disproportionate that often the whole forms a circle more than sixty centimeters in diameter. The framework of this hat is made up of pieces of bamboo cut into lengths into very loose threads: on this framework, a cloth of braided hair is stretched out. As this hat can not remain fixed on the chignon, cords which public officials adorn with globules of yellow amber or other precious globules, according to their fortune and their dignity, come to attach it under the chin. This hat preserves neither rain nor cold, nor even the sun; But, on the other hand, it is very inconvenient, especially when the wind blows it on the head.
“All clothes are commonly made of coarse cotton cloth, and made up God knows how. Four or five hundred years ago, Korea did not cultivate cotton ( gossypium herbaceum ), which is now made so Great use. The Chinese government, in order to preserve the monopoly of the canvases, rigorously defended the exportation of the seeds of this plant; Nevertheless, a Korean ambassador, named Moun-iouk-i, succeeded in procuring some of these seeds during his journey from Peking, hid them in the pipe of his pipe, some say, in a feather following others , Escaped the vigilance of the frontier guards, and endowed his country with this precious shrub. If the Korean canvas is so coarse, it comes from the fact that there are few craftsmen here, or rather what everybody is a craftsman. In every house the women spin, weave the canvas, and make the clothes, whence it follows that, no one exercising this trade, no one becomes skilful. The same is true of nearly all the arts, so the Koreans are very much backward; We are no more advanced today than we were in the past, any more than we were in the aftermath of the deluge, when all arts and crafts began again.
“Flax is not used. I have often seen him among the grasses of the mountains; But the Korean confuses it with worthless plants, only fit to be thrown into the fire. With hemp one only makes a plain weave of mourners, which is used only for summer clothes. The nettle species called urtica nivea is successfully cultivated in the southern provinces; But, for want of knowing how to spin and weave, only the unequal and widely spaced canvases, which are not used in summer, are taken from them.
“On all its mountains, Korea could raise immense herds of sheep, but the government forbids individuals to feed them. In certain prefectures, the mandarins retain some of them, only to offer their flesh in the sacrifices to Confucius. So the Koreans have never tried to weave wool; Scarcely a few foreign cloths, most of which are Russian manufactures, reach great expense to Seoul. The native silk is very coarse and in small quantities. Nevertheless, on seeing the mulberry grow spontaneously in the mountains, and the silk-worms succeed, notwithstanding the little care taken, I am convinced that, under the impulse of an intelligent government, this branch of industry might To acquire large proportions.
“European cotton cloths, imported by the Chinese, are beginning to sell themselves in Korea, but their very high price and their lack of solidity necessarily restrict their use. ”
For his part, M. Feron wrote in 1858:
“I live in the most beautiful house in the village; it is that of the catechist, a rich man; It is estimated that it is worth twenty francs. Do not laugh, there are fifteen sous. My room, of ample size, seen from the furniture, has a sheet of paper for its window, a sheet of paper for a window; Two other sheets of paper form a large door with two leaves, which communicates with the neighboring chamber. There remains my servant, and the two chambers united form the church of the parish; Later, perhaps, a bell tower will be added. For now, it is raining at home as outside, and two large cauldrons are not enough to receive a red water like the Korean brine, which filters through the roof of herbs of my presbytery.
“The prophet Elisha, in the Shunammite, had for his furniture a bed, a table, a chair and a candlestick, a total of four. It was not luxury. As for me, if I were looking for something, I might also find four pieces of furniture; Let us see: a wooden candlestick, a trunk, a pipe, a pair of shoes, total: four. Of bed, point; Chairs, point; “Expected,” say the Koreans, “that the earth is not pierced, and that it must be very fatiguing to sit on a seat, since, of course, it is not the natural position. From table, point: I write to you on my knees, in the aforesaid position: excuse if it is not the best in the world. I have not yet become Korean enough to think that it is more convenient than an office. When it comes to eating, the table is served: it is a little pedestal with a foot high, on which are placed, in an order as perfectly regulated as that of your finest desserts, two bowls, With three or five saucers. Do not think you’ll ever put the bowl or saucer on the right. Whoever would do this would be convinced, therefore, that he was only a rude personage, and no Korean would ever do so.
“My furnishing being such, am I richer or poorer than the prophet? It’s a question. His room was more comfortable than mine, but it must also be said that none of this belonged to him; Whereas, for me, if it is true that the candlestick is that of the chapel, and the trunk that which Berneux lent me, I can not deny that the pipe and the shoes are mine; Serve only for mass. I possessed, it is true, another pair; But having had the misfortune to put them out, they can no longer To appear in my room, and so desire the etiquette and cleanliness of the mat which serves me as a seat, a bed, and a floor. So I’m wearing simply with cotton stockings. As for the pipe, it serves as a traveling companion, in a country where everybody smokes; Yet I have not yet been able to understand its charms, although I have tried, and even that I have become ill twice, which has deprived me of all desire to begin again. So my people are surprised to see that the father smokes much less than the good woman who cooks her rice. ”
Let us supplement these details with information drawn from various letters from other missionaries. Korean houses are generally very small and inconvenient. They are a little elevated above the level of the ground to give passage from under the pipes that lead the smoke of the kitchen. In the capital, however, this use is not always followed. It’s quite convenient in winter, but in summer the heat becomes an unbearable torture, and most of the people sleep outside. The rich have, more often than not, summer chambers, under which no conduits of this kind are practiced. In ordinary houses there are two contiguous rooms, rarely three, not counting the kitchen situated on the side, which is open to all winds. All around the house, the rice-straw roof protrudes three or four feet to form small covered galleries. The walls of the rich houses are covered with white paper inside, sometimes also outside. Besides, these houses are almost always dirty, dilapidated, and miserable, even in the capital, and everywhere and always are filled with vermin of every kind.
The inns along the roads are disgusting hovels where there is scarcely anything; The greater number of travelers carry with them their provisions, when they have the means of having them. The barns and stables are unknown; Large hangars, open on all four sides, replace them, and in winter, when the cold is too violent, the oxen or the horses are clothed in straw.
The dining-tables are thirty or fifty centimeters high, and broad, the shape of which is nearly round. Whatever the number of guests, each must have his own. Coarse porcelain or copper dishes consist only of bowls of different sizes, a pair of Chinese sticks, and a copper spoon. The ordinary dishes are rice, chili, some vegetables; Comfortable people add to it A little meat or salted fish. These foods are prepared with sesame oil, castor oil or mint, with strong brine; For milk and butter are unknown, and it is not known how to make use of the fat of animals. It is difficult to find beef, except in the capital. There is no meat of sheep, it is the dog that replaces it, and the missionaries agree that taste is by no means disagreeable. In fact vegetables, there is only turnip, Chinese cabbage, and the leaves of plantain and fern that are consumed greatly. For ordinary drinks we have the water in which the rice has been cooked. The wine is made with fermented wheat or rice. In summer the nobles drink plenty of rice brandy, and honey-water. Tea is not unknown in the houses of the rich, but its use is very limited.
As soon as the meal is finished, the tables are removed, and each one lights his pipe, for the Koreans are great smokers. It is rare in this country that a man should go out without his pipe. The shape is the same as that of the Chinese pipe: a long bamboo pipe with a copper hearth, and a mouth of the same metal. Each Korean always carries with him a lighter which he uses exclusively to light his pipe. At home, when he needs light, he uses sulfur matches. On the way, a torch made of three or four intertwined sticks, replaces our lanterns. Sometimes, in summer, instead of a lamp in the interior of the house, a fire is lit on a stone in the middle of the court, and all the members of the family work by the light of this fire, A heap of dry grass, burning at some distance, envelops them with thick smoke intended to drive away mosquitoes and other insects.
Korean clothes are always of an exaggerated size. The body would easily pass through each leg of the trousers or into each sleeve of the jacket. To go out, good tone requires that one wear the most clothes possible, two or three pants, two or three shirts, four or five canvas coats, according to solemnity and also according to the resources of each. The frock coat is fixed under the arms by two strips, which replace the unknown buttons in the country. The clothes are supposed to be white, but it costs too much to keep them clean enough, and most of the time the primitive color has disappeared under a thick layer of filth, for the filthiness is a great defect of the Koreans. It is not uncommon to see the rich themselves wearing clothes torn and filled with vermin. To wash the linen, it is soaked in laundry water prepared with ash, and then strikes it with narrower boards than the beaters in Europe. Then it is coated with a layer of glue to prevent stains. Most of the clothes being made of pieces slipped together or simply glued, the pieces are separated and whitened separately. The nobles alone wear sewn clothes.
The ordinary hat is of very respectable dimensions; But in time of rain the Koreans put on their heads another hat, a true umbrella three feet wide, in straw, very light, and sheltering them fairly well. If they have to work by heavy showers, they also put on a straw mantle, and so they can face a torrential rain.
In addition to the different kinds of shoes mentioned, mention must be made of the wooden clogs used by the peasants; These clogs have the sole and heel excessively thick, which makes them look like skates. The Korean never wears his shoes or sandals in the apartments; He places them at the door. From there in the Christian countries, during the visit of the missionary, scenes quite curious. In the evening, the neophytes crowd into the house for common prayer, and also, as they say, to see the long nose of the Father. When the visit is over, it is necessary, by the light of the torches, that each one finds his shoe, and meanwhile one tramples with his stockings in the mud or the dust, with strong cries and discussions, without battles however.
The use of spectacles, although it hardly dates until 1835 or 1840, is very widespread among the upper classes. About 1848, it was a mania; Today it is putting a little more moderation. The people of the old regime, before taking their glasses, still ask permission of the company, but the youth dispenses with this formality.
In addition to the pants, which are narrower than men’s, women wear a canvas or silk camisole, the color of which varies according to age: it is pink or yellow for girls or new brides, purple for women at Under the age of thirty, and white for those of a more advanced age. As a dress, they surround themselves with a large blue cloth, which they tie under their arms by means of a belt. For the women of the people, who come out at will, this skirt stops above the foot; For noble women, whose etiquette does not allow them to leave their apartments, it is ample and drags on the ground. Widows, however young they may be, must Always be clad in white or gray canvas. The Koreans do not give into the stupid madness of the Chinese, and do not give in to have small feet; They let nature act. The women of the people travel almost always barefoot. Their hair, rolled up in braid around the skull, serves as a cushion for the water-vessels and other heavy objects which they usually wear on their heads.
To complete this sketch, the men in mourning must contain their hair in a net, not of horsehair, but of gray cloth, surmounted by a bonnet of the same stuff, in the shape of a coarse bag. On the way, they carry to the place of hat an immense roof of straw, a truncated cone, which descends to the shoulders. The glowing colors are so forbidden to the grieving man, that his very cane and the pipe of his pipe must be white. If he does not want to buy others, he covers his usual cane and pipe with paper, which is as easy as it is inexpensive. The form of clothing does not change for the woman in mourning, but the color strictly prescribed is white or gray: all the others are prohibited. In the eyes of Koreans, a man in mourning is a dead man. He must be absorbed in his pain, see nothing, hear nothing that can distract him from it. He always has, when he comes out, a fan or a little veil of gray cloth fixed on two sticks, with which he covers his face. He no longer frequents society; He hardly allows himself to look at the sky. If he is questioned, he can dispense with replying. He can not kill an animal, even a venomous snake; It would be an unpardonable crime. On the way and in the inns, he retires to a room or a secluded corner, and refuses to communicate with anyone. All these uses are strictly observed only in the upper classes of society.
The missionaries have often said that this costume and the manners of a nobleman in mourning seem to have been invented by Providence, to procure them an easy and complete disguise, without which their stay in Korea, and especially their travels among Christians, would have Been almost impossible. Unfortunately, since the last persecution, it is known that they usually used this method, and there was talk of reforming the costume and the laws of mourning. God will provide for it.



Science. – Industry. – Trade. – International relationships.

Despite the official protection of certain scientific studies in Korea, in spite of the special schools maintained by the government to promote their progress, these studies are practically nil. Reigning astronomers hardly have sufficient knowledge to make use of the Chinese calendar which is brought to them each year from Peking; Apart from that, they only know ridiculous astrological formulas. The science of the principal calculators of the Ministry of Finance does not exceed the ordinary arithmetical operations necessary for the keeping of books. That of the pupils of the Nioul-hak, or school of law, is confined to an almost mechanical knowledge of the official texts of the law and the royal decrees. Medicine alone seems to be an exception. While adopting Chinese medicine, the Koreans have apparently introduced some serious improvements, to the point that it was not disdained to compose in Peking itself the plates for the printing of the most famous Korean book Of medicine, the Tieng-oi-po-kan . No other Korean book ever had that honor.
Truly educated doctors are hardly to be found in the capital. These are some nobles who have studied out of curiosity, or individuals of the middle class who have worked to make themselves a position as doctors of the court. Elsewhere, a few able practitioners may be met at length, to whom long experience has taught the true use of local remedies; But these men are rare exceptions, and the vast majority of provincial doctors are merely charlatans without study and conscience, who for all possible diseases each use a special drug, and always the same, and never take the trouble To see the sick they treat.
It is said that in Korea, as in China, there are some very effective remedies against various diseases, among others a potion which dissolves the stones and calculations of the bladder, and cures this terrible disease without any surgical operation. Bishop Ferreol, the third Apostolic Vicar of Korea, after long sufferings which had reduced him to the extremity, was cured of the stone in a few hours by a Chinese doctor. But the formula of this remedy is a secret carefully guarded by those who possess it. The general rule is to give remedies in potion; Exceptions are rare. They boil together up to twenty or thirty species of plants, and various materials, more or less dirty and disgusting, are mixed with the decoction, the name of which is in no wise attempted to disguise its name under a more or less scientific disguise. The comforters are of continuous use. The most common is the meat, which the Koreans excel in preparing. There are two others which deserve particular mention: the gen-seng of which we have spoken above, and the horn of stag.
Horn of stag is said to have more lasting restorative effects than gen-seng; Its strength varies according to the region where the animal lives. The Koreans do not think much of it from China or the northern provinces (Ham-kieng and Pieng-an). The best, they say, is that which comes from the Kang-ouen; A distinction is still made between the different districts of this province. The deer must be slaughtered at the time the woods are growing, and before they are hardened, otherwise the effects of the remedy would be zero. The head of the animal is cut off, and it is kept reversed for ten or twelve hours, so that all the virtue of the blood passes through the horns, and then dried on a gentle fire with every possible precaution. To use it, it is scraped a little, mixed with the juice of some plants, and administered to the patient. Bishop Daveluy attests that he has frequently used this remedy for many years of exhaustion, and that he has felt excellent effects. Deer blood, taken hot, also passes to give all members an extraordinary life and strength. “When they have been drunk,” said Christian hunters to a missionary, “the steepest mountains seem like a plain, and the whole kingdom is made to go without fatigue.” ”
Another curative means of which one should say a word is acupuncture. It consists, for the Korean doctors, to pierce various points of the body with a lancet stroke, in order to restore the machine in its natural balance. There are special treatises on this part of surgical art, the only one known to the Koreans; They even know how to fabricate models of the human body with wire, in order to indicate exactly to the students the places where The lancet must be depressed. Under the hand of a skilful operator, the instrument, which is exceedingly thin, penetrates to a depth of four or five centimeters, and scarcely a few drops of blood. The missionaries assert that they have often seen remarkable and always very prompt effects of this kind of treatment.
The Koreans, little advanced in scientific studies, are hardly any more in industrial knowledge. With them, the useful arts have not, for centuries, made absolutely any progress. One of the principal causes of this state of inferiority is, that in every house one must make almost all the trades, and make oneself the necessaries of life. The harvest gives the farmer everything he needs, and during the winter he becomes a weaver, a dyer, a carpenter, a tailor, a mason, etc. He makes the wine of rice, oil, water spirits. His wife and daughters spin hemp, cotton, and even silk, when he was able to raise a few lines; They weave coarse but solid stuffs, which are sufficient for the usual needs. Each peasant knows and collects the seeds required for dyeing, and those which serve as remedies in the most ordinary diseases. He makes his own clothes, his straw shoes, his hoofs, the baskets, baskets, brooms, ropes, strings, mats, and plowing instruments he needs. If necessary, he repairs the wall, the roof, the frame of his house. In a word, it is sufficient, but, as it is easy to understand, it works only on the present necessity, is satisfied with the simplest and most primitive processes, and can never attain A remarkable skill.
There are special workers only for trades that require special tools, and an apprenticeship of how to use them. But, in this case, the workmen established in a fixed manner, and working in their shop, are exceedingly rare. Usually, each one goes where it is used, carrying its tools on its back, and when it has finished somewhere, looks for work elsewhere. Those who need a certain installation do not settle anywhere. Potters, for example, are now established in a place where wood and clay are at their convenience; They build their cabin and their furnace, and make for the neighbors a few coarse porcelains, earthen vessels, solid enough, and of a capacity sometimes monstrous; Then, when the wood is exhausted, they seek fortune elsewhere. The blacksmiths do the same, And move away when ore extraction becomes too difficult. Never have large factories, never serious exploitation, never workshops that deserve their name. Barracks of planks, badly joined, easily carried away by the wind, or crumbled by the rain, furnaces or furnaces without solidity which split every moment, that is all. As a result, profit is almost nil. Those who have money do not think of putting it into such enterprises, and among those who, with a few hundred francs, wish to make a fortune, half ruin themselves in a few months.
The Koreans claim that they manufacture and export in China great knives, swords and daggers of the highest quality; But the missionaries have not had the opportunity of sufficiently checking the accuracy of this assertion. They also make rifles to wick which appear to be quite solid. Though there is very fine copper in their country, they derive from Japan all that they employ. They mix it with zinc to make vases and pots. Thus combined, it is very difficult to oxidize, and, notwithstanding the continual use of these vases in rather well-to-do houses, no instance of poisoning is known by verdigris. All the jewels, all the articles of adornment, all the luxuries come from China; In Korea, they can not be worked.
It is nevertheless an industry in which the Koreans outweigh the Chinese, it is the manufacture of paper. With mulberry bark, they make paper much thicker and stronger than that of China; It is like canvas, and it is difficult to tear it. Its use is infinitely diversified. They are made of hats, bags, candle wicks, cords of shoes, etc. When it is prepared with oil, it replaces, advantageously, with our low price, our waxed cloths, and is used to make Umbrellas and waterproof coats. Doors and windows have no windows other than this oiled paper glued to the chassis. There is one exception, however. “When a Korean man,” says Monsignor Daveluy, “has found a small piece of half-inch square glass, it’s a good fortune. He immediately inserts it into a crack in his door; From that moment he can look at what is happening outside, and he is more proud than an emperor looking at the mirrors of his palace. In the absence of this piece of glass, he makes a hole in the paper with his finger, and communicates with the outside world. ”
It is easy to conclude from all the above that domestic trade in Korea is not very developed. There are very few merchants who keep an open shop in their houses, and almost all transactions are made at fairs or markets. These fairs are held in different towns or villages designated by the government, five in each district. In each of these localities, the fair takes place every five days, today in one, tomorrow in another, and so on, always in the same order, so that every day there is a fair on Any point in the district. Tents are prepared for the goods.
The measures used by the merchants are: for the grains, the handle. A hundred handfuls make a bushel, twenty bushels make a bag (in Korean: som ). For liquids, cups are counted. The weight measurement is the Chinese pound, and only the scales of China are used. The measure of length is the foot, which varies according to the provinces, one might say according to the merchants. The foot is subdivided into ten inches; The thumb in ten lines.
One of the major obstacles to the development of trade is the imperfection of the monetary system. Gold or silver coins do not exist. The sale of these metals, in ingots, is hampered by a multitude of minute regulations; And it would be seriously compromised if, for example, Chinese silver were sold, even melted into Korean bars. This money would be infallibly acknowledged, and the merchant, besides the confiscation of his bars, would risk a great fine, and perhaps the beating. The only currency which is legal tender is the sapeque. It is a small piece of copper, with an alloy of zinc or lead, worth about two centimes or two and a half centimes. It is pierced, in the middle, with a hole intended to let pass a string with which a certain number of bonds are bound together, whence the expression ligature or half-ligature , so frequently employed in the relations of the extreme East , To designate the current currency. To make a considerable payment, a troop of porters is necessary, for a hundred nhiangs or ligatures (about two hundred francs) form the charge of a man. In the northern provinces this currency is not current; Everything is done by exchanges, according to certain bases of convention. It appears that formerly cereals served as money, for, in the present language, the one who carries his wheat to the market to sell it says he is going to buy; And he who goes to buy says he will sell.
The rate of money is enormous in Korea. Whoever lends it to thirty percent is supposed to give it for nothing. Usually, fifty, sixty, and sometimes even one hundred per cent are demanded. It is right to say that the rent of land, which ought to serve as a point of departure for estimating the rate of money, is in this country relatively considerable. In good years, the farmer draws from his fields about thirty per cent of the value of the fund.
According to the ancient traditions of the country, it appears that the kings of the preceding dynasties had a paper currency, in the form of an arrow iron, worth about three sheets of paper. After the submission of Korea by the Manchu dynasty of Peking, the right to beat money was withdrawn from the Korean kings. The first who dared to strike it, in spite of the text of the treaties, appears to have been Souk-tsong (who died in 1720 after a reign of forty-two years.) Right now is acquired by a long prescription, and the government In use and abuse, in the last few years it is continually striking, but it is more and more altered, while the old sapecs were of copper, with a small alloy, the new ones are almost nothing but lead, and deteriorate rapidly It is not the government that wins, for it supplies the founders with the quantity of copper required, but these replace copper with lead, and share the profit, either with the Minister of Finance or with the official Responsible for verification.
Another obstacle to commercial transactions is the sad state of communication. The navigable rivers are very rare in Korea; Some only carry a boat, and this in a very restricted part of their course. On the other hand, the art of making rolls in this country of mountains and valleys is almost unknown. Thus almost all transports are made either by oxen or horses, or by men.
“The roads,” writes Mgr. Daveluy, “are divided, theoretically at least, into three classes. Those of first class which I translate by royal roads, are generally of sufficient breadth for four men in front. Since there are no cars in the provinces, this is all that is needed for pedestrians and riders. They are good or bad depending on the season. But it frequently happens that they are diminished by three-quarters by some large rock or fragment of rock, or because the rain has carried away part of the way. Nobody, of course, dreams To remedy these small inconveniences, and often one must climb on these rocks with his mount, at the risk of breaking his neck or rolling in the ditch. However, around the capital, these roads are a little better maintained. The main one is that which goes from Seoul to the border of China. There is another, fairly beautiful, it is said, only eight leagues long, which leads from the palace to a royal tomb.
“As for second class, their beauty, breadth and convenience vary every quarter of an hour. When I see only a bad path, I ask if it is still the highway; The answer is affirmative; The whole is to agree. Stones, rocks, mud, streams, nothing except the road. But what of the third-class roads, one foot more or less, visible or not, according to the sagacity of the guide, often covered with water when they cross the rice fields, and in the mountains, touching the precipices!
“For the bridges, two species are to my knowledge. Some consist of a few large stones thrown at intervals, across brooks; These are the most common. The others, composed of piles stuck in the river and supporting a kind of floor covered with earth, form a viable passable, although too often up to date. When water is abundant, which is frequent in summer, all the bridges are swept away or submerged by the flood, and leave the traveler the pleasure of taking a bath in passing. The great lords can escape by climbing on the back of their guide. Finally, there is at the capital a stone bridge, magnificent no doubt, and one of the wonders of the country. The rivers, which are rather considerable, are crossed by boat. ”
Korea’s trade relations with neighboring nations are almost nil. In order to maintain its independence against its two powerful neighbors, China and Japan, the country has become completely isolated. Any communication with foreigners, except in cases provided for by law, is a crime worthy of death. According to international conventions, no Chinese or Japanese can be established in Korea, and vice versa. The Chinese ambassadors who come to Seoul leave their suite at the frontier, save one or two servants attached to their person, and while they are at the capital, do not leave the palace assigned to them for residence. The Korean ambassadors may, on the contrary, enter China with all their followers, and circulate freely in the streets of Peking During their stay. When the Ambassador passes to Pien-men, [1] there is a fair that lasts several days. The Mandarin of Ei-tsiou, the last Korean city on the Chinese frontier, has the right to have relations by letters with the authorities of Pien-men at all times of the year. Every other year, another fair takes place at the northern end of Ham-kieng province. Between Houng-tchoung, a Tartar village in that part of Manchuria which has recently been ceded to the Russians, and Kieng-ouen, the nearest Korean town. This fair is considerable, but it lasts only two or three days, and only a few hours every day, from noon till sunset. At the signal given, each one hastened to cross the frontier, and the soldiers push the stragglers with their spears. We mentioned earlier the monthly markets, between the Koreans and the few Japanese soldiers established in Fusan-kai. There, the relations which Korea has on the ground with other nations are limited.
By sea, it has less. Chinese or Japanese vessels are allowed to fish for haï -san ( holothuria ) on the shore of Pieng-an, and herring on the coasts of Hoang-haï, but on two conditions: never to dismount, and Never in the open sea, with the people of the country, under penalty of confiscation of the ship and imprisonment of the crew. The first condition is generally observed, but between the Korean barks and the Chinese junks, sheltered from the innumerable rocks or islets of the Korean archipelago, there is a considerable trade in contraband. The mandarins, with a few secret profits, close their eyes. If the storm throws a Chinese ship on the Korean coast or a Korean ship on the Chinese coast, the castaways are collected, maintained by the government, carefully guarded to prevent any connection between them and the inhabitants, and carried back by land until The first city in their country. Return by sea is prohibited. Between Japan and Korea, repatriation is by sea, but with similar precautions.
Let us give here some details of the difficulties which the missionaries had to overcome in order to penetrate into Korea; We shall thus have an idea of ​​the meticulous severity with which the The Korean government maintains its absolute isolation. The frontiers of land and sea are guarded, by a cordon of military posts, solely to prevent the entry of foreigners and the departure of the natives. In the most important of these posts reside, as inspectors and customs officers, policemen chosen from among the finest and most experienced, and are assisted in day and night surveillance by dogs trained expressly, So that it is almost impossible to cross the border unnoticed.
There are only two roads on the ground: that of Tartary by Houng-tchoung and Kieng-ouen, and that of China by Pien-men and Ei-tsion. Elsewhere, the boundary between the Korean peninsula and the continent is made up of mountainous deserts and impassable forests. Now one can only attempt to pass on one of these two points on legally recognized fair days; At any other time, it would be madness even for the natives, much less for foreigners. So you have to follow the caravans that go to the Houng-tchoung fair, or join the Korean embassy that comes back from China. The great difficulty, in both cases, is the way of arranging the hair. The Chinese shave their heads, keeping at the top only a tuft of hair, which is plaited and stretched out in a tail on its back; The Koreans retain all their hair. If one shaves off the Chinese, one will be recognized and arrested on entering Korea; If one follows the Korean fashion, one will be recognized in China itself, before arriving on the border. During the Kieng-ouen fair, the Chinese are forbidden to enter the Korean houses, and many satellites are distributed at the city gate and in the streets to observe this instruction. The missionary who would take this route, even supposing that he had not been discovered by his fellow-travelers either on the way or during the few days of waiting before the fair, should come to an end with the Korean couriers And change the outfit in the open air, in the midst of thousands of people, without being seen by any, which is manifestly impossible. Moreover, once he had entered, he would have to travel a month’s journey before a Christian village, in a country which was little frequented, and where, consequently, travelers were rare and easily recognized. The couriers who would serve as guides to him would have to pass, in the few inns of the road, with one more person than by going; This alone would immediately arouse suspicions, that the difference of face and pronunciation would soon change into certainty.
By Pien-men the difficulties are not much less. Each of the Koreans who follows the embassy, ​​for whatever reason, is visited at the door, on their way to China, and searched from top to bottom. If his person and his luggage offer nothing suspicious, he receives a passport where everything is minutely detailed. Let us suppose that the couriers have obtained their passports. They bring back a missionary with them, and have succeeded in crossing the Chinese Customs; But from there to the Korean customs there are fifteen leagues of desert. To the right and left of the single road, stretch impenetrable forests. If, during the journey, they make a fire to prepare food, other travelers rush to cook their rice, which they can not refuse, and the danger to the missionary is great, The insolent curiosity of the Koreans. We arrive on the banks of the river where guards are stationed, and we descend into a Korean barque which leads the travelers to the customs situated on the other bank. There, everyone has to present his passport, allow himself to be searched and examine thoroughly. The missionary obviously can not face this customs, so he took care to remain hidden on the other side. He must wait until night to attempt the passage on the ice, for it is always in winter that the embassy returns from Peking. But on the Korean shore are staggered from distance to the guards, each with a picket of soldiers and a troop of dogs. The only chance of success is to drag themselves into the darkness between two guard-houses, and climb the snowy mountains of the vicinity, and from there, regain the roll inside. The first missionaries entered by this route; But soon after the persecutions all the tricks of the Christians were known, not only of the mandarins, but of the customs officers, the innkeepers, and all the pagan inhabitants, and they were obliged to abandon this road, now impossible .
We have made known the maritime conventions in force between China and Korea, which means that no vessel of either country can legally approach the coast of the sea, other. This prohibition is not violated either by the Koreans or by the Chinese. The thousands of Chinese junks that speak every year of the Leao-tong, Kiang-nan, Chan-tong, and go fishing on the coasts of Korea, still stand far from the shore. If they approach too closely, they are subjected to the most severe searches, and no consideration, no offer of money would decide their crew To take ground. As for the Koreans, it would be difficult to find among them a pilot capable of directing a boat, at sea, towards a given point. They know the compass, named by them: the iron that marks the south, and a certain number of Chinese manufactures are to be met with in the country. But they only use it in the superstitious search for the most favorable places for burials. The use of this instrument for navigation is unknown to them, for their boats never leave the earth by sight. Besides, the Korean vessels are very poorly built. Intended only for inshore fishing, they are flat underneath so as to be able to safely stay dry during low tide. A somewhat strong wave breaks the rudder; A somewhat fresh breeze forces the masts, which are always very high, to be cut. To construct otherwise would attract attention, provoke special surveillance, and expose oneself to prison for the violation of customs. Had they triumphed over all these obstacles, made the journey from China to and fro, that success would still be very doubtful. A ship which arrives from the open sea is by this alone suspected; The sailors of the other boats hasten to come on board, the authorities can not delay their visit, and if any object of suspicious origin is found, the boat is burned, and the crew put to death.
The only practicable means of penetrating into Korea by sea is that which the missionaries had adopted in the last days. Starting from China on a Chinese junk, after having agreed in advance with Korean fishermen on the place and time of the rendezvous; At night, far from the coast, sheltered from some of the islands of the Korean archipelago, transhipped in a hurry, and reached the shore before dawn. But this route, used without any untoward accidents until 1866, is now closed. Messrs. Ridel and Blanc tried it in vain in 1869; The surveillance is so severe that they have escaped death only by a special protection of Providence.
Indeed, since the expedition of Rear Admiral Roze, Korea is more than ever sequestered from the rest of the world. In 1867 the annual fairs at Pien-men, at the passage of the ambassadors, were suppressed; The Chinese junks, as usual, to fish on the coasts, were visited to the bottom of the hold, and sent back without permission of residence. The following year, 1868, more than seventy of these junks were burned, and three hundred men of their massacred crews, it is not known under what pretext. One or two vessels In 1871, the United States, in 1871, carried out an as sterile expedition as that of the French in 1866. Since then, herring fishing on the coasts of Korea has been prohibited to Chinese ships, n’osent plus guère s’y aventurer.
Yet the Korean people is not, by nature, enemy aliens. Perhaps it is better disposed towards them than are the Chinese; it is less arrogant, less enemy of every kind of improvement and progress, less fond of its alleged superiority over the Barbarians who populate the world. But the government keeps jealously isolation he believes necessary for safety, and no consideration of interest or humanity will make him give up. During the years 1871 and 1872 a terrible famine desolated Korea. The poverty was so great that the inhabitants of the West Coast sold their girls to Chinese smugglers, a bushel of rice per head. Some Koreans came to Leao-tong through the forests of the northern border,were missionaries a frightening picture of the state of the country, claiming that on every road we met corpses. But the Seoul government would leave destroyed half of the people, rather than allowing to source in China or Japan. Force alone can impose a system change. The various expeditions or rather demonstrations in the last thirty years, poorly combined, without mind away without serious political views, have not resulted so far only irritate and exasperate her pride, without tame. If one were to stop there, they would have been, in all respects, in the interests of freedom of trade as religious freedom, much more harm than good.stating that on all roads were encountered corpses. But the Seoul government would leave destroyed half of the people, rather than allowing to source in China or Japan. Force alone can impose a system change. The various expeditions or rather demonstrations in the last thirty years, poorly combined, without mind away without serious political views, have not resulted so far only irritate and exasperate her pride, without tame. If one were to stop there, they would have been, in all respects, in the interests of freedom of trade as religious freedom, much more harm than good.stating that on all roads were encountered corpses. But the Seoul government would leave destroyed half of the people, rather than allowing to source in China or Japan. Force alone can impose a system change. The various expeditions or rather demonstrations in the last thirty years, poorly combined, without mind away without serious political views, have not resulted so far only irritate and exasperate her pride, without tame. If one were to stop there, they would have been, in all respects, in the interests of freedom of trade as religious freedom, much more harm than good.But the Seoul government would leave destroyed half of the people, rather than allowing to source in China or Japan. Force alone can impose a system change. The various expeditions or rather demonstrations in the last thirty years, poorly combined, without mind away without serious political views, have not resulted so far only irritate and exasperate her pride, without tame. If one were to stop there, they would have been, in all respects, in the interests of freedom of trade as religious freedom, much more harm than good.But the Seoul government would leave destroyed half of the people, rather than allowing to source in China or Japan. Force alone can impose a system change. The various expeditions or rather demonstrations in the last thirty years, poorly combined, without mind away without serious political views, have not resulted so far only irritate and exasperate her pride, without tame. If one were to stop there, they would have been, in all respects, in the interests of freedom of trade as religious freedom, much more harm than good.The various expeditions or rather demonstrations in the last thirty years, poorly combined, without mind away without serious political views, have not resulted so far only irritate and exasperate her pride, without tame. If one were to stop there, they would have been, in all respects, in the interests of freedom of trade as religious freedom, much more harm than good.The various expeditions or rather demonstrations in the last thirty years, poorly combined, without mind away without serious political views, have not resulted so far only irritate and exasperate her pride, without tame. If one were to stop there, they would have been, in all respects, in the interests of freedom of trade as religious freedom, much more harm than good.much more harm than good.much more harm than good.
It is obvious that such a situation can not last, and that the excess of evil will take the remedy. Civilized nations, forced to protect in the Far East their navy and trade, not indefinitely tolerate a miserable little kingdom, no navy, no serious army, burning ships that touch its shores, killing foreigners because they are strangers, and take force outside of humanity. Very probably, the trial will be emptied by the Russians whose conquests in north-east Asia, are taking every day a greater development. Since 1860, their possessions are contiguous Korea. There have been several problems between the two countries for border and trade issues; these questionsmay fail to renew, and one day or another, they will end with the annexation of Korea in the Russian territory. Perhaps the British or the Americans, driven to desperation by some new insult to their flag, will impose free trade strength.
Better would certainly be that France was in charge itself to intervene, to erase the humiliation of the defeat suffered in 1866. This unfortunate expedition was the intention of the government to punish the killing of French missionaries, and make it impossible the repetition of such acts of barbarism. In fact, she completed the ruin of the Church of Korea and caused the massacre of thousands of Christians. What other way to repair this disaster to ensure that the brothers and children of the martyrs complete freedom of religion, forcing Korea to conclude treaties with civilized peoples, and these treaties once concluded, to respect scrupulously ? Undoubtedly, in the current circumstances, an expedition of this kind seems almost impossible, but France is not dead, thefuture has not said its last word, and the future is in God.


See: the pictures of before and after.


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