Reading “In Korea with Marquis Ito (1907)” – “politically motivated missionaries”

“politically motivated missionaries” .. sounds familiar..

Jay Rilley1
knock knock, it Europe. No they came here not to take over, they just want to sell some shit, like clock, gun and JESUS


I’ve been reading a lot of historical witness accounts of Korea before and during the annexation written in English and French. “In Korea with Marquis Ito (1907)” is a book written by George Trumbull Ladd and published 1908.

On the other hand, the conduct of some of the missionaries had not been altogether judicious or even fair and just. As a body they seemed inclined to be over-credulous and easy to deceive by the falsehoods and exaggerations of their own converts. Not unnaturally, but it would seem unwisely, they had been somewhat too extravagant in praise of the negative virtues of the Koreans, and somewhat too sparing in demanding the more manly moral qualities of sincerity, courage, veracity, and sturdy loyalty to justice and to truth. And—to quote expressions heard from the lips of some of the ladies—there had been too much talk with foreigners and before the natives, about the “dear Koreans”; and “We do not love the Japanese.”


Moreover, the connection, both implicit and obvious, between these workers in the moral and religious interests of Korea and the enterprises of Mr. Homer B. Hulbert and his colleagues in the alleged political interests of the Korean Court, could not fail to be interpreted by both foreigners and Koreans as hostile to the policy of the Japanese Government.


His Excellency, I had said to Dr. Jones, had held out the hand to the missionaries; for them, through fear of losing influence among the Koreans, or especially at the Korean Court, to refuse to take this hand, seemed to me not only unwise but in a measure un-Christian. Without the success of the powerful influence wielded by the Resident-General for the economical and educational improvement of Korea—for developing its industries, founding schools and hospitals, making the conditions of life more comfortable and sanitary, purging the corrupt court, and securing law, order, and the administration of justice in the country magistracies—preaching, Bible-teaching, and colpor-teurage, must remain forever relatively unavailing. Moreover, I was becoming convinced that a large proportion of the present interest of the Koreans in the missionary movement had, either in pure or mixed form, political motives behind it.

Ladd, George Trumbull, 1842-1921. In Korea with Marquis Ito (Kindle position No.962-972). New York : C. Scribner’s Sons.

But still, the Korean King and Yang-bans were the “Cancer” of Korea.

The most urgent need for Korea at present was a reformed administration.

That His Majesty the Korean Emperor did not like the change, needs scarcely to be said. The enlargement of the power of the Government meant the diminishing of the Imperial power to dispose of the offices, the possessions, not only of the Crown but also of individuals and of the nation, and the lives of the subjects, without regard to law, order, justice, or the semblance of equity. There is equally little need to say that the Yang-bans and the corrupt courtiers and local magistrates, as well as the court-eunuchs and sorceresses, were in the opposition. But only by such changes is to be constituted the true ” Passing of Korea,” in a manner to commend itself to every genuine patriot and to all foreigners who honestly care for the good of the Koreans and for the welfare of the Far East.

Ladd, George Trumbull, 1842-1921. In Korea with Marquis Ito (Kindle position No.1266-1272). New York : C. Scribner’s Sons.

And old habit die hard.

Korean habit of exaggeration and lying renders almost all the uncorroborated testimony of the natives untrustworthy. This experience with official lying to cover their own countrymen against the demands of foreigners for justice, or to enforce indemnity in cases of false charges made against foreigners for assault on Koreans, is not confined to the Japanese. It is the common experience with all Korean judicial procedure.

Ladd, George Trumbull, 1842-1921. In Korea with Marquis Ito (Kindle positin No.5750-5755). New York : C. Scribner’s Sons.


Among the more serious unproved charges against Japan- 1 On one occasion the British and Chinese Ministers jointly urged the payment of indemnity in the case of two Chinamen, one a British protege ‘, who had been injured in a fight with tax-collecting officials at a place to which Chinese junks were in the habit of resorting. The British protege had died of his wounds, both he and his companion having been confined after the fight in the magistrate’s yamen. The Korean local officials contended that only one person had been killed —namely, the wounded Chinaman. When confronted with the fact that, according to their own report,, there was a dead Chinaman in the ese officials was that of torturing Korean prisoners by Japanese gendarmes at the time of the so-called “cleansing” of the Palace. Mr. Hulbert published this charge and specified, on the authority of ” numerous witnesses,” the exact character of .the torture—namely, by a kind of iron instrument designed to squeeze the head. Immediately Marquis Ito took up the matter and sent a messenger to Mr. Hulbert to express his earnest desire to probe the matter thoroughly; and his intention, in case the charge was proved, to punish the offenders severely. This request implied, as a matter of course, the pledge of protection to the witnesses; and Mr. Hulbert agreed to furnish the evidence. But when this could not be done, the excuse was first offered that the witnesses were afraid to come forward; and next, the “numerous witnesses” resolved themselves into one person, who had “gone into the country.” When still further pressed to furnish the promised evidence, the story of the iron head-rack was altogether abandoned, and for it was substituted the charge that a certain eunuch had been arrested and beaten by the police. But this, if it occurred, is only according to the Korean custom of judicial procedure, still to be allowed, after the torture of criminals had been legally abolished under Japanese influence. Nevertheless, this confessedly false charge was afterward included in a pamphlet by the same authority as another instance of Japanese outrages in Korea.

Ladd, George Trumbull, 1842-1921. In Korea with Marquis Ito (Kindle pos No.5766-5802). New York : C. Scribner’s Sons.

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