Reading “Korea and her neighbors” – 11, the Robbers and the Robbed

 

The cleansing of the Augean stable of the Korean official system, which the Japanese had undertaken, was indeed an Herculean labor. Traditions of honor and honesty, if they ever existed, had been forgotten for centuries. Standards of official rectitude were unknown. In Korea when the Japanese undertook the work of reform there were but two classes, the robbers and the robbed, and the robbers included the vast army which constituted officialdom. ” Squeezing ” and peculation were the rule from the highest to the lowest, and every position was bought and sold.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.4180-4183). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

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Reading “Korea and her neighbors” – 10, Korea is the country of wild rumors(liars)

 

The common people meet in the streets, the house fronts, and the inns. They ask each other endless questions, of a nature that we should think most impertinent, regarding each other’s business, work, and money transactions, and for the latest news. It is every man’s business to hear or create all the news he can. What he hears he embellishes by lies and exaggerations, Korea is the country of wild rumors. What a Korean knows, or rather hears, he tells. According to Pere Dallet, he does not know the meaning of reserve, though he is utterly devoid of frankness.

Men live in company in each others’ houses. Domestic life is unknown. The women in the inner rooms receive female visitors, and the girl children are present. The boys at a very early age are removed to the men’s apartments, where they learn from the conversation they hear that every man who respects himself must regard women with contempt.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.5633-5640). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

Old habits die hard. Seriously. Really.

 

KOREAN education has hitherto failed to produce patriots, thinkers, or honest men.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.6200). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

 

Narrowness, grooviness, conceit, superciliousness, a false pride which despises manual labor, a selfish individualism, destructive of generous public spirit and social trustfulness, a slavery in act and thought to customs and traditions 2,000 years old, a narrow intellectual view, a shallow moral sense, and an estimate of women essentially degrading, appear to be the products of the Korean educational system.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.6212-6214). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

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Reading “Korea and her neighbors” – 9, Preface & Conclusion

 

It must be evident to all who know anything of Korea that a condition of tutelage, in some form or another, is now absolutely necessary to her existence as a nation. The nominal independence won for her by the force of Japanese arms is a privilege she is not fitted to enjoy while she continues to labor under the burden of an administration that is hopelessly and superlatively corrupt.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.24-26). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

 

Forecasts are dangerous things, but it is safe to say that if Russia, not content with such quiet, military developments as may be in prospect, were to manifest any aggressive designs on Korea, Japan is powerful enough to put a brake on the wheel! Korea, however, is incapable of standing alone, and unless so difficult a matter as a joint protectorate could be arranged, she must be under the tutelage of either Japan or Russia. If Russia were to acquire an actual supremacy, the usual result would follow. Preferential duties and other imposts would practically make an end of British trade in Korea with all its large potentialities.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.7361-7366). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

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Reading “Korea and her neighbors” – 8, parody of China

 

Ten years before the opening of Korea to foreigners, the Korean king, in writing to his suzerain, the Emperor of China, said, “The educated men observe and practice the teachings of Confucius and Wen Wang,” and this fact is the key to anything like a correct estimate of Korea.Chinese influence in government, law, education, etiquette, social relations, and morals is predominant. In all these respects Korea is but a feeble reflection of her powerful neighbor; and though since the war the Koreans have ceased to look to China for assistance, their sympathies are with her, and they turn to her for noble ideals, cherished traditions, and moral teachings. Their literature, superstitions, system of education, ancestral worship, culture, and modes of thinking are Chinese. Society is organized on Confucian models, and the rights of parents over children, and of elder over younger brothers, are as fully recognized as in China.

It is into this archaic condition of things, this unspeakable grooviness, this irredeemable, unreformed Orientalism, this parody of China without the robustness of race which helps to hold China together, that the ferment of the Western leaven has fallen, and this feeblest of independent kingdoms, rudely shaken out of her sleep of centuries, half frightened and wholly dazed, finds herself confronted with an array of powerful, ambitious, aggressive, and not always overscrupulous powers, bent, it may be, on overreaching her and each other, forcing her into new paths, ringing with rude hands the knell of time-honored custom, clamoring for concessions, and bewildering her with reforms, suggestions, and panaceas, of which she sees neither the meaning nor the necessity.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.347-353). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

 

Outside the west gate, on a plain near the Peking Pass, was a roofed and highly decorated arch of that form known as the pailow(Yeongeunmun), and close by it a sort of palace hall, in which every new sovereign of Korea waited for the coming of a special envoy from Peking(Beijing, China), whom he joined at the pailow(Yeongeunmun), accompanying him to the palace, where he received from him his investiture as sovereign.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.688-691). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

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The Chinese colony was in 1894 nearly as large, and differed in no respect from such a colony anywhere else. The foreigners depend for many things on the Chinese shops, and as the Koreans like the Chinese, they do some trade with them also. The imposing element connected with China was the yamen of Yuan, the Minister Resident and representative of Korea’s Suzerain, by many people regarded as ** the power behind the throne,” who is reported to have gone more than once unbidden into the King’s presence, and to have reproached him with his conduct of affairs.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.701-705). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

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Reading “Korea and her neighbors” – 7, Yangban (privileged ruling class)

 

For among the curses of Korea is the existence of this privileged class of yang-bans or nobles, who must not work for their own living, though it is no disgrace to be supported by their relations, and who often live on the clandestine industry of their wives in sewing and laundry work.A yang-ban carries nothing for himself, not even his pipe. Yang-ban students do not even carry their books from their studies to the classroom. Custom insist that when a member of this class travels he shall take with him as many attendants as he can muster. He is supported on his led horse, and supreme help- lessness is the conventional requirement. His servants browbeat and bully the people and take their fowls and eggs without payment, which explains the meaning of the notice at Pa-ka Mi.i There is no doubt that the people, /. e. the vast mass of the unprivileged, on whose shoulders rests the burden of taxation, are hard pressed by the yang-bans, who not only use their labor without paying for it, but make merciless exactions under the name of loans.As soon as it is rumored or known that a merchant or peasant has laid up a certain amount of cash, a yang-ban or official seeks a loan.Practically it is a levy, for if it is refused the man is either thrown into prison on a false charge and whipped every morning until he or his relations pay the sum demanded, or he is seized and practically imprisoned on low diet in the yaug-baii’s house until the money is forthcoming. It is the best of the nobles who disguise their exactions under the name of loans, but the lender never sees principal or interest. It is a very common thing for a noble, when he buys a house or field, to dispense with paying for it, and no mandarin will enforce payment. At Paik-kui Mi, where I paid off my boatmen, the yang-ban’s servants were impressing all the boats for the purpose of taking roofing tiles to Seoul without payment. Kim begged me to give him some trifle to take down the river, with a few cash as payment, and a line to say that the boat was in my employment, service with a foreigner being a protection from such an exaction.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.1596-1611). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

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In these three broad streets the moving crowd of men in white robes and black dress hats seldom flags. They seem destitute of any object. Many of them are of the yang-ban or noble class, to whom a rigid etiquette forbids any but official or tutorial occupation, and many of whom exist by hanging on to their more fortunate relatives. Young men of the middle class imitate their nonchalance and swinging gait.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.732-735). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

 

Korean its methods of punishment, its brutal flagellations by yameii runners, its beating of criminals to death, their howls of anguish penetrating the rooms of the adjacent English mission, and Korean too are the bribery and corruption which make it and nearly every yame?i sinks of iniquity.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.530-532). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

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Reading “Korea and her neighbors” – 6, Japan

 

To all intents and purposes the settlement of Fusan is Japanese. In addition to the Japanese population of 5,508, there 1 According to Mr. Hunt, the Commissioner of Customs at Fusan, in the Kyong-sang province alone there are 17 such stations. Fusan is hedged round by a cordon of them within a ten-mile radius, and on the Nak-tong, which is the waterway to the provincial capital, there are four in a distance of 25 miles. is a floating population of 8,000 Japanese fishermen. A Japanese Consul-General lives in a fine European house. Banking facilities are furnished by the Dai Ichi Gingo of Tokio, and the post and telegraph services are also Japanese. Japanese too is the cleanliness of the settlement, and the introduction of industries unknown to Korea, such as rice husking and cleaning by machinery, whale-fishing, sake-making, and the preparation of shark’s fins, deche de mer, and fish manure, the latter an unsavory fertilizer, of which enormous quantities are exported to Japan. But the reader asks impatiently, ”Where are the Koreans? I don’t want to read about the Japanese ! ” Nor do I want to write about them, but facts are stubborn, and they are the outstanding Fusan fact.

*”Fusan” is today’s Busan

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.408-415). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

 

On the slope of Nam San the white wooden buildings, simple and unpretentious, of the Japanese Legation are situated, and Japanese Legation are situated, and below them a Japanese colony of nearly 5,000 persons, equipped with tea-houses, a theatre, and the various arrangements essential to Japanese well-being. There, in acute contrast to everything Korean, are to be seen streets of shops and houses where cleanliness, daintiness, and thrift reign supreme, and unveiled women, and men in girdled dressing-gowns and clogs, move about as freely as in Japan.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.692-696). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

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Reading “Korea and her neighbors” – 5, Sights and Costume

 

One of the ‘sights” of Seoul is the stream or drain or watercourse, a wide, walled, open conduit, along which a dark-colored festering stream slowly drags its malodorous length, among manure and refuse heaps which cover up most of what was once its shingly bed. There, tired of crowds masculine solely, one may be refreshed by the sight of women of the poorest class, some ladling into pails the compound which passes for water, and others washing clothes in the fetid pools which pass for a stream. All wear one costume, which is peculiar to the capital, a green silk coat—a man’s coat with the *’ neck” put over the head and clutched below the eyes, and long wide sleeves falling from the ears. It is as well that the Korean woman is concealed, for she is not a houri.

Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904. Korea and her neighbors; a narrative of travel, with an account of the recent vicissitudes and present position of the country (Kindle position No.712-717). New York, Chicago [etc.] F.H. Revell Co..

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