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..
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..
You can read the book online or get PDF and Kindle book from here.
See: the pictures of before and after.
Continue reading “Reading “Korea and her neighbors” – 8, parody of China”