1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Korea
KOREA, or Corea (Ch’ao Hsien, Dai han). Its mainland portion consists of a peninsula stretching southwards from Manchuria, with an estimated length of about 600 m., an extreme breadth of 135 m., and a coast-line of 1740 m. It extends from 34° 18′ to 43° N., and from 124° 36′ to 130° 47′ E. Its northern boundary is marked by the Tumen and Yalu rivers; the eastern boundary by the Sea of Japan; the southern boundary by Korea Strait; and the western boundary by the Yalu and the Yellow Sea. For 11 m. along the Tumen river the north frontier is conterminous with Russia (Siberia); otherwise Korea has China (Manchuria) on its land frontier. Nearly the whole surface of the country is mountainous. (For map, see Japan.)
The south and west coasts are fringed by about 200 islands (exclusive of islets), two-thirds of which are inhabited; 100 of them are from 100 to 2000 ft. in height, and many consist of bold bare masses of volcanic rock. The most important are Quelpart and the Nan Hau group. The latter, 36 m. from the eastern end of Quelpart, possesses the deep, well-sheltered and roomy harbour of Port Hamilton, which lies between the north points of the large and well-cultivated islands of Sun-ho-dan and So-dan, which have a population of 2000. Aitan, between their south-east points, completes this noble harbour. The east coast of Korea is steep and rock-bound, with deep water and a tidal rise and fall of 1 to 2 ft. The west coast is often low and shelving, and abounds in mud-banks, and the tidal rise and fall is from 20 to 36 ft. Korean harbours, except two or three which are closed by drift ice for some weeks in winter, are ice-free. Among them are Port Shestakov, Port Lazarev, and Wön-san (Gensan), in Broughton Bay; Fusan, Ma-san-po, at the mouth of the Nak-tong, on the south coast; Mok-po, Chin-nampo, near the mouth of the Tai-dong; and Chemulpo, near the mouth of the Han, the port of the capital and the sea terminus of the first Korean railway on the west coast.
Korea is distinctly mountainous, and has no plains deserving the name. In the north there are mountain groups with definite centres, the most notable being Paik-tu San or Pei-shan (8700 ft.) which contains the sources of the Yalu and Tumen. From these groups a lofty range runs southwards, dividing the empire into two unequal parts. On its east, between it and the coast, which it follows at a moderate distance, is a fertile strip difficult of access, and on the west it throws off so many lateral ranges and spurs as to break up the country into a chaos of corrugated and precipitous hills and steep-sided valleys, each with a rapid perennial stream. Farther south this axial range, which includes the Diamond Mountain group, falls away towards the sea in treeless spurs and small and often infertile levels. The northern groups and the Diamond Mountain are heavily timbered, but the hills are covered mainly with coarse, sour grass and oak and chestnut scrub. The rivers are shallow and rocky, and are usually only navigable for a few miles from the sea. Among the exceptions are the Yalu (Amnok), Tumen, Tai-dong, Naktong, Mok-po, and Han. The last, rising in Kang-wön-do, 30 m. from the east coast, cuts Korea nearly in half, reaching the sea on the west coast near Chemulpo; and, in spite of many serious rapids, is a valuable highway for commerce for over 150 miles.
Geology.—The geology of Korea is very imperfectly known. Crystalline schists occupy a large part of the country, forming all the higher mountain ranges. They are always strongly folded and it is in them that the mineral wealth of Korea is situated. Towards the Manchurian frontier they are covered unconformably by some 1600 ft. of sandstones, clay-slates and limestones, which contain Cambrian fossils and are the equivalents of a part of the Sinian system of China. Carboniferous beds, consisting chiefly of slates, sandstones and conglomerates, are found in the south-eastern provinces. They contain a few seams of coal, but the most important coal-bearing deposits of the country belong to the Tertiary period. Recent eruptive and volcanic rocks are met with in the interior of Korea and also in the island of Quelpart. The principal mountain in the latter, Hal-la-san (or Mount Auckland), according to Chinese stories, was in eruption in the year 1007. With this possible exception there are no active volcanoes in Korea, and the region has also been remarkably free from earthquakes throughout historic times.
Climate.—The climate is superb for nine months of the year, and the three months of rain, heat and damp are not injurious to health. Koreans suffer from malaria, but Europeans and their children are fairly free from climatic maladies, and enjoy robust health. The summer mean temperature of Seoul is about 75° F., that of winter about 33°; the average rainfall, 36.3 in. in the year, and of the rainy season 21.86 in. The rains come in July and August on the west and north-east coasts, and from April to July on the south coast, the approximate mean annual rainfall of these localities being 30, 35 and 42 in. respectively. These averages are based on the observations of seven years only.
Flora.—The plants and animals await study and classification. Among the indigenous trees are the Abies excelsa, Abies microsperma, Pinus sinensis, Pinus pinea, three species of oak, five of maple, lime, birch, juniper, mountain ash, walnut, Spanish chestnut, hazel, willow, hornbeam, hawthorn, plum, pear, peach, Rhus vernicifera, (?) Rhus semipinnata, Acanthopanax ricinifolia, Zelkawa, Thuja orientalis, Elaeagnus, Sophora Japonica, &c. Azaleas and rhododendrons are widely distributed, as well as other flowering shrubs and creepers, Ampelopsis Veitchii being universal. Liliaceous plants and cruciferae are numerous. The native fruits, except walnuts and chestnuts, are worthless. The persimmon attains perfection, and experiment has proved the suitability of the climate to many foreign fruits. The indigenous economic plants are few, and are of no commercial value, excepting wild ginseng, bamboo, which is applied to countless uses, and “tak-pul” (Hibiscus Manihot), used in the manufacture of paper.
Fauna.—The tiger takes the first place among wild animals. He is of great size, his skin is magnificent, and he is so widely distributed as to be a peril to man and beast. Tiger-hunting is a profession with special privileges. Leopards are numerous, and have even been shot within the walls of Seoul. There are deer (at least five species), boars, bears, antelopes, beavers, otters, badgers, tiger-cats, marten, an inferior sable, striped squirrels, &c. Among birds there are black eagles, peregrines (largely used in hawking), and, specially protected by law, turkey bustards, three varieties of pheasants, swans, geese, common and spectacled teal, mallards, mandarin ducks white and pink ibis, cranes, storks, egrets, herons, curlews, pigeons, doves, nightjars, common and blue magpies, rooks, crows, orioles, halcyon and blue kingfishers, jays, nut-hatches, redstarts, snipe, grey shrikes, hawks, kites, &c. But, pending further observations, it is not possible to say which of the smaller birds actually breed in Korea and which only make it a halting-place in their annual migrations.
Area and Population.—The estimated area is 82,000 sq. m.—somewhat under that of Great Britain. The first complete census was taken in 1897, and returned the population in round numbers at 17,000,000, females being in the majority. It was subsequently, however, estimated at a maximum of 12,000,000. There is a foreign population of about 65,000, of whom 60,000 are Japanese. It is estimated that little more than half the arable land is under cultivation, and that the soil could support an additional 7,000,000. The native population is absolutely homogeneous. Northern Korea, with its severe climate, is thinly peopled, while the rich and warm provinces of the south and west are populous. A large majority of the people are engaged in agriculture. There is little emigration, except into Russian and Chinese territory, but some Koreans have emigrated to Hawaii and Mexico.
The capital is the inland city of Seoul, with a population of nearly 200,000. Among other towns, Songdo (Kaisöng), the capital from about 910 to 1392, is a walled city of the first rank, 25 m. N.W. of Seoul, with a population of 60,000. It possesses the stately remains of the palace of the Korean kings of the Wang dynasty, is a great centre of the grain trade and the sole centre of the ginseng manufacture, makes wooden shoes, coarse pottery and fine matting, and manufactures with sesamum oil the stout oiled paper for which Korea is famous. Phyöng-yang, a city on the Tai-dong, had a population of 60,000 before the war of 1894, in which it was nearly destroyed; but it fast regained its population. It lies on rocky heights above a region of stoneless alluvium on the east, and with the largest and richest plain in Korea on the west. It has five coal-mines within ten miles, and the district is rich in iron, silk, cotton, and grain. It has easy communication with the sea (its port being Chin-nampo), and is important historically and commercially. Auriferous quartz is worked by a foreign company in its neighbourhood. Near the city is the illustrated standard of land measurement cut by Ki-tze in 1124 B.C.
With the exceptions of Kang-hwa, Chöng-ju, Tung-nai, Fusan, and Wön-san, it is very doubtful if any other Korean towns reach a population of 15,000. The provincial capitals and many other cities are walled. Most of the larger towns are in the warm and fertile southern provinces. One is very much like another, and nearly all their streets are replicas of the better alleys of Seoul. The actual antiquities of Korea are dolmens, sepulchral pottery, and Korean and Japanese fortifications.
Race.—The origin of the Korean people is unknown. They are of the Mongol family; their language belongs to the so-called Turanian group, is polysyllabic, possesses an alphabet of 11 vowels and 14 consonants, and a script named En-mun. Literature of the higher class and official and upper class correspondence are exclusively in Chinese characters, but since 1895 official documents have contained an admixture of En-mun. The Koreans are distinct from both Chinese and Japanese in physiognomy, though dark straight hair, dark oblique eyes, and a tinge of bronze in the skin are always present. The cheek-bones are high; the nose inclined to flatness; the mouth thin-lipped and refined among patricians, and wide and full-lipped among plebeians; the ears are small, and the brow fairly well developed. The expression indicates quick intelligence rather than force and mental calibre. The male height averages 5 ft. 41 in. The hands and feet are small and well-formed. The physique is good, and porters carry on journeys from 100 to 200 ℔. Men marry at from 18 to 20 years, girls at 16, and have large families, in which a strumous taint is nearly universal. Women are secluded and occupy a very inferior position. The Koreans are rigid monogamists, but concubinage has a recognized status.
Production and Industries. i. Minerals.—Extensive coal-fields, producing coal of fair quality, as yet undeveloped, occur in Hwang-hai Do and elsewhere. Iron is abundant, especially in Phyöng-an Do, and rich copper ore, silver and galena are found. Crystal is a noted product of Korea, and talc of good quality is also present. In 1885 the rudest process of “placer” washing produced an export of gold dust amounting to £120,000; quartz-mining methods were subsequently introduced, and the annual declared value of gold produced rose to about £450,000; but much is believed to have been sent out of the country clandestinely. The reefs were left untouched till 1897, when an American company, which had obtained a concession in Phyöng-an Do in 1895, introduced the latest mining appliances, and raised the declared export of 1898 to £240,047, believed to represent a yield for that year of £600,000. Russian, German, English, French and Japanese applicants subsequently obtained concessions. The concessionnaires regard Korean labour as docile and intelligent. The privilege of owning mines in Korea was extended to aliens under the Mining Regulations of 1906.
ii. Agriculture.—Korean soil consists largely of light sandy loam, disintegrated lava, and rich, stoneless alluvium, from 3 to 10 ft. deep. The rainfall is abundant during the necessitous months of the year, facilities for the irrigation of the rice crop are ample, and drought and floods are seldom known. Land is held from the proprietors on the terms of receiving seed from them and returning half the produce, the landlord paying the taxes. Any Korean can become a landowner by reclaiming and cultivating unoccupied crown land for three years free of taxation, after which he pays taxes annually. Good land produces two crops a year. The implements used are two makes of iron-shod wooden ploughs; a large shovel, worked by three or five men, one working the handle, the others jerking the blade by ropes attached to it; a short sharp-pointed hoe, a bamboo rake, and a wooden barrow, all of rude construction. Rice is threshed by beating the ears on a log; other grains, with flails on mud threshing-floors. Winnowing is performed by throwing up the grain on windy days. Rice is hulled and grain coarsely ground in stone querns or by water pestles. There are provincial horse-breeding stations, where pony stallions, from 10 to 12 hands high, are bred for carrying burdens. Magnificent red bulls are bred by the farmers for ploughing and other farming operations, and for the transport of goods. Sheep and goats are bred on the imperial farms, but only for sacrifice. Small, hairy, black pigs, and fowls, are universal. The cultivation does not compare in neatness and thoroughness with that of China and Japan. There are no trustworthy estimates of the yield of any given measurement of land. The farmers put the average yield of rice at thirty-fold, and of other grain at twenty-fold. Korea produces all cereals and root crops except the tropical, along with cotton, tobacco, a species of the Rhea plant used for making grass-cloth, and the Brousonettia papyrifera. The articles chiefly cultivated are rice, millet, beans, ginseng (at Songdo), cotton, hemp, oil-seeds, bearded wheat, oats, barley, sorghum, and sweet and Irish potatoes. Korean agriculture suffers from infamous roads, the want of the exchange of seed, and the insecurity of the gains of labour. It occupies about three-fourths of the population.
iii. Other Industries.—The industries of Korea, apart from supplying the actual necessaries of a poor population, are few and rarely collective. They consist chiefly in the manufacture of sea-salt, of varied and admirable paper, thin and poor silk, horse-hair crinoline for hats, fine split bamboo blinds, hats and mats, coarse pottery, hemp cloth for mourners, brass bowls and grass-cloth. Wön-san and Fusan are large fishing centres, and salt fish and fish manure are important exports; but the prolific fishing-grounds are worked chiefly by Japanese labour and capital. Paper and ginseng are the only manufactured articles on the list of Korean exports. The arts are nil.
Commerce.—A commercial treaty was concluded with Japan in 1876, and treaties with the European countries and the United States of America were concluded subsequently. An imperial edict of the 20th of May 1904 annulled all Korean treaties with Russia. After the opening of certain Korean ports to foreign trade, the customs were placed under the management of European commissioners nominated by Sir Robert Hart from Peking. The ports and other towns open are Seoul, Chemulpo, Fusan, Wön-san, Chin-nampo, Mok-po, Kun-san, Ma-san-po, Song-chin, Wiju, Yong-ampo, and Phyöng-yang. The value of foreign trade of the open ports has fluctuated considerably, but has shown a tendency to increase on the whole. For example, in 1884 imports were valued at £170,113 and exports at £95,377. By 1890 imports had risen to £790,261, and thereafter fluctuated greatly, standing at only £473,598 in 1893, but at £1,017,238 in 1897, and £1,382,352 in 1901, but under abnormal conditions in 1904 this last amount was nearly doubled. Exports in 1890 were valued at £591,746; they also fluctuated greatly, falling to £316,072 in 1893, but standing at £863,828 in 1901, and having a further increase in some subsequent years. These figures exclude the value of gold dust. The principal imports are cotton goods, railway materials, mining supplies and metals, tobacco, kerosene, timber, and clothing. Japanese cotton yarns are imported to be woven into a strong cloth on Korean hand-looms. Beans and peas, rice, cowhides, and ginseng are the chief exports, apart from gold.
Communications.—Under Japanese auspices a railway from Chemulpo to Seoul was completed in 1900. This became a branch of the longer line from Fusan to Seoul (286 m.), the concession for which was granted in 1898. This line was pushed forward rapidly on the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, and the whole was opened early in 1905. A railway from Seoul to Wiju was planned under French engineers, but the work was started by the Korean government. This line also, however, was taken over by the Japanese military authorities, and the first trains ran through early in 1905, in which year Japan obtained control of the whole of the Korean internal communications. The main roads centring in Seoul are seldom fit even for the passage of ox-carts, and the secondary roads are bad bridle-tracks, frequently degenerating into “rock ladders.” Some improvements, however, have been effected under Japanese direction. The inland transit of goods is almost entirely on the backs of bulls carrying from 450 to 600 ℔, on ponies carrying 200 ℔, and on men carrying from 100 to 150 ℔, bringing the average cost up to a fraction over 8d. per mile per ton. The corvée exists, with its usual hardships. Bridges are made of posts, carrying a framework either covered with timber or with pine branches and earth. They are removed at the beginning of the rainy season, and are not replaced for three months. The larger rivers are unbridged, but there are numerous government ferries. The infamous roads and the risks during the bridgeless season greatly hamper trade. Japanese steamers ply on the Han between Chemulpo and Seoul.
A postal system, established in 1894–1895, has been gradually extended. There are postage stamps of four values. The Japanese, under the agreement of 1905, took over the postal, telegraphic and telephone services. Korea is connected with the Chinese and Japanese telegraph systems by a Japanese line from Chemulpo via Seoul to Fusan, and by a line acquired by the empire between Seoul and Wiju. The state has also lines from Seoul to the open ports, &c. Korea has regular steam communication with ports in Japan, the Gulf of Pechili, Shanghai, &c. Her own mercantile marine is considerable.
Government.—From 1895, when China renounced her claims to suzerainty, to 1910 the king (since 1897 emperor) was in theory an independent sovereign, Japan in 1904 guaranteeing the welfare and dignity of the imperial house. Under a treaty signed at Seoul on the 17th of November 1905, Japan directed the external relations of Korea, and Japanese diplomatic and consular representatives took charge of Korean subjects and interests in foreign countries. Japan undertook the maintenance of existing treaties between Korea and foreign powers; and Korea agreed that her future foreign treaties should be concluded through the medium of Japan. A resident-general represented Japan at Seoul, to direct diplomatic affairs, the first being the Marquis Ito. Under a further convention of July 1907, the resident-general’s powers were enormously increased. In administrative reforms the Korean government followed his guidance; laws could not be enacted nor administrative measures undertaken without his consent; the appointment and dismissal of high officials, and the engagement of foreigners in government employ, were subject to his pleasure. Each department of state has a Japanese vice-minister, and a large proportion of Japanese officials were introduced into these departments as well as Japanese chiefs of the bureaus of police and customs. By a treaty dated August 22nd 1910, which came into effect seven days later the emperor of Korea made “complete and permanent cession to the emperor of Japan of all rights of sovereignty over the whole of Korea.” The entire direction of the administration was then taken over by the Japanese resident-general, who was given the title of governor-general. The jurisdiction of the consular courts was abolished but Japan guaranteed the continuance of the existing Korean tariff for ten years.
Local Administration.—Korea for administrative purposes is divided into provinces and prefectures or magistracies. Japanese reforms in this department have been complete. Each provincial government has a Japanese secretary, police inspector and clerks. The secretary may represent the governor in his absence.
Law.—A criminal code, scarcely equalled for barbarity, though twice mitigated by royal edict since 1785, remained in force in its main provisions till 1895. Subsequently, a mixed commission of revision carried out some good work. Elaborate legal machinery was devised, though its provisions were constantly violated by the imperial will and the gross corruption of officials. Five classes of law courts were established, and provision was made for appeals in both civil and criminal cases. Abuses in legal administration and in tax-collecting were the chief grievances which led to local insurrections. Oppression by the throne and the official and noble classes prevailed extensively; but the weak protected themselves by the use of the Kyei, or principle of association, which developed among Koreans into powerful trading gilds, trades-unions, mutual benefit associations, money-lending gilds, &c. Nearly all traders, porters and artisans were members of gilds, powerfully bound together and strong by combined action and mutual helpfulness in time of need. Under the Japanese régime the judiciary and the executive were rigidly separated. The law courts, including the court of cassation, three courts of appeal, eight local courts, and 115 district courts, were put under Japanese judges, and the codification of the laws was undertaken. The prison system was also reformed.
Finance and Money.—Until 1904 the finances of Korea were completely disorganized; the currency was chaotic, and the budget was an official formality making little or no attempt at accuracy. By agreement of the 22nd of August 1904, Korea accepted a Japanese financial adviser, and valuable reforms were quickly entered upon under the direction of the first Japanese official, Mr T. Megata. He had to contend against corrupt officialdom, indiscriminate expenditure, and absence of organization in the collection of revenue, apart from the confusion with regard to the currency. This last was nominally on a silver standard. The coins chiefly in use were (i) copper cash, which were strung in hundreds on strings of straw, and, as about 9℔ weight was equal to one shilling, were excessively cumbrous, but were nevertheless valued at their face value; (ii) nickel coins, which, being profitable to mint, were issued in enormous quantities, quickly depreciated, and were moreover extensively forged. The Dai Ichi Ginko (First Bank of Japan), which has a branch in Seoul and agencies in other towns, was made the government central treasury, and its notes were recognized as legal tender in Korea. The currency of Korea being thus fixed, the first step was to reorganize the nickel coinage. From the 1st of August 1905 the old nickels paid into the treasury were remitted and the issue carefully regulated; so also with the cash, which was retained as a subsidiary coinage, while a supplementary coinage was issued of silver 10-sen pieces and bronze 1-sen and half-sen pieces. To aid the free circulation of money and facilitate trade, the government grants subsidies for the establishment of co-operative warehouse companies with bonded warehouses. Regulations have also been promulgated with respect to promissory notes, which have long existed in Korea. They took the form of a piece of paper about an inch broad and five to eight inches long, on which was written the sum, the date of payment and the name of the payer and payee, with their seals; the paper was then torn down its length, and one half given to each party. The debtor was obliged to pay the amount of the debt to any person who presented the missing half of the bill. The readiness with which they were accepted led to over-issue, and, consequently, financial crises. The new regulations require the amount of the notes to be expressed in yen, not to be payable in old nickel coins or cash. The notes can only be issued by members of a note association, a body constituted under government regulations, whose members must uphold the credit and validity of their notes. The notes must also be made payable to a definite person and require endorsement, safeguards which were previously lacking. Administrative reform was also taken in hand; the large number of superfluous and badly paid officials was considerably reduced, and the status and salary of all existing government officials considerably improved. An endeavour was made to publish an annual budget, in which the revenue and expenditure should accurately represent the sums actually received and expended. Regulations were framed for the purpose of establishing adequate supervision over the revenue and expenditure for the abolition of irregular taxation and extortions, as well as the practice of farming out the collection of the revenue to individuals, and, generally, to adapt the whole collection and expenditure of the national revenue to modern ideas of public finance. Down to 1910 the sum expended by Japan on Korean reforms was estimated to approach fifteen millions sterling. Among reforms not specifically referred to may be mentioned the improvement of coastwise navigation, the provision of posts, roads, railways, public buildings, hospitals and sanitary works, and the official advancement of industries.
Religion.—Buddhism, which swayed Korea from the 10th to the 14th century, has been discredited for three centuries, and its priests are ignorant, immoral and despised. Confucianism is the official cult, and all officials offer sacrifices and homage at stated seasons in the Confucian temples. Confucian ethics are the basis of morality and social order. Ancestor-worship is universal. The popular cult is, however, the propitiation of demons, a modification of the Shamanism of northern Asia. The belief in demons, mostly malignant, keeps the Koreans in constant terror, and much of their substance is spent on propitiations. Sorceresses and blind sorcerers are the intermediaries. At the close of the 19th century the fees annually paid to these persons were estimated at £150,000; there were in Seoul 1000 sorceresses, and very large sums are paid to the male sorcerers and geomancers.
Putting aside the temporary Christian work of a Jesuit chaplain to the Japanese Christian General Konishe, in 1594 during the Japanese invasion, as well as that on a larger scale by students who received the evangel in the Roman form from Peking in 1792, and had made 4000 converts by the end of 1793, the first serious attempt at the conversion of Korea was made by the French Société des Missions Étrangères in 1835. In spite of frequent persecutions, there were 16,500 converts in 1857 and 20,000 in 1866, in which year the French bishops and priests were martyred by order of the emperor’s father, and several thousand native Christians were beheaded, banished or imprisoned. This mission in 1900 had about 30 missionaries and 40,000 converts. In 1884 and 1885, toleration being established, Protestant missionaries of the American Presbyterian and Methodist Episcopal Churches entered Korea, and were followed by a large number of agents of other denominations. An English bishop, clergy, doctors and nursing sisters arrived in 1890. Hospitals, orphanages, schools and an admirable college in Seoul have been founded, along with tri-lingual (Chinese, Korean and English) printing-presses; religious, historical and scientific works and much of the Bible have been translated into En-mun, and periodicals of an enlightened nature in the Korean script are also circulated. The progress of Protestant missions was very slow for some years, but from 1895 converts multiplied.
Education.—The “Royal Examinations” in Chinese literature held in Seoul up to 1894, which were the entrance to official position, being abolished, the desire for a purely Chinese education diminished. In Seoul there were established an imperial English school with two foreign teachers, a reorganized Confucian college, a normal college under a very efficient foreign principal, Japanese, Chinese, Russian and French schools, chiefly linguistic, several Korean primary schools, mission boarding-schools, and the Pai Chai College connected with the American Methodist Episcopal Church, under imperial patronage, and subsidized by government, in which a liberal education of a high class was given and En-mun receives much attention. The Koreans are expert linguists, and the government made liberal grants to the linguistic schools. In the primary schools boys learn arithmetic, and geography and Korean history are taught, with the outlines of the governmental systems of other civilized countries. The education department has been entirely reorganized under the Japanese régime, Japanese models being followed.
History.—By both Korean and Chinese tradition Ki-tze—a councillor of the last sovereign of the 3rd Chinese dynasty, a sage, and the reputed author of parts of the famous Chinese classic, the Shu-King—is represented as entering Korea in 1122 B.C. with several thousand Chinese emigrants, who made him their king. The peninsula was then peopled by savages living in caves and subterranean holes. By both learned and popular belief in Korea Ki-tze is recognized as the founder of Korean social order, and is greatly reverenced. He called the new kingdom Ch’ao-Hsien, pacified and policed its borders, and introduced laws and Chinese etiquette and polity. Korean ancient history is far from satisfying the rigid demands of modern criticism, but it appears that Ki-tze’s dynasty ruled the peninsula until the 4th century B.C., from which period until the 10th century A.D. civil wars and foreign aggressions are prominent. Nevertheless, Hiaksai, which with Korai and Shinra then constituted Korea, was a centre of literary culture in the 4th century, through which the Chinese classics and the art of writing reached the other two kingdoms. , a forceful civilizing element, reached Hiaksai in A.D. 384, and from it the sutras and images of northern Buddhism were carried to Japan, as well as Chinese letters and ethics. Internecine wars were terminated about 913 by Wang the Founder, who unified the peninsula under the name Korai, made Song-do its capital, and endowed Buddhism as the state religion. In the 11th century Korea was stripped of her territory west of the Yalu by a warlike horde of Tungus stock, since which time her frontiers have been stationary. The Wang dynasty perished in 1392, an important epoch in the peninsula, when Ni Taijo, or Litan, the founder of the present dynasty, ascended the throne, after his country had suffered severely from Jenghiz and Khublai Khan. He tendered his homage to the first Ming emperor of China, received from him his investiture as sovereign, and accepted from him the Chinese calendar and chronology, in itself a declaration of fealty. He revived the name Ch’ao-Hsien, changed the capital from Song-do to Seoul, organized an administrative system, which with some modifications continued till 1895, and exists partially still, carried out vigorous reforms, disestablished Buddhism, made merit in Chinese literary examinations the basis of appointment to office, made Confucianism the state religion, abolished human sacrifices and the burying of old men alive, and introduced that Confucian system of education, polity, and social order which has dominated Korea for five centuries. Either this king or an immediate successor introduced the present national costume, the dress worn by the Chinese before the Manchu conquest. The early heirs of this vigorous and capable monarch used their power, like him, for the good of the people; but later decay set in, and Japanese buccaneers ravaged the coasts, though for two centuries under Chinese protection Korea was free from actual foreign invasion. In 1592 occurred the epoch-making invasion of Korea by a Japanese army of 300,000 men, by order of the great regent Hideyoshi. China came to the rescue with 60,000 men, and six years of a gigantic and bloody war followed, in which Japan used firearms for the first time against a foreign foe. Seoul and several of the oldest cities were captured, and in some instances destroyed, the country was desolated, and the art treasures and the artists were carried to Japan. The Japanese troops were recalled in 1598 at Hideyoshi’s death. The port and fishing privileges of Fusan remained in Japanese possession, a heavy tribute was exacted, and until 1790 the Korean king stood in humiliating relations towards Japan. Korea never recovered from the effects of this invasion, which bequeathed to all Koreans an intense hatred of the Japanese.
In 1866, 1867, and 1871 French and American punitive expeditions attacked parts of Korea in which French missionaries and American adventurers had been put to death, and inflicted much loss of life, but retired without securing any diplomatic successes, and Korea continued to preserve her complete isolation. The first indirect step towards breaking it down had been taken in 1860, when Russia obtained from China the cession of the Usuri province, thus bringing a European power down to the Tumen. A large emigration of famine-stricken Koreans and persecuted Christians into Russian territory followed. The emigrants were very kindly received, and many of them became thrifty and prosperous farmers. In 1876 Japan, with the consent of China, wrung a treaty from Korea by which Fusan was fully opened to Japanese settlement and trade, and Wön-san (Gensan) and Inchiun (Chemulpo) were opened to her in 1880. In 1882 China promulgated her “Trade and Frontier Regulations,” and America negotiated a commercial treaty, followed by Germany and Great Britain in 1883, Italy and Russia in 1884, France in 1886, and Austria in 1892. A “Trade Convention” was also concluded with Russia. Seoul was opened in 1884 to foreign residence, and the provinces to foreign travel, and the diplomatic agents of the contracting powers obtained a recognized status at the capital. These treaties terminated the absolute isolation which Korea had effectually preserved. During the negotiations, although under Chinese suzerainty, she was treated with as an independent state. Between 1897 and 1899, under diplomatic pressure, a number of ports were opened to foreign trade and residence. From 1882 to 1894 the chief event in the newly opened kingdom was a plot by the Tai-won-Kun, the father of the emperor, to seize on power, which led to an attack on the Japanese legation, the members of which were compelled to fight their way, and that not bloodlessly, to the sea. Japan secured ample compensation; and the Chinese resident, aided by Chinese troops, deported the Tai-won-Kun to Tientsin. In 1884 at an official banquet the leaders of the progressive party assassinated six leading Korean statesmen, and the intrigues in Korea of the banished or escaped conspirators created difficulties which were very slow to subside. In spite of a constant struggle for ascendancy between the queen and the returned Tai-won-Kun, the next decade was one of quiet. China, always esteemed in Korea, consolidated her influence under the new conditions through a powerful resident; prosperity advanced, and certain reforms were projected by foreign “advisers.” In May 1894 a more important insurrectionary rising than usual led the king to ask armed aid from China. She landed 2000 troops on the 10th of June, having previously, in accordance with treaty provisions, notified Japan of her intention. Soon after this Japan had 12,000 troops in Korea, and occupied the capital and the treaty ports. Then Japan made three sensible proposals for Korean reform, to be undertaken jointly by herself and China. China replied that Korea must be left to reform herself, and that the withdrawal of the Japanese troops must precede negotiations. Japan rejected this suggestion, and on the 23rd of July attacked and occupied the royal palace. After some further negotiations and fights by land and sea between Japan and China war was declared formally by Japan, and Korea was for some time the battle-ground of the belligerents. The Japanese victories resulted for Korea in the solemn renunciation of Chinese suzerainty by the Korean king, the substitution of Japanese for Chinese influence, the introduction of many important reforms under Japanese advisers, and of checks on the absolutism of the throne. Everything promised well. The finances flourished under the capable control of Mr (afterwards Sir) M‘Leavy Brown, C.M.G. Large and judicious retrenchments were carried out in most of the government departments. A measure of judicial and prison reform was granted. Taxation was placed on an equable basis. The pressure of the trade gilds was relaxed. Postal and educational systems were introduced. An approach to a constitution was made. The distinction between patrician and plebeian, domestic slavery, and beating and slicing to death were abolished. The age for marriage of both sexes was raised. Chinese literary examinations ceased to be a passport to office. Classes previously degraded were enfranchised, and the alliance between two essentially corrupt systems of government was severed. For about eighteen months all the departments were practically under Japanese control. On the 8th of October 1895 the Tai-won-Kun, with Korean troops, aided by Japanese troops under the orders of Viscount Miura, the Japanese minister, captured the palace, assassinated the queen, and made a prisoner of the king, who, however, four months later, escaped to the Russian legation, where he remained till the spring of 1897. Japanese influence waned. The engagements of the advisers were not renewed. A strong retrograde movement set in. Reforms were dropped. The king, with the checks upon his absolutism removed, reverted to the worst traditions of his dynasty, and the control and arrangements of finance were upset by Russia.
At the close of 1897 the king assumed the title of emperor, and changed the official designation of the empire to Dai Han—Great Han. By 1898 the imperial will, working under partially new conditions, produced continual chaos, and by 1900 succeeded in practically overriding all constitutional restraints. Meanwhile Russian intrigue was constantly active. At last Japan resorted to arms, and her success against Russia in the war of 1904–5 enabled her to resume her influence over Korea. On the 23rd of February 1904 an agreement was determined whereby Japan resumed her position as administrative adviser to Korea, guaranteed the integrity of the country, and bound herself to maintain the imperial house in its position. Her interests were recognized by Russia in the treaty of peace (September 5, 1905), and by Great Britain in the Anglo-Japanese agreement of the 12th of August 1905. The Koreans did not accept the restoration of Japanese influence without demur. In August 1905 disturbances arose owing to an attempt by some merchants to obtain special assistance from the treasury on the pretext of embarrassment caused by Japanese financial reforms; these disturbances spread to some of the provinces, and the Japanese were compelled to make a show of force. Prolonged negotiations were necessary to the completion of the treaty of the 17th of November 1905, whereby Japan obtained the control of Korea’s foreign affairs and relations, and the confirmation of previous agreements, the far-reaching results of which have been indicated. Nor was opposition to Japanese reforms confined to popular demonstration. In 1907 a Korean delegacy, headed by Prince Yong, a member of the imperial family, was sent out to lay before the Hague conference of that year, and before all the principal governments, a protest against the treatment of Korea by Japan. While this was of course fruitless from the Korean point of view, it indicated that the Japanese must take strong measures to suppress the intrigues of the Korean court.
At the instigation of the Korean ministry the emperor abdicated on the 19th of July 1907, handing over the crown to his son. Somewhat serious émeutes followed in Seoul and elsewhere, and the Japanese proposals for a new convention, increasing the powers of the resident general, had to be presented to the cabinet under a strong guard. The convention was signed on the 25th of July. One of the reforms immediately undertaken was the disbanding of the Korean standing army, which led to an insurrection and an intermittent guerrilla warfare which, owing to the nature of the country, was not easy to subdue. Under the direction of Prince Ito (q.v.) the work of reform was vigorously prosecuted. In July 1909, General Teranchi, Japanese minister of war, became resident-general, with the mission to bring about annexation. This was effected peacefully in August 1910, the emperor of Korea by formal treaty surrendering his country and crown. (See Japan.)
Authorities.—The first Asiatic notice of Korea is by Khordadbeh, an Arab geographer of the 9th century A.D., in his Book of Roads and Provinces, quoted by Baron Richthofen in his great work on China, p. 575. The earliest European source of information is a narrative by H. Hamel, a Dutchman, who was shipwrecked on the coast of Quelpart in 1654, and held in captivity in Korea for thirteen years. The amount of papers on Korea scattered through English, German, French and Russian magazines, and the proceedings of geographical societies, is very great, and for the last three centuries Japanese writers have contributed largely to the sum of general knowledge of the peninsula. The list which follows includes some of the more recent works which illustrate the history, manners and customs, and awakening of Korea: British Foreign Office Reports on Korean Trade, Annual Series (London); Bibliographie koréanne (3 vols., Paris, 1897); Mrs. I. L. Bishop, Korea and her Neighbours (2 vols., London, 1897); M. von Brandt, Ostasiatische Fragen (Leipzig, 1897); A. E. J. Cavendish and H. E. Goold Adams, Korea, and the Sacred White Mountain (London, 1894); Stewart Culin, Korean Games (Philadelphia, 1895); Curzon, Problems of the Far East (London, 1896); Dallet, Histoire de l’église de Korée (2 vols., Paris, 1874); J. S. Gale, Korean Sketches (Edinburgh, 1898); W. E. Griffis, The Hermit Nation (8th and revised edition, New York, 1907); H. Hamel, Relation du naufrage d’un vaisseau Halindois, &c., traduite du Flamond par M. Minutoli (Paris, 1670); Okoji Hidemoto, Der Feldzug der Japanir gegen Korea im Jahre 1597; translated from Japanese by Professor von Pfizmaier (2 vols., Vienna, 1875); M. Jametel, “La Korée: ses ressources, son avenir commercial,” L’Économiste française (Paris, July 1881); Percival Lowell, Chosön: The Land of the Morning Calm (London, Boston, 1886); L. J. Miln, Quaint Korea (Harper, New York, 1895); V. de Laguerie, La Korée indépendante, russe ou japonaise? (Paris, 1898); J. Ross, Korea: Its History, Manners and Customs (Paisley, 1880); W. H. Wilkinson, The Korean Government: Constitutional Changes in Korea during the period 23rd July 1894—30th June 1896 (Shanghai, 1896); A. Hamilton, Korea (London, 1903); C. J. D. Taylor, Koreans at Home (London, 1904); E. Boudaret, En Corée (Paris, 1904); Laurent-Crémazy, Le Code pénal de la Corée (Paris, 1904); G. T. Ladd, In Korea with Marquis Itō (London, 1908); Dictionaries and vocabularies by W. F. Myers (English secretary of Legation at Peking), the French missionaries, and others, were superseded in 1898 by a large and learned volume by the Rev J. S. Gale, a Presbyterian missionary, who devoted some years to the work. On geology, see C. Gottsche, “Geologische Skizze von Korea,” Sitz. preuss. Akad. Wiss. (Berlin, Jahrg. 1886, pp. 857–873, Pl. viii.). A summary of this paper, with a reproduction of the map, is given by L. Pervinquière in Rev. sci. Paris, 5th series, vol. i. (1904), pp. 545–552. (I. L. B.; O. J. R. H.)
- Named after William Robert Broughton (1762–1821), an English navigator who explored these seas in 1795–1798.