Part 3 out of 5
When he further asked me questions about the positions of the Japanese I
was forced to give evasive answers. To my mind, the publicist who visits
fighting forces in search of information, as I was doing, is in honour
bound not to communicate what he learns to the other side. I could no more
tell the rebel leader of the exposed Japanese outposts I knew, and against
which I could have sent his troops with the certainty of success, than I
could on return tell the Japanese the strength of his forces.
All that night the rebels dribbled in. Several wounded men who had escaped
from the fight the previous day were borne along by their comrades, and
early on the following morning some soldiers came and asked me to do what I
could to heal them. I went out and examined the men. One had no less than
five bullet-holes in him and yet seemed remarkably cheerful. Two others had
single shots of a rather more dangerous nature. I am no surgeon, and it was
manifestly impossible for me to jab into their wounds with my hunting-knife
in the hope of extracting the bullets. I found, however, some corrosive
sublimate tabloids in my leather medicine case. These I dissolved, and
bathed the wounds with the mixture to stop suppuration. I had some
Listerine, and I washed their rags in it. I bound the clean rags on the
wounds, bade the men lie still and eat little, and left them.
Soon after dawn the rebel regiments paraded in the streets. They reproduced
on a larger scale the characteristics I had noted among the few men who
came to visit me the evening before, poor weapons and little ammunition.
They sent out men in advance before I departed in the morning to warn their
outposts that I was an Englishman (really I am a Scots-Canadian, but to
them it was all the same) who must not be injured. I left them with mutual
good wishes, but I made a close inspection of my party before we marched
away to see that all our weapons were in place. Some of my boys begged me
to give the rebels our guns so that they might kill the Japanese!
We had not gone very far before we descended into a rocky and sandy plain
by the river. Suddenly I heard one of my boys shout at the top of his
voice, as he threw up his arms, "Yong guk ta-in." We all stopped, and the
others took up the cry. "What does this mean?" I asked. "Some rebel
soldiers are surrounding us," said Min-gun, "and they are going to fire.
They think you are a Japanese." I stood against the sky-line and pointed
vigorously to myself to show that they were mistaken. "Yong guk!" I
shouted, with my boys. It was not dignified, but it was very necessary. Now
we could see creeping, ragged figures running from rock to rock, closer and
closer to us. The rifles of some were covering us while the others
advanced. Then a party of a couple of dozen rose from the ground near to
hand, with a young man in a European officer's uniform at their head. They
ran to us, while we stood and waited. At last they saw who I was, and when
they came near they apologized very gracefully for their blunder. "It was
fortunate that you shouted when you did," said one ugly-faced young rebel,
as he slipped his cartridge back into his pouch; "I had you nicely covered
and was just going to shoot." Some of the soldiers in this band were not
more than fourteen to sixteen years old. I made them stand and have their
By noon I arrived at the place from which the Korean soldiers had been
driven on the day before. The villagers there were regarded in very
unfriendly fashion by the rebels, who thought they had betrayed them to the
Japanese. The villagers told me what was evidently the true story of the
fight. They said that about twenty Japanese soldiers had on the previous
morning marched quickly to the place and attacked two hundred rebels there.
One Japanese soldier was hurt, receiving a flesh wound in the arm, and five
rebels were wounded. Three of these latter got away, and these were the
ones I had treated earlier in the morning. Two others were left on the
field, one badly shot in the left cheek and the other in the right
shoulder. To quote the words of the villagers, "As the Japanese soldiers
came up to these wounded men they were too sick to speak, and they could
only utter cries like animals--'Hula, hula, hula!' They had no weapons in
their hands, and their blood was running on the ground. The Japanese
soldiers heard their cries, and went up to them and stabbed them through
and through and through again with their bayonets until they died. The men
were torn very much with the bayonet stabs, and we had to take them up and
bury them." The expressive faces of the villagers were more eloquent than
mere description was.
Were this an isolated instance, it would scarcely be necessary to mention
it. But what I heard on all sides went to show that in a large number of
fights in the country the Japanese systematically killed all the wounded
and all who surrendered themselves. This was not so in every case, but it
certainly was in very many. The fact was confirmed by the Japanese accounts
of many fights, where the figures given of Korean casualties were so many
killed, with no mention of wounded or prisoners. In place after place also,
the Japanese, besides burning houses, shot numbers of men whom they
suspected of assisting the rebels. War is war, and one could scarcely
complain at the shooting of rebels. Unfortunately much of the killing was
indiscriminate, to create terror.
I returned to Seoul. The Japanese authorities evidently decided that it
would not be advisable to arrest me for travelling in the interior without
a passport. It was their purpose to avoid as far as possible any publicity
being given to the doings of the Righteous Army, and to represent them as
mere bands of disorderly characters, preying on the population. They
succeeded in creating this opinion throughout the world.
But as a matter of fact the movement grew and grew. It was impossible for
the Koreans to obtain arms; they fought without arms. In June, 1908, nearly
two years afterwards, a high Japanese official, giving evidence at the
trial of Mr. Bethell before a specially convened British court at Seoul,
said that about 20,000 troops were then engaged in putting down the
disturbances, and that about one-half of the country was in a condition of
armed resistance. The Koreans continued their fight until 1915, when,
according to Japanese official statements, the rebellion was finally
suppressed. One can only faintly imagine the hardships these mountaineers
and young men of the plains, tiger hunters, and old soldiers, must have
undergone. The taunts about Korean "cowardice" and "apathy" were beginning
to lose their force.
THE LAST DAYS OF THE KOREAN EMPIRE
Prince Ito--he was made Prince after the abdication of Yi Hyeung--was
Resident-General of Korea from 1906 to 1908, and was followed by Viscount
Sone, who carried on his policies until 1910. Ito is still remembered as
the best of the Japanese administrators.
He had an exceedingly difficult task. He had to tear up an ancient
administration by the roots, and substitute a new. This could not fail to
be a painful process. He had the best and the worst instincts of a nation
aroused against him, the patriotism and loyalty of the Korean people, and
also their obstinacy and apathy. He was hampered by the poor quality of
many of the minor officials who had to carry out his orders and still more
by the character of the settlers from his own land. The necessities of
Japanese Imperial policy compelled the infliction of much injustice on the
Korean people. The determination to plant as many Japanese on Korean soil
as possible involved the expropriation of Korean interests and the harsh
treatment of many small Korean landowners and tenants. The powerful and
growing commercial interests of Japan were using every possible pressure to
exploit Korea, to obtain concessions and to treat the land as one to be
despoiled for their benefit. Ito meant well by Korea, and had vision enough
to see that the ill-treatment of her people injured Japan even more than it
did them. It was his misfortune to be committed to an impossible policy of
Imperial absorption. He did his utmost to minimize its evils and promote
Unfortunately, all of his subordinates did not see eye to eye with him. His
military chief, Hasegawa, believed in the policy of the strong hand, and
practiced it. A large majority of the Japanese immigrants acted in a way
fatal to the creation of a policy of good-will. The average Japanese
regarded the Korean as another Ainu, a barbarian, and himself as one of the
Chosen Race, who had the right to despoil and roughly treat his inferiors,
as occasion served.
Some Koreans stooped to the favourite Oriental weapon of assassination.
In 1907 Mr. W.D. Stevens, Foreign Adviser to the Korean Government, was
murdered by a Korean when passing through San Francisco. In October, 1909,
Prince Ito, when making a journey northwards, was killed by another Korean
at Harbin. Both of the murderers were nominal Christians, the first a
Protestant and the second a Catholic. A deadly blow was struck at the
Korean cause by the men who thus sought to serve her.
This book will probably be read by many Koreans, young men and women with
hearts aflame at the sufferings of their people. I can well understand the
intense anger that must fill their souls. If my people had been treated as
theirs have, I would feel the same.
I hope that every man guilty of torturing, outraging or murder will
eventually be brought to justice and dealt with as justice directs. But for
individuals, or groups of individuals to take such punishment into their
own hands is to inflict the greatest damage in their power, not on the
person they attack, but on the cause they seek to serve.
In the first case, they destroy sympathy for their cause. The conscience of
the world revolts at the idea of the individual or the irresponsible group
of individuals taking to themselves the right of inflicting death at their
Next, they strengthen the cause they attack. They place themselves on or
below the level of the men they seek to punish.
A third reason is that the assassins in many cases reach the wrong man.
They do not know, and cannot know, because they have had no full
opportunity of learning, what the other has had to say for himself. Too
often, in trying to slay their victim, they injure others who have nothing
to do with the business.
To attack one's victim without giving him an opportunity for defence is
essentially a cowardly thing. Assassination--I prefer to give it its
simpler name, murder--is wrong, whatever the supposed excuse, fundamentally
wrong, wrong in principle, fatal in its outcome for those who adopt it.
Have nothing to do with it.
The murder of Prince Ito was a cruel blow for Korea. It was followed by an
attempt to assassinate the Korean Premier, the man who had handed his
country over to Japan. For some time the military party in Japan had been
clamouring for a more severe policy in the Peninsula. Now it was to have
its way. General Count Terauchi was appointed Resident-General.
Count Terauchi was leader of the military party in Korea, and an avowed
exponent of the policy of "thorough." A soldier from his youth up, he had
risen to the General Staff, and in 1904 was Minister of War in the fight
against Russia, earning his Viscountcy for brilliant services. Strong,
relentless, able, he could only see one thing--Japan and the glory of
Japan. He regarded the Koreans as a people to be absorbed or to be
eliminated. He was generally regarded as unsympathetic to Christianity, and
many of the Koreans were now Christians.
Terauchi came to Seoul in the summer of 1910, to reverse the policy of his
predecessors. He was going to stamp the last traces of nationality out of
existence. Where Ito had been soft, he would be hard as chilled steel.
Where Ito had beaten men with whips, he would beat them with scorpions.
Every one knew ahead what was coming. The usual plan was followed. First,
the official and semi-official plan was followed. The _Seoul Press_, now
the lickspittle of the great man, gave good value for the subsidy it
receives. It came out with an article hard to surpass for brutality and
"The present requires the wielding of an iron hand rather than a
gloved one in order to secure lasting peace and order in this
country. There is no lack of evidence to show an intense
dissatisfaction against the new state of things is fermenting at
present among a section of the Koreans. It is possible that if
left unchecked, it may culminate in some shocking crime. Now
after carefully studying the cause and nature of the
dissatisfaction just referred to, we find that it is both foolish
"Japan is in this country with the object of promoting the
happiness of the masses. She has not come to Korea to please a
few hundred silly youngsters or to feed a few hundred titled
loafers. It is no fault of hers that these men are dissatisfied
because of their failure to satisfy them.... _She must be
prepared to sacrifice anybody who offers obstacles to her work_.
Japan has hitherto dealt with Korean malcontents in a lenient
way. She has learned from experience gained during the past five
years that there are some persons who cannot be converted by
conciliatory methods. _There is but one way to deal with these
people, and that is by stern and relentless methods_."
The _Japan Mail_, as usual, echoed the same sentiments from Yokohama. "The
policy of conciliation is all very well in the hands of such a statesman as
the late Prince Ito," it declared. "But failing a successor to Prince Ito,
more ordinary methods will be found safer as well as more efficacious."
Viscount Terauchi settled in the capital, and it was as though a chill had
passed over the city. He said little, in public. Callers, high and low,
found him stern and distant. "He has other things to think of than pleasant
words," awed Secretaries repeated. Things suddenly began to happen. Four
Japanese papers were suspended in a night. An item in their columns was
objectionable. Let others be very careful. The police system was reversed.
The gendarmerie were to be brought back again in full force. Every day
brought its tale of arrests. Fifteen students were arrested this morning;
the old Korean President of the Railway Board had been hurried to prison;
the office of a paper in Pyeng-yang had been raided. It was as though the
new Governor-General had deliberately set himself to spread a feeling of
The Korean must not so much as look awry now. Police and gendarmes were
everywhere. Spies seemed to catch men's thoughts. More troops were coming
in. Surely something was about to happen.
Yet there were some smiling. They were called to the Residency-General to
hear good news. This man was to be made a peer; he had served Japan well.
This man, if he and his kin were good, was to be suitably rewarded. Bribes
for the complaisant, prison for the obstinate.
Men guessed what was coming. There were mutterings, especially among the
students. But the student who spoke bravely, even behind closed doors
to-day, found himself in jail by evening. The very walls seemed to have
Then it was remarked that the Ministers of State had not been seen for some
days. They had shut themselves in, refusing to see all callers. They feared
assassination, for they had sold their country. Policemen and troops were
waiting within easy calls from their homes, lest mobs should try to burn
them out, like rats out of their holes.
And then the news came. Korea had ceased to exist as an even nominally
independent or separate country. Japan had swallowed it up. The
Emperor--poor fool--was to step off his throne. After four thousand years,
there was to be no more a throne of Korea. The Resident-General would now
be Governor-General. The name of the nation was to be wiped out--henceforth
it was to be Chosen, a province of Japan. Its people were to be remade into
a lesser kind of Japanese, and the more adept they were in making the
change, the less they would suffer. They were to have certain benefits. To
mark the auspicious occasion there would be an amnesty--but a man who had
tried to kill the traitor Premier would not be in it. Five per cent of
taxes and all unpaid fiscal dues would be remitted. Let the people rejoice!
The Japanese expected an uprising, and were all ready for one. "Every man
should be ready to fight and die in the cause of his nation's
independence," they said tauntingly to the Koreans. But the people's
leaders kept them in. Up on the hills, the Righteous Army was still
struggling. The people must wait for better times.
One man stuck a proclamation on the West Gate, threatening death to the
traitors. Man after man, scholars, old soldiers, men who loved Korea,
committed suicide, after telling of their grief. "Why should we live when
our land is dead?" they asked.
The Japanese sneered because the people did nothing. "We may assume,
indeed, that all fear of a national uprising is now past," declared a
semi-Government organ. "The nation obviously has no leaders competent to
execute and direct a crusade in the cause of independence. Whether that
lack is due to adroit management on the part of the Japanese or to
unpatriotic apathy on the part of the Koreans we cannot pretend to judge."
The Japanese decree announcing the annexation of the country was in itself
an acknowledgment that the Japanese administration so far had been a
failure. Here is the opening paragraph:--
"Notwithstanding the earnest and laborious work of reforms in the
administration of Korea in which the Governments of Japan and
Korea have been engaged for more than four years since the
conclusion of the Agreement of 1905, the existing system of
government of that country has not proved entirely equal to the
work of preserving public order and tranquillity, and in addition
a spirit of suspicion and misgiving pervades the whole peninsula.
"In order to maintain peace and prosperity and the welfare of the
Koreans and at the same time to ensure the safety and repose of
foreign residents, it has been made abundantly clear that
fundamental changes in the actual regime of government are
The declaration announced various changes. It abrogated all Korean foreign
treaties, and brought the subjects of foreign nations living in Korea under
Japanese law. In other words, extra-territoriality was abolished. The
Government agreed to maintain the old Korean tariff for ten years both for
goods coming in from Japan and abroad. This was a concession to foreign
importers whose trade otherwise would have been swamped. It also allowed
ships under foreign registers to engage in the Korean coasting trade for
ten years more.
The annexation was put in the form of a treaty between the Emperors of
Japan and Korea, as though the surrender of their land had been the act of
the Koreans themselves, or their ruler.
His Majesty the Emperor of Japan and His Majesty the Emperor of
Korea having in view the special and close relations between
their respective countries and to ensure peace in the Extreme
East, and being convinced that these objects can best be attained
by the annexation of Korea to the Empire of Japan have resolved
to conclude a Treaty of such annexation and have for that purpose
appointed as their Plenipotentiaries, that is to say,
His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, Viscount Maskata Terauchi,
His Resident General.
And His Majesty the Emperor of Korea, Ye Wan Yong, His
Minister President of State,
Who, upon mutual conference and deliberation, have agreed to the
Article 1. His Majesty the Emperor of Korea makes complete and
permanent cession to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan of all
rights of sovereignty over the whole of Korea.
Article 2. His Majesty the Emperor of Japan accepts the cession
mentioned in the preceding Article, and consents to the complete
annexation of Korea to the Empire of Japan.
Article 3. His Majesty the Emperor of Japan will accord to their
Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Korea and His Imperial
Highness the Crown Prince of Korea, and Their Consorts and Heirs
such titles, dignity and honour as are appropriate to their
respective rank and sufficient annual grants will be made for the
maintenance of such titles, dignity and honour.
Article 4. His Majesty the Emperor of Japan will also accord
appropriate honour and treatment to the members of the Imperial
House of Korea and their heirs, other than those mentioned in the
preceding Article and the funds necessary for the maintenance of
such honour and treatment will be granted.
Article 5. His Majesty the Emperor of Japan will confer peerages
and monetary grants upon those Koreans who, on account of
meritorious services, are regarded as deserving of such special
Article 6. In consequence of the aforesaid annexation, the
Government of Japan assumes the entire government and
administration of Korea, and undertakes to afford full protection
for the property and person of Koreans, obeying the laws then in
force, and to promote the welfare of all such Koreans.
Article 7. The Government of Japan will, so far as circumstances
permit, employ in the public service of Japan in Korea those
Koreans who accept the new regime of Japan loyally and in good
faith, and who are duly qualified for such service.
Article 8. This Treaty, having been approved by His Majesty the
Emperor of Japan and His Majesty the Emperor of Korea shall take
effect from the day of its promulgation.
Some defenders of Japan have wasted much effort in attempting to show that
in destroying the Korean Empire Japan did not break her word, although she
had repeatedly pledged herself to maintain and preserve the nation and the
Royal House. Such arguments, under the circumstances, are merely
nauseating. Japan wanted Korea; so soon as she was able, Japan took it. The
only justification was
"The good old rule ... the simple plan,
That he shall take who has the power,
That he shall KEEP, who can."
"I WILL WHIP YOU WITH SCORPIONS"
The Japanese administration of Korea from 1910 to 1919, first under Count
Terauchi and then under General Hasegawa, revealed the harshest and most
relentless form of Imperial administration. When formal annexation was
completed in 1910 all the hindrances which had hitherto stood in the way of
the complete execution of Japanese methods were apparently swept on one
side. The Governor-General had absolute power to pass what ordinances he
pleased, and even to make those ordinances retroactive.
Extra-territoriality was abolished, and foreign subjects in Korea were
placed entirely under the Japanese laws.
Japanese statesmen were ambitious to show the world as admirable an example
of efficiency in peace as Japan had already shown in war. Much thought had
been given to the matter for a long time ahead. The colonial systems of
other countries had been carefully studied. Service in Korea was to be a
mark of distinction, reserved for the best and most highly paid. National
pride and national interest were pledged to make good. Money was spent
freely and some of the greatest statesmen and soldiers of Japan were placed
at the head of affairs. Ito, by becoming Resident-General, had set an
example for the best of the nation to follow.
Between the annexation in 1910 and the uprising of the people in 1919, much
material progress was made. The old, effete administration was cleared
away, sound currency maintained, railways were greatly extended, roads
improved, afforestation pushed forward on a great scale, agriculture
developed, sanitation improved and fresh industries begun.
And yet this period of the Japanese administration in Korea ranks among the
greatest failures of history, a failure greater than that of Russia in
Finland or Poland or Austria-Hungary in Bosnia. America in Cuba and Japan
in Korea stand out as the best and the worst examples in governing new
subject peoples that the twentieth century has to show. The Japanese
entered on their great task in a wrong spirit, they were hampered by
fundamentally mistaken ideas, and they proved that they are not yet big
enough for the job.
They began with a spirit of contempt for the Korean. Good administration is
impossible without sympathy on the part of the administrators; with a blind
and foolish contempt, sympathy is impossible. They started out to
assimilate the Koreans, to destroy their national ideals, to root out their
ancient ways, to make them over again as Japanese, but Japanese of an
inferior brand, subject to disabilities from which their overlords were
free. Assimilation with equality is difficult, save in the case of small,
weak peoples, lacking tradition and national ideals. But assimilation with
inferiority, attempted on a nation with a historic existence going back
four thousand years is an absolutely impossible task. Or, to be more exact,
it would only be possible by assimilating a few, the weaklings of the
nation, and destroying the strong majority by persecution, direct killing
and a steady course of active corruption, with drugs and vice.
The Japanese overestimated their own capacity and underestimated the
Korean. They had carefully organized their claque in Europe and America,
especially in America. They engaged the services of a group of paid
agents--some of them holding highly responsible positions--to sing their
praises and advocate their cause. They enlisted others by more subtle
means, delicate flattery and social ambition. They taught diplomats and
consular officials, especially of Great Britain and America, that it was a
bad thing to become a _persona non grata_ to Tokyo. They were backed by a
number of people, who were sincerely won over by the finer sides of the
Japanese character. In diplomatic and social intrigue, the Japanese make
the rest of the world look as children. They used their forces not merely
to laud themselves, but to promote the belief that the Koreans were an
exhausted and good-for-nothing race.
In the end, they made the fatal mistake of believing what their sycophants
and flatterers told them. Japanese civilization was the highest in the
world; Japan was to be the future leader, not alone of Asia, but of all
nations. The Korean was fit for nothing but to act as hewer of wood and
drawer of water for his overlord.
Had Japan been wise and long-sighted enough to treat the Koreans as America
treated the Cubans or England the people of the Straits Settlements, there
would have been a real amalgamation--although not an assimilation--of the
two peoples. The Koreans were wearied of the extravagances, abuses and
follies of their old administration. But Japan in place of putting Korean
interests first ruled the land for the benefit of Japan. The Japanese
exploiter, the Japanese settler were the main men to be studied.
Then Japan sought to make the land a show place. Elaborate public buildings
were erected, railroads opened, state maintained, far in excess of the
economic strength of the nation. To pay for extravagant improvements,
taxation and personal service were made to bear heavily on the people. Many
of the improvements were of no possible service to the Koreans themselves.
They were made to benefit Japanese or to impress strangers. And the
officials forgot that even subject peoples have ideals and souls. They
sought to force loyalty, to beat it into children with the stick and drill
it into men by gruelling experiences in prison cells. Then they were amazed
that they had bred rebels. They sought to wipe out Korean culture, and then
were aggrieved because Koreans would not take kindly to Japanese learning.
They treated the Koreans with open contempt, and then wondered that they
did not love them.
Let us examine the administration more closely in detail.
Its outstanding feature for most of the people is (I use the present tense
because as I write it still continues) the gendarmerie and police. These
are established all over the country, and they have in effect, although not
in name, power of life or death. They can enter into any house, without
warrant, and search it. They destroy whatever they please, on the spot.
Thus if a policeman searches the room of a student, and sees a book which
does not please him, he can--and does--often burn it on the spot. Sometimes
he takes it into the street and burns it there, to impress the neighbours.
One of the police visits most feared by many villagers is the periodical
examinations to see if the houses are clean. If the policemen are not
satisfied, they do not trouble to take the people to the station, but give
them a flogging then and there. This house examination is frequently used
by police in districts where they wish to punish the Christians, or to
prevent their neighbours from becoming Christians. The Christian houses are
visited and the Christians flogged, sometimes without even troubling to
examine the houses at all. This method particularly prevails in parts of
the Pyengyang province.
The police can arrest and search or detain any person, without warrant.
This right of search is freely used on foreigners as well as Koreans. Any
Korean taken to the police station can, in practice, be kept in custody as
long as wanted, without trial, and then can be released without trial, or
can be summarily punished without trial by the police.
The usual punishment is flogging--only Koreans and not Japanese or
foreigners are liable to be flogged. This punishment can be given in such a
way as to cripple, to confine the victim to his home for weeks, or to kill.
While it is not supposed to be practiced on women, on men over sixty-five
or on boys under fifteen, the police flog indiscriminately.
The Japanese Government passed, some years ago, regulations to prevent the
abuse of flogging. These regulations are a dead letter. Here is the
"It was decided to retain it (flogging), but only for application to native
offenders. In March, 1912, Regulations concerning Flogging and the
Enforcing Detailed Regulations being promulgated, many improvements were
made in the measures hitherto practiced. Women, boys under the age of
fifteen and old men over the age of sixty are exempt from flogging, while
the infliction of this punishment on sick convicts and on the insane is to
be postponed for six months. The method of infliction was also improved so
that by observing greater humanity, unnecessary pain in carrying out a
flogging could be avoided, as far as possible,"
[Footnote 1: Annual Report of Reforms and Progress in Chosen. Keijo
So much for the official claim. Now for the facts.
In the last year for which returns are available, 1916-17, 82,121 offenders
were handled by police summary judgment, that is, punished by the police on
the spot, without trial. Two-thirds of these punishments (in the last year
when actual flogging figures were published) were floggings.
The instrument used is two bamboos lashed together. The maximum legal
sentence is ninety blows, thirty a day for three days in succession. To
talk of this as "greater humanity" or "avoiding unnecessary pain" gives me
nausea. Any experienced official who has had to do with such things will
bear me out in the assertion that it is deliberately calculated to inflict
the maximum of pain which the human frame can stand, and in the most long
drawn out manner.
Sick men, women and boys and old men are flogged.
In the disturbances of 1919 wounded men who were being nursed in the
foreign hospitals in Seoul were taken out by the police to be flogged,
despite the protests of doctors and nurses. There were many cases reported
of old men being flogged. The stripping and flogging of women, particularly
young women, was notorious.
Here is one case of the flogging of boys.
The following letter from a missionary in Sun-chon--where there is a
Presbyterian hospital,--dated May 25, 1919, was printed in the report of
the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America. I have seen other
communications from people who saw these boys, amply confirming the letter,
if it requires confirmation.
Eleven Kangkei boys came here from ----. All the eleven were
beaten ninety stripes--thirty each day for three days, May 16, 17
and 18, and let out May 18th. Nine came here May 22nd, and two
more May 24th.
Tak Chan-kuk died about noon, May 23rd.
Kim Myungha died this evening.
Kim Hyungsun is very sick.
Kim Chungsun and Song Taksam are able to walk but are badly
Kim Oosik seemed very doubtful but afterwards improved.
Choi Tungwon, Kim Changook, Kim Sungkil, and Ko Pongsu are able
to be about, though the two have broken flesh.
Kim Syungha rode from ---- on his bicycle and reached here about
an hour before his brother died. The first six who came into the
hospital were in a dreadful fix, four days after the beating. No
dressing or anything had been done for them. Dr. Sharrocks just
told me that he feels doubtful about some of the others since
Myungha died. It is gangrene. One of these boys is a Chun Kyoin,
and another is not a Christian, but the rest are all Christians.
Mr. Lampe has photographs. The stripes were laid on to the
buttocks and the flesh pounded into a pulp.
Greater humanity! Avoiding unnecessary pain! It is obvious that the method
of police absolutism is open to very great abuse. In practice it works out
as galling tyranny. A quotation from the _Japan Chronicle_ illustrates one
of the abuses:
"In the course of interpellations put forward by a certain member
in the last session of the Diet, he remarked on the strength of a
statement made by a public procurator of high rank in Korea, that
it was usual for a gendarme who visits a Korean house for the
purpose of searching for a criminal to violate any female inmate
of the house and to take away any article that suits his fancy.
And not only had the wronged Koreans no means of obtaining
redress for this outrageous conduct, but the judicial authorities
could take no proceedings against the offender as they must
necessarily depend upon the gendarmerie for acceptable evidence
The police tyranny does not end with flogging. When a person is arrested,
he is at once shut off from communication with his friends. He is not,
necessarily, informed of the charge against him; his friends are not
informed. He is not in the early stages allowed counsel. All that his
friends know is that he has disappeared in the grip of the police, and he
may remain out of sight or sound for months before being brought to trial
During this period of confinement the prisoner is first in the hands of the
police who are getting up the case against him. It is their work to extract
a confession. To obtain this they practice torture, often of the most
elaborate type. This is particularly true where the prisoners are charged
with political offences. I deal with this aspect of affairs more in detail
in later chapters, so that there is no need of me to bring proof at this
After the police have completed their case, the prisoner is brought before
the procurator, whose office would, if rightly used, be a check on the
police. But in many cases the police act as procurators in Korea, and in
others the procurators and police work hand in hand.
When the prisoner is brought before the court he has little of the usual
protection afforded in a British or American Court. It is for him to prove
his innocence of the charge. His judge is the nominee of the
Government-General and is its tool, who practically does what the
Government-General tells him. The complaint of the most sober and
experienced friends of the Koreans is that they cannot obtain justice
unless it is deemed expedient by the authorities to give them justice.
Under this system crime has enormously increased. The police create it. The
best evidence of this is contained in the official figures. In the autumn
of 1912 Count Terauchi stated, in answer to the report that thousands of
Korean Christians had been confined in jail, that he had caused enquiry to
be made and there were only 287 Koreans confined in the various jails of
the country (_New York Sun_, October 3, 1912). The Count's figures were
almost certainly incorrect, or else the police released all the prisoners
on the day the reckoning was taken, except the necessary few kept for
effect. The actual number of convicts in Korea in 1912 was close on twelve
thousand, according to the official details published later. If they were
true they make the contrast with later years the more amazing.
The increase of arrests and convictions is shown in the following official
NUMBER OF KOREANS IMPRISONED
Convicts Awaiting trial Total
1911 7,342 9,465 16,807
1912 9,652 9,842 19,494
1913 11,652 10,194 21,846
1914 12,962 11,472 24,434
1915 14,411 12,844 27,255
1916 17,577 15,259 32,836
Individual liberty is non-existent. The life of the Korean is regulated
down to the smallest detail. If he is rich, he is generally required to
have a Japanese steward who will supervise his expenditure. If he has money
in the bank, he can only draw a small sum out at a time, unless he gives
explanation why he needs it.
He has not the right of free meeting, free speech or a free press. Before a
paper or book can be published it has to pass the censor. This censorship
is carried to an absurd degree. It starts with school books; it goes on to
every word a man may write or speak. It applies to the foreigners as well
as Koreans. The very commencement day speeches of school children are
censored. The Japanese journalist in Korea who dares to criticize the
administration is sent to prison almost as quickly as the Korean. Japanese
newspaper men have found it intolerable and have gone back to Japan,
refusing to work under it. There is only one newspaper now published in
Korea in the Korean language, and it is edited by a Japanese. An American
missionary published a magazine, and attempted to include in it a few mild
comments on current events. He was sternly bidden not to attempt it again.
Old books published before the Japanese acquired control have been freely
destroyed. Thus a large number of school books--not in the least
partizan--prepared by Professor Hulbert were destroyed.
The most ludicrous example of censorship gone mad was experienced by Dr.
Gale, one of the oldest, most learned and most esteemed of the missionaries
in Korea. Dr. Gale is a British subject. For a long time he championed the
Japanese cause, until the Japanese destroyed his confidence by their
brutalities in 1919. But the fact that Dr. Gale was their most influential
friend did not check the Japanese censors. On one occasion Dr. Gale learned
that some Korean "Readers" prepared by him for use in schools had been
condemned. He enquired the reason. The Censor replied that the book
"contained dangerous thoughts." Still more puzzled, the doctor politely
enquired if the Censor would show the passages containing "dangerous
thoughts." The Censor thereupon pointed out a translation of Kipling's
famous story of the elephant, which had been included in the book. "In that
story," said he ominously, "the elephant refused to serve his _second_
master." What could be more obvious that Dr. Gale was attempting to teach
Korean children, in this subtle fashion, to refuse to serve _their_ second
master, the Japanese Emperor!
For a Korean to be a journalist has been for him to be a marked man liable
to constant arrest, not for what he did or does, but for what the police
suppose he may do or might have done. The natural result of this has been
to drive Koreans out of regular journalism, and to lead to the creation of
a secret press.
The next great group of grievances of Koreans come under the head of
Exploitation. From the beginning the Japanese plan has been to take as much
land as possible from the Koreans and hand it over to Japanese. Every
possible trick has been used to accomplish this. In the early days of the
Japanese occupation, the favourite plan was to seize large tracts of land
on the plea that they were needed for the Army or Navy; to pay a pittance
for them; and then to pass considerable portions of them on to Japanese.
"There can be no question," admitted Mr. W.D. Stevens, the American member
and supporter of Prince Ito's administration, "that at the outset the
military authorities in Korea did intimate an intention of taking more land
for their uses than seemed reasonable."
The first attempt of the Japanese to grab in wholesale fashion the public
lands of Korea, under the so-called Nagamori scheme, aroused so much
indignation that it was withdrawn. Then they set about accomplishing the
same end in other ways. Much of the land of Korea was public land, held by
tenants from time immemorial under a loose system of tenancy. This was
taken over by the Government-General All leases were examined, and people
called on to show their rights to hold their property. This worked to the
The Oriental Development Company was formed for the primary purpose of
developing Korea by Japanese and settling Japanese on Korean land, Japanese
immigrants being given free transportation, land for settlement, implements
and other assistance. This company is an immense semi-official trust of big
financial interests in direct coeoperation with the Government, and is
supported by an official subsidy of L50,000 a year. Working parallel to it
is the Bank of Chosen, the semi-official banking institution which has been
placed supreme and omnipotent in Korean finance.
How this works was explained by a writer in the New York _Times_ (January
29, 1919). "These people declined to part with their heritage. It was here
that the power of the Japanese Government was felt in a manner altogether
Asiatic.... Through its branches this powerful financial institution ...
called in all the specie in the country, thus making, as far as
circulating-medium is concerned, the land practically valueless. In order
to pay taxes and to obtain the necessaries of life, the Korean must have
cash, and in order to obtain it, he must sell his land. Land values fell
very rapidly, and in some instances land was purchased by the agents of the
Bank of Chosen for one-fifth of its former valuation." There may be some
dispute about the methods employed. There can be no doubt about the result.
One-fifth of the richest land in Korea is to-day in Japanese hands.
Allied to this system of land exploitation comes the Corvee, or forced
labour exacted from the country people for road making. In moderation this
might be unobjectionable. As enforced by the Japanese authorities, it has
been an appalling burden. The Japanese determined to have a system of fine
roads. They have built them--by the Corvee.
The most convincing evidence for outsiders on this land exploitation and on
the harshness of the Corvee comes from Japanese sources. Dr. Yoshino, a
professor of the Imperial University of Tokyo, salaried out of the
Government Treasury, made a special study of Korea. He wrote in the
_Taschuo-Koron_ of Tokyo, that the Koreans have no objection to the
construction of good roads, but that the official way of carrying out the
work is tyrannical. "Without consideration and mercilessly, they have
resorted to laws for the expropriation of land, the Koreans concerned being
compelled to part with their family property almost for nothing. On many
occasions they have also been forced to work in the construction of roads
without receiving any wages. To make matters worse, they must work for
nothing only on the days which are convenient to the officials, however
inconvenient these days may be to the unpaid workers." The result has
generally been that while the roads were being built for the convenient
march of the Japanese troops to suppress the builders of the roads, many
families were bankrupted and starving.
"The Japanese make improvements," say the Koreans. "But they make them to
benefit their own people, not us. They improve agriculture, and turn the
Korean farmers out and replace them by Japanese. They pave and put
sidewalks in a Seoul street, but the old Korean shopkeepers in that street
have gone, and Japanese have come. They encourage commerce, Japanese
commerce, but the Korean tradesman is hampered and tied down in many ways."
Education has been wholly Japanized. That is to say the primary purpose of
the schools is to teach Korean children to be good Japanese subjects.
Teaching is mostly done in Japanese, by Japanese teachers. The whole ritual
and routine is towards the glorification of Japan.
The Koreans complain, however, that, apart from this, the system of
teaching established for Koreans in Korea is inferior to that established
for Japanese there. Japanese and Korean children are taught in separate
schools. The course of education for Koreans is four years, for Japanese
six. The number of schools provided for Japanese is proportionately very
much larger than for Koreans, and a much larger sum of money is spent on
them. The Japanese may however claim, with some justice, that they are in
the early days of the development of Korean education, and they must be
given more time to develop it. Koreans bitterly complain of the ignoring of
Korean history in the public schools, and the systematic efforts to destroy
old sentiments. These efforts, however, have been markedly unsuccessful,
and the Government school students were even more active than mission
school students in the Independence movement.
It was a Japanese journalist who published the case of the Principal of a
Public School for girls who roused the indignation of the girls under him
during a lecture on Ethics with the syllogism, "Savages are healthy;
Koreans are healthy; therefore Koreans are savages." Other teachers roused
their young pupils to fury, after the death of the ex-Emperor, by employing
openly of him the phrase which ordinarily indicates a low-class coolie. In
the East, where honorifics and exact designations count for much, no
greater insults could be imagined.
The greatest hardships of the regime of the Government-General have been
the denial of justice, the destruction of liberty, the shutting out of the
people from all real participation in administration, the lofty assumption
and display of a spirit of insolent superiority by the Japanese, and the
deliberate degradation of the people by the cultivation of vice for the
purpose of personal profit. In the old days, opium was practically unknown.
Today opium is being cultivated on a large scale under the direct
encouragement of the Government, and the sale of morphia is carried on by
large numbers of Japanese itinerant merchants. In the old days, vice hid
its head. To-day the most prominent feature at night-time in Seoul, the
capital, is the brilliantly lit Yoshiwara, officially created and run by
Japanese, into which many Korean girls are dragged. Quarters of ill fame
have been built up in many parts of the land, and Japanese panders take
their gangs of diseased women on tours through smaller districts. On one
occasion when I visited Sun-chon I found that the authorities had ordered
some of the Christians to find accommodation in their homes for Japanese
women of ill fame. Some Koreans in China sent a petition to the American
Minister in Peking which dealt with some moral aspects of the Japanese rule
of Korea. They said:
"The Japanese have encouraged immorality by removing Korean
marriage restrictions, and allowing marriages without formality
and without regard for age. There have been marriages at as early
an age as twelve. Since the annexation there have been 80,000
divorce cases in Korea. The Japanese encourage, as a source of
revenue, the sale of Korean prostitutes in Chinese cities. Many
of these prostitutes are only fourteen and fifteen years old. It
is a part of the Japanese policy of race extermination, by which
they hope to destroy all Koreans. May God regard these facts.
"The Japanese Government has established a bureau for the sale of
opium, and under the pretext that opium was to be used for
medicinal purposes has caused Koreans and Formosans to engage in
poppy cultivation. The opium is secretly shipped into China.
Because of the Japanese encouragement of this traffic many
Koreans have become users of the drug.
"The Japanese forbid any school courses for Koreans higher than
the middle school and the higher schools established by
missionary organizations are severely regulated. The civilization
of the Far East originated in China, and was brought first to
Korea and thence to Japan. The ancient books were more numerous
in Korea than in Japan, but after annexation the Japanese set
about destroying these books, so that Koreans should not be able
to learn them. This 'burning of the books and murder of the
literati' was for the purpose of debasing the Koreans and robbing
them of their ancient culture....
"How can our race avoid extermination? Even if the Government of
Japan were benevolent, how could the Japanese understand the
aches and pains of another race of people? With her evil
Government can there be anything but racial extermination for us?"
From the time of the reopening of Korea the Japanese have treated the
Koreans in personal intercourse as the dust beneath their feet, or as one
might imagine a crude and vixenish tempered woman of peasant birth whose
husband had acquired great wealth by some freak of fortune treating an
unfortunate poor gentlewoman who had come in her employment. This was bad
enough in the old days; since the Japanese acquired full power in Korea it
has become infinitely worse.
The Japanese coolie punches the Korean who chances to stand in his august
path. The Japanese woman, wife of a little trader, spits out the one
contemptuous sentence she has learned in the Korean tongue, when a Korean
man draws near on the boat or on the train. The little official assumes an
air of ineffable disdain and contempt. A member of the Japanese Diet was
reported in the Japanese press to have said that in Korea the Japanese
gendarmes were in the habit of exacting from the Korean school children the
amount of deference which in Japan would be proper to the Imperial
The lowest Japanese coolie practices the right to kick, beat and cuff a
Korean of high birth at his pleasure, and the Korean has in effect no
redress. Had the Koreans from the first have met blow with blow, a number
of them no doubt would have died, but the Japanese would have been cured of
the habit. The Korean dislike of fighting, until he has really some serious
reason for a fight, has encouraged the Japanese bully; but it makes the
bully's offence none the less.
Japanese officials in many instances seem to delight in exaggerating their
contempt on those under them. This is particularly true of some of the
Japanese teachers. Like all Government officials, these teachers wear
swords, symbols of power. Picture the dignity of the teacher of a class of
little boys who lets his sword clang to terrify the youngsters under him,
or who tries to frighten the girls by displaying his weapon.
The iron rule of Terauchi was followed by the iron rule of Hasegawa, his
successor. The struggle of the rebel army in the hills had died down. But
men got together, wondering what steps they could take. Christians and
non-Christians found a common bond of union. Their life had come to a pass
where it was better to die than to live under unchecked tyranny. Thus the
Independence movement came into being.
The Koreans who, despoiled of their homes or determined to submit no longer
to Japan, escaped into Manchuria, escaped as a rule by the difficult and
dangerous journey across the high mountain passes. What this journey means
can best be understood from a report by the Rev. W.T. Cook, of the
Manchuria Christian College at Moukden.
"The untold afflictions of the Korean immigrants coming into
Manchuria will doubtless never be fully realized, even by those
actually witnessing their distress. In the still closeness of a
forty below zero climate in the dead of winter, the silent stream
of white clad figures creeps over the icy mountain passes, in
groups of tens, twenties and fifties, seeking a new world of
subsistence, willing to take a chance of life and death in a
hand-to-hand struggle with the stubborn soil of Manchuria's
wooded and stony hillsides. Here, by indefatigable efforts, they
seek to extract a living by applying the grub axe and hand hoe to
the barren mountain sides above the Chinese fields, planting and
reaping by hand between the roots the sparse yield that is often
insufficient to sustain life.
"Many have died from insufficient food. Not only women and
children but young men have been frozen to death. Sickness also
claims its toll under these new conditions of exposure. Koreans
have been seen standing barefooted on the broken ice of a
riverside fording place, rolling up their baggy trousers before
wading through the broad stream, two feet deep, of ice cold
water, then standing on the opposite side while they hastily
readjust their clothing and shoes.
"Women with insufficient clothing, and parts of their bodies
exposed, carry little children on their backs, thus creating a
mutual warmth in a slight degree, but it is in this way that the
little ones' feet, sticking out from the binding basket, get
frozen and afterwards fester till the tiny toes stick together.
Old men and women, with bent backs and wrinkled faces, walk the
uncomplaining miles until their old limbs refuse to call them
"Thus it is by households they come, old and young, weak and
strong, big and little.... Babies have been born in wayside inns.
"In this way over 75,000 Koreans have entered during the past
year, until the number of Koreans now living in both the north
and western portions of Manchuria now totals nearly half a
[Footnote 2: Report to the Presbyterian Board of Foreign
I have had occasion in previous chapters to make occasional reference to
the work of the missionaries in Korea. It is necessary now to deal with
them in detail, for they had become one of the great factors, and from the
Japanese point of view one of the great problems, of the country.
Long before Korea was open to the outside world, missionary pioneers tried
to enter it. The French Catholics forced admission as far back as the end
of the eighteenth century, and made many converts, who were afterwards
exterminated. Gutzaleff, a famous Protestant pioneer, landed on an island
at Basil's Bay, in 1832, and remained there a month, distributing Chinese
literature. Mr. Thomas, a British missionary, secured a passage on board
the ill-fated _General Sherman_ in 1866, and was killed with the rest of
the crew. Dr. Ross, the Scottish Presbyterian missionary of Moukden,
Manchuria, became interested in the Koreans, studied their language, talked
with every Korean he could find, and built up a grammar of the language,
publishing an English-Korean primer in 1876. He and a colleague, Mr.
McIntyre, published Gospels in the language, and opened up a work among the
Koreans on the north side of the Yalu. Those who can recall the state of
that district in the days before railways were opened and order
established, can best appreciate the nerve and daring needed for the task.
They made converts, and one of these converts took some newly printed
Christian books and set back home, reaching Seoul itself, spreading the new
religion among his friends.
It was two years after the opening of Korea to the West before the first
missionary arrived. In 1884 Dr. Allen, a Presbyterian physician (afterwards
United States Minister to Korea), arrived at Seoul. It was very doubtful at
this time how missionaries would be received, or how their converts would
be treated. The law enacting death against any man who became a Christian
was still unrepealed, but it was not enforced. Officialism might, however,
revive it at any time. It was thought advisable, when the first converts
were baptized in 1887, to perform the ceremony behind closed doors, with an
earnest and athletic young American educationalist, Homer B. Hulbert,
acting as guard.
Dr. Allen was soon followed by others. Dr. Underwood, brother of the famous
manufacturer of typewriting machines, was the first non-medical missionary.
The American and Canadian Presbyterians and Methodists undertook the main
work, and the Church of England set up a bishopric. Women missionary
doctors came, and at once won a place for themselves. Names like
Appenzeller, Scranton, Bunker and Gale--to name a few of the pioneers--have
won a permanent place in the history of missions.
The missionaries found a land almost without religion, with few temples and
few monks or priests. Buddhism had been discredited by the treachery of
some Japanese Buddhists during the great Japanese invasion by Hideyoshi in
1592, and no Buddhist priest was allowed inside the city of Seoul. Young
men of official rank studied their Confucius diligently, but to them
Confucianism was more a theory for the conduct of life and a road to high
office than a religion. The main religion of the people was Shamanism, the
fear of evil spirits. It darkened their souls, as the tales of a foolish
nurse about goblins darken the mind of a sensitive and imaginative child.
The spirits of Shamanism were evil, not good, a curse, not a blessing,
bringing terror, not hope.
Christianity was very fortunate in its representatives. I have seen much of
the missionaries of Manchuria and Korea. A finer, straighter lot of men I
never want to meet. The magnificent climate enables them to keep at the top
of form. They have initiative, daring and common sense. Those I have known
are born leaders, who would have made their mark anywhere, in business or
In the early days they had to be ready to set their hands to anything, to
plan and build houses and churches, to open schools, to run a boat down
dangerous rapids or face a dangerous mob, to overawe a haughty yang-ban or
break in a dangerous horse. They were the pioneers of civilization as well
as of Christianity.
Religion had to be commended by the courage of its adherents. When there
came a dangerous uprising, and every one else fled, the missionary had to
stay at his post. When an epidemic of cholera or yellow fever swept over a
district, the missionary had to act as doctor or nurse. Sometimes the
missionary died, as Dr. Heron died at Seoul and McKenzie at Sorai. Their
deaths were even more effective than their lives in winning people.
Dr. Allen gained a foothold soon after his arrival by sticking to his post
in Seoul during the uprising against foreigners that followed the attack by
the Japanese and the reformers on the Cabinet and their seizure of the King
and Queen. When Min Yung-ik, the Queen's nephew, was badly wounded, Dr.
Allen attended to him and saved his life. Henceforth the King was the
missionaries' friend. He built a hospital and placed Dr. Allen in charge.
Women missionary doctors were appointed Court physicians to the Queen.
There were years of waiting, when the converts were few, and when it seemed
that the barriers of four thousand years never would be broken down. Then
came the Chino-Japanese War. Koreans were forced to see that this Western
civilization, which had enabled little Japan to beat the Chinese giant,
must mean something. A young man from Indiana, Samuel Moffett, with a
companion, Graham Lee, had gone some time before to Pyeng-yang, reputedly
the worst city in Korea. Here they had been stoned and abused. When the
Chinese Army came to Pyeng-yang, and the country was devastated in the
great and decisive battle between the Chinese and Japanese, these two men
stayed by the Koreans in their darkest and most perilous hours. Koreans
still tell how "Moksa" Moffett put on the dress of a Korean mourner and
went freely around despite the Chinese, who would have almost certainly
devised a specially lingering death for him, had they discovered his
"There must be something in this religion," said the Koreans. Sturdy old
John Newton's belief that the worst sinner makes the finest saint was borne
out in the case of Pyeng-yang. It became in a few years one of the greatest
scenes of missionary triumph in Asia. The harvest was ripening now. In
Seoul men flung into jail for political offences turned to prayer in the
darkness and despair of their torture chambers, and went to death praising
God. The Secretary to the King's Cabinet preached salvation to his fellow
The tens of converts grew to tens of thousands. From the first, the Koreans
showed themselves to be Christians of a very unusual type. They started by
reforming their homes, giving their wives liberty and demanding education
for their children. They took the promises and commands of the Bible
literally and established a standard of conduct for church members which,
if it were enforced in some older Christian communities, would cause a
serious contraction of the church rolls. The first convert set out to
preach to his friends. Latter converts imitated his example. From
Pyeng-yang the movement spread to Sun-chon, which in a few years rivalled
Pyeng-yang as a Christian centre. From here Christianity spread to the Yalu
and up the Tumen River.
The Koreans themselves established Christianity in distant communities
where no white man had ever been. Soon many of the missionaries were kept
busy for several months each year travelling with pack-pony and mafoo, from
station to station in the most remote parts of the country, fording and
swimming unbridged rivers, climbing mountain passes, inspecting and
examining and instructing the converts, admitting them to church membership
and organizing them for still more effective work.
When I hear the cheap sneers of the obtuse stay-at-home or globe-trotter
critics against missionaries and their converts, I am amused. It gives me
the measure of the men, particularly of the globetrotters. When the British
and American Churches seek to send out missionaries, the British and
American people will have registered the sure sign of their decadence. For
the Churches and nations will then cease to be alive. In travelling through
the north country I employed a number of the Christian converts, I found
them clean and honest, good, hard workers, men who showed their religion
not by talk, but by good, straight action. It is a grief to me to know that
some of these "boys" have since, because of their prominence as Christian
workers, been the victims of official persecution.
Under the influence of the missionaries many schools were opened; hospitals
and dispensaries were maintained, and a considerable literature,
educational as well as religious, was circulated.
When the Japanese landed in Korea in 1904, the missionaries welcomed them.
They knew the tyranny and abuses of the old Government, and believed that
the Japanese would help to better things. The ill-treatment of helpless
Koreans by Japanese soldiers and coolies caused a considerable reaction of
feeling. When, however, Prince Ito became Resident-General the prevailing
sentiment was that it would be better for the people to submit and to make
the best of existing conditions, in the hope that the harshness and
injustice of Japanese rule would pass.
Most of the Europeans and Americans in Korea at the time adopted this line.
I travelled largely in the interior of Korea in 1906 and 1907. Groups of
influential Koreans came to me telling their grievances and asking what to
do. Sometimes big assemblies of men asked me to address them. They believed
me to be their friend, and were willing to trust me. My advice was always
the same. "Submit and make yourselves better men. You can do nothing now by
taking up arms. Educate your children, improve your homes, better your
lives. Show the Japanese by your conduct and your self-control that you are
as good as they are, and fight the corruption and apathy that helped to
bring your nation to its present position." Let me add that I did what I
could in England, at the same time, to call attention to their grievances.
Prince Ito was openly sympathetic to the missionaries and to their medical
and educational work. He once explained why, in a public gathering at
Seoul. "In the early years of Japan's reformation, the senior statesmen
were opposed to religious toleration, especially because of distrust of
Christianity. But I fought vehemently for freedom of belief and religious
propaganda, and finally triumphed. My reasoning was this: Civilization
depends on morality and the highest morality upon religion. Therefore
religion must be tolerated and encouraged."
Ito passed off the scene, Korea was formally annexed to Japan, and Count
Terauchi became Governor-General. Terauchi was unsympathetic to
Christianity and a new order of affairs began. One of the difficulties of
the Christians was over the direction that children in schools and others
should bow before the picture of the Japanese Emperor on feast days. The
Japanese tried to maintain to the missionaries that this was only a token
of respect; the Christians declared that it was an act of adoration. To the
Japanese his Emperor is a divine being, the descendant of the gods.
Christians who refused to bow were carefully noted as malignants. In the
famous Conspiracy Case, the official Assistant Procurator, in urging the
conviction of one of the men, said: "He was head teacher of the Sin-an
School, Chong-ju, and was a notorious man of anti-Japanese sentiments. He
was the very obstinate member of the Society who, at a meeting on the first
anniversary of the birthday of the Emperor of Japan after the annexation of
Korea, refused to bow before the Imperial picture on the ground that such
an act was worshipping an image." This one item was the only fact that the
Assistant Procurator produced to prove the head teacher's guilt. He was
convicted, and awarded seven years' penal servitude.
A strong effort was made to Japanize the Korean Churches, to make them
branches of the Japanese Churches, and to make them instruments in the
Japanese campaign of assimilation. The missionaries resisted this to the
utmost. They declared that they would be neutral in political matters, as
they were directed by their Governments to be. Having failed to win them
over to their side, the Japanese authorities entered into a campaign for
the breaking down of the Churches, particularly the Presbyterian Churches
of the north. I am well aware that they deny this, but here is a case where
actions and speeches cannot be reconciled.
Attempts were pushed to create churches of Koreans under Japanese. Son
Pyung-hi, who had proved a good friend of Japan during the Chinese War, had
been encouraged by the Japanese some time before to start a religious sect,
the Chon-do Kyo, which it was hoped would replace Christianity, and prove a
useful weapon for Japan. Here a blunder was made, for later on Son Pyung-hi
flung all his influence against Japan and worked with the native Christian
leaders to start the Independence movement. More important than either of
these two things, however, direct persecution was begun. Several hundred
Korean Christian leaders in the north were arrested, and out of them 144
were taken to Seoul, tortured, and charged with a conspiracy to murder the
Governor-General. Various missionaries were named as their partners in
crime. The tale of the conspiracy was a complete fabrication manufactured
by the police. I describe it fully in the next chapter.
Following this came regulations aimed at the missionary schools and
institutions. At the time of annexation, almost the whole of the real
modern education of Korea was undertaken by the missionaries, who were
maintaining 778 schools. A series of Educational Ordinances was promulgated
in March, 1915, directing that no religious teaching is to be permitted in
private schools, and no religious ceremonies allowed to be performed. The
Japanese authorities made no secret of their intention of eventually
closing all missionary schools, on the ground that even when religious
teaching was excluded, pupils were influenced by their teachers, and the
influence of the foreign teachers was against the Japanization of the
Koreans. Mr. Komatsu, Director of the Bureau of Foreign Affairs, put this
point without any attempt at concealment, in a public statement. "Our
object of education is not only to develop the intellect and morality of
our people, but also to foster in their minds such national spirit as will
contribute to the existence and welfare of our Empire.... I sincerely hope
that you will appreciate this change of the time and understand that
missions should leave all affairs relating entirely to education entirely
in the hands of the Government, by transferring the money and labour they
have hitherto been expending on education to their proper sphere of
religious propagation.... Whatever the curriculum of a school may be, it is
natural that the students of that school should be influenced by the ideas
and personal character of its principal and teachers. Education must be
decidedly nationalistic and must not be mixed up with religion that is
universal." This is a much harsher regulation against missions than
prevails in Japan, where mission schools are allowed to continue their
work, with freedom to carry on their religious teaching.
The Government-General agreed to allow mission schools that had already
obtained Government permits to continue for ten years without having the
regulations enforced. Schools that had applied for the permit but had not
obtained it, owing to formal official delays, were ordered to obey or
close, and police were sent to see that they closed.
The Government commanded the mission schools to cease using their own
text-books and to use the officially prepared text-books. These are
carefully prepared to eliminate "dangerous thoughts," _i.e._, anything that
will promote a desire for freedom. They directly teach ancestral worship.
The missionaries have protested in every way they can. The
Government-General is adamant.
Before the start of the Independence movement the mission schools were
being carefully watched. Dr. Arthur J. Brown gives one example of their
experiences, in connection with the graduating exercises at the
Pyeng-yang Junior College last year.
[Footnote 1: "The Mastery of the Far East," by Arthur Judson Brown.]
"Four students made addresses. The foreigners present deemed them
void of offence, but the police declared that all the speakers
had said things subversive of the public good. The students were
arrested, interrogated and then released, as their previous
records had been good. The provincial chief of gendarmes,
however, summoned the students before him and again investigated
the case. The president of the college was called to the office,
and strictly charged to exercise greater care in the future. The
matter was then reported to the Governor of the Province, and
then to the Governor-General. The latter wrote to the president
of the college that the indiscretion of the students was so
serious that the Government was contemplating closing the school.
A similar communication was sent by the Governor-General to the
provincial Governor, who thereupon called the president to his
office, and said that unless he was prepared to make certain
changes the school would have to close. These changes were
enumerated as follows: (1) Appointment of a Japanese head master;
(2) dismissal of three of the boys who had spoken; relief of the
fourth from certain assignments of teaching which he was doing in
the academy, and promise not to repeat the oratorical program in
the future; (3) secure more Japanese teachers, especially those
who could understand Korean; (4) do all teaching, except the
Chinese classics, Korean language and English, through the medium
of the Japanese language; prepare syllabi of the subjects of
instruction, so as to limit it to specified points, teachers not
to deviate from them nor to speak on forbidden subjects; (6)
conform to the new regulations. (That is, eliminate all Christian
instruction.) When the president replied that he would do all
that he could to make the first five changes desired, but that as
to the sixth change, the mission preferred to continue for the
present under the old permit which entitled the college to the
ten year period of grace, the official was plainly disappointed,
and he intimated that number six was the most important of all."
The Independence movement in 1919 enormously increased the difficulties of
the missionaries, although they refrained from any direct or indirect
participation in it, and the Koreans carefully avoided letting them know
anything ahead about it. The difficulties of the missionaries, and the
direct action of the authorities against Christianity at that time is told
later, in the chapters dealing with the movement.
The Japanese authorities will probably do two things. They will order the
closing of schools under various pretexts where Christian teaching is still
maintained. They will endeavour to secure the elimination of those
missionaries who have shown a marked sympathy with the Korean people. They
have ample powers to prosecute any missionary who is guilty of doing
anything to aid disaffection. They have repeatedly searched missionary
homes and missionaries themselves to find evidence of this. Save in the
case of Mr. Mowry, who was convicted of sheltering some students wanted by
the police, they have failed. Even in that case the original conviction has
been quashed on appeal. Such evidence does not exist, because the
missionaries have been really neutral. Neutrality does not satisfy Japan;
she wants them to come out on her side. Unfortunately her action this year
has turned many away from her who tried hard up to then to be her friends.
TORTURE A LA MODE
"The main thing, when you are tortured, is to remain calm."
The Korean spoke quietly and in a matter-of-fact way. He himself had
suffered torture in its most severe form. Possibly he thought there was a
chance that I, too, might have a personal experience.
"Do not struggle. Do not fight," he continued. "For instance, if you are
strung up by the thumbs and you struggle and kick desperately, you may die
on the spot. Keep absolutely still; it is easier to endure it in this way.
Compel your mind to think of other things."
Torture! Who talks of torture in these enlightened days?
Let me tell you the tale of the Conspiracy Case, as revealed in the
evidence given in open court, and then judge for yourself.
When the heads of the Terauchi administration had made up their minds that
the northern Christians were inimical to the progress of the Japanese
scheme of assimilation, they set their spies to work. Now the rank and file
of spies are very much alike in all parts of the world. They are ignorant
and often misunderstand things. When they cannot find the evidence they
require, they will manufacture it.
The Japanese spies were exceptionally ignorant. First they made up their
minds that the northern Christians were plotting against Japan, and then
they searched for evidence. They attended church services. Here they heard
many gravely suspicious things. There were hymns of war, like "Onward,
Christian Soldiers" and "Soldiers of Christ Arise." What could these mean
but that Christians were urged to become an army and attack the Japanese?
Dangerous doctrines were openly taught in the churches and mission schools.
They learned that Mr. McCune, the Sun-chon missionary, took the story of
David and Goliath as the subject for a lesson, pointing out that a weak man
armed with righteousness was more powerful than a mighty enemy. To the
spies, this was nothing but a direct incitement to the weak Koreans to
fight strong Japan. Mission premises were searched. Still more dangerous
material was found there, including school essays, written by the students,
on men who had rebelled against their Governments or had fought, such as
George Washington and Napoleon. A native pastor had preached about the
Kingdom of Heaven; this was rank treason. He was arrested and warned that
"there is only one kingdom out here, and that is the kingdom of Japan."
In the autumn of 1911 wholesale arrests were made of Christian preachers,
teachers, students and prominent church members, particularly in the
provinces of Sun-chon and Pyeng-yang. In the Hugh O'Neill, Jr., Industrial
Academy, in Sun-chon, one of the most famous educational establishments in
Korea--where the principal had made the unfortunate choice of David and
Goliath for one of his addresses--so many pupils and teachers were seized
by the police that the school had to close. The men were hurried to jail.
They were not allowed to communicate with their friends, nor to obtain the
advice of counsel. They and their friends were not informed of the charge
against them. This is in accordance with Japanese criminal law. Eventually
149 persons were sent to Seoul to be placed on trial. Three were reported
to have died under torture or as the result of imprisonment, twenty-three
were exiled without trial or released, and 123 were arraigned at the Local
Court in Seoul on June 28, 1912, on a charge of conspiracy to assassinate
Count Terauchi, Governor-General of Korea.
"The character of the accused men is significant," wrote Dr. Arthur Judson
Brown, an authority who can scarcely be accused by his bitterest critics of
unfriendliness to Japan. "Here were no criminal types, no baser elements of
the population, but men of the highest standing, long and intimately known
to the missionaries as Koreans of faith and purity of life, and conspicuous
for their good influence over the people. Two were Congregationalists, six
Methodists and eighty-nine Presbyterians. Of the Presbyterians, five were
pastors of churches, eight were elders, eight deacons, ten leaders of
village groups of Christians, forty-two baptized church members, and
thirteen catechumens.... It is about as difficult for those who know them
to believe that any such number of Christian ministers, elders and teachers
had committed crime as it would be for the people of New Jersey to believe
that the faculty, students and local clergy of Princeton were conspirators
Baron Yun Chi-ho, the most conspicuous of the prisoners, had formerly been
Vice Foreign Minister under the old Korean Government, and was reckoned by
all who knew him as one of the most progressive and sane men in the
country. He was a prominent Christian, wealthy, of high family, a keen
educationalist, vice-president of the Korean Y.M.C.A., had travelled
largely, spoke English fluently, and had won the confidence and good will
of every European or American in Korea with whom he came in contact. Yang
Ki-tak, formerly Mr. Bethell's newspaper associate, had on this account
been a marked man by the Japanese police. He had been previously arrested
under the Peace Preservation Act, sentenced to two years' imprisonment and
pardoned under an amnesty. He had also previously been examined twice in
connection with the charge against the assassin of Prince Ito, and twice on
account of the attack made on Yi, the traitor Premier, but had each time
been acquitted. "I am not very much concerned as to what happens to me
now," he said, "but I do protest against being punished on a charge of
which I am innocent."
The case for the prosecution was based on the confessions of the prisoners
themselves. According to these confessions, a body of Koreans, in
association with the New People's Society, headed by Baron Yun Chi-ho,
plotted to murder General Terauchi, and assembled at various railway
stations for that purpose, when the Governor-General was travelling
northwards, more particularly at Sun-chon, on December 28, 1910. They were
armed with ready revolvers, short swords or daggers, and were only
prevented from carrying out their purpose by the vigilance of the
A number of missionaries were named as their associates or sympathizers.
Chief of these was Mr. McCune, who, according to the confessions,
distributed revolvers among the conspirators and told them at Sun-chon that
he would point out the right man by shaking hands with him. Dr. Moffett of
Pyeng-yang, Dr. Underwood of Seoul, Bishop Harris, the Methodist Bishop for
Japan and Korea who had long been conspicuous as a defender of the Japanese
Administration, and a number of other prominent missionaries were
When the prisoners were faced by these confessions in the open court they
arose, one after another, almost without exception, and declared either
that they had been forced from them by sustained and intolerable torture,
or that they had been reduced by torture to insensibility and then on
recovery had been told by the Japanese police that they had made the
confessions. Those who had assented under torture had in nearly every case
said "Yes" to the statements put to them by the police. Now that they could
speak, they stoutly denied the charges. They knew nothing of any
conspiracy. The only man who admitted a murder plot in court was clearly
The trial was held in a fashion which aroused immediate and wide-spread
indignation. It was held, of course, in Japanese, and the official
translator was openly charged in court with minimizing and altering the
statements made by the prisoners. The judges acted in a way that brought
disgrace on the court, bullying, mocking and browbeating the prisoners. The
high Japanese officials who attended heartily backed the sallies of the
The missionaries who, according to the confessions, had encouraged the
conspirators were not placed on trial. The prisoners urged that they should
be allowed to call them and others as witnesses, and they were eager to
come. The request was refused. Under Japanese law, the judges have an
absolute right to decide what witnesses shall, or shall not be called. The
prosecuting counsel denied the charge of torture, and declared that all of
the men had been physically examined and not one of them had even a sign of
having been subjected to such ill-treatment Thereupon prisoners rose up and
asked to be allowed to show the marks still on them. "I was bound up for
about a month and subjected to torture," said one. "I have still marks of
it upon my body." But when he asked permission to display the marks to the
Court, "the Court," according to the newspaper reports, "sternly refused to
allow this to be done."
The trial closed on August 30th, and judgment was delivered on September
21st. Six prisoners, including Yun Chi-ho and Yang Ki-tak, were sentenced
to ten years' penal servitude; eighteen to seven years' penal servitude;
forty to six years; forty-two to five years; and seventeen discharged.
The trial was widely reported, and there was a wave of indignation,
particularly in America. The case was brought before the Court of Appeal,
and Judge Suzuki, who heard the appeal, was given orders by the
Government-General that he was to act in conciliatory fashion. The whole
atmosphere of the Court of Appeal was different. There was no bullying, no
browbeating. The prisoners were listened to indulgently, and were allowed
considerable latitude in developing their defence. Let me add that both in
the first and in subsequent trials, prominent Japanese counsel appeared for
the prisoners, and defended them in a manner in accordance with the best
traditions of the law.
The prisoners were now permitted in the Appeal Court to relate in detail
how their "confessions" had been extracted from them by torture. Here are
some typical passages from the evidence.
Chi Sang-chu was a Presbyterian, and a clerk by calling. He denied that he
"All my confession was made under torture. I did not make these statements
of my own accord. The police said they must know what information they
wanted. They stripped me naked, tied my hands behind my back, and hung me
up in a doorway, removing the bench on which I stood. They swung me, making
me bump against a door, like a crane dancing. When I lost consciousness, I
was taken down and given water, and tortured again when I came to.
"A policeman covered my mouth with my hand, and poured water into my nose.
Again my thumbs were tied behind my back, one arm over and one under, and I
was hung up by the cord tying them. A lighted cigarette was pressed against
my body, and I was struck in my private parts. Thus I was tortured for
three or four days. One evening, just after the meal, I was hung up again,
and was told that I would be released if I confessed, but if not I would be
tortured till I died. They were determined to make me say whatever they
wanted. Leaving me hanging, the policemen went to sleep, and I fainted from
the torture of hanging there.
"When I came to, I found myself lying on the floor, the police giving me
water. They showed me a paper, which they said was the order of release for
Yi Keun-tak and O Hak-su, who had confessed. If I wanted to be set at
liberty I must do the same. Then they beat me again. I saw the paper and
managed with difficulty to read it. It was to the effect that they did
confess and promised never to do such things again.
"I was then introduced to Yi Keun-tak, who, they said, had confessed and
been acquitted, and they urged me to follow Yi's example. I urged them to
treat me as they had treated Yi. They told me what to confess, but as I had
never heard of such things I refused, and they said they had better kill
"They resumed their tortures, and after two or three months, being unable
to bear it any longer, I confessed all that is required."
Paik Yong-sok, a milk seller and a Presbyterian, with eleven in his family,
said he had been a Christian for fifteen years and had determined only to
follow the teachings of the Bible; he had never thought of assassination or
considered establishing the independence of the country. Having to support
a family of eleven, he had no time for such things.
He had made the confession recited by the Court, but it was under
compulsion and false. "For a number of days I was tortured twice by day and
twice by night. I was blindfolded, hung up, beaten. Often I fainted, being
unable to breathe. I thought I was dying and asked the police to shoot me,
so intolerable were my tortures. Driven beyond the bounds of endurance by
hunger, thirst and pain, I said I would say whatever they wanted.
"The police told me that I was of no account among the twenty million
Koreans, and they could kill or acquit me as they pleased.... Meanwhile
five or six police dropped in and said, 'Have you repented? Did you take
part in the assassination plots?' It was too much for me to say 'Yes' to
this question, so I replied 'No.' Immediately they slapped my cheeks,
stripped me, struck, beat and tormented me. It is quite beyond my power to
describe the difficulty of enduring such pain."
The man paused and pointed to a Japanese, Watanabe by name, sitting behind
the judges, "That interpreter knows all about it," he said, "He was one of
the men who struck me." Watanabe was pointed out by other prisoners as a
man who had been prominent in tormenting them.
Im Do-myong, a barber and a Presbyterian, also fell into the hands of
experts at the game.
"At the police headquarters, I was hung up, beaten with an iron rod and
tortured twice a day. Then I was taken into the presence of superiors, the
interpreter (pointing out Watanabe, who was sitting: behind the judges)
being present, and tortured again.
"My thumbs were tied together at my back, the right arm being put back over
the shoulder and the left arm turned up from underneath. Then I was hung up
by the cord that bound my thumbs. The agony was unendurable. I fainted, was
taken down, was given torture, and when I came to was tortured again."
By the Court: "It would be impossible to hang you by your thumbs."
Prisoner: "My great toes scarcely touched the ground. Under such
circumstances I was told to say the same thing at the Public Procurator's
Office, and as I feared that I should be tortured there, too, I said 'Yes'
to all questions."
Some variety was introduced into the treatment of Cho Tok-chan, a
Presbyterian pastor, at Chong-ju.
"The police asked me how many men took part in the attempt at Sun-chon,
saying that as I was a pastor I must know all about it. They hung, beat and
struck me, saying that I had taken part in the plot and was a member of the
New People's Society. At last I fainted, and afterwards was unable to eat
for a number of days.
"A policeman in uniform, with one stripe, twisted my fingers with a wire,
so that they were badly swollen for a long time after. Then a man with two
white stripes tortured me, declaring that I had taken part in the Sun-chon
affair. I said that I was too busy with Christmas preparations to go
anywhere, on which the policeman severely twisted my fingers with an iron
Again came one of the dramatic pauses, while the prisoner pointed out a
Japanese official sitting behind the judges, Tanaka by name. "The man who
interpreted at that time is sitting behind you," he declared. "He knows it
They extracted his confession. But it was some time before he had been able
to sign it; his fingers were hurt too severely.
It was necessary, after the police examination, for prisoners to repeat
their stories or confirm them before the procurator. This might originally
have been intended as a protection for the prisoners. In Korea police and
procurators worked together. However, steps were taken to prevent any
retraction at that point.
"When I was taken to the Public Procurator's Office," continued the
Presbyterian pastor, "I did not know the nature of the place, and being put
in a separate room, I feared that it might be an even more dreadful place
than the police headquarters. Generally, when examined at the police
headquarters, my hands were free, but here I was brought up for
cross-examination with my hands and arms pinioned very firmly, so I thought
it must be a harder place. Moreover, an official pulled me very hard by the
cords which bound my hands, which gave me excruciating pain, seeing how
they had already been treated by the police."
The next prisoner, Yi Mong-yong, a Presbyterian money lender, also pointed
out the proud Tanaka. He had been describing how the police kicked and
struck him to make him say what they wanted. "One of them is behind you
now," said he to the judges, pointing to Tanaka.
Some of the prisoners broke down while giving their evidence. Unimas
described how he had been hung, beaten, stripped and tortured by the
police, and again tortured in the office of the Public Procurator. "Having
got so far," the reports continue, "the prisoner began to weep and make a
loud outcry, saying that he had a mother who was eighty years old at home.
With this pitiful scene, the hearing ended for the day."
Yi Tai-kyong was a teacher. The police reminded him that the murderer of
Prince Ito was a Christian; he was a Christian, therefore--
"They hung, beat and otherwise tormented me, until I was compelled to
acknowledge all the false fabrication about the plot. The following day I
was again taken into Mr. Yamana's room and again tortured with an iron rod
from the stove and other things, until I had acknowledged all the false
"When asked what was the party's signal, I remained silent, as I knew
nothing about it. But I was tortured again, and said, 'the church bell,'
that being the only thing I could think of at the time."
"I confessed to the whole prosecution story, but only as the result of
torture, to which I was submitted nine times, fainting on two occasions,
and being tortured again on revival," said Pak Chou-hyong. "I made my false
confession under a threat that I and my whole family would be killed. I
reiterated it at the Public Procurator's Office, where I was conducted by
two policemen, one of them a man with a gold tooth, who boxed my ears so
hard that I still feel the pain, and who told me not to vary my story.
"Fearing that my whole family would be tortured, I agreed. But when I
arrived before the Public Procurator, I forgot what I had been taught to
say, and wept, asking the officials to read what I had to confess. This
they did, and I said, 'Yes, yes.'"
Choi Che-kiu, a petty trader, repudiated his confession of having gone with
a party to Sun-chon.
"Had such a large party attempted to go to the station," he said, "they
must infallibly have been arrested on the first day. Were I guilty I would
be ready to die at once. The whole story was invented by officials, and I
was obliged to acquiesce in it by severe torture. One night I was taken to
Nanzan hill by two policemen, suspended from a pine tree and a sharp sword
put to my throat. Thinking I was going to be killed, I consented to say
'Yes' to any question put to me."
"No force can make you tell such a story as this, unless you consent
voluntarily," interposed the Court.
"You may well say that," replied the prisoner, grimly. "But with the blade
of a sword in my face and a lighted cigarette pressed against my body, I
preferred acquiescence in a story, which they told me that Kim Syong had
already confessed, to death."
The prisoner paused, and the Judge looked at him with his head on one side.
Suddenly the prisoner burst into a passion of weeping, with loud,
In the previous trial one of the prisoners, Kim Ik-kyo, was asked why he
admitted all the facts at his preliminary examination. "If the police were
to go down Chong-no (one of the busiest streets in Seoul)," he replied,
"and indiscriminately arrest a number of passers-by, and then examine them
by putting them to torture, I am sure they would soon confess to having
taken part in a plot."
The same thing was put in another way by a prisoner, Kim Eung-pong. He
related a long story of torture by binding, hanging, beating and burning,
continued for fifteen days, during which he was often threatened with
death. Then he was taken to the "supreme enquiry" office of the police
headquarters, where he was stripped naked and beaten with an iron bar from
the stove. This office, he understood, had control and power of life or
death over the whole peninsula, so he was compelled to confess all that
they wanted. "I even would have said that I killed my father, if they put
it to me," he added.
Hear the tale of An Sei-whan. As An was called up in the Appeal Court, a
wave of pity passed over the white men there, for An was a miserable
object, pale and emaciated. He was a consumptive and afflicted with other
ills. He had been in the Christian Hospital at Pyeng-yang most of the
winter, and had nearly died there. He had been walking a little for a few
days, when he was arrested at the hospital in April. He had been vomiting
"In this condition I was taken to the police headquarters and tortured. My
thumbs were hung together and I was hung up, with my toes barely touching
the ground. I was taken down nearly dead, and made to stand for hours under
a chest nearly as high as my chest. Next day, when I was put under the
shelf again my hair was fastened to the board, and my left leg doubled at
the knee and tied. Blood came up from my lung, but fearful of the police I
swallowed it. Now, I think it would have been better if I had vomited it.
Then they might have had pity on me; but I did not think so then.
"Again I was hung up by the thumbs, clear of the floor this time. At the
end of five minutes I was nearly dead. I asked if it would do to assent to
their questions, and they took me down and took me before some superiors.
When I said anything unsatisfactory I was beaten, and in this way learned
what was wanted. I had no wish to deny or admit anything, only to escape
He asked that some of the missionaries who knew him might be called, to
show that he was too ill to take part in any conspiracy.
One old man, Yi Chang-sik, a Presbyterian for sixteen years, had refused
even under the torture to confess, and had tried to escape by suicide. "I
thought that I had better commit suicide than be killed by their cruel
tortures," he said. "They asked me if I had joined the conspiracy at the
suggestion of Mr. McCune. I would not consent to this, so they tortured me
harder. I was nearly naked, and so cold water was poured upon me. I was
also beaten. Sometimes I would be tortured till the early hours of the
"I longed for death to deliver me. Thanks to heaven, I found a knife one
night in my room. The warder was not very careful with me. I took it
secretly, intending to cut my throat--but my hand had become too weak. So I
stuck it erect in the floor, and tried to cut my throat that way. Alas! At
this moment the warder surprised me. When I had endured torture for over
forty days, I asked them to make me guilty or innocent as quickly as
possible. When I was taken to the Public Procurator's, I had pains in my
ears, body and limbs. I could not stand the torture and wanted to die."
"Having got so far," wrote a spectator, "the old man broke down and began
to weep, crying louder and louder. He said something as he wept, but the
interpreter could not make out what it was. The Court evidently pitied him
and told him to stand down. He withdrew, sobbing."
A Presbyterian student from Sun-chon, Cha Heui-syon, was arrested and kept
for four months in the gendarmes office, becoming very weak. Then he was
taken to the police headquarters.
"First I was hung up by my thumbs, then my hands and legs were tied, and I
was made to crouch under a shelf about as high as my chest, which was
intensely painful, as I could neither sit nor stand. Something was put in
my mouth. I vomited blood, yet I was beaten. I was stood up on a bench and
tied up so that when it was removed, I was left hanging. The interpreter
who has often been in this court (Watanabe) tortured me. My arms stiffened
so that I could not stretch them. As I hung I was beaten with bamboos three
or four feet long and with an iron rod, which on one occasion made the hand
of the official who was wielding it bleed."
At last he gave in. He was too weak to speak. They took him down and
massaged his arms, which were useless. He could only nod now to the
statements that they put to him. Later on they took him to the Public
Procurator. Here he attempted to deny his confession. "The Public
Procurator was very angry," he said. "He struck the table, getting up and
sitting down again. He jerked the cord by which my hands were tied, hurting
me very severely."
The case of Baron Yun Chi-ho excited special interest. The Baron being a
noble of high family, the police used more care in extracting his
confession. He was examined day after day for ten days, the same questions
being asked and denied day after day. One day when his nerves were in
shreds, they tortured another prisoner in front of his eyes, and the
examiner told him that if he would not confess, he was likely to share the
same fate. They told him that the others had confessed and been punished; a
hundred men had admitted the facts. He did not know then that the charge
against him was conspiracy to murder. He determined to make a false
confession, to escape torture. He was worn out with the ceaseless
questioning, and he was afraid.
The rehearing in the Court of Appeal lasted fifty-one days. In the last
days many of the prisoners were allowed to speak for themselves. They made
a very favourable impression. Judgment was delivered on March 20th. The
original judgment was quashed in every case, and the cases reconsidered.
Ninety-nine of the prisoners were found not guilty. Baron Yun Chi-ho, Yang
Ki-tak and four others were convicted. Five of them were sentenced to six
years' penal servitude, and one to five years. Two other appeals were made,
but the only result was to increase the sentence of the sixth man to six
years. Three of the men finally convicted had been members of the staff of
the _Dai Han Mai Il Shinpo_. The Japanese do not forget or forgive readily.
They had an old score to pay against the staff of that paper.
I have never yet met a man, English, American or Japanese, acquainted with
the case, or who followed the circumstances, who believed that there had
been any plot at all. The whole thing, from first to last, was entirely a
police-created charge. The Japanese authorities showed later that they
themselves did not believe it. On the coronation of the Japanese Emperor,
in February, 1915, the six prisoners were released as a sign of "Imperial
clemency." Baron Yun Chi-ho was appointed Secretary of the Y.M.C.A, at
Seoul on his release, and Count Terauchi (whom he was supposed to have
plotted to murder) thereupon gave a liberal subscription to the Y. funds.
There was one sequel to the case. The Secretary of the Korean Y.M.C.A., Mr.
Gillett, having satisfied himself of the innocence of Baron Yun and his
associates, while the trial was pending, sent a letter to prominent people
abroad, telling the facts. The letter, by the indiscretion of one man who
received it, was published in newspapers. The Japanese authorities, in
consequence, succeeded in driving Mr. Gillett out of Korea. Before driving
him out, they tried to get him to come over on their side. Mr. Komatsu,
Director of the Bureau for Foreign Affairs, asked him and Mr. Gerdine, the
President, to call on him. "The Government has met the demands of the
missionary body and released ninety-nine out of the hundred and five
prisoners who stood trial at the Appeal Court," said Mr. Komatsu. "It is to
be expected that the missionary body will in return do something to put the
Government in a strong and favourable light before the people of Japan."
Mr. Komatsu added that Judge Suzuki's action was in reality the action of
the Government-General, a quaint illustration of the independence of the
judiciary in Korea.
The Administration made a feeble attempt to deny the tortures. Its argument
was that since torture was forbidden by law, it could not take place. Let
we quote the official statement:
"A word should be added in reference to the absurd rumours spread abroad
concerning it (the conspiracy case) such as that the measures taken by the
authorities aimed at 'wiping out the Christian movement in Korea,' since
the majority of the accused were Christian converts, and that most of the
accused made 'false confessions against their will,' as they were subject
to 'unendurable ill-treatment or torture.' As if such imputations could be
sustained for one minute, when the modern regime ruling Japan is
considered!... As to torture, several provisions of the Korean criminal
code indirectly recognized it, but the law was revised and those provisions
were rescinded when the former Korean law courts were reformed, by
appointing to them Japanese judicial staffs, in August, 1908.... According
to the new criminal law (judges, procurators or police) officials are
liable, if they treat accused prisoners with violence or torture, to penal
servitude or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years. In
reply to the memorial presented to the Governor-General by certain
missionaries in Korea, in January, 1912, he said, 'I assure you that the
entire examination of the suspected persons or witnesses is being conducted
in strict compliance with the provisions of the law, and the slightest
divergence from the lawful process will under no circumstances be
permitted.' How then could any one imagine that it was possible for
officials under him to act under any other way than in accordance with the
provisions of the law."
Unfortunately for the noble indignation of the writer, the torture left its
marks, and many men are living as I write still bearing them. Others only
escaped from the hell of the Japanese prison in Seoul to die. They were so
broken that they never recovered.
THE INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT
The people of Korea never assented to the annexation of their country. The
Japanese control of means of communication prevented their protests from
being fully known by the outside world.
It was explained that the movement against the Japanese was due to the work
of Koreans living outside of the land and to foreign agitators. The
Japanese blamed the missionaries. They blamed foreign publicists. I
understand that I was and am esteemed a special malignant. They never
thought to blame themselves. As a matter of fact, missionaries and the rest
of us had nothing to do with it. The real origin of the movement was among
the people themselves, and it was fostered, not by outsiders, but by the
iron and unjust rule of Japan.
At the same time, the Koreans living in freedom were naturally concerned
over conditions at home. The large Korean communities in Manchuria and
Siberia, estimated to number in all two millions, the flourishing colony in
the United States and Hawaii, the Koreans in Mexico and China heard with
indignation of what was happening. Young students and political prisoners
released after torture, who escaped to America, fanned the flame to white
heat. The Koreans living outside Korea formed a National Association, with
headquarters in San Francisco, under the Presidency of Dr. David Lee, which
in 1919 claimed a million and a half adherents.
The steps taken by the Japanese to suppress and prevent discontent often
created and fostered it. This was specially illustrated in the schools. The
new educational system, with its constant inculcation of loyalty to the
Mikado, made even the little girls violently Nationalist. School children
were spied upon for incipient treason as though the lisping of childish
lips might overthrow the throne. The speeches of boys and girls in junior
schools, at their school exercises, were carefully noted, and the child who
said anything that might be construed by the Censor as "dangerous thought"
would be arrested, examined and punished.
The effect of this was what might have been expected. "They compel us to
learn Japanese," said one little miss, sagely. "That does not matter. We
are now able to understand what they say. They cannot understand what we
say. All the better for us when the hour comes." On Independence Day the
children, particularly in the Government schools, were found to be banded
together and organized against Japan. They had no fear in expressing their
views and sought martyrdom. Some of them won it.
The Japanese hoped much from the Chon-do Kyo, a powerful movement
encouraged by the authorities because they thought that it would be a
valuable counteractive to Christianity. Its leader was Son Pyung-hi, an old
Korean friend of Japan. As far back as 1894, when the Japanese arranged the
Tong-hak Rebellion in Korea, to give them an excuse for provoking war with
China, Son was one of their leading agents. He believed that Western
influence and in particular Western religion was inimical to his country,
and he hoped by the Tong-haks to drive them out.
As a result of his activities, he had to flee from Korea, and he did not
return until 1903. He became leader of the Chon-do Kyo, the Heavenly Way
Society, a body that tried to include the best of many religions and give
the benefits of Christian organization and fellowship without Christianity.
He had learned many things while in exile, and was now keen on reform and
education. Many of his old Tong-hak friends rallied around him, and the
Chon-do Kyo soon numbered considerably over a million members.
Son realized after a time that the Japanese were not the friends but the
enemies of his people. He made no violent protestations. He still
maintained seemingly good relations with them. But his organization was put
to work. His agents went over the country. Each adherent was called on to
give three spoonfuls of rice a day. Close on a million dollars was
accumulated. Most of this was afterwards seized by the Japanese.
The Chon-do Kyo and the native Christian leaders came together. The
Christian pastors had up to now kept their people in check. But the burden
was becoming intolerable. They gave the missionaries no inkling of what was
brewing. They did not wish to get them in trouble. Their real grief was
that their action would, they knew, make it harder for the Churches.
Two remarkable characters took the lead among the Christians, Pastor Kil
and Yi Sang-jai. Pastor Kil of Pyeng-yang was one of the oldest and most
famous Christians in Korea. He had become a leader in the early days,
facing death for his faith. A man of powerful brain, of fine character and
with the qualities of real leadership, he was looked up to by the people as
British Nonconformists a generation ago regarded Charles Spurgeon. In
recent years Kil had become almost blind, but continued his work.
I have already described in an earlier chapter how Yi Sang-jai, once
Secretary to the Legation at Washington, became a Christian while thrown
into prison for his political views. He was now a Y.M.C.A. leader, but he
was held in universal veneration by all men--Christian and non-Christian
alike--as a saint, as a man who walked with God and communed with Him.
When things seemed rapidly ripening, President Wilson made his famous
declaration of the rights of weaker nations. One sentence went round among
the Koreans, and its effect was electrical.
"What is the task that this League of Nations is to do?
"IT IS TO PROVIDE FOR THE FREEDOM OF SMALL NATIONS, TO PREVENT THE
DOMINATION OF SMALL NATIONS BY BIG ONES."
Here was the clarion call to Korea. Here was hope! Here was the promise of
freedom, given by the head of the nation they had all learned to love. If
any outsider was responsible for the uprising of the Korean people, that
outsider was Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America.
"Now is the time to act," said the people. For a start, they resolved to
send delegates to present their case to the Paris Conference. Three leaders
in America were chosen but were refused passports. Finally another young
leader, Mr. Kiusic Kimm, succeeded in landing in France. Perhaps it would
not be wise to say, at this time, how he managed to get there. He soon
found that his mission was in vain. The Paris Conference would not receive
him. President Wilson's declaration was not to be put into full effect.
The people resolved, by open and orderly demonstration, to support their
delegate in France. There were some who would have started a violent
revolution. The Christians would have none of it "Let us have no violence,"
said they. "Let us appeal to the conscience of Japan and of the world."
There were no constitutional means for them to employ to make their case
heard. But if ever there was an effort at peaceful constitutional change,
this was it. Instructions were sent out, surely the most extraordinary
instructions ever issued under similar circumstances:--
"Whatever you do
DO NOT INSULT THE JAPANESE
DO NOT THROW STONES
DO NOT HIT WITH YOUR FISTS.
For these are the acts of barbarians."
It was unnecessary to tell the people not to shoot, for the Japanese had
long since taken all their weapons away, even their ancient sporting
A favourable moment was approaching. The old Korean Emperor lay dead. One
rumour was that he had committed suicide to avoid signing a document drawn
up by the Japanese for presentation to the Peace Conference, saying that he
was well satisfied with the present Government of his country. Another
report, still more generally believed, was that he had committed suicide to
prevent the marriage of his son, Prince Kon, to the Japanese Princess
Nashinoto. The engagement of this young Prince to a Korean girl had been
broken off when the Japanese acquired control of the Imperial House. Royal
romances always appeal to the crowd. The heart of the people turned to the
old Emperor again. Men, women and children put on straw shoes, signs of
national mourning, and a hundred thousand people flocked to Seoul to
witness the funeral ceremonies.
The funeral was to take place on March 4th. By now the Japanese suspected
something to be afoot. The astonishing thing is that the Koreans had been
able to keep it from them so long. A network of organizations had been
created all over the country. The Japanese hurried their preparations to
prevent popular demonstrations on the day of the funeral. The leaders
learned of this, and outwitted the police by a simple device. They resolved
to make their demonstration not on Tuesday, March 4th, but on the previous
Gatherings were arranged for all over the country. A Declaration of
Independence was drawn up in advance and delivered to the different
centres. Here it was mimeographed, and girls and boys organized themselves
to ensure its distribution. Meetings, processions and demonstrations in all
the big cities were planned.
Thirty-three men chose martyrdom. They were to be the original signers of
the Declaration of Independence. They knew that at the best this must mean
heavy punishment for them, and at the worst might well mean death. They had
no delusions. Pastor Kil's son had died from the effects of Japanese
torture, Yang Chun-paik and Yi Seung-hun, two of the signers, had been
victims in the Conspiracy case. The first two names on the list of signers
were Son Pyung-hi, leader of the Chon-do Kyo, and Pastor Kil.
On the morning of March 1st the group of thirty-two met at the Pagoda
Restaurant at Seoul. Pastor Kil was the only absentee; he had been
temporarily delayed on his journey from Pyeng-yang.
Some prominent Japanese had been invited to eat with the Koreans. After the
meal, the Declaration was produced before their guests and read. It was
despatched to the Governor-General. Then the signers rang up the Central
Police Station, informed the shocked officials of what they had done, and
added that they would wait in the restaurant until the police van came to