Part 4 out of 5
The automobile prison van, with them inside, had to make its way to the
police station through dense crowds, cheering and shouting, "Mansei!
Mansei! Mansei!" It was the old national battle cry, "May Korea live ten
thousand years." Old flags had been brought out, old Korean flags, with the
red and blue germ on the white ground, and were being widely waved.
"Mansei!" Not only Seoul but the whole country had in a few minutes broken
out in open demonstration. A new kind of revolt had begun.
Pastor Kil, arriving late, hurried to the police station to take his place
with his comrades.
The Declaration of Independence is a document impossible to summarize, if
one is to do full justice to it. It is written in the lofty tone of the
ancient prophets. It was something more than the aspiration of the Korean
people. It was the cry of the New Asia, struggling to find its way out of
oppression and mediaeval militarism into the promised land of liberty and
THE PROCLAMATION OF KOREAN INDEPENDENCE
"We herewith proclaim the independence of Korea and the liberty
of the Korean people. We tell it to the world in witness of the
equality of all nations and we pass it on to our posterity as
their inherent right.
"We make this proclamation, having back of us 5,000 years of
history, and 20,000,000 of a united loyal people. We take this
step to insure to our children for all time to come, personal
liberty in accord with the awakening consciousness of this new
era. This is the clear leading of God, the moving principle of
the present age, the whole human race's just claim. It is
something that cannot be stamped out, or stifled, or gagged, or
suppressed by any means.
"Victims of an older age, when brute force and the spirit of
plunder ruled, we have come after these long thousands of years
to experience the agony of ten years of foreign oppression, with
every loss to the right to live, every restriction of the freedom
of thought, every damage done to the dignity of life, every
opportunity lost for a share in the intelligent advance of the
age in which we live.
"Assuredly, if the defects of the past are to be rectified, if
the agony of the present is to be unloosed, if the future
oppression is to be avoided, if thought is to be set free, if
right of action is to be given a place, if we are to attain to
any way of progress, if we are to deliver our children from the
painful, shameful heritage, if we are to leave blessing and
happiness intact for those who succeed us, the first of all
necessary things is the clear-cut independence of our people.
What cannot our twenty millions do, every man with sword in
heart, in this day when human nature and conscience are making a
stand for truth and right? What barrier can we not break, what
purpose can we not accomplish?
"We have no desire to accuse Japan of breaking many solemn
treaties since 1636, nor to single out specially the teachers in
the schools or government officials who treat the heritage of our
ancestors as a colony of their own, and our people and their
civilization as a nation of savages, finding delight only in
beating us down and bringing us under their heel.
"We have no wish to find special fault with Japan's lack of
fairness or her contempt of our civilization and the principles
on which her state rests; we, who have greater cause to reprimand
ourselves, need not spend precious time in finding fault with
others; neither need we, who require so urgently to build for the
future, spend useless hours over what is past and gone. Our
urgent need to-day is the setting up of this house of ours and
not a discussion of who has broken it down, or what has caused
its ruin. Our work is to clear the future of defects in accord
with the earnest dictates of conscience. Let us not be filled
with bitterness or resentment over past agonies or past occasions
"Our part is to influence the Japanese government, dominated as
it is by the old idea of brute force which thinks to run counter
to reason and universal law, so that it will change, act honestly
and in accord with the principles of right and truth.
"The result of annexation, brought about without any conference
with the Korean people, is that the Japanese, indifferent to us,
use every kind of partiality for their own, and by a false set of
figures show a profit and loss account between us two peoples
most untrue, digging a trench of everlasting resentment deeper
and deeper the farther they go.
"Ought not the way of enlightened courage to be to correct the
evils of the past by ways that are sincere, and by true sympathy
and friendly feeling make a new world in which the two peoples
will be equally blessed?
"To bind by force twenty millions of resentful Koreans will mean
not only loss of peace forever for this part of the Far East, but
also will increase the evergrowing suspicion of four hundred
millions of Chinese--upon whom depends the danger or safety of
the Far East--besides strengthening the hatred of Japan. From
this all the rest of the East will suffer. To-day Korean
independence will mean not only daily life and happiness for us,
but also it would mean Japan's departure from an evil way and
exaltation to the place of true protector of the East, so that
China, too, even in her dreams, would put all fear of Japan
aside. This thought comes from no minor resentment, but from a
large hope for the future welfare and blessing of mankind.
"A new era wakes before our eyes, the old world of force is gone,
and the new world of righteousness and truth is here. Out of the
experience and travail of the old world arises this light on
life's affairs. The insects stifled by the foe and snow of winter
awake at this same time with the breezes of spring and the soft
light of the sun upon them.
"It is the day of the restoration of all things on the full tide
of which we set forth, without delay or fear. We desire a full
measure of satisfaction in the way of liberty and the pursuit of
happiness, and an opportunity to develop what is in us for the
glory of our people.
"We awake now from the old world with its darkened conditions in
full determination and one heart and one mind, with right on our
side, along with the forces of nature, to a new life. May all the
ancestors to the thousands and ten thousand generations aid us
from within and all the force of the world aid us from without,
and let the day we take hold be the day of our attainment. In
this hope we go forward.
THREE ITEMS OF AGREEMENT
"1. This work of ours is in behalf of truth, religion and life,
undertaken at the request of our people, in order to make known
their desire for liberty. Let no violence be done to any one.
"2. Let those who follow us, every man, all the time, every hour,
show forth with gladness this same mind.
"3. Let all things be done decently and in order, so that our
behaviour to the very end may be honourable and upright."
The 4252nd year of the Kingdom of Korea 3d Month.
Representatives of the people.
The signatures attached to the document are:
Son Pyung-hi, Kil Sun Chu, Yi Pil Chu, Paik Yong Sung, Kim Won
Kyu, Kim Pyung Cho, Kim Chang Choon, Kwon Dong Chin, Kwon Byung
Duk, Na Yong Whan, Na In Hup, Yang Chun Paik, Yang Han Mook, Lew
Yer Dai, Yi Kop Sung, Yi Mung Yong, Yi Seung Hoon, Yi Chong Hoon,
Yi Chong Il, Lim Yei Whan, Pak Choon Seung, Pak Hi Do, Pak Tong
Wan, Sin Hong Sik, Sin Suk Ku, Oh Sei Chang, Oh Wha Young, Chung
Choon Su, Choi Sung Mo, Choi In, Han Yong Woon, Hong Byung Ki,
Hong Ki Cho.
THE PEOPLE SPEAK--THE TYRANTS ANSWER
On Saturday, March 1st, at two in the afternoon, in a large number of
centres of population throughout the country, the Declaration of Korean
Independence was solemnly read, usually to large assemblies, by
representative citizens. In some places, the leaders of the Christians and
the leaders of the non-Christian bodies acted in common. In other places,
by mutual agreement, two gatherings were held at the same time, the one for
Christians and the other for non-Christians. Then the two met in the
streets, and sometimes headed by a band they marched down the street
shouting "Mansei" until they were dispersed. Every detail had been thought
out. Large numbers of copies of declarations of independence were ready.
These were circulated, usually by boys and schoolgirls, sometimes by women,
each city being mapped out in districts.
It was soon seen that every class of the community was united. Men who had
been ennobled by the Japanese stood with the coolies; shopkeepers closed
their stores, policemen who had worked under the Japanese took off their
uniforms and joined the crowds, porters and labourers, scholars and
preachers, men and women all came together.
In every other Korean demonstration, for untold centuries, only part of the
nation had been included. When the yang-bans started a political revolt, in
the old days, they did not recognize that such a thing as popular opinion
existed and did not trouble to consult it. Korea had long known
demonstrations of great family against great family, of Yis against Mins;
of section against section, as when the Conservatives fought the
Progressives; and of Independents against the old Court Gang. But now all
were one. And with the men were the women, and even the children. Boys of
six told their fathers to be firm and never to yield, as they were carried
off to prison; girls of ten and twelve prepared themselves to go to jail.
The movement was a demonstration, not a riot. On the opening day and
afterwards--until the Japanese drove some of the people to fury--there was
no violence. The Japanese, scattered all over the country, were uninjured;
the Japanese shops were left alone; when the police attacked, elders
ordered the people to submit and to offer no resistance. The weak things
had set themselves up to confound the strong.
At first, the Japanese authorities were so completely taken by surprise
that they did not know what to do. Then the word was passed round that the
movement was to be suppressed by relentless severity. And so Japan lost her
last chance of winning the people of Korea and of wiping out the
accentuated ill-will of centuries.
The first plan of the Japanese was to attack every gathering of people and
disperse it, and to arrest every person who took part in the demonstrations
or was supposed to have a hand in them. Japanese civilians were armed with
clubs and swords and given _carte blanche_ to attack any Korean they
suspected of being a demonstrator. They interpreted these instructions
freely. Firemen were sent out with poles with the big firemen's hooks at
the end. A single pull with one of these hooks meant death or horrible
mutilation for any person they struck.
The police used their swords freely. What I mean by "freely" can best be
shown by one incident A little gathering of men started shouting "Mansei"
in a street in Seoul. The police came after them, and they vanished. One
man--it is not clear whether he called "Mansei" or was an accidental
spectator--was pushed in the deep gutter by the roadside as the
demonstrators rushed away. As he struggled out the police came up. There
was no question of the man resisting or not resisting. He was unarmed and
alone. They cut off his ears, cut them off level with his cheek, they slit
up his fingers, they hacked his body, and then they left him for dead. He
was carried off by some horrified spectators, and died a few hours later. A
photograph of his body lies before me as I write. I showed the photograph
one evening to two or three men in New York City. Next day I met the men
again. "We had nightmare all night long, because of that picture," they
In Seoul, when the thirty-three leaders were arrested, a demonstration was
held in the Park and the Declaration read there. Then the crowd made an
orderly demonstration in the streets, waving flags and hats, shouting
"Mansei," parading in front of the Consulates and public buildings, and
sending letters to the Consuls informing them of what they had done. There
was no violence. The police, mounted and foot, tried to disperse the crowds
and made numerous arrests, but the throngs were so dense that they could
not scatter them.
Next day was Sunday. Here the strong Christian influences stopped
demonstrations, for the Korean Christians observe the Sunday strictly. This
gave the Japanese authorities time to gather their forces. Numerous arrests
were made that day, not only in Seoul but all over the country. On Monday
there was the funeral of the ex-Emperor. The people were quiet then. It was
noticed that the school children were entirely absent from their places
along the line of march. They had struck.
On Wednesday life was supposed to resume its normal aspects again. The
schools reopened, but there were no pupils. The shops remained closed. The
coolies in official employ did not come to work. The authorities sent
police to order the shopkeepers to open. They opened while the police were
by, and closed immediately they were out of sight. Finally troops were
placed outside the shops to see that they remained open. The shopkeepers
sat passive, and informed any chance enquirer that they did not have what
he wanted. This continued for some weeks.
The authorities were specially disturbed by the refusal of the children to
come to school. In one large junior school, the boys were implored to come
for their Commencement exercises, and to receive their certificates. Let me
tell the scene that followed, as described to me by people in the city. The
boys apparently yielded, and the Commencement ceremonies were begun, in the
presence of a number of official and other distinguished Japanese guests.
The precious certificates were handed out to each lad. Then the head boy, a
little fellow of about twelve or thirteen, came to the front to make the
school speech of thanks to his teachers and to the authorities. He was the
impersonation of courtesy. Every bow was given to the full; he lingered
over the honorifics, as though he loved the sound of them. The
distinguished guests were delighted. Then came the end. "I have only this
now to say," the lad concluded. A change came over his voice. He
straightened himself up, and there was a look of resolution in his eyes. He
knew that the cry he was about to utter had brought death to many during
the past few days. "We beg one thing more of you." He plunged one hand in
his garment, pulled out the Korean flag, the possession of which is a
crime. Waving the flag, he cried out, "Give us back our country. May Korea
live forever. Mansei!"
All the boys jumped up from their seats, each one pulling out a flag from
under his coat and waved it, calling, "Mansei! Mansei! Mansei!" They tore
up their precious certificates, in front of the now horrified guests, threw
them on the ground, and trooped out.
At nine o'clock that Wednesday morning there was a great demonstration of
students and high school girls around the palace. The girls had planned out
their part ahead. A big crowd gathered around. Then a large force of police
rushed on them, with drawn swords, knocking down, beating and arresting,
lads and girls alike. The girls were treated as roughly as the men. Over
four hundred, including one hundred girl students, were taken to the police
station that morning. What happened to the girls there, I tell in a later
chapter. Fifteen nurse-probationers of the Severance Hospital, one of the
most famous missionary hospitals in the Far East, hurried out with bandages
to bind up the wounded. The police took them in custody also. They were
severely examined, to find if the foreigners had instigated them to take
part in the demonstrations, but were released the same afternoon.
As Prince Yi was returning from the ex-Emperor's funeral that afternoon, a
group of twenty literati approached his carriage and attempted to present a
petition. They were stopped by the police. A petition was sent by the
literati to the Governor-General; the delegates were told to take it to the
police office. Here they were arrested.
Two of the most famous nobles in the land, Viscount Kim and Viscount Li,
sent a dignified petition to the Governor-General, begging him to listen to
the people, and deploring the severe measures taken to suppress the
demonstrations. Viscount Kim was senior peer, head of the Confucian
College, and had ever been a friend of Japan. As far back as 1866, he had
run the risk of death by urging the King to open the country to outside
nations and to conclude a treaty with Japan. The Japanese had made him one
of their new Korean peerage. He was now eighty-five, feeble and bedridden.
The protest of himself and his fellow senior was measured, polished, moved
with a deep sympathy for the people, but with nothing in it to which the
Governor-General should have taken offence.
The Japanese treatment of these two nobles was crowning proof of their
incapacity to rule another people. The two were at once arrested, and with
them various male members of their families. Kim was so ill that he could
not be immediately moved, so a guard was placed over his house. All were
brought to trial at Seoul in July. With Viscount Kim were Kim Ki-ju, his
grandson, and Kim Yu-mon. With Viscount Li was his relative Li Ken-tai. The
charge against them was, of violating the Peace Preservation Act. Ki-ju
aggravated his position by trying to defend himself. The Japanese press
reported that he was reported to "have assumed a very hostile attitude to
the bench enunciating this theory and that in defence of his cause." This
statement is the best condemnation of the trial. Where a prisoner is deemed
to add to his guilt by attempting to defend himself, justice has
Viscount Kim was sentenced to two years' penal servitude, and Viscount Li
to eighteen months, both sentences being stayed for three years. Kim Ki-ju,
Kim Yu-mon and Li Ken-tai were sentenced to hard labour for eighteen
months, twelve months and six months respectively. The sentence reflected
disgrace on the Government that instituted the prosecution and decreed the
The white people of Seoul were horrified by the Japanese treatment of badly
wounded men who flocked to the Severance Hospital for aid. Some of these,
almost fatally wounded, were put to bed. The Japanese police came and
demanded that they should be delivered up to them. The doctors pointed out
that it probably would be fatal to move them. The police persisted, and
finally carried off three men. It was reported that one man they took off
in this fashion was flogged to death.
Reports were beginning to come in from other parts. There had been
demonstrations throughout the north, right up to Wiju, on the Manchurian
border. At Song-chon, it was reported, thirty had been killed, a number
wounded, and three hundred arrested Pyeng-yang had been the centre of a
particularly impressive movement, which had been sternly repressed. From
the east coast, away at Hameung, there came similar tidings. The Japanese
stated that things were quiet in the south until Wednesday, when there was
an outbreak at Kun-san, led by the pupils of a Christian school. The
Japanese at once seized on the participation of the Christians, the press
declaring that the American missionaries were at the bottom of it. A
deliberate attempt was made to stir up the Japanese population against the
Americans. Numbers of houses of American missionaries and leaders of
philanthropic work were searched. Several of them were called to the police
offices and examined; some were stopped in the streets and searched. Unable
to find any evidence against the missionaries, the Japanese turned on the
Korean Christians. Soon nearly every Korean Christian pastor in Seoul was
in jail; and news came from many parts of the burning of churches, the
arrest of leading Christians, and the flogging of their congregations. The
Japanese authorities, on pressure from the American consular officials,
issued statements that the missionaries had nothing to do with the
uprising, but in practice they acted as though the rising were essentially
a Christian movement.
In the country people were stopped by soldiers when walking along the
roads, and asked, "Are you Christians?" If they answered, "Yes," they were
beaten; if "No," they were allowed to go. The local gendarmes told the
people in many villages that Christianity was to be wiped out and all
Christians shot. "Christians are being arrested wholesale and beaten simply
because they are Christians," came the reports from many parts.
Soon dreadful stories came from the prisons, not only in Seoul, but in many
other parts. Men who had been released after investigation, as innocent,
told of the tortures inflicted on them in the police offices, and showed
their jellied and blackened flesh in proof. Some were even inconsiderate
enough to die a few days after release, and on examination their bodies and
heads were found horribly damaged. The treatment may be summed up in a
paragraph from a statement by the Rev. A.E. Armstrong, of the Board of
Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, who was on a visit
to Korea at the time:
"The tortures which the Koreans suffer at the hands of the police
and gendarmes are identical with those employed in the famous
conspiracy trials. I read affidavits, now on their way to the
United States and British Governments, which made one's blood
boil, so frightful were the means used in trying to extort
confessions from prisoners. And many of these had no part in the
demonstrations, but were simply onlookers."
Within a fortnight, the arrests numbered thousands in Seoul alone. Every
man, particularly every student, suspected of participation was jailed. But
it was evident that the authorities had not secured the leaders, or else
that the leaders had arranged a system by which there were men always ready
to step into the place of those who were taken. The official organ, the
_Seoul Press_, would come out with an announcement that the agitation had
now died down; two or three days later there would be another great
demonstration in the streets. The hundred thousand visitors who had come to
Seoul for the funeral returned home to start agitations in their own
districts. The authorities were particularly annoyed at their inability to
discover the editors and publishers of the secret paper of the protest, the
_Independence News_, which appeared in mimeographed form. To prevent its
publication the authorities took control of mimeograph paper, and seized
every mimeograph machine they could find. Time after time it was stated
that the editors of the paper had been secured; the announcement was barely
published before fresh editions would mysteriously appear in Seoul and in
Despite every effort to minimize it, news of the happenings gradually crept
out and were published abroad. Mr. I. Yamagata, the Director-General of
Administration, was called to Tokyo for a conference with the Government.
Much was hoped by many friends of Japan in America from this. It was
believed that the Liberal Premier of Japan, the Hon. T. Hara, would
promptly declare himself against the cruelties that had been employed.
Unfortunately these hopes were disappointed. While speaking reassuringly to
foreign enquirers, Mr. Hara and his Government officially determined on
still harsher measures.
Mr. Yamagata's own statement, issued on his return, announced that after
conference with the Premier, an audience with the Emperor and conferences
with the Cabinet "decision was reached in favour of taking drastic measures
by despatching more troops to the peninsula."
"In the first stage of the trouble, the Government-General was in
favour of mild measures (!), and it was hoped to quell the
agitation by peaceful methods," Mr. Yamagata continued. "It is to
be regretted, however, that the agitation has gradually spread to
all parts of the peninsula, while the nature of the disturbance
has become malignant, and it was to cope with this situation that
the Government was obliged to resort to force. In spite of this,
the trouble has not only continued, but has become so
uncontrollable and wide-spread that the police and military force
hitherto in use has been found insufficient, necessitating the
despatch of more troops and gendarmes from the mother country....
Should they (the agitators) continue the present trouble, it
would be necessary to show them the full power of the military
force. It is earnestly to be hoped that the trouble will be
settled peacefully, before the troops are obliged to use their
Count Hasegawa, the Governor-General, had already issued various
proclamations, telling the people of the Imperial benevolence of Japan,
warning them that the watchword "self-determination of races" was utterly
irrevelant to Japan, and warning them of the relentless punishment that
would fall on those who committed offences against the peace. Here is one
of the proclamations. It may be taken as typical of all:
"When the State funeral of the late Prince Yi was on the point of
being held, I issued an instruction that the people should help
one another to mourn his loss in a quiet and respectful manner
and avoid any rash act or disorder. Alas! I was deeply chagrined
to see that, instigated by certain refractory men, people started
a riot in Seoul and other places. Rumour was recently circulated
that at the recent Peace Conference in Paris and other places,
the independence of Chosen was recognized by foreign Powers, but
the rumour is absolutely groundless. It need hardly be stated
that the sovereignty of the Japanese Empire is irrevocably
established in the past, and will never be broken in the future.
During the ten years since annexation, the Imperial benevolence
has gradually reached all parts of the country, and it is now
recognized throughout the world that the country has made a
marked advancement in the securing of safety to life, and
property, and the development of education and industry. Those
who are trying to mislead the people by disseminating such a
rumour as cited know their own purpose, but it is certain that
the day of repentance will come to all who, discarding their
studies or vocations, take part in the mad movement. Immediate
awakening is urgently required.
"The mother country and Chosen, now merging in one body, makes a
State. Its population and strength were found adequate enough to
enter upon a League with the Powers and conduct to the promotion
of world peace and enlightenment, while at the same time the
Empire is going faithfully to discharge its duty as an Ally by
saving its neighbour from difficulty. This is the moment of time
when the bonds of unity between the Japanese and Koreans are to
be more firmly tightened and nothing will be left undone to
fulfill the mission of the Empire and to establish its prestige
on the globe. It is evident that the two peoples, which have ever
been in inseparably close relations from of old, have lately been
even more closely connected. The recent episodes are by no means
due to any antipathy between the two peoples. It will be most
unwise credulously to swallow the utterances of those refractory
people who, resident always abroad, are not well informed upon
the real conditions in the peninsula, but, nevertheless, are
attempting to mislead their brethren by spreading wild fictions
and thus disturbing the peace of the Empire, only to bring on
themselves the derision of the Powers for their indulgence in
unbridled imagination in seizing upon the watchword
'self-determination of races' which is utterly irrelevant to
Chosen, and in committing themselves to thoughtless act and
language. The Government are now doing their utmost to put an end
to such unruly behaviour and will relentlessly punish anybody
daring to commit offences against the peace. The present
excitement will soon cease to exist, but it is to be hoped that
the people on their part will do their share in restoring quiet
by rightly guarding their wards and neighbours so as to save them
from any offence committing a severe penalty."
[Footnote 1: Quoted from the _Seoul Press_.]
The new era of relentless severity began by the enactment of various fresh
laws. The regulations for Koreans going from or coming into their country
were made more rigid. The Regulations Concerning Visitors and Residents had
already been revised in mid-March. Under these, any person who, even as a
non-commercial act, allowed a foreigner to stay in his or her house for a
night or more must hereafter at once report the fact to the police or
gendarmes. A fresh ordinance against agitators was published in the
_Official Gazette_. It provided that anybody interfering or attempting to
interfere in the preservation of peace and order with a view to bringing
about political change would be punished by penal servitude or imprisonment
for a period not exceeding ten years. The ordinance would apply to offences
committed by subjects of the Empire committed outside its domains, and it
was specially emphasized in the explanations of the new law given out that
it would apply to foreigners as well as Japanese or Koreans.
The Government-General introduced a new principle, generally regarded by
jurists of all lands as unjust and indefensible. They made the law
retroactive. People who were found guilty of this offence, their acts being
committed before the new law came into force, were to be sentenced under
it, and not under the much milder old law. This was done.
The Koreans were quickly to learn what the new military regime meant. One
of the first examples was at Cheamni, a village some miles from Suigen, on
the Seoul-Fusan Railway. Various rumours reached Seoul that this place had
been destroyed, and a party of Americans, including Mr. Curtice of the
Consulate, Mr. Underwood, son of the famous missionary pioneer, and himself
a missionary and a correspondent of the Japan _Advertiser_, went to
investigate. After considerable enquiry they reached a place which had been
a village of forty houses. They found only four or five standing. All the
rest were smoking ruins.
"We passed along the path," wrote the correspondent of the Japan
_Advertiser_, "which ran along the front of the village lengthwise, and in
about the middle we came on a compound surrounded by burnt poplars, which
was filled with glowing ashes. It was here that we found a body frightfully
burned and twisted, either of a young man or a woman. This place we found
later was the Christian church, and on coming down from another direction
on our return I found a second body, evidently that of a man, also badly
burned, lying just outside the church compound. The odour of burned flesh
in the vicinity of the church was sickening.
"We proceeded to the end of the village and climbed the hill, where we
found several groups of people huddled under little straw shelters, with a
few of their pitiful belongings about them. They were mostly women, some
old, others young mothers with babes at breast, but all sunk in the dull
apathy of abject misery and despair.
"Talking to them in their own language and with sympathy, Mr. Underwood
soon won the confidence of several and got the story of what happened from
different groups, and in every case these stories tallied in the essential
facts. The day before we arrived, soldiers came to the village, some time
in the early afternoon, and ordered all the male Christians to gather in
the church. When they had so gathered, to a number estimated to be thirty
by our informers, the soldiers opened fire on them with rifles and then
proceeded into the church and finished them off with sword and bayonets.
After this they set fire to the church, but as the direction of the wind
and the central position of the church prevented the upper houses catching,
soldiers fired these houses individually, and after a time left.
"As we passed down the ruined village, returning to our rikishas, we came
on the last house of the village, which was standing intact, and entered in
conversation with the owner, a very old man. He attributed the safety of
his house to its being slightly removed, and to a vagary of the wind. He
was alive because he was not a Christian and had not been called into the
church. The details of his story of the occurrence tallied exactly with the
others, as to what had happened."
One example will serve to show what was going on now all over the country.
The following letter was written by a cultured American holding a
responsible position in Korea:
"Had the authorities handled this matter in a different way, this
letter would never have been written. We are not out here to mix
in politics, and so long as it remained a purely political
problem, we had no desire to say anything on one side or the
other. But the appeal of the Koreans has been met in such a way
that it has been taken out of the realm of mere politics and has
become a question of humanity. When it comes to weakness and
helplessness being pitted against inhumanity, there can be no
such thing as neutrality.
"I have seen personal friends of mine among the Koreans, educated
men, middle-aged men, who up to that time had no part in the
demonstrations, parts of whose bodies had been beaten to a pulp
under police orders.
"A few hundred yards from where I am writing, the beating goes
on, day after day. The victims are tied down on a frame and
beaten on the naked body with rods till they become unconscious.
Then cold water is poured on them until they revive, when the
process is repeated. It is sometimes repeated many times.
Reliable information comes to me that in some cases arms and legs
have been broken.
"Men, women and children are shot down or bayonetted. The
Christian church is specially chosen as an object of fury, and to
the Christians is meted out special severity....
"A few miles from here, a band of soldiers entered a village and
ordered the men to leave, the women to remain behind. But the men
were afraid to leave their women, and sent the women away first.
For this the men were beaten.
"A short distance from this village, this band is reported to
have met a Korean woman riding in a rickshaw. She was violated by
four of the soldiers and left unconscious. A Korean reported the
doings of this band of soldiers to the military commander of the
district in which it occurred and the commander ordered him to be
beaten for reporting it.
"Word comes to me to-day from another province of a woman who was
stripped and strung up by the thumbs for six hours in an effort
to get her to tell the whereabouts of her husband. She probably
did not know.
"The woes of Belgium under German domination have filled our ears
for the past four years, and rightly so. The Belgian Government
has recently announced that during the more than four years that
the Germans held the country, six thousand civilians were put to
death by the Germans. Here in this land it is probably safe to
say that two thousand men, women and children, empty handed and
helpless, have been put to death in seven weeks. You may draw
your own conclusions!
"As for the Koreans, they are a marvel to us all. Even those of
us who have known them for many years, and have believed them to
be capable of great things, were surprised. Their self-restraint,
their fortitude, their endurance and their heroism have seldom
been surpassed. As an American I have been accustomed to hear, as
a boy, of the 'spirit of 76,' but I have seen it out here, and it
was under a yellow skin. More than one foreigner is saying, these
days, 'I am proud of the Koreans.'"
There were exciting scenes in Sun-chon. This city is one of the great
centres of Christianity in Korea, and its people, hardy and independent
northerners, have for long been suspected by the Japanese. Large numbers of
leaders of the church and students at the missionary academy had been
arrested, confined for a very long period and ill-treated at the time of
the Conspiracy trial. They were all found to be innocent later, on the
retrial at the Appeal Court. This had not tended to promote harmonious
relations between the two peoples.
Various notices and appeals were circulated among the people. Many of them,
issued by the leaders, strongly urged the people to avoid insulting
behaviour, insulting language or violence towards the Japanese.
"Pray morning, noon and night, and fast on Sundays" was the notice to the
Christians. Other appeals ran:
"Think, dear Korean brothers!
"What place have we or our children? Where can we speak? What has
become of our land?
"Fellow countrymen, we are of one blood. Can we be indifferent?
At this time, how can you Japanese show such ill feeling and such
treachery? How can you injure us with guns and swords? How can
your violence be so deep?
"Koreans, if in the past for small things we have suffered
injuries, how much more shall we suffer to-day? Even though your
flesh be torn from you, little by little, you can stand it! Think
of the past. Think of the future! We stand together for those who
are dying for Korea.
"We have been held in bondage. If we do not become free at this
time, we shall never be able to gain freedom. Brethren, it can be
done! It is possible! Do not be discouraged! Give up your
business for the moment and shout for Korea. Injury to life and
property are of consequence, but right and liberty are far more
important. Until the news of the Peace Conference is received, do
not cease. We are not wood and stones, but flesh and blood. Can
we not speak out? Why go back and become discouraged? Do not fear
death! Even though I die, my children and grandchildren shall
enjoy the blessings of liberty. Mansei! Mansei! Mansei!"
Mr. D.V. Hudson, of the Southern Presbyterian University at Shanghai,
brought the records of many outrages back with him on his return to
America. From them I take the following:
"At Maingsang, South Pyeng-yang Province, the following incident
took place on March 3rd. When the uprising first broke out there
were no Japanese gendarmes in the village, but Koreans only. The
people there were mostly Chun-do Kyo followers, so no Christians
were involved in the trouble. These Chun-do Kyo people gathered
on the appointed day for the Korean Independence celebration, and
held the usual speeches and shouting of 'Mansei.' The Korean
gendarmes did not want to or dared not interfere, so that day was
spent by the people as they pleased.
"A few days later Japanese soldiers arrived to investigate and to
put down the uprising. They found the people meeting again,
ostensibly to honour one of their teachers. The soldiers
immediately interfered, seized the leader of the meeting and led
him away to the gendarme station. He was badly treated in the
affray and the people were badly incensed. So they followed the
soldiers to the station, hoping to effect the release of their
leader. The soldiers tried to drive them away. Some left but
"The police station was surrounded by a stone wall, with but one
gate to the enclosure. The soldiers permitted those who insisted
on following to enter, and, when they had entered, closed the
door; then the soldiers deliberately set to work, shooting them
down in cold blood. Only three of the fifty-six escaped death."
Let me give one other statement by a newspaper man. I might go on with tale
after tale of brutality and fill another volume. Mr. William R. Giles is a
Far Eastern correspondent well known for the sanity of his views and his
careful statements of facts. He represents the Chicago _Daily News_ at
Peking. He visited Korea shortly after the uprising, specially to learn the
truth. He remained there many weeks. Here is his deliberate verdict:
"Pekin, June 14th.--After nearly three months of travelling in
Korea, in which time I journeyed from the north to the extreme
south, I find that the charges of misgovernment, torture and
useless slaughter by the Japanese to be substantially correct.
"In the country districts I heard stories of useless murder and
crimes against women. A number of the latter cases were brought
to my notice. One of the victims was a patient in a missionary
"In a valley about fifty miles from Fusan, the Japanese soldiery
closed up a horseshoe-shaped valley surrounded by high hills, and
then shot down the villagers who attempted to escape by climbing
the steep slopes. I was informed that more than 100 persons were
killed in this affray.
"In Taku, a large city midway between Seoul and Fusan, hundreds
of cases of torture occurred, and many of the victims of
ill-treatment were in the hospitals. In Seoul, the capital,
strings of prisoners were seen daily being taken to jails which
were already crowded.
"While I was in this city I spent some time in the Severance
Hospital as a patient, and saw wounded men taken out by the
police, one of them having been beaten to death. Two days later
the hospital repeatedly was entered and the patients catechized,
those in charge being unable to prevent it. Detectives even
attempted in the night time secretly to enter my room while I was
"In Seoul, Koreans were not allowed to be on the streets after
dark and were not allowed to gather in groups larger than three.
All the prisoners were brutally and disgustingly treated.
Innocent persons were being continually arrested, kept in
overcrowded prisons a month or more, and then, after being
flogged, released without trial.
"Northern Korea suffered the most from the Japanese brutalities.
In the Pyeng-yang and Sensan districts whole villages were
destroyed and churches burned, many of which I saw and
"In Pyeng-yang I interviewed the Governor and easily saw that he
was powerless, everything being in the hands of the chief of the
gendarmerie. At first I was not allowed to visit the prison, but
the Governor-General of Korea telegraphed his permission. I found
it clean and the prisoners were well fed, but the overcrowded
condition of the cells caused untold suffering.
"In one room, ten feet by six, were more than thirty prisoners.
The prison governor admitted that the total normal capacity of
the building was 800, but the occupants then numbered 2,100. He
said he had requested the Government to enlarge the prison
immediately, as otherwise epidemics would break out as soon as
hot weather came.
"I visited an interior village to learn the truth in a report
that the Christians had been driven from their homes. The local
head official, not a Christian, admitted to me that the
non-Christian villagers had driven the Christians into the
mountains because the local military officials had warned him
that their presence would result in the village being shot up. He
said he had the most friendly feeling for the Christians but
drove them out in self-protection.
"In other villages which I visited the building had been entirely
destroyed and the places were destroyed. In some of the places I
found only terrorized and tearful women who did not dare to speak
to a foreigner because the local gendarmes would beat and torture
them if they did so.
"The majority of the schools throughout the country are closed.
In most places the missionaries are not allowed to hold services.
Though innocent of any wrong-doing, they are under continual
suspicion. It was impossible for them or others to use the
telegraph and post-offices, the strictest censorship prevailing.
Undoubtedly an attempt is being made to undermine Christianity
and make the position of missionaries so difficult that it will
be impossible for them to carry on their work.
"In the course of my investigation I was deeply impressed with
the pitiful condition of the Korean people. They are allowed only
a limited education and attempts are being made to cause them to
forget their national history and their language.
"There is no freedom of the press or of public meeting. The
people are subject to the harshest regulations and punishments
without any court of appeal. They are like sheep driven to a
slaughter house. Only an independent investigation can make the
world understand Korea's true position. At present the groanings
and sufferings of 20,000,000 people are apparently falling on
As these tales, and many more like them, were spread abroad, the Japanese
outside of Korea tried to find some excuse for their nationals. One of the
most extraordinary of these excuses was a series of instructions, said to
have been issued by General Utsonomiya, commander of the military forces in
Korea, to the officers and men under him. Copies of these were privately
circulated by certain pro-Japanese in America among their friends, as proof
of the falsity of the charges of ill-treatment. Some extracts from them
were published by Bishop Herbert Welsh, of the Methodist Church, in the
"Warm sympathy should be shown to the erring Koreans, who, in
spite of their offence, should be treated as unfortunate fellow
countrymen, needing love and guidance.
"Use of weapons should be abstained from till the last moment of
absolute necessity. Where, for instance, the demonstration is
confined merely to processions and the shouting of _banzai_ and
no violence is done, efforts should be confined to the dispersal
of crowds by peaceful persuasion.
"Even in case force is employed as the last resource, endeavour
should be made to limit its use to the minimum extent.
"The moment the necessity therefor ceases the use of force should
at once be stopped....
"Special care should be taken not to harm anybody not
participating in disturbances, especially aged people, children
and women. With regard to the missionaries and other foreigners,
except in case of the plainest evidence, as, for instance, where
they are caught in the act, all forbearance and circumspection
should be used.
"You are expected to see to it that the officers and men under
you (especially those detailed in small parties) will lead a
clean and decent life and be modest and polite, without abating
their loyalty and courage, thus exemplifying in their conduct the
noble traditions of our historic Bushido."...
If a final touch were wanted to the disgrace of the Japanese
administration, here it was. Brutality, especially brutality against the
unarmed and against women and children, is bad enough; but when to
brutality we add nauseating hypocrisy, God help us!
One of the Japanese majors who returned from Korea to Tokyo to lecture was
more straightforward. "We must beat and kill the Koreans," he said. And
After a time the Japanese papers began to report the punishments inflicted
on the arrested Koreans. Many were released after examination and beatings.
It was mentioned that up to April 13th, 2,400 of those arrested in Seoul
alone had been released, "after severe admonition." The usual sentences
were between six months' and four years' imprisonment.
Soon there came reports that prisoners were attempting to commit suicide in
jail. Then came word that two of the original signers of the Declaration of
Independence were dead in prison. Koreans everywhere mourned. For they
could imagine how they had died.
During the summer the authorities published figures relating to the number
of prisoners brought under the examination of Public Procurators between
March 1st and June 18th, on account of the agitation. These figures do not
include the large numbers released by the police after arrest, and after
possibly summary punishment. Sixteen thousand one hundred and eighty-three
men were brought up for examination. Of these, 8,351 were prosecuted and
5,858 set free after the Procurators' examination. One thousand seven
hundred and seventy-eight were transferred from one law court to another
for the purpose of thorough examination, while 178 had not yet been tried.
THE REIGN OF TERROR IN PYENG-YANG
Pyeng-Yang, the famous missionary centre in Northern Korea, has been
described in previous chapters. The people here, Christians and
non-Christians alike, took a prominent part in the movement. It was
announced that three memorial services would be held on March 1st, in
memory of the late Emperor, one in the compound of the Christian Boys'
School, one in the compound of the Methodist church and the third at the
headquarters of the Chun-do Kyo.
The meeting at the boys' school was typical of all. Several of the native
pastors and elders of the Presbyterian churches of the city, including the
Moderator of the General Assembly, were present, and the compound was
crowded with fully three thousand people. After the memorial service was
finished, a prominent Korean minister asked the people to keep their seats,
as there was more to follow.
Then, with an air of great solemnity, the Moderator of the General Assembly
read two passages from the Bible, 1 Peter 3:13-17 and Romans 9:3.
"And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that
which is good.
"But, if ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye, and be
not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.
"For I could wish that I were accurst from Christ for my
brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh."
It was the great appeal to all that was most heroic in their souls. Some of
them whispered the words after the Moderator.
"Sarami doorupkei hanangusul dooru wo malmyu sodong chi malgo."
"Be not afraid of their terror."
These white-robed men knew what was before them. Terror and torture and
suffering were no new things to them. Within a quarter of a century
conquering and defeated armies had passed through their city time after
time. They knew war, and they knew worse than war. Japan had during the
past few years planted her terror among them, persecuting the Church,
arresting its most prominent members on false charges, breaking them in
prison by scientific torture. Many of the men knew, in that assembly, of
the meaning of police flogging, the feel of police burning, the unspeakable
agony of being strung up by the thumbs under the police inquisition.
"Be not afraid of their terror!" Easy to say this to Western peoples, to
whom terror is known only in the form of the high explosives and dropping
bombs of honourable war. But for these men it had another meaning, an
inquisition awaiting them compared with which the tortures of Torquemada
"Be not afraid!"
There was no tremor of fear in the voice of the college graduate who rose
to his feet and came to the front. "This is the proudest and happiest day
of my life," he said. "Though I die to-morrow, I cannot help but read." He
had a paper in his hand. As the vast audience saw it, they gave a great
cheer. Then he read the Declaration of Independence of the Korean people.
When he had finished, another man took the platform. "Nothing of an
unlawful nature is to be permitted," he said. "You are all to obey orders,
and make no resistance to the authorities, nor to attack the Japanese
officials or people." A speech on Korean independence followed. Then some
men came out of the building bearing armfuls of Korean flags, which they
distributed among the people. A large Korean flag was raised on the wall
behind, and the crowd rose to its feet cheering, waving flags, calling
There was to be a parade through the streets. But spies had already hurried
off to the police station, and before the people could leave, a company of
policemen arrived. "Remain quiet," the word went round. The police gathered
up the flags.
In the evening a large crowd gathered in front of the police station
shouting "Mansei." The police ordered the hose to be turned on them. The
Korean policemen refused to obey their Japanese superiors, threw off their
uniforms and joined the mob. The hose at last got to work. The mob
responded by throwing stones, breaking the windows of the police station.
This was the only violence. On the following day, Sunday, the churches were
closed. At midnight, the police had summoned Dr. Moffett to their office
and told him that no services could be allowed. Early in the morning, the
leaders of the Saturday meetings were arrested, and were now in jail. "Be
At nine o'clock on Monday morning a company of Japanese soldiers was
drilling on the campus. A number of students from the college and academy
were on the top of a bank, looking on at the drill. Suddenly the soldiers,
in obedience to a word of command, rushed at the students. The latter took
to their heels and fled, save two or three who stood their ground. The
students who had escaped cheered; and one of the men who stood his ground
called "Mansei." The soldiers struck him with the butts and barrels of
their rifles. Then one poked him with his rifle in his face. He was
bleeding badly. Two soldiers led him off, a prisoner. The rest were
dispersed with kicks and blows.
Now the Japanese started their innings. One man in plain clothes confronted
a Korean who was walking quietly, slapped his face and knocked him down. A
soldier joined in the sport, and after many blows with the rifle and kicks,
they rolled him down an embankment into a ditch. They then ran down, pulled
him out of the ditch, kicked him some more, and hauled him off to prison.
The streets were full of people now, and parties of troops were going about
everywhere dispersing them. The crowds formed, shouting "Mansei"; the
soldiers chased them, beating up all they could catch. There were rumours
that most of the Korean policemen had deserted; they had joined the crowds;
the Japanese were searching for them and arresting them; and, men
whispered, they would be executed. By midday, every one had enough trouble,
and the city quieted down for the rest of the day. It was not safe to go
abroad now. The soldiers were beating up every one they could find,
By Tuesday the city was full of tales of the doings of the soldiers; having
tasted blood, the troops were warming to their work, "The soldiers have
been chasing people to-day like they were hunters after wild beasts," wrote
one foreign spectator. "Outrages have been very numerous." Still, despite
the troops, the people held two or three patriotic meetings.
Let me tell the tale of Tuesday and Wednesday from two statements made by
Dr. Moffett. These statements were made at the time to the officials in
Pyeng-yang and in Seoul:
"On Tuesday, March 4th, I, in company with Mr. Yamada, Inspector of
Schools, went into the midst of the crowds of Koreans on the college
grounds, and thence went through the streets to the city.
"We saw thousands of Koreans on the streets, the shops all closed, and
Japanese soldiers here and there....
"As we came back and near a police station, soldiers made a dash at some
fifteen or more people in the middle of the street, and three of the
soldiers dashed at some five or six men standing quietly at the side, under
the eaves of the shops, hitting them with their guns. One tall young man in
a very clean white coat dodged the thrust of the gun coming about five feet
under the eaves when an officer thrust his sword into his back, just under
the shoulder blades. The man was not more than ten feet from us
"Mr. Yamada was most indignant and said, 'I shall tell Governor Kudo just
what I have seen and tell him in detail.'
"I asked him if he had noticed that the man was quietly standing at the
side of the road, and had given no occasion for attack. He said, 'Yes.'
"Just after that we saw thirty-four young girls and women marched along by
some six or eight policemen and soldiers, the girls ahead not being more
than twelve or thirteen years of age.
"Just outside the West Gate Mr. Yamada and I separated and I went towards
home. As I arrived near my own compound, I saw a number of soldiers rush
into the gate of the Theological Seminary professor's cottage, and saw them
grab out a man, beat and kick him and lead him off. Others began clubbing a
youth behind the gate and then led him out, tied him tightly and beat and
"Then there came out three others, two youths and one man, dragged by
soldiers, and then tied with rope, their hands tied behind them.
"Thinking one was my secretary, who lived in the gate house, where the men
had been beaten, I moved to the junction of the road to make sure, but I
recognized none of the four. When they came to the junction of the road and
some of the soldiers were within ten or twelve feet of me, they all
stopped, tied the ropes tighter, and then with four men tied and helpless,
these twenty or more soldiers, in charge of an officer, struck the men with
their fists in the face and back, hit them on the head and face with a
piece of board, kicked them on the legs and back, doing these things
repeatedly. The officer in a rage raised his sword over his head as he
stood before a boy, and both I and the boy thought that he was to be cleft
in two. The cry of terror and anguish he raised was most piercing. Then,
kicking and beating these men, they led them off.
"The above I saw myself and testify to the truthfulness of my statements.
In all my contact with the Koreans these five days, and in all my
observation of the crowds inside and outside the city, I have witnessed no
act of violence on the part of any Korean."
The Theological Seminary was due to open on March 5th. Five students from
South Korea arrived and went into their dormitory on the afternoon of the
4th. They had taken no part in the demonstrations. Later in the afternoon
the soldiers, searching after some people who had run away from them, burst
into the seminary. They broke open the door of the dormitory, pulled the
five theologues out and hauled them off to the police station. There,
despite their protests, they were tied by their arms and legs to large
wooden crosses, face downwards, and beaten on the naked buttocks,
twenty-nine tremendous blows from a hard cane, each. Then they were
That same night firemen were let loose on the village where many of the
students lived and boarded. They dragged out the young men and beat them.
The opening of the seminary had to be postponed.
The Japanese were eager to find grounds for convicting the missionaries of
participation in the movement. One question was pressed on every prisoner,
usually by beating and burning, "Who instigated you? Was it the
Dr. Moffett was a special object of Japanese hatred. The Osaka _Asahi_
printed a bitter attack on him on March 17th. This is the more notable
because the _Asahi_ is a noted organ of Japanese Liberalism.
THE EVIL VILLAGE OUTSIDE THE WEST GATE IN PYENG-YANG
_A Clever Crowd_
"Outside the West Gate in Pyeng-yang there are some brick houses
and some built after the Korean style, some high and some low.
These are the homes of the foreigners. There are about a hundred
of them in all, and they are Christian missionaries. In the balmy
spring, strains of music can be heard from there. Outwardly they
manifest love and mercy, but if their minds are fully
investigated, they will be found to be filled with intrigue and
greed. They pretend to be here for preaching, but they are
secretly stirring up political disturbances, and foolishly keep
passing on the vain talk of the Koreans, and thereby help to
foster trouble. These are really the homes of devils.
"The head of the crowd is Moffett. The Christians of the place
obey him as they would Jesus Himself. In the 29th year of Meiji
freedom was given to any one to believe in any religion he
wished, and at that time Moffett came to teach the Christian
religion. He has been in Pyeng-yang for thirty years, and has
brought up a great deal of land. He is really the founder of the
foreign community. In this community, because of his efforts
there have been established schools from the primary grade to a
college and a hospital. While they are educating the Korean
children and healing their diseases on the one hand, on the other
there is concealed a clever shadow, and even the Koreans
themselves talk of this.
"This is the centre of the present uprising. It is not in Seoul
but in Pyeng-yang.
"It is impossible to know whether these statements are true or
false, but we feel certain that it is in Pyeng-yang, in the
Church schools,--in a certain college and a certain girls'
school--in the compound of these foreigners. Really this foreign
community is very vile."
[Footnote 1: Osaka _Asahi_, quoted in the Peking and Tientsin
_Times_, March 38,1919.]
A veritable reign of terror was instituted. There were wholesale arrests
and the treatment of many of the people in prison was in keeping with the
methods employed by the Japanese on the Conspiracy Trial victims. The case
of a little shoe boy aroused special indignation. The Japanese thought that
he knew something about the organization of the demonstration--why they
thought so, only those who can fathom the Japanese mind would venture to
say--so they beat and burned him almost to death to make him confess. A
lady missionary examined his body afterwards. There were four scars, five
inches long, where the flesh had been seared with a red-hot iron. His hands
had swollen to twice their normal size from beating, and the dead skin lay
on the welts. He had been kicked and beaten until he fainted. Then they
threw water over him and gave him water to drink until he recovered when he
was again piled with questions and beaten with a bamboo rod until he
Some of those released from prison after they had satisfied the Japanese of
their innocence had dreadful tales to tell. Sixty people were confined in a
room fourteen by eight feet, where they had to stand up all the time, not
being allowed to sit or lie down. Eating and sleeping they stood leaning
against one another. The wants of nature had to be attended to by them as
they stood. The secretary of one of the mission schools was kept for seven
days in this room, as part of sixteen days' confinement, before he was
A student, arrested at his house, was kept at the police station for twenty
days. Then they let him go, having found nothing against him. His bruised
body when he came out showed what he had suffered. He had been bound and a
cord around his shoulders and arms pulled tight until the breastbone was
forced forward and breathing almost stopped. Then he was beaten with a
bamboo stick on the shoulders and arms until he lost consciousness. The
bamboo stick was wrapped in paper so as to prevent the skin breaking and
bleeding. He saw another man beaten ten times into unconsciousness, and ten
times brought round; and a boy thrown down hard on the floor and stamped on
repeatedly until he lost consciousness. Those who came out were few; what
happened to those who remained within the prison must be left to the
Despite everything, the demonstrations of the people still continued. On
March 7th the people of the villages of Po Paik and Kan, twenty miles north
of Pyeng-yang, came out practically en masse to shout for independence.
Next day four soldiers and one Korean policeman arrived, asking for the
pastor of the church. They could not find him, so they seized the
school-teacher, slashed his head and body with their swords and thrust a
sword twice into his legs. An elder of the church stepped up to protest
against such treatment, whereupon a Japanese soldier ran a sword through
his side. As the soldiers left some young men threw stones at them. The
soldiers replied with rifle fire, wounding four men.
Soldiers and police came again and again to find the pastor and church
officers who had gone into hiding. On April 4th they seized the women and
demanded where their husbands were, beating them with clubs and guns, the
wife of one elder being beaten till great red bruises showed all over her
The police evidently made up their minds that the Christians were
responsible for the demonstration, and they determined to rid the place of
them. The services of some liquor sellers were enlisted to induce people to
tear down the belfry of the church. On April 18th a Japanese came and
addressed the crowd through an interpreter.
He told them that the Christians had been deceived by the "foreign devils,"
who were an ignorant, low-down lot of people, and that they should be
driven out and go and live with the Americans who had corrupted them. There
was nothing in the Bible about independence and "Mansei." Three thousand
cavalry and three thousand infantry were coming to destroy all the
Christians, and if they did not drive them out but continued to live with
them, they would be shot and killed.
A number of half drunken men got together to drive out the Christians. This
was done. A report was taken to the gendarmes that the Christians had been
driven away, whereupon the villagers were praised. In other parts, near by,
the same chief of gendarmes was ordering the families of Christians out of
their homes, arresting the men and leaving the women and children to seek
refuge where they might.
Word came to some other villages in the Pyeng-yang area that the police
would visit them on April 27th, to inspect the house-cleaning. The
Christians received warning that they must look out for a hard time.
Everything was very carefully cleaned, ready for the inspection. The leader
of the church sent word to all the people to gather for early worship, so
as to be through before the police should come. But the police were there
before them, a Japanese in charge, two Korean policemen, two secretaries
and two dog killers.
The two leaders of the church were called up by the Japanese, who stepped
down and ran his fingers along the floor. "Look at this dust," he said.
Ordering the two men to sit down on the floor, he beat them with a flail,
over the shoulders.
"Do you beat an old man, seventy years old, this way?" called the older
"What is seventy years, you rascal of a Christian?" came the reply.
The police took the names of the Christians from the church roll, and went
round the village, picking them out and beating them all, men, women and
children. They killed their dogs. The non-Christians were let alone.
On the afternoon of April 4th a cordon of police and gendarmes was suddenly
picketed all around the missionary quarter in Pyeng-yang, and officials,
police and detectives made an elaborate search of the houses. Some copies
of an Independence newspaper, a bit of paper with a statement of the
numbers killed at Anju, and a copy of the program of the memorial service
were found among the papers of Dr. Moffett's secretary, and two copies of a
mimeographed notice in Korean, thin paper rolled up into a thin ball and
thrown away, were found in an outhouse. The secretary was arrested, bound,
beaten and hauled off. Other Koreans found on the premises were treated in
similar fashion. One man was knocked down, beaten and kicked on the head
Dr. Moffett and the Rev. E.M. Mowry, another American Presbyterian
missionary from Mansfield, Ohio, were ordered to the police office that
evening, and cross-examined. Dr. Moffett convinced the authorities that he
knew nothing of the independence movement and had taken no part in it (he
felt bound, as a missionary, not to take part in political affairs), but
Mr. Mowry was detained on the charge of sheltering Korean agitators.
Mr. Mowry had allowed five Korean students wanted by the police to remain
in his house for two days early in March. Some of them were his students
and one was his former secretary; Mr. Mowry was a teacher at the Union
Christian College, and principal of both the boys' and girls' grammar
schools at Pyeng-yang. Mr. Mowry declared that Koreans often slept at his
house, and he had no knowledge that the police were trying to arrest these
The missionary was kept in jail for ten days. His friends were told that he
would probably be sent to Seoul for trial Then he was suddenly brought
before the Pyeng-yang court, no time being given for him to obtain counsel,
and was sentenced to six months' penal servitude. He was led away wearing
the prisoners' cap, a wicker basket, placed over the head and face.
An appeal was at once entered, and eventually the conviction was quashed,
and a new trial ordered.
GIRL MARTYRS FOR LIBERTY
The most extraordinary feature of the uprising of the Korean people is the
part taken in it by the girls and women. Less than twenty years ago, a man
might live in Korea for years and never come in contact with a Korean woman
of the better classes, never meet her on the street, never see her in the
homes of his Korean friends. I have lived for a week or two at a time, in
the old days, in the house of a Korean man of high class, and have never
once seen his wife or daughters. In Japan in those days--and with many
families the same holds true to-day--when one was invited as a guest, the
wife would receive you, bow to the guest and her lord, and then would
humbly retire, not sitting to table with the men.
Christian teaching and modern ways broke down the barrier in Korea. The
young Korean women took keenly to the new mode of life. The girls in the
schools, particularly in the Government schools, led the way in the demand
for the restoration of their national life. There were many quaint and
touching incidents. In the missionary schools, the chief fear of the girls
was lest they should bring trouble on their American teachers. The head
mistress of one of these schools noticed for some days that her girls were
unusually excited. She heard them asking one another, "Have you enrolled?"
and imagined that some new girlish league was being formed. This was before
the great day. One morning the head mistress came down to discover the
place empty. On her desk was a paper signed by all the girls, resigning
their places in the school. They thought that by this device they would
show that their beloved head mistress was not responsible.
Soon there came a call from the Chief of Police. The mistress was wanted at
the police office at once. All the girls from her school were demonstrating
and had stirred up the whole town. Would the mistress come and disperse
The mistress hurried off. Sure enough, here were the girls in the street,
wearing national badges, waving national flags, calling on the police to
come and take them. The men had gathered and were shouting "Mansei!" also.
The worried Chief of Police, who was a much more decent kind than many of
his fellows, begged the mistress to do something. "I cannot arrest them
all," he said. "I have only one little cell here. It would only hold a few
of them," The mistress went out to talk to the girls. They would not
listen, even to her. They cheered her, and when she begged them to go home,
shouted "Mansei!" all the louder.
The mistress went back to the Chief. "The only thing for you to do is to
arrest me," she said.
The Chief was horrified at the idea, "I will go out and tell the girls that
you are going to arrest me if they do not go," she said. "We will see what
that will do. But mind you, if they do not disperse, you must arrest me."
She went out again. "Girls," she called, "the Chief of Police is going to
arrest me if you do not go to your homes. I am your teacher, and it must be
the fault of my teaching that you will not obey."
"No, teacher, no," the girls shouted. "It is not your fault. You have
nothing to do with it. We are doing this." And some of them rushed up, as
though they would rescue her by force of arms.
In the end, she persuaded the girls to go home, in order to save her.
"Well," said the leaders of the girls, "it's all right now. We have done
all we wanted. We have stirred up the men. They were sheep and wanted women
to make a start. Now they will go on."
The police and gendarmerie generally were not so merciful as this
particular Chief. The rule in many police stations was to strip and beat
the girls and young women who took any part in the demonstrations, and to
expose them, absolutely naked, to as many Japanese men as possible. The
Korean woman is as sensitive as a white woman about the display of her
person, and the Japanese, knowing this, delighted to have this means of
humiliating them. In some towns, the schoolgirls arranged to go out in
sections, so many one day, so many on the other. The girls who had to go
out on the later days knew how those who had preceded them had been
stripped and beaten. Anticipating that they would be treated in the same
way, they sat up the night before sewing special undergarments on
themselves, which would not be so easily removed as their ordinary clothes,
hoping that they might thus avoid being stripped entirely naked.
The girls were most active of all in the city of Seoul. I have mentioned in
the previous chapter the arrest of many of them. They were treated very
badly indeed. Take, for instance, the case of those seized by the police on
the morning of Wednesday, March 5th. They were nearly all of them pupils
from the local academies. Some of them were demonstrating on Chong-no, the
main street, shouting "Mansei." Others were wearing straw shoes, a sign of
mourning, for the dead Emperor. Still others were arrested because the
police thought that they might be on the way to demonstrate. A few of these
girls were released after a spell in prison. On their release, their
statements concerning their treatment were independently recorded.
They were first taken to the Chong-no Police Station, where a body of about
twenty Japanese policemen kicked them with their heavy boots, slapped their
cheeks or punched their heads. "They flung me against a wall with all their
might, so that I was knocked senseless, and remained so for a time," said
one. "They struck me such blows across the ears that my cheeks swelled up,"
said another. "They trampled on my feet with their heavy nailed boots till
I felt as though my toes were crushed beneath them.... There was a great
crowd of students, both girls and boys. They slapped the girls over the
ears, kicked them, and tumbled them in the corners. Some of them they took
by the hair, jerking both sides of the face. Some of the boy students they
fastened down with a rope till they had their heads fastened between their
legs. Then they trampled them with their heavy boots, kicking them in their
faces till their eyes were swelled and blood flowed."
Seventy-five persons, forty men and thirty-five girls, were confined in a
small room. The door was closed, and the atmosphere soon became dreadful.
In vain they pleaded to have the door open. The girls were left until
midnight without food or water. The men were removed at about ten in the
During the day, the prisoners were taken one by one before police officials
to be examined. Here is the narrative of one of the schoolgirls. This girl
was dazed and almost unconscious from ill-treatment and the poisoned air,
when she was dragged before her inquisitor.
"I was cross-questioned three times. When I went out to the place of
examination they charged me with having straw shoes, and so beat me over
the head with a stick. I had no sense left with which to make a reply. They
"'Why did you wear straw shoes?'
"'The King had died, and whenever Koreans are in mourning they wear straw
"'That is a lie,' said the cross-examiner. He then arose and took my mouth
in his two hands and pulled it each way so that it bled. I maintained that
I had told the truth and no falsehoods. 'You Christians are all liars,' he
replied, taking my arm and giving it a pull.
"... The examiner then tore open my jacket and said, sneeringly, 'I
congratulate you,' He then slapped my face, struck me with a stick until I
was dazed and asked again, 'Who instigated you to do this? Did
"My answer was, 'I do not know any foreigners, but only the principal of
the school. She knows nothing of this plan of ours!'
"'Lies, only lies,' said the examiner.
"Not only I, but others too, suffered every kind of punishment. One kind of
torture was to make us hold a board at arm's length and hold it out by the
hour. They also had a practice of twisting our legs, while they spat on our
faces. When ordered to undress, one person replied, 'I am not guilty of any
offence. Why should I take off my clothes before you?'
"'If you really were guilty, you would not be required to undress, but
seeing you are sinless, off with your clothes,'"
He was a humorous fellow, this cross-examiner of the Chong-no Police
Station. He had evidently learned something of the story of Adam and Eve in
the Garden of Eden. His way was first to charge the girls--schoolgirls of
good family, mind you--with being pregnant, making every sort of filthy
suggestion to them. When the girls indignantly denied, he would order them
"Since you maintain you have not sinned in any way, I see the Bible says
that if there is no sin in you take off all your clothes and go before all
the people naked," he told one girl. "Sinless people live naked."
Let us tell the rest of the story in the girl's own words. "The officer
then came up to where I was standing, and tried to take off my clothes. I
cried, and protested, and struggled, saying, 'This is not the way to treat
a woman.' He desisted. When he was making these vile statements about us,
he did not use the Korean interpreter, but spoke in broken Korean. The
Korean interpreter seemed sorrowful while these vile things were being said
by the operator. The Korean interpreter was ordered to beat me. He said he
would not beat a woman; he would bite his fingers first. So the officer
beat me with his fist on my shoulders, face and legs."
These examinations were continued for days. Sometimes a girl would be
examined several times a day. Sometimes a couple of examiners would rush at
her, beating and kicking her; sometimes they would make her hold a chair or
heavy board out at full length, beating her if she let it sink in the
least. Then when she was worn out they would renew their examination. The
questions were all directed towards one end, to discover who inspired them,
and more particularly if any foreigners or missionaries had influenced
them. During this time they were kept under the worst possible conditions.
"I cannot recount all the vile things that were said to us while in the
police quarters in Chong-no," declared one of the girls. "They are too
obscene to be spoken, but by the kindness of the Lord I thought of how Paul
had suffered in prison, and was greatly comforted. I knew that God would
give the needed help, and as I bore it for my country, I did not feel the
shame and misery of it." One American woman, to whom some of the girls
related their experiences, said to me, "I cannot tell you, a man, all that
these girls told us. I will only say this. There have been stories of girls
having their arms cut off. If these girls had been daughters of mine I
would rather that they had their arms cut off than that they faced what
those girls endured in Chong-no."
There came a day when the girls were bound at the wrists, all fastened
together, and driven in a car to the prison outside the West Gate. Some of
them were crying. They were not allowed to look up or speak. The driver, a
Korean, took advantage of a moment when the attention of their guard was
attracted to whisper a word of encouragement. "Don't be discouraged and
make your bodies weak. You are not yet condemned. This is only to break
The prison outside the West Gate is a model Japanese jail. There were women
officials here. It seemed horrible to the girls that they should be made to
strip in front of men and be examined by them. Probably the men were prison
doctors. But it was evidently intended to shame them as much as possible.
Thus one girl relates that, after her examination, "I was told to take my
clothes and go into another room. One woman went with me, about a hundred
yards or more away. I wanted to put my clothes on before leaving the room,
but they hurried me and pushed me. I wrapped my skirt about my body before
I went out, and carried the rest of my clothes in my arms. After leaving
this room, and before reaching the other, five Korean men prisoners passed
For the first week the girls, many of them in densely crowded cells, were
kept in close confinement. After this, they were allowed out for fifteen
minutes, wearing the prisoners' hat, which comes down over the head, after
breakfast. Their food was beans and millet It was given to the
accompaniment of jeers and insults. "You Koreans eat like dogs and cats,"
the wardresses told them.
The routine of life in the prison was very trying. They got up at seven.
Most of the day they had to assume a haunched, kneeling position, and
remain absolutely still, hour after hour. The wardresses in the corridors
kept close watch, and woe to the girl who made the slightest move. "They
ordered us not to move a hand or a foot but to remain perfectly still,"
wrote one girl. "Even the slightest movement brought down every kind of
wrath. We did not dare to move even a toe-nail."
One unhappy girl, mistaking the call of an official in the corridor,
"I-ri-ma sen" for a command to go to sleep, stretched out her leg to lie
down. She was scolded and severely punished. Another closed her eyes in
prayer. "You are sleeping," called the wardress. In vain the girl replied
that she was praying. "You lie," retorted the polite Japanese lady. More
After fifteen days in the prison outside the West Gate, some of the girls
were called in the office. "Go, but be very careful not to repeat your
offence," they were told. "If you are caught again, you will be given a
The worst happenings with the women were not in the big towns, where the
presence of white people exercised some restraint, but in villages, where
the new troops often behaved in almost incredible fashion, outraging
freely. The police in many of these outlying parts rivalled the military in
brutality. Of the many stories that reached me, the tale of Tong Chun
stands out. The account was investigated by experienced white men, who
shortly afterwards visited the place and saw for themselves.
The village of Tong Chun contains about 300 houses and is the site of a
Christian church. The young men of the place wished to make a demonstration
but the elders of the church dissuaded them for a time. However, on March
29th, market day, when there were many people in the place, some children
started demonstrating, and their elders followed, a crowd of four or five
hundred people marching through the streets and shouting "Mansei!" There
was no violence of any kind. The police came out and arrested seventeen
persons, including five women.
One of these women was a widow of thirty-one. She was taken into the police
office and a policeman tore off her clothes, leaving her in her underwear.
Then the police began to take off her underclothes. She protested,
whereupon they struck her in the face with their hands till she was black
and blue. She still clung to her clothes, so they put a wooden paddle down
between her legs and tore her clothes away. Then they beat her. The beating
took a long time. When it was finished the police stopped to drink tea and
eat Japanese cakes, they and their companions--there were a number of men
in the room--amusing themselves by making fun of her as she sat there naked
among them. She was subsequently released. For a week afterwards she had to
lie down most of the time and could not walk around.
Another victim was the wife of a Christian teacher, a very bright,
intelligent woman, with one child four months old, and two or three months
advanced in her second pregnancy. She had taken a small part in the
demonstration and then had gone to the home of the mother of another woman
who had been arrested, to comfort her. Police came here, and demanded if
she had shouted "Mansei." She admitted that she had. They ordered her to
leave the child that she was carrying on her back and took her to the
police station. As she entered the station a man kicked her forcibly from
behind and she fell forward in the room. As she lay there a policeman put
his foot on her neck, then raised her up and struck her again and again.
She was ordered to undress. She hesitated, whereupon the policeman kicked
her, and took up a paddle and a heavy stick to beat her with. "You are a
teacher," he cried. "You have set the minds of the children against Japan.
I will beat you to death."
He tore her underclothes off. Still clinging to them, she tried to cover
her nakedness. The clothes were torn out of her hands. She tried to sit
down. They forced her up. She tried by turning to the wall to conceal
herself from the many men in the room. They forced her to turn round again.
When she tried to shelter herself with her hands, one man twisted her arms,
held them behind her back, and kept them there while the beating and
kicking continued. She was so badly hurt that she would have fallen to the
floor, but they held her up to continue the beating. She was then sent into
another room. Later she and other women were again brought in the office.
"Do you know now how wrong it is to call 'Mansei'?" the police asked. "Will
you ever dare to do such a thing again?"
Gradually news of how the women were being treated spread. A crowd of five
hundred people gathered next morning. The hot bloods among them were for
attacking the station, to take revenge for the ill-treatment of their
women. The chief Christian kept them back, and finally a deputation of two
went inside the police office to make a protest. They spoke up against the
stripping of the women, declaring it unlawful. The Chief of Police replied
that they were mistaken. It was permitted under Japanese law. They had to
strip them to search for unlawful papers. Then the men asked why only the
younger women were stripped, and not the older, why they were beaten after
being stripped, and why only women and not men were stripped. The Chief did
By this time the crowd was getting very ugly. "Put us in prison too, or
release the prisoners," the people called. In the end the Chief agreed to
release all but four of the prisoners.
Soon afterwards the prisoners emerged from the station. One woman, a widow
of thirty-two who had been arrested on the previous day and very badly
kicked by the police, had to be supported on either side. The wife of the
Christian teacher had to be carried on a man's back. Let me quote from a
description written by those on the spot:
"As they saw the women being brought out, in this condition, a wave of pity
swept over the whole crowd, and with one accord they burst into tears and
sobbed. Some of them cried out, 'It is better to die than to live under
such savages,' and many urged that they should attack the police office
with their naked hands, capture the Chief of Police, strip him and beat him
to death. But the Christian elder and other wiser heads prevailed, kept the
people from any acts of violence, and finally got them to disperse."
On April 23rd, at a time when the persecution was at its height, delegates,
duly elected by each of the thirteen provinces of Korea, met, under the
eyes of the Japanese police, in Seoul, and adopted a constitution, creating
Dr. Syngman Rhee, the young reformer of 1894, who had suffered long
imprisonment for the cause of independence, was elected the first
President. Dr. Rhee was now in America, and he promptly established
headquarters in Washington, from which to conduct a campaign in the
interests of his people. Diplomatically, of course, the new Republican
organization could not be recognized; but there are many ways in which such
a body can work.
The First Ministry included several men who had taken a prominent part in
reform work in the past The list was:
Prime Minister........................Tong Hui Yee
Minister Foreign Affairs..............Yongman Park
Minister of Interior..................Tong Yung Yee
Minister of War.......................Pak Yin Roe
Minister of Finance...................Si Yung Yee
Minister of Law.......................Kiu Sik Cynn
Minister of Education.................Kiusic Kimm
Minister of Communications............Chang Bum Moon
Director Bureau of Labour.............Chang Ho Ahn
Chief of Staff........................Tong Yul Lew
Vice Chief of Staff...................Sei Yung Lee
Vice Chief of Staff...................Nan Soo Hahn
The Provisional Constitution was essentially democratic and progressive:
By the will of God, the people of Korea, both within and without
the country, have united in a peaceful declaration of their
independence, and for over one month have carried on their
demonstrations in over 300 districts, and because of their faith
in the movement they have by their representatives chosen a
Provisional Government to carry on to completion this
independence and so to preserve blessings for our children and
The Provisional Government, in its Council of State, has decided
on a Provisional Constitution, which it now proclaims.
1. The Korean Republic shall follow republican principles.
2. All powers of State shall rest with the Provisional Council of
State of the Provisional Government.
3. There shall be no class distinction among the citizens of the
Korean Republic, but men and women, noble and common, rich and
poor, shall have equality.
4. The citizens of the Korean Republic shall have religious
liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of writing and publication,
the right to hold public meetings and form social organizations
and the full right to choose their dwellings or change their
5. The citizens of the Korean Republic shall have the right to
vote for all public officials or to be elected to public office.
6. Citizens will be subject to compulsory education and military
service and payment of taxes.
7. Since by the will of God the Korean Republic has arisen in the
world and has come forward as a tribute to the world peace and
civilization, for this reason we wish to become a member of the
League of Nations.
8. The Korean Republic will extend benevolent treatment to the
former Imperial Family.
9. The death penalty, corporal punishment and public prostitution
will be abolished.
10. Within one year of the recovery of our land the National
Congress will be convened.
_The Provisional Secretary of State,
And the Ministers of Foreign Affairs,
In the 1st Year of the Korean Republic, 4th Month.
The following are six principles of government:
1. We proclaim the equality of the people and the State.
2. The lives and property of foreigners shall be respected.
3. All political offenders shall be specially pardoned.
4. We will observe all treaties that shall be made with foreign
5. We swear to stand by the independence of Korea.
6. Those who disregard the orders of the Provisional Government
will be regarded as enemies of the State.
The National Council issued a statement of its aims and purpose:
_April 22 1919._
We, the people of Korea, represented by thirty-three men,
including Son Pyeng Heui, have already made the Declaration of
Independence of Korea, found on the principle of righteousness
and humanity. With a view to upholding the authority of the
Declaration, solidifying the foundations of the Independence, and
meeting the natural needs of humanity, we, by combining the large
and small groups and the provincial representatives, have
organized the Korean National Council, and hereby proclaim it to
We, the people of Korea, have a history of over forty-two
centuries, as a self-governing and separate state, and of
special, creative civilization, and are a peace-loving race. We
claim a right to be sharers in the world's enlightenment, and
contributors in the evolution of mankind. With a distinctive and
world-wide glorious past, and with our healthy national spirit,
we should never be subjected to inhuman and unnatural oppression,
nor assimilation by another race; and still less could we submit
to the materialistic subjugation by the Japanese, whose spiritual
civilization is 2,000 years behind ours.
The world knows that Japan has violated the sworn treaties of the
past and is robbing us of the right of existence. We, however,
are not discussing the wrongs done us by the Japanese in the
past, nor considering their accumulated sins; but, in order to
guarantee our rights of existence, extend liberty and equality,
safeguard righteousness and humanity, maintain the peace of the
Orient, and respect the equitable welfare of the whole world, do
claim the independence of Korea. This is truly the will of God,
motivation of truth, just claim, and legitimate action. By this
the world's verdict is to be won, and the repentance of Japan
At this time, when the militarism which once threatened the peace
of the world is brought to submission, and when the world is
being reconstructed for a lasting peace, will Japan refuse
self-reflection and self-awakening? Obstinate clinging to the
errors, which have gone contrary to the times and nature, will
result in nothing but the diminution of the happiness of the two
peoples and endangering of the peace of the world. This council
demands with all earnestness that the government of Japan abandon
as early as possible the inhuman policy of aggression and firmly
safeguard the tripodic relationship of the Far East, and further
duly warn the people of Japan.
Can it be that the conscience of mankind will calmly witness the
cruel atrocities visited upon us by the barbarous, military power
of Japan for our actions in behalf of the rights of life founded
upon civilization? The devotion and blood of our 20,000,000 will
never cease nor dry under this unrighteous oppression. If Japan
does not repent and mend her ways for herself, our race will be
obliged to take the final action, to the limit of the last man
and the last minute, which will secure the complete independence
of Korea. What enemy will withstand when our race marches forward
with righteousness and humanity? With our utmost devotion and
best labour we demand before the world our national independence
and racial autonomy.
THE KOREAN NATIONAL COUNCIL
Representatives of the thirteen Provinces:
Yee Man Jik Kim Hyung Sun
Yee Nai Su Yu Keun
Pak Han Yung Kang Ji Yung
Pak Chang Ho Chang Seung
Yee Yeng Jun Kim Heyen Chun
Choi Chun Koo Kim Ryu
Yee Yong Kiu Kim Sig
Yu Sik Kiu Chu Ik
Yu Jang Wuk Hong Seung Wuk
Song Ji Hun Chang Chun
Yee Tong Wuk Chung Tam Kio
Kim Taik Pak Tak
That a Provisional Government shall be organized.
That a demand be made of the Government of Japan to withdraw the
administrative and military organs from Korea.
That a delegation shall be appointed to the Paris Peace
Conference. That the Koreans in the employ of the Japanese
Government shall withdraw.
That the people shall refuse to pay taxes to the Japanese
That the people shall not bring petitions or litigations before
the Japanese Government.
* * * * *
It was expected in Korea that there would be an immediate agitation in
America to secure redress. The American churches were for some weeks
strangely silent. There is no reason why the full reasons should not be
The missionary organizations mainly represented in Korea are also strongly
represented in Japan. Their officials at their headquarters are almost
forced to adopt what can be politely described as a statesmanlike attitude
over matters of controversy between different countries. When Mr.
Armstrong, of the Presbyterian Board of Missions of Canada, arrived in
America, burning with indignation over what he had seen, he found among the
American leaders a spirit of great caution. They did not want to offend
Japan, nor to injure Christianity there. And there was a feeling--a quite
honest feeling,--that they might accomplish more by appealing to the better
side of Japan than by frankly proclaiming the truth. The whole matter was
referred, by the Presbyterian and Methodist Boards, to the Commission on
Relations with the Orient of the Federal Council of the Churches, a body
representing the Churches as a whole.
The Secretary of that Commission is the Rev. Sydney Gulick, the most active
defender of Japanese interests of any European or American to-day. Mr.
Gulick lived a long time in Japan; he sees things, inevitably, from a
Japanese point of view. He at once acted as though he were resolved to keep
the matter from the public gaze. This was the course recommended by the
Japanese Consul-General Yada at New York. Private pressure was brought on
the Japanese authorities, and the preparation of a report was begun in very
Every influence that Mr. Gulick possessed was exercised to prevent
premature publicity. The report of the Federal Council was not issued until
between four and five months after the atrocities began. A Presbyterian
organization, The New Era Movement, issued a stinging report on its own
account, a few days before. The report of the Federated Council was
preceded by a cablegram from Mr. Hara, the Japanese Premier, declaring that
the report of abuses committed by agents of the Japanese Government in
Korea had been engaging his most serious attention. "I am fully prepared to
look squarely at actual facts."
The report itself, apart from a brief, strongly pro-Japanese introduction,
consisted of a series of statements by missionaries and others in Korea,
and was as outspoken and frank as any one could desire. The only regret was
that it had not been issued immediately. Here was a situation that called
for the pressure of world public opinion. In keeping this back as long as
possible Mr. Gulick, I am convinced, did the cause of Korean Christianity a
grave injury, and helped to prevent earlier redress being obtained.
"No neutrality for brutality" was the motto adopted by many of the
missionaries of Korea. It is a good one for the Churches as a whole. There
are times when the open expression of a little honest indignation is better
than all the "ecclesiastical statesmanship" that can be employed.
In Japan itself, every effort was made by the authorities to keep back
details of what was happening. Mr. Hara, the Progressive Premier, was in
none too strong a position. The military party, and the forces of reaction
typified by Prince Yamagata, had too much power for him to do as much as he
himself perhaps would. He consented to the adoption of still more drastic
methods in April, and while redress was promised in certain particular
instances, as in the Suigen outrage, there was no desire displayed to meet
the situation fully. Taxed in Parliament, he tried to wriggle out of
admissions that anything was wrong.
The attitude of the people of Japan at first was frankly disappointing to
those who hoped that the anti-militarist party there would really act. One
American-Japanese paper, the Japan _Advertiser_, sent a special
correspondent to Korea and his reports were of the utmost value. The Japan
_Chronicle_, the English owned paper at Kobe, was equally outspoken. The
Japanese press as a whole had very little to say; it had been officially
"requested" not to say anything about Korea.
The Japanese Constitutional Party sent Mr. Konosuke Morya to investigate
the situation on the spot. He issued a report declaring that the
disturbances were due to the discriminatory treatment of Koreans,
complicated and impracticable administrative measures, extreme censorship
of public speeches, forcible adoption of the assimilation system, and the
spread of the spirit of self-determination. Of the assimilation system he
said, "It is a great mistake of colonial policy to attempt to enforce upon
the Koreans, with a 2,000-year history, the same spiritual and mental
training as the Japanese people."
By this time the Japanese Churches were beginning to stir. The Federation
of Churches in Japan sent Dr. Ishizaka, Secretary of the Mission Board of
the Japan Methodist Church, to enquire. Dr. Ishizaka's findings were
published in the _Gokyo_. I am indebted for a summary of them to an article
by Mr. R.S. Spencer, in the _Christian Advocate_ of New York:
"Dr. Ishizaka first showed, on the authority of officials,
missionaries and others, that the missionaries could in no just
way be looked upon as the cause of the disturbances. Many Koreans
and most of the missionaries had looked hopefully to Japanese
control as offering a cure for many ills of the old regime, but
in the ten years of occupation feeling had undergone a complete
revulsion and practically all were against the Japanese governing
system. The reasons he then sketches as follows: (1) The
much-vaunted educational system established by the
Governor-General makes it practically impossible for a Korean to
go higher than the middle schools (roughly equivalent to an
American high school) or a technical school. Even when educated
Koreans were universally discriminated against. In the same
office, at the same work, Koreans receive less pay than Japanese.
(The quotations are from the translation of the Japan
_Advertiser_.) 'A Korean student in Aoyama Gakuin, who stayed at
Bishop Honda's home, became the head officer of the Taikyu
district office. That was before the annexation.... That officer
is not in Taikyu now. He is serving in some petty office in the
country. The Noko Bank, in Keijo (Seoul) is the only place where
the Japanese and Koreans are treated equally, but there, also,
the equality is only an outward form.' (2) The depredations of
the Oriental Improvement Co., the protege of the government,
resulted in the eviction of hundreds of Korean farmers, who fled
to Manchuria and Siberia, many dying miserably. The wonderful
roads are mentioned, it being shown that they are built and cared
for by forced labour of the Koreans. That most galling and
obnoxious of all bureaucratic methods, carried to the nth power
in Japan--the making out of endless reports and forms--has
created dissatisfaction. Dr. Ishizaka relates how an underling
official required a Korean of education to rewrite a notice of
change of residence six times because he omitted a dot in one of
those atrocious Chinese characters, which are a hobble on the
development of Japan. This last opinion is mine, not the
doctor's. (3) The gendarmerie, or military police system, is
mentioned, 13,000 strong, of whom about 8,000 are renegade
Koreans. Admittedly a rough lot, these men are endowed with
absolute power of search, personal or domiciliary, detention,
arrest (and judging from the reports, I would say torture)
without warrant. Bribery is, of course, rampant among them. (4)
Associated closely with the police system, indeed controlling it
and the civil administration and everything else, is the military
government. The Governor-General must be a military officer. Dr.
Ishizaka says: 'Militarism means tyranny; it never acts in open
daylight, but seeks to cover up its intentions. The teachers in
primary schools and even in girls' schools, that is, the men
teachers, wear swords.' (5) Lastly, Dr. Ishizaka speaks of the
method, which we can easily recognize as to source, of trying to
'assimilate' the Koreans by prohibiting the language, discarding
Korean history from the schools, repressing customs, etc.
"In conclusion Dr. Ishizaka points out that not alone must these
errors be righted, but that the only hope lies in the assumption
on the part of Japanese, public and private, of an attitude of
Christian brotherhood towards the Koreans. He announces a
campaign to raise money among Japanese Christians for the benefit
of Koreans and their churches."
The Japanese Government at last came to see that something must be done.
Count Hasegawa, the Governor-General and Mr. Yamagata, Director-General of
Administration, were recalled and Admiral Baron Saito and Mr. Midzuno were
appointed to succeed them. Numerous other changes in personnel were also
made. An Imperial Rescript was issued late in August announcing that the
Government of Korea was to be reformed, and Mr. Hara in a statement issued
at the same time announced that the gendarmerie were to be replaced by a
force of police, under the control of the local governors, except in
districts where conditions make their immediate elimination advisable, and
that "It is the ultimate purpose of the Japanese Government in due course
to treat Korea as in all respects on the same footing as Japan." Admiral
Saito, in interviews, promised the inauguration of a liberal regime on the
The change unfortunately does not touch the fundamental needs of the
situation. No doubt there will be an attempt to lessen some abuses. This
there could not fail to be, if Japan is to hold its place longer among the
civilized Powers. But Mr. Hara's explanation of the new program showed that
the policy of assimilation is to be maintained, and with it, the policy of
exploitation can hardly fail to be joined.
These two things spell renewed failure.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
"What do you want us to do?" men ask me. "Do you seriously suggest that
America or Great Britain should risk a breach of good relations or even a
war with Japan to help Korea? If not, what is the use of saying anything?
You only make the Japanese harden their hearts still more."
What can we do? Everything!
I appeal first to the Christian Churches of the United States, Canada and
Britain. I have seen what your representatives, more particularly the
agents of the American and Canadian Churches, have accomplished in Korea
itself. They have built wisely and well, and have launched the most hopeful
and flourishing Christian movement in Asia. Their converts have established
congregations that are themselves missionary churches, sending out and
supporting their own teachers and preachers to China. A great light has
been lit in Asia. Shall it be extinguished? For, make no mistake, the work
is threatened with destruction. Many of the church buildings have been
burned; many of the native leaders have been tortured and imprisoned; many
of their followers, men, women and children, have been flogged, or clubbed,
You, the Christians of the United States and of Canada, are largely
responsible for these people. The teachers you sent and supported taught
them the faith that led them to hunger for freedom. They taught them the
dignity of their bodies and awakened their minds. They brought them a Book
whose commands made them object to worship the picture of Emperor--even of
Japanese Emperor--made them righteously angry when they were ordered to put