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DISCOURTEOUS TREATMENT OF AMERICAN RESIDENTS OF PENGYANG BY KOREAN OFFICIALS.
Mr. Allen to Mr. Hay.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Seoul, November 19, 1902.
SIR: I regret to have to inform you of my inability to obtain satisfaction for unwarranted conduct on the part of the governor and magisstrate of Pengyang, whereby Americans residing in that port, open to trade, have been injured in property and pained and humiliated by having their servants severely beaten.
I hand you inclosed a copy of a letter I addressed to the minister for foreign affairs on October 23, in which I show that Mr. Hunt, a missionary under the board of Presbyterian missions, of 156 Fifth avenue, New York City, was robbed of lumber he had purchased for very necessary building operations, the lumber having been taken by order of the officials serving under the governor. I sent in a lot of documents covering this case on September 19, with the request that it be investigated. Upon the report of the foreign minister that I had called his attention to it, the native concerned was inhumanly beaten and the Christian followers of the Americans were threatened with death. I commend to your perusal the account I gave to the foreign minister in my letter, of which the inclosed is a copy.
In the same letter I had to complain of the conduct of the magisstrate in beating the servant of Miss Estey, a missionary of the Methodist board of missions, 156 Fifth avenue, New York City, and use of threatening and abusive language to Reverend Mr. Morris of the same mission, who called upon him in regard to the matter.
I also in the same letter complained of the cruel beating, without cause, of the servant of the Reverend Mr. Noble, a missionary of the same Methodist mission, living at Pengyang, and of the unwarranted interference with a boat engaged by the latter.
These cases seemed to indicate a determination on the part of the officials at Pengyang to make it is as uncomfortable as possible for the Americans residing there, and I could not but take up the cases, though the boat case alone I would not have taken up.
YOUR EXCELLENCY: I regret to have to bring to your excellency's attention several complaints from American citizens residing in the city of Pengyang, which show
that Governor Min Yung Chull seems determined to make life disagreeable for them in that city, opened to the residence of foreigners by the Korean Government.
On September 19 I wrote to your excellency's predecessor informing him of the seizure of certain lumber belonging to an American citizen, Mr. Hunt, and asking that he give instructions that would lead to the rendering of justice in the case. I sent the documents covering the transaction as inclosures with that note.
The settlement obtained was the cruel beating of the agent of the Americans, as well as the wood merchant, the threatening of the native Christians with death, and the loss of about 100 yen on the transaction.
By a perusal of inclosure 1 you will see that Mr. Hunt purchased lumber on September 6 of Ye Hak Syon, through his (Hunt's) agent Syon On Chun, making an advance payment of 150 yen. On September 7 this lumber was seized by Cho Choa Syon, the governor's overseer of the work on a new palace building. On the 8th Mr. Hunt reported the matter by letter to the kamni, Paing Han Chung, who replied by letter that a mistake had been made and he would return the lumber. I sent copies of these two notes in my letter of September 19 to your predecessor.
On Mr. Hunt's sending for the lumber in accordance with this letter of the kamni, the seller was at once arrested; the lumber was not delivered, and the seller was badly beaten. Hearing of this, Mr. Hunt wrote to the kamni, sending his letter by his agent or servant who had originally purchased the lumber. The letter could not be delivered as the man was thrown into jail. Later he was removed to the jail at the governor's office and was placed in the death cell.
In the absence of Mr. Hunt, Mr. Lee went to see the governor on the subject, but was refused admittance. He went to see the kamni, who agreed to put the matter right, but did nothing whatever.
On September 11 Syon, the agent of the Americans, was taken before the governor for trial. The latter opened the proceedings by informing the prisoner that, although he followed a foreign religion, he (the governor) could kill him if he chose, and he asked him if he would deliver up the lumber contract. Syon replied that it was impossible, as the lumber belonged to a foreigner. He was then beaten by the order of the governor. The jailors took from him the lumber contract and gave it to the governor, who then had him beaten again. The seller of the lumber, Ye, was then ordered to pay back to Syon the money he had received. He paid it to the chief of police. On the 12th the money was taken to Syon's house, where it was found to be 135 nyang short. Also his family had been ordered to pay over to the governor a further sum of 70 nyang. On September 19 Syon was released, being told by the chief of police that if he continued to be a "foreign-doctrine" man he would be killed.
In this case the servants of Americans were arrested and tortured, and the Americans were prevented from purchasing supplies, as is allowed them by treaty. They were put to a money loss of about 100 yen, and they were treated with great indignity. I had simply asked for justice. They were treated with great injustice.
Among a number of similar complaints against this governor and his underlings I will cite three more which have been forwarded to me.
On October 1 a Korean named Yun Hyeng Pil, who is regularly employed by the Americans at Pengyang as a teacher to Miss Estey, was arrested by the orders of the kamni, Paing Han Chung, and cruelly beaten. The reason for this arrest was said to be that Yun had not paid the new special tax for the erection of a palace. It seems he had paid it and showed his official receipt for the payment; further, he had not refused to pay a second time. Mr. Morris, an American, went to see the kamni in regard to this matter, and was told by the latter that he had a right to arrest and beat anyone he saw fit, even though such person might be the servant of a foreigner, and if by so doing the foreigner's home should be endangered it would be nothing to him. He further threatened Mr. Morris to make life hard for the foreigners in Pengyang. (See inclosure 2.)
Another Korean named Pai Ni Il, who is regularly employed by Mr. Noble, an American citizen living at Pengyang, was arrested without any known reason, and was so cruelly beaten that he could not sit up. The kamni admitted that a wrong had been done in this case, but he made no effort to bring the guilty parties to justice. He released the wounded man from prison.
On October 1 Mr. Noble sent a boat from Pengyang to Chenampo for goods. The boat was loaded with household effects on the way down, and a small American flag and the card of Mr. Noble were given to the boatman with a written statement to the effect that the boat was hired by an American. The boat was seized by officials of the office of the kamni, Paing Han Chung, and when the proofs of its being chartered by Americans were shown the officials replied that that was so much more reason for its being seized. It required two days to secure a permit from the kamni or the release of this boat. (Inclosure 4.)
Reports which reach me seem to indicate that the local officials are determined to annoy the Americans all they can, and one great method of so doing is to persecute the natives who are friendly to them and who have become believers in Christianity. I am only making formal complaint at present, however, of the actual infringement of treaty rights by these Pengyang officials.
Article IX of the British treaty, which is applicable to Americans as well, provides as follows:
"I. The British (American) authorities and British subjects (American citizens) in Korea shall be allowed to employ Korean subjects as teachers, intèrpreters, servants, or in any lawful capacity, without any restriction on the part of the Korean authorities."
In the above-cited cases the servants and employees of the Americans have been taken from them and rendered unfit for service by being inhumanly beaten. The property of Americans has been seized, and they have been put to a loss of money and a very annoying loss of time, just when the winter is approaching.
I recommend that in the case of the lumber transaction the governor, Min Yung Chull, be obliged to repay to Mr. Hunt the 100 yen he modestly estimates as his loss, and that he apologize to Mr. Hunt for his conduct in that case.
In the other three cases I recommend that the kamni, Paing Han Chung, be obliged to apologize to Mr. Noble, Mr. Morris, and Miss Estey, and that both governor and kamni be given strict instructions not to molest the native Christians in future without legal cause.
I will be glad to receive an early reply from your excellency as to your decision in regard to these recommendations, in order that I may be able to report your action when forwarding a report on this subject to my Government.
I must ask to be furnished with a copy of your instructions to the Pengyang officials.
I take, etc.,
HORACE N. ALLEN.
Account of lumber transaction between Rev. W. B. Hunt and his agent, a Korean, Syen On Chun, and a lumber dealer, Yi Hak Syon, of Pyengyang, involving a violation of treaty rights on the part of the governor of South Pyeng An Province, Min Yung Chul.
On September 4 Syen On Chun obtained an agreement from Yi Hak Syon for the sale of 141 pieces of lumber at a stipulated price.
A copy of this agreement is on file with Mr. Paddock at the United States legation. On Saturday, September 6, Mr. Hunt commissioned Syen On Chun to retain the other 41 poorer pieces to be rejected from the 141 pieces. Mr. Hunt paid him 150 yen or 1,320 nyang on account, taking receipt for same, and Syen On Chun then paid to Yi Hak Syon, the lumber merchant, 2,368 nyang for the 141 pieces, completing the transaction. He then had the lumber removed from the boats to the river bank, or landing, in front of a Japanese merchant's house, receiving permission to leave it there on Sunday.
Sunday morning word came to him that Cho Shoa Syon, governor's overseer of the palace building, had seized 26 of the best pieces; that when he was taking it a Japanese boy had asked why he was taking it since it had been bought for a foreigner by Syen On Chun; and that he replied, "This is the people's lumber and we want it for the palace."
Syen On Chun in the afternoon told Mr. Hunt of the seizure, Mr. Hunt replying that as it was Sunday, if he would come out next morning he would see what could be done.
Monday, September 8, before 6 a. m., Syen On Chun came to Mr. Hunt, saying sawyers had come to saw the lumber, but that upon his telling them the lumber belonged to Mr. Hunt they did not begin sawing but waited for instructions from the officials.
Mr. Hunt then wrote a letter to the magistrate or kamni, Paing Han Chon, telling him of the difficulty and asking him to look into the matter. Syen On Chun took this letter to the magistrate.
A copy of this letter is on file with Mr. Paddock at the United States legation. The kamni replied that a mistake had been made and he would send the lumber back. A copy of this reply is on file with Mr. Paddock at United States legation. Mr. Hunt then sent his "boy" with an ox cart to bring that part of the lumber which had not been taken. The "boy" hurried back saying that what had been taken had been sawed up and that they were taking more.
Mr. Hunt then sent Syen On Chun and his "boy," the latter with the kamni's letter as proof of his right to the lumber, and told them to bring out all the lumber. This letter was shown to Cho Choa Syon, the overseer, who replied that he would give up the lumber only on an order from the governor. To Syen On Chun he said, "Even though you follow a foreigner's doctrine, your flesh and bones are Korean; and what do you mean by selling lumber to a foreigner when we want it for the palace? You can get the money back but not the lumber." Syen On Chun said that he had bought the lumber for a foreigner. Asked from whom he had bought it, he replied from Yi Hak Syon. The overseer then ordered the arrest of Yi Hak Syon, who was then set upon by the policemen and badly beaten. Seeing this state of things Syen On Chun and the "boy" went back to Mr. Hunt and reported. Mr. Hunt then sent another letter to the kamni-a copy is appended to this statement-sending it by Syen On Chun. Finding that the kamni had gone to the governor's office in another part of the city, he was on his way there to deliver the letter when he was seized by one of the governor's policemen, and taken back to the kamni's residence and put in jail. He told the policeman that he had a letter from Mr. Hunt for the kamni and asked him to deliver it-receiving only abuse in reply. He was also unable to get any word to Mr. Hunt. Later two policemen came and took him to the governor's office, bound as a criminal, placing him in the jail there, putting him in the stocks in the death cell, and saying he was guilty of a crime for which he was to be put to death.
Mr. Hunt left that day for Seoul to attend the annual meeting of the council, leaving matters in Mr. Lee's charge. An hour or so after Mr. Hunt left, word reached Mr. Lee that one of the Christians had been arrested on account of the lumber deal. He started down to see the kamni and on the way met Syen On Chun, in charge of a policeman, under arrest, on his way to the governor's jail. Mr. Lee immediately went in to see the governor, who sent word that he was going somewhere and that Mr. Lee should go to see the kamni. Mr. Lee saw the kamni, who received him and said he would look the matter up and do what was right. Nothing being done, Mr. Lee the next day sent a man in to see the kamni, but could get no satisfaction.
September 11, Thursday, Syen On Chun was taken before the governor, Min Yung Chul, for trial, the lumber merchant, Yi Hak Syon, also being there.
The governor told him that, although he followed a foreigner's religion, he was subject to his rule and that he could kill him, and then asked whether he would reverse the lumber sale or not. Syen On Chun replied that he could not do as he pleased, that the lumber belonged to Mr. Hunt.
The governor in anger then said, "You rascal, will you make trouble for me with the foreigner? Beat him." With that they gave him five hard strokes with the paddles until he said he would reverse the sale. They also took the lumber agreement from his pocket and gave it to the governor. Then they beat him five times more and ordered Yi Hak Syon, the lumber merchant, to pay him back the money, which they had all ready to be paid to him. They made him count the bundle of money, reported as 2,368 nyang, and then ordered both man and money to jail, the money being placed in charge of the chief of police.
The next day, September 12, a cousin of Syen On Chun came and took the money to Syen On Chun's home, but found there was 135 nyang lacking.
Syen On Chun was kept in jail until the 19th of September, when he was taken before the chief of police, told that if he continued as a "foreign doctrine man" and caused trouble again he would be killed, and was then released.
Reaching his home, he found that the governor's servants had demanded from his family, in his name, 70 nyang.
Of the money sent to his home some had been used in settling the debts contracted in securing money to pay for the part of the lumber which Mr. Hunt did not wish and for handling the same, and he then took 1,020 nyang to Mr. Lee, being 300 nyang less than the amount received from Mr. Hunt, but in value in yen being less still on account of difference in rate of interest.
The case of Yun Hyeng Pil.
Yun Hyeng Pil is Miss Estey's personal teacher, helper, and general assistant. About one month ago Mr. Yun paid the amount of 315 nyang, a demand made as a tax toward the building of a new palace in this city. He paid the amount at his old nome in An Ju, for which he received the Government receipt. On October 1, without any warning or hint that the officials wanted more, he was seized at his home by
the orders of the magistrate, Paing Han Chung, of this city, and, in spite of the receipt which he presented to the magistrate, he was cruelly beaten. The magistrate knew that Yun Hyeng Pil was in our employ, as he had been on errands to the yamen before this incident. Mr. Yun has never refused to pay any money demanded of him by Pyeng-Yang officials.
Mr. Morris had an interview with the magistrate regarding the beating of Mr. Yun, and the magistrate said he had a right to arrest and beat anyone he saw fit, even though such a one should be in the employ of the foreigner, and, by so doing, his (the foreigner's) home should be endangered and he should suffer loss, it would be nothing to him (the magistrate). He made threats to Mr. Morris that he would make life hard for the foreigners in Pyeng-Yang.
The violent attack on Mr. Yun has in it every evidence of a blow aimed at the Americans living in this city.
The case of Pai Ni Il.
Pai Ni Il was sent by W. A. Noble to take charge of funeral arrangements at the home of one of our Christians in this city. While there, two soldiers sent by officer in the army seized, bound, and beat him without formulating any charge. On our pressing the matter to the magistrate, Paing Han Chung, we secured Pai Ni Il's release, but he was so badly beaten he couldn't sit up. The magistrate did not claim that Mr. Pai was guilty of any wrong. They claimed that a certain man, who has no official position, by the name of set the soldiers on to beat Pai, taking undue advantage of the arrest in order to extort money from him, but when the magistrate was urged to bring the guilty parties to justice he admitted that a wrong had been done Pai, but made no effort to correct the matter.
The obvious inference to be drawn from these facts is that the magistrate secretly abetted the acts of violence and protected the criminal, in order to injure us and our work.
Pai Ni Il is a general helper, and is paid a regular salary by the mission.
The case of the seizure of the boat.
October 1 we sent a boat from this port to Chingnampo, loaded with general household effects of a Korean family in our employ. The boatman, Choi Myung Oo, was furnished with a small American flag and a card stating for whom the boat was being sent. When the boat reached Kangsyo, 60 li from Pyeng-Yang, it was seized by the magistrates' (Paing Han Chung's) officials, and when the flag and card bearing the signature of W. A. Noble was presented they stated that inasmuch as the boat was hired by an American, so much the more reason for seizing it. It required two days to get a permit from the magistrate to allow the boat to pass. The permit read: "This boat is loaded with Government goods; let it pass." The inference, of course, is that boats hired by foreigners are open to seizure whenever the magistrates' runners see fit to do so.
This case, like the beating of Mr. Yun and others, bears the strongest evidence of a studied purpose to harass Americans residing in Pyeng-Yang.
The case of Choi Pong Ik.
Choi Pong Ik was seized by the governor, Min Yung Chul, September 28, and was ordered to pay over 100,000 yen. On October 3 he was beaten, and his friends collected from Choi Pong Ik's property 12,500 silver yen and paid it to the governor. Details: There were no charges brought against Choi Pong Ik He was simply seized for the sake of his money.