Mr. Foote to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Seoul, Corea, December 5, 1884. (Received January 26, 1885.)
Sir: We are at this moment in the midst of a political revolution. It was inaugurated last evening by the attempted assassination of Min Yong Ik, lately one of the envoys to the United States. It occurred at a dinner party, which was being given by Hong Yeng Shik, vice-minister of the embassy to the United States. There were present Pak Yong Hio, brother-in-law to the King; Kim Hong Chip, president of the Corean foreign office; Kim Ok Kinn, vice-president; Von Mollendorff, superintendent of customs; myself, my secretary and interpreter; W. G. Aston, esq., Her Britannic Majesty’s consul-general; Chen Sher Tang, Chinese commissioner; the Japanese secretary of legation, and several other minor officials. As the dinner drew to a close an alarm of fire was given, and nearly all of the guests withdrew from the table and went out of the doors or to the windows to view the fire, which seemed near at hand. Perceiving no immediate danger, I returned, with the president of the Corean foreign office and several others, to the table. A moment thereafter Min Yong Ik entered the room, his face and clothing covered with blood, which was streaming from seven or eight ghastly wounds. The utmost consternation ensued; the Corean officials, divesting themselves of their official robes as they ran, rushed to the courtyard, [Page 332] which was already half filled with soldiers and servants. At this moment a shot was fired, and the entire crowd precipitated themselves over the rear walls and disappeared. Upon the entrance of Min Yong Ik I had gone forward, and, aided by Von Mollendorff, had placed him in an easy position. I asked that Dr. Allen, an American physician, be sent for, which was done, and, leaving the wounded man in charge of Mr. Von Mollendorff, I returned with Mr. Scudder and my interpreter to the legation.
At this moment it is difficult to determine whether this attempted assassination is the result of some personal feud or whether it has a political signification.
All sorts of rumors are afloat. The latest is that the deed was done by a party of students from one of the southern provinces, who were enraged at some reforms which Min Yong Ik had instituted since his return from the United States. I shall be enabled to give you more definite information within a few days.
I have, &c.,