Mr. Foulk to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Seoul, Corea, January 31, 1885. (Received March 16.)
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following, relative to the situation in Corea:
His Majesty the King is authoritatively stated to have yielded the administration of the Government exclusively to the Oi-jöng-pu (or ministerial body) upon the demand of the conservative faction of the Government. This faction has also demanded the execution of Kim-Ok-Kiun and four other of the late conspirators, all of whom are now in Japan, to which country they escaped immediately after the late revolutionary attempt.
His Majesty, exhausted with care and business consequent upon the recent difficulties, and augmented by exposure, has been quite ill, but is now recovering.
The torture and trial of twelve persons implicated in the conspiracy were concluded on the 27th instant, and they were sentenced to death. Six were executed a few hundred yards from this legation and five on the main street of the city on the 28th and 29th instant.
These persons were placed face down in the streets and decapitated by from six to ten blows of a dull instrument, while a rope secured to the ques served to open the wounds. The bodies were all dismembered and distributed about the streets for exposure for three or four days. The twelfth victim died in prison from voluntary starvation and the effects of his torture. Of these twelve persons one was a student of high birth, the others underlings and headmen of the houses of the conspirators.
A great number of other persons had been hunted down and tortured. This augmented the consternation which already existed after the émeute, and thousands of citizens fled from the city; these are now returning and the populace in general is quieting down.
The two Chinese ambassadors yet remain in the city with a considerable body of troops. The Japanese legation, temporarily outside the west gate of the city, is in charge of a chargé d’affaires, and is the headquarters of six hundred Japanese soldiers under the command of a colonel. Japanese civilians come into the city, but through distrust on the part of the Coreans, may not rent quarters within the walls.
The other powers (except Russia and Italy, who have no representatives in Corea), namely, England and Germany, are represented by an acting consul-general and an acting commissioner, respectively. I have reason to believe that active foreign intercourse of the Corean foreign office is as yet confined to this legation. This I inaugurated as soon as the foreign office had recovered sufficiently from the paralyzing effects of the émeute in attempting to ascertain the position of the Government and His Majesty with regard to contracts made with Americans before the attempted revolt. These were exclusively originated in the King’s name, I find, and by his authority. While the way is not entirely clear as to their fulfillment the outlook to this effect is favorable, precluding, of course, any new difficulties.
I am, &c.,
Ensign, U. S. Navy, Chargé d’Affaires ad, interim.