No. 240.

Mr. Foulk to Mr. Bayard.

No. 177.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that affairs in Corea are in a more peaceful and harmonious state than at any time heretofore since the disturbances of December last. Serious apprehension, which had been giving rise to disturbing rumors, was allayed by the happy termination of the conference at Peking between Japan and China.

At present the chief topic of speculation among the Government officers and the nobles is the expected return of the Tai-wen-kun, the father of the King and ex-regent who was carried to China after the revolt of the troops of Seoul in 1882; his return is expected as one of the results of the Peking conference. By a large class of the most powerful nobles, who are influential through connection with the family of the Queen, the return of the Tai-wen-kun is greatly dreaded, as his having been carried to China was due to his attempt to cut off their influence in 1882, and even to remove the Queen. An embassy of three members was appointed by His Majesty to go to China to bring back Tai-wen-kun early in this month, but it has not yet started, the delay being stated to be due to the opposition of the Queen’s party to the return of the Tai-wen-kun.

By the masses of the people the possible return of the Tai-wen-kun would seem to be hailed with pleasure. He is known to be a man of much firmness of character, of great ability, and great power among the people, and more particularly as being an intensely patriotic Corean. While foreigners in Corea are unable to foretell the effect of his return, they generally express satisfaction at its possibility under the hope that he may introduce the spirit of firmness and decision now so lamentably absent in the Government. The Tai-wen-kun is now about sixty-seven years old, but yet physically and mentally sound and energetic.

In March last the people of the district called Yö ju arose in arms against the local governor or pusa in an attempt to resist excessive and illegal taxation; they destroyed the governor’s house and seriously injured a number of his agents. The governor was a member of the Min family of nobles, against which feeling is strong all over the country. Troops were promptly sent to Yö ju, the rebellion quelled, and the governor removed and punished.

During the present month a similar rebellion broke out at the capital of Kang-won province, directed here also against the governor, who was also a Min. A stockade was built about the yamens, three of the agents [Page 349] burnt to death, and the governor injured and forced to flee for his life. The effect of these events has been to create great alarm in the great family of Mins and the report that there was a general movement among the people to exterminate the whole family. Min-Yong-Ik, wao was the ambassador to the United States, is still in the country acting as ösa, or detective officer upon the local government; he is accompanied by a guard of forty soldiers. His real object in living thus is fear for his life.

Feeling against the conspirators who fled to Japan has weakened very greatly, notwithstanding the bitter vigilance of the present government to check any movement or speech in their favor. The friends and families of these men remain unharmed and free. No other punishments than those already reported (that is, the execution of eleven persons and death of one from torture) have been made by the Government of persons implicated in the conspiracy of December.

The Government is slowly and with difficulty paying its indemnity to Japan; the first payment of $25,000 was made during the present month.

A military court is now trying a Japanese soldier who bayoneted and killed a Chinese servant in the Japanese lines in March last.

I have, &c.,

Ensign, U. S. Navy, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.