Mr. Rockhill to Mr. Bayard
Seoul , March 5, 1887. (Received April 12.)
Sir: Referring again to the question of the removal of foreign trades-people from Seoul to Yong-san, treated of in my dispatch, No. 34, of December 17 last, I have the honor to inform you that a good deal of feeling has been shown of late by the Corean merchant guilds of this city at the opening within the city of new shops for retail business by Japanese subjects. The discontent of the Coreans culminated on the 25th ultimo, when all places of business within the city were closed by order of the eight guilds which rule the trade of this place. A large body of trades-people went the same day to the foreign office and asked the president to forbid the Japanese opening new shops within the city, and to order the removal to Yong-san (some 3 miles outside the city) of all foreign traders. The president informed the people that this question was under discussion, and that within two or three months it would be settled. In the meanwhile nothing could be done.
The King, having also heard of the excitement, called some of the principal men to the palace and told them that they must have the shops opened, for that would not prevent them discussing the affair they wanted to have settled.
Towards evening the city had assumed its usual appearance and the greater part of the shops had been reopened.
The Japanese authorities here felt much apprehension at this sudden manifestation of ill-feeling. Many of the Japanese women were sent away from town, and none of their nationals were allowed for some days to go out after dark.
It is worthy of note, as suggestive of the continued alarm in which the people live, that this slight occurrence caused the price of rice to rise considerably.
The president of the foreign office is waiting, I hear, for the reply of Great Britain and Germany to his dispatch, inclosed in my No. 34, [Page 260] these two powers being the only ones which have express stipulations in their treaties concerning this question of residence of trades-people in Seoul. It is also to be noted that, throughout this agitation, the encroachments of the Japanese on the local retail trades appear to have alone caused dissatisfaction, although the number of Japanese traders here is much smaller than that of Chinese.
I have, etc.,