Mr. Rockhill to Mr. Bayard.
Seoul, March 7, 1887. (Received April 12.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that on the 24th ultimo the foreign representatives here whose Governments have entered into the agreement with the Corean Government concerning the general foreign settlement at Chemulpo, met at the foreign office to discuss the questions arising therefrom.
The president of the foreign office first suggested a general discussion of the agreement of the 3d of October, 1884,* which seemed to him ambiguous and open to grave objections, which would make its enforcement prejudicial to all parties. The foreign representatives having declined to discuss an agreement approved by their respective Governments, and which they were instructed to see carried out as soon as possible, the president agreed to take measures for its being put in vigor at an early date; but it was also agreed, in view of the general opinion that the land regulations were open to serious objection, that after the expiration of one year any of the signatories of the agreement might formulate his objection and ask for a revision.
The president of the foreign office then mentioned the fact that while the text of the agreement mentioned an “annexed plan,” none such existed. Mr. Denny, the foreign adviser of the foreign office, insisted on this omission making the agreement an imperfect instrument. The foreign representatives held, however, that they had in their possession plans of the settlement which, while not all on the same scale, agreed as to the boundaries. With these plans they were perfectly satisfied, as they had been made by the surveyor employed for that purpose by the Corean Government. The absence of an annexed plan to the agreement might easily be remedied by the Corean foreign office and the diplomatic representatives agreeing to consider one of the plans in their possession as the authoritative one. The president of the foreign office agreed to this mode of settlement.
On the 4th instant another conference was held at the foreign office, and a plan of the general foreign settlement of Chemulpo was signed and sealed by the president of the foreign office and the representatives of the different powers which had signed the agreement. The president also informed the diplomatic body that he should at once send orders to the local authorities of Chemulpo to resurvey the lots sold, erect boundary stones, and issue title deeds to owners, and fulfill the other duties imposed on his Government by the agreement of October 3, 1884.[Page 261]
Great, and, I may say, universal dissatisfaction is shown by all the residents in the general foreign settlement at the enforcement of the agreement. Their objections are both general and specific and some of them are unquestionably well founded. The upset price of the lots, the high land rent, the possible assessments, the expensive buildings which they are forced to erect, the right, or supposed right, of the Corean Government to reserve and not purchase at auction, as in the case of other lots, such pieces of land as it desires to hold, are among the numerous grievances which will undoubtedly require careful consideration hereafter.
It is to be feared that the existence of some of the rules objected to, especially that fixing the nature of the buildings which owners are allowed to erect on their lots, has very materially retarded the development of the Chemulpo general foreign settlement, which still only consists of about a dozen poorly-built frame houses, so far removed from the water-front that they are unfit for business purposes.
The original agreement and land regulations were drafted on the pattern of those of Kobe, Japan; but the conditions were very different in the two cases, and the class of merchants which might confidently be looked for at Kobe, can not, in the present state of Corea, be expected at Chemulpo, and a revision of the land regulations would appear from present appearances to be necessary in the near future.
I have, etc.,
- Printed before signature in Consular Reports, Department of State, No. 45, September, 1864, p. 92.↩