No. 213.
Mr. Rockhill to Mr. Bayard .

No. 72.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that on the 8th instant William McKay, an American citizen in the service of the Edison Electric Light Company, and then employed putting up electric lights in the royal [Page 264] palace in this city, was accidentally shot by a Corean bannerman (ki-su), who was examining McKay’s revolver. The following day McKay died. The testimony of all those who witnessed the accident, among whom was another American mechanic, shows that no blame can be attached to the Corean. Notwithstanding this the ki-su was thrown into prison, severely beaten, and orders given for his execution, the case being considered exceptionally grave—the victim being a foreigner.

I immediately wrote to the general commanding the corps to which the ki-su belonged and to the president of the foreign office asking that, in view of the death of McKay being purely accidental, the man who had involuntarily caused it might be set at liberty. I inclose herewith the reply of the president of the foreign office to a second note, which I wrote him on the 18th, asking him to beg of His Majesty, in my name and in that of the other Americans here, the pardon of the ki-su.

The lex talionis having full sway in this country, this request of Americans, that a man who had caused the death of another be pardoned, has caused great astonishment among the officials here, and their generosity has been greatly lauded.

His Majesty has shown great kindness to the wife of the deceased, paying all funeral expenses, presenting the widow with $500, and offering her a home for life if she would remain in Corea, and to have her son educated at his expense. One reason why so much concern has been shown is undoubtedly on account of the idea Coreans have, in common with many other Asiatic nations, that all foreigners residing in their country are guests, and that any mishap befalling them is to the shame of the host. Residence as a treaty right is but very imperfectly understood.

I have, etc.,

W. W. Rockhill.
[Inclosure in No. 72—Translation.]

Kim Yum-sik to Mr. Rockhill .

In reply to your note of yesterday, requesting the release of the ki-su (I would respectfully state), by the laws of our country any person who occasions the death of another, although it he purely accidental, is punishable by banishment on account of the feeling against him on the part of the victim’s family. The ki-su in question is therefore subject to the above condemnation.

Although the above penalty is applicable in this case, I have received from you repeated expressions of compassion (for ki-su) and of justice, tending to show that the fate of an ant should be watched over as though worth thousands of gold, and also a request from the victim when dying, and an earnest entreaty from his wife (asking that mercy be shown the ki-su). I am very grateful for these expressions of these two just persons.

I hear that the ki-su is in the prison of the special battalion (polyong) so I will at once communicate with the general (commanding), sending him your letter and requesting him in view of the circumstances, and notwithstanding the disregard of the statutes which it entails, to release the ki-su as you desire.

This action on your part is not only one to call for this ki-su’s most heartfelt gratitude, but for the thanks of the whole people, and for which I sincerely and earnestly thank you.

I address you this reply while awaiting the answer of the general commanding the special battalion.

Kim Yum-sik.