Mr. Olney to Mr. Sill.

No. 132.]

Sir: I have received your Nos. 175 and 177, of the 2d and 3d ultimo, respectively, reporting on events at Seoul.

With your number 175 you inclose a memorandum of the conversation between the King and the members of the diplomatic corps during the audience granted November 26 for the purpose of His Majesty informing them of the revocation of a former decree of October 8, by which the Queen had been degraded, and of her restoration to her previous rank. In the memorandum you state that you expressed to the King your satisfaction with this action, and you added that you had intended to ask him whether the previous decree had been his own action, and that you wished also to say for yourself that you had never recognized the decree of the 6th of October as from His Majesty.

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It was quite within the line of your duty to report to the Department that, in your belief, the decree of October 8 last had been issued by the King of Korea under compulsion, but it was neither a matter for you to discuss in your intercourse with the officials of the country, nor one in regard to which this Government could have any concern or express any opinion.

The Department has to express its astonishment and thorough disapproval of your conduct in this matter. It is incomprehensible, in view of the cablegrams sent you on November 11 and 20 (the receipt of which you duly acknowledged), by which you were instructed to confine yourself exclusively to such questions as involved the direct interests of American citizens and to refrain from mixing yourself in any way with the internal affairs of Korea, that you should, as late as November 26 and 28, without directions from the Department, have acted and spoken as the dispatches under acknowledgment state you did. In view of these actions and utterances I sent you, under yesterday’s date, the following cablegram instruction:

Your dispatches No. 175 and 176 [177] received. Your course iu continued intermeddling with Korean political affairs in violation of repeated instructions noted with astonishment and emphatic disapproval. Cable briefly any explanation you have to make; also answer whether you intend to comply with instructions given.

In your No. 177 you state that the Americans now resident in Seoul are exposed to much danger, apparently by reason of the anti-Japanese opinions to which they have openly given voice and their indiscreet expressions of sympathy for the party opposed to Japanese influence. You should, on receipt of the present instructions, inform all Americans resident in Korea that they should strictly refrain from any expression of opinion, or from giving advice concerning the internal management of the country, or from any intermeddling in political questions; that if they do so it is at their own risk and peril; that neither you nor the Government of the United States can approve of such action on their part or perhaps be able to adequately protect them should they disregard this advice. They should strictly confine themselves to their missionary work, whether it be teaching in schools, preaching the gospel, or attending to the sick, for which they went to the country. Use such other arguments as you properly can to discourage and stop, if possible, the habit which has steadily increased since the arrival of American citizens in Korea, of irresponsible persons advising and attempting to control, through irregular channels, the Government of the country.

I am, etc.,

Richard Olney.