Mr. Sands to the Secretary of State.
Seoul, Korea, August 10, 1899.
Sir: I have the honor to report to yon that the Korean Government has again refused to keep the promise made last March, that the port of Peng Yang should be opened on the 1st of May.
It is difficult to understand their motives.
In Mr. Allen’s No. 185,1 dated March 23, he informs the Department of this definite promise of the Government, which, I think, you will [Page 489] find contained in inclosure No. 4 of the above-mentioned dispatch. Surveyors were sent to mark out the foreign settlement and local officials appointed. The 1st of May passed, however, without a formal opening, and the surveyors and officials were recalled.
I spoke to the minister for foreign affairs, and was informed that the Government had decided not to open Peng Yang, giving as a reason that there was “much property in that city belonging to the imperial household.” It seemed to me hardly a valid reason, and I declined to accept his refusal, and informed the foreign office that I considered the city open from the 1st of May, and had instructed Americans that they might live there as in any other port where no foreign settlement exists. Since then, in reply to all communications on the subject, I have referred them to my first note, declining to argue the question.
After much deliberation at the weekly diplomatic meetings, and after addressing many joint notes to the Korean Government, the other foreign representatives in Seoul decided to do as I did last May. In a dispatch they received a few days since a compromise was offered—a site for a foreign settlement to be outside the city and entirely away from the water, a place wholly undesirable and not in any way suited to the purposes of trade, which is the prime object in opening the city.
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I shall await your final decision in this matter, and in the meantime shall still decline to discuss the matter with the foreign office.
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I have, etc.,
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