Mr. Hay to Mr. Allen.

No. 166.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 318, of the 5th ultimo, reporting the violation of the domicile of Messrs. Adams and Johnson, American missionaries, at Taiku, Korea, by Korean policemen acting under the orders of the governor of North Kyung Sang Do, in order to arrest a Korean writer of the missionaries.

The facts of the case as stated in your dispatch and its inclosures are as follows:

Messrs. Adams and Johnson desiring to stop temporarily at Taiku, Korea, and not being able to rent suitable quarters, lent money to a Korean with which to erect a building for their accommodation. In buying some tiles to cover the house, and in trying to enforce a contract which they had made (through their native employee) with a Korean tile burner, the matter came to the ears of the governor. The tile burner persuaded the governor that he (the tile burner) was the aggrieved party, and the governor, without interrogating the Americans or their servant on the subject, sent his police, who forcibly entered the domicile of the Americans and arrested their Korean employee, who was taken before the governor and inhumanly beaten. The Americans went to the governor’s yamen to inquire into the case, but the governor refused to see them, pronounced their official Korean passports valueless and treated them with indignity, compelling them to stand in the courtyard with the coolies and runners, and refusing to hear their explanations.

The Americans having reported the case to you, you saw the Korean foreign minister and obtained an order for the release of the Korean employee of the Americans. It seems that at the trial of the case [Page 397] before the governor, the justice of the complaint of the Americans against the tile burner was so evident that the governor ordered him to pay back to them $120 out of $210 of an advance remaining in his hands. The governor also admitted that he had arrested and inhumanly beaten their servant for no cause whatever.

In presenting the matter to the foreign minister you contended that there had been violation of treaty in the following particulars:

Article IV, section 6, of the British treaty with Korea (which by virtue of the most-favored-nation clause of the treaty between Korea and the United States is applicable to Americans) expressly provides that British subjects may freely travel in the interior of Korea on passports, for purposes of pleasure, trade, or the transport and purchase of goods. You contended that if Americans are thus able to travel and reside temporarily in the interior on passports, they are at liberty to secure food and lodging while so sojourning in the country. You admitted that they are not at Liberty, without special permission, to own real estate in the interior, but stated that whenever it became necessary to secure a dwelling house, owing to the absence of a system of rentals in Korea, they have secured dwelling houses in the name of a Korean, so as not to violate the treaty provisions. You asserted that you had personal knowledge that persons of other nationalities do not put themselves to this inconvenience, but actually acquire such property outright, with the sanction of the local Korean authorities; that this being well known to be the case, you could not forbid Americans from following the harmless custom referred to above.
Section 1 of Article IX of the British treaty says: “The British (American) authorities and British (American) subjects in Korea shall be allowed to employ Korean subjects as teachers, interpreters, servants, or in any other lawful capacity, without any restriction on the part of the Korean authorities.” You contended that in beating this servant of a foreigner for doing the latter’s bidding in perfectly legal matters, and in forcing him, at what was practically the point of death, to promise not to repeat the “offense,” the governor most flagrantly violated the above treaty provisions.
You also contended that by forcibly entering the quarters of the Americans without permission the governor violated section 9 of Article III of the same treaty, which says: “But without the consent of the proper British (American) consular authority, no Korean officer shall enter the premises of any British (American) subject without his consent.”
Section 8 of Article III of the same treaty says: “In all cases, whether civil or criminal, tried either in Korean or British (American) courts in Korea, a properly authorized official of the plaintiff or prosecutor shall be allowed to attend the hearing, and he shall be treated with the courtesy due his position. He shall be allowed, whenever he thinks it necessary, to call, examine, and cross-examine witnesses, and to protest against the proceedings or decision.” You stated that you were not communicated with, nor were the Americans allowed to be present at the trial, and when they secured an entrance to the courtyard they were treated with gross indignity.

You presented the matter in writing to the Korean foreign minister, and asked for an early reply, “with a statement as to what sort of punishment shall be meted out to this official who has grossly violated solemn treaty rights, and what steps will be taken to show to the [Page 398] natives of that region that the governor acted without the sanction of the Central Government.”

The foreign minister replied, stating that the Americans were not treated courteously and that the former governor had violated the treaty through ignorance, and not with intent; that he (the foreign minister) had instructed the officials at Taiku, quoting the clauses of the treaty violated, rebuking them for their wrongdoing and warning them that they must thereafter, in dealing with foreigners, avoid a recurrence of such conduct and do what is exactly right and proper toward them.

This being unsatisfactory to you, as it did not include a copy of the instruction of the foreign minister, and said nothing in regard to the examination and punishment of the guilty official, you accordingly returned the communication of the foreign minister with a verbal statement as to these omissions, and upon the same day you received a satisfactory reply, together with a copy of the foreign minister’s instructions to the governor. This reply of the foreign minister yields fully all the points made by you.

You conclude your dispatch with the statement that the actual money loss to the Americans was made good by the local officials; that the Americans themselves were not harmed, and that for the violation of their treaty rights their presence in Taiku is now officially recognized and sanctioned, and that you think they will experience no further difficulty.

I may say, in passing, that the British treaty does not appear to allow missionaries to travel or reside in the interior of Korea (for the purpose of preaching or teaching), but Minister Heard, in his dispatch No. 141, of April 2, 1891, in the Robert case; states that the French treaty with Korea omits the words (contained in the English treaty) “for purposes of pleasure, trade,” etc., and he asserts that this was done with a view of covering the action of their missionaries. This view was acquiesced in by Korea in the Robert case.

The Department approves your treatment of the case, which is characterized by firmness and good sense.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.