Mr. Allen to Mr. Hay.
Seoul, Korea, June 7, 1901.
Sir: Replying to your dispatch No. 166, of April 18, the receipt of which on June 1 I have already acknowledged, in which I note with satisfaction that my conduct in regard to the matter of the violation of the domicile of Americans at Taiku met with the approval of the Department, I now have the honor to acquaint you with the sequel to that action.
In the first place, on May 8 I received a complaint from the Korean foreign office that two Americans, Reverend Whittemore and Dr. Sharrocks, were erecting houses at Sun Chun, in North Pengyang Province, near the northwestern border of Korea. (See inclosure 1.) I at once called upon these missionaries for a report on the subject, and received a reply on May 26 stating that the property in question was held in the name of certain Koreans, and that the presence of the [Page 399] Americans had not been objected to. (See inclosure 2.) On receipt of this report I addressed the minister for foreign affairs, as per inclosure 3, taking much the same ground that I had taken in regard to the Taiku matter.
On May 28 I received a long personal note from Rev. James E. Adams, of Taiku, informing me that the governor of North Kyung-sang Province disclaimed all knowledge of the instructions which the minister for foreign affairs had informed me he had issued to him, a copy of which instructions I forwarded to you in my No. 318 of March 5, to which your No. 166 is a reply. The governor further declared to Mr. Adams that he had never heard of the matter at all until mentioned by Mr. Adams. He had also had the helper of the Americans rearrested, this time upon an ancient charge against the man’s uncle of having misappropriated public moneys. The governor frankly said he would “probably kill him.” This helper is the same one whose arrest and inhuman beating caused the previous correspondence in regard to the residence of Americans at Taiku.
I therefore addressed the minister for foreign affairs on May 29, as per inclosed copy (inclosure 4), citing the circumstances and leaving it for him to determine where lay the fault for the miscarriage of instructions. I also took the opportunity to forward as an inclosure my withheld dispatch of February 1, a copy of which I sent you with my No. 318 of March 5. I said to him that I would not entertain further complaints of the mere residence of Americans in the interior on passport such as that to which my inclosure No. 4 is a reply.
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When calling upon me on the 3d instant the foreign minister seemed greatly chagrined over this matter, of which he had little to say except that he had issued the instructions and was now reissuing them in stronger form.
It may be difficult for the Department to understand how such a miscarriage could occur. The conditions, however, are much the same as those that exist in China. The country officials purchase their offices at a heavy cost in money paid in advance. They have not a very firm tenure of office and must make good their outlay as soon as possible, and at the same time they must secure the regular governmental taxes besides a handsome profit for themselves. They care little for instructions from Seoul unless such instructions come from the palace and indicate that a noncompliance may result in the loss of position. This governor, who is a favorite of the Emperor, doubtless counted upon his court influence to carry him through, and seeing a good opportunity to make money from harrying the industrious native Christians, saw fit to disclaim any knowledge of the instructions. * * *
My new representations may do some good, but at least the question of the residence of Americans at Taiku is favorably settled by the Central Government, which is perhaps all that could be asked. Each difficulty will have to be treated as it arises.
In your No. 166, to which this is a reply, you refer to the fact that the French treaty is more liberal in regard to missionaries than is the British treaty which I quoted. I did not care to bring up the question of missionaries particularly, as it had not been mentioned by the Koreans. The presence of our people in the interior is not complained of on the ground of their missionary character, and until they bring forward this question I have thought best to diregard it. I will bear [Page 400] in mind your valuable suggestion in regard to the liberality of the French treaty in this respect, and use it when the necessity arises.
I have, etc.,
P. S.—Since writing the above I have received a reply from the minister for foreign affairs, attempting to explain the failure in the execution of the instructions issued to the governor of North Kyung-sang. The letter is very polite and entirely acceptable. I had expected no reply, since the minister had spoken of the matter to me in the course of conversation. I inclose a translation of this reply from the foreign minister.