Mr. Allen to Mr. Hay.

No. 359, Diplomatic]

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.

* * * * * * *

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.,

Horace N. Allen.

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.

H. N. A.
[Inclosure 1.—Translation.]

Mr. Che Yung Ha, acting minister for foreign affairs, to Mr. Allen.

Your Excellency: I have received a letter from the magistrate of Sun Chun district of North Pengyang Province saying that two Americans, Messrs. Whittemore and Sharrocks, were buying land and building houses there; that he was trying to stop them from doing so, but they refused to take his word, and that he wanted me to write to you about it and to ask you to stop them.

I have the honor to say that the buying land and building houses by foreigners outside of the limit of 10 li out of the foreign settlement is clearly not allowed in the treaty, and now these Americans are buying land and building houses in the interior in violation of the treaty, and the local authority has the right and duty to stop them, but they would not listen.

I trust your excellency will see about the matter and stop them from doing so.

I have, etc.,

Che Yung Ha,
Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.
[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Moffett to Mr. Allen.

Dear Mr. Allen: Your letter of May 8, concerning affairs at Sun Chun in North Pengyang Province, was received a few days ago. I immediately requested Mr. Whittemore and Dr. Sharrocks, who are now here, to prepare for you a statement of the case, which statement I now send herewith.

My own understanding of the case is that they held the property in Sun Chun, just as we held the property here in Pengyang for five or six years, in the name of three Korean trustees. For full two years after purchase of the property and practical residence there (on passport) no question was raised. It seems that the new governor, not the magistrate nor the people, has raised the question.

I think nothing in the situation violates the treaty, but with the full explanation before you you will be able to judge as to that. I would mention the fact that the French live in the interior, that a French priest built a house which he occupies in a village in Sook Chun County not to mention many other places, and that Japanese live for long periods in the interior, that one has been and probably now is living in An Ju.

Also it may be well for me to state that the article which appeared in the Seoul newspaper is not a correct statement of facts.

I think the essentially important fact in the case is now before you. Of coarse we shall be glad to give you the very fullest and detailed statement in reply to any questions you may ask. I trust the situation may not give you much trouble and that nothing may arise which will necessitate a change in our plans for the welfare of the work in and around Sun Chun.

With kindest regards, etc.,

Samuel A. Moffett.
[Page 401]

Statement as to the Sun Chun property.

Property was purchased for our use early in December, 1898. From the year 1898 to the present land has been purchased when a desirable piece was for sale, being bought openly and undisputedly for our use, and always before witnesses.

Taxes have been paid regularly since 1899.

The largest purchase, comprising nearly two-thirds of all that is held for us, was made from the village school association, composed of about one hundred men, many of whom are among the most influential citizens of town. This purchase was made in October, 1900, and our intention to build upon the site was known to those who sold it to us. We learned recently that three weeks previous to this purchase the governor, who at that time was visiting Syen Chyun, had spoken to the magistrate concerning our being there.

At that time, October, 1900, Messrs. Whittemore and Sharrocks called upon the magistrate then in the office, who entertained them with courtesy and respect, and in speaking of Americans residing in Korea, said there were certainly no objections to Americans coming into their country to live, for they came with no intention of doing harm either to people or government, in which respect they differed from the people of some nations. A residence has been occupied by Mr. Whittemore since January, 1899. Taxes have always been paid by the occupant.

During the time there have been three magistrates in office at Syen Chyun, not one of whom has uttered a word of objection to our being there, although opportunity for it has been given them by personal calls, etc.

Early in February, 1900, we began active preparation for the erection of a suitable house in which we could stay while in Syen Chyun, as Mr. Whittemore has occupied his house since January, 1899.

In March the lumber and other material began to arrive on the site, and from that time to the present work has been in active process.

Up to date not a word has been said to us by any Korean official opposing or calling in question our action, nor, so far as we know, have our Korean employees received any complaint from them.

We did hear in April, by way of rumor, that the governor had inquired of the magistrate concerning our doings and our names. We at once sent our cards over with messages that we would be pleased to call upon him if he was at leisure. Answer came back that he was busy.

We have used every care to win for ourselves a good name among the town’s people, and have every reason to feel gratified at our success.

Even the present magistrate was reported to have said that our building a house was a good work, and he had no objection to that, but tearing down the people’s homes was not a good thing and must be stopped. We had not destroyed a single house, but Mr. Whittemore’s kangs had been pulled down and replaced by new ones. Since this reported utterance of the magistrates an old vacated house (land and improvements valued at 7 yen) had been carried off by the Koreans with our consent.

A. W. Sharrocks.
[Inclosure 3.]

Mr. Allen to Pak Chai Soon, minister for foreign affairs.

Your Excellency: During your absence on sick leave I received a letter from Acting Minister Che Yung Ha, No. 27, of May 7, in regard to two Americans, Messrs. Whittemore and Sharrocks, who were said to be buying land and building houses at Sun Chun, in the province of North Pengyang, the magistrate of that place having reported that he had tried to prevent them from so doing, but that they would not heed his word.

I have the honor to inform you that at once upon the receipt of your predecessor’s letter I called upon the Americans in question for a report on the matter. I now have this report, and am able to inform you as follows:

Americans do not own any land in their own names at Sun Chun. For some years American missionaries, whose permanent residence may be considered as at Pengyang, have been traveling to and residing temporarily in the town of Sun Chun, where [Page 402] they seem to have had the good will and friendship of the people and the officials. Since 1898 they have secured the use of land and houses in the name of certain Koreans, and are now about to improve this property for their entertainment and use. They have never been informed by the magistrate or other official that there was any objection to their so doing; in fact they have been led to suppose that their presence was desired rather than objected to.

No official has spoken to them or tried to have them stop the improvements of the property. When the governor of North Pengyang, Ye Toh Chai, was at Sun Chun some time ago, Messrs Whittemore and Sharrocks sent him their cards and asked to be allowed to come to him for the purpose of paying their respects, but they received a reply saying that the governor was busy. After this they heard some rumors among the people that the governor was not pleased with their presence, but they received no complaint, direct or implied.

Now chat the matter has been brought to me, I can only quote from my letter of December 17, No. 253, regarding the presence of Americans at Taikoo.

“I am entirely willing to admit that, by the provisions of the treaties, the permanent residence of Americans in Korea must be at the ports or places opened to trade, or within the treaty limits thereof. At the same time, by Article IV, section 6, of the British treaty (which is applicable to the United States as well, by virtue of the most favored-nation clause of the treaty with the United States) it is expressly provided that Americrns may freely travel in the interior of Korea on passport for purposes of pleasure, trade, or the purchase and transport of goods. If my people are thus able to travel and reside temporarily in the interior on passport, they are certainly at liberty to secure food and lodging while sojourning, in the country. I admit also the fact, that without special permission they are not at liberty to own real estate in the interior, and for that reason, when it has become necessary to secure a dwelling house, owing to the absence of a system of rentals in Korea, my people have always done this in the name of a Korean, so as not to violate the treaty provisions. I have 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. This being the case, I can not well forbid my people from following the harmless custom of which the case in point is an illustration.”

I trust I have made it clear to your excellency that my people have not violated the treaty provisions; they have not bought property in the interior in their own names; they have not refused to listen to the objections of the Korean officials; they are on friendly terms with the local officials, and they tried to pay their respects to the governor, but were refused admission to his presence.

I may add that Mr. Whittemore is a teacher, and I know he has refused to take part in controversies of his Korean friends with the officials, counseling them to obey the laws of the land in all particulars. Dr. Sharrocks is a medical man, whose gratuitous ministrations are for the benefit of the people. The labors of these men for the good of the people seem to be appreciated by the people themselves, and in some countries similar services are paid for in money, while in this case they are freely given without cost.

While I might base these representations upon even stronger grounds, I think this will be sufficient to convince your excellency that no wrong has been done and that none is intended by my people. I hope the matter may be dropped.

I take this opportunity, etc.,

Horace N. Allen.
[Inclosure 4.]

Mr. Allen to Pak Chai Soon, minister for foreign affairs.

Your Excellency: Referring to my dispatch, No. 253, of December 17 last, regarding the ill-treatment of Americans at Taiku, in North Kyung Sang Province, I beg to remind your excellency that on February 1 last I wrote you a long dispatch detailing the whole case, showing how my people had been wronged and their treaty rights violated, and intimating that as I had been unable to obtain satisfaction for these acts of the officials at Taiku, I would be compelled to fall back upon instructions issued by my Government to my predecessor, and demand equal privileges for Americans in the matter of residence in the interior as are enjoyed by people of other nationalities, which would amount to a recognition of the practical nullification [Page 403] by usage and established custom of the treaty provision against residence in the interior.

When this letter was seen by His Majesty your excellency visited me and assured me of your firm intention to adjust this matter in a manner satisfactory to me. As a result of promises you made to me in the presence of your vice-minister, I agreed to withdraw this dispatch upon receipt of a copy of instructions you said you would send to the new governor of North Kyung Sang. I left with you the Chinese translation of my dispatch that you might hand it to the new governor for his instruction.

On February 26 you wrote me a dispatch announcing that you had issued instructions to the Taiku officials, rebuking them for their conduct, warning them against a repetition of the same, and ordering the arrest and trial of the man Noh Chusah. You sent me a copy of these instructions, which, being satisfactory to me, I withdrew my dispatch of February 1.

I have now received a report from the Americans at Taiku, dated May 18. They say that as the new governor, YeYou In, had been in Taiku for over a month and they had heard nothing of the matter in question, they called upon him to pay their respects and to make inquiries. The governor informed them that he had never heard of the matter until that moment. He told them to say to me that he “had no instructions from the minister for foreign affairs on the subject; that he had heard nothing of it before coming down, and that my speaking of it was the first he had heard.”

I am also informed that nothing had been done to the man Noh Chusah, whom you at first offered to punish severely and later agreed, with my consent, to have his case promptly and carefully investigated first.

I now learn, also, that the man Kim Tek Yung, whose arrest and inhuman beating caused the previous correspondence to which this refers, has again been arrested, this time on the charge that an uncle of his in former times made illegal use of Government funds. The new governor frankly remarked to the Americans in regard to this man Kim, that he “would probably kill him.” I need not go into the details of this arrest. The charges seem to be of an absurdly trivial nature, and I must conclude that they are brought by the underlings of the yamen in order to vent their spleen upon the man for having secured foreign intervention last December.

It is very humiliating to me to have to address your excellency in this manner and to be forced to the conclusion that I have been trifled with and that your solemn official agreements have been disregarded or not carried out.

Under the circumstances, I can only send a full official report to my Government on the subject and hand you my recalled dispatcha of February 1 as an inclosure to this. I do so hand you that dispatch herewith.

I am compelled to abide by the resolution mentioned in that dispatch and put into execution the instructions already received from my Government. I shall not entertain any more complaints in regard to the mere residence of Americans in the interior, on passport, such as that to which my dispatch of May 27 is a reply.

I have, etc.,

Horace N. Allen.
[Inclosure 5.—Translation.]

Pak Chei Soon, minister for foreign affairs, to Mr. Allen.

Your Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the date of June 1 in regard to the matter of the Americans being ill treated in Taiku by the Korean officers.

I beg to inform you that I instructed the new governor of North Kiung Sang Province several times, and I handed him the copy of the translation of your letter which you handed me in my office and an instruction of mine when he started for his post, and I thought he would manage it very carefully and properly in accordance with what I instructed him.

I am much astonished to hear that he said to the Americans that he had never heard of the matter at all. I am wondering, although it is improbable, that he may have lost all his papers.

I have instructed again the governor to treat the Americans very nicely and politely, so there will not be any look of cool treatment, and that he must investigate into the matter in question very carefully, and manage it fairly and justly.

I have, etc.,

Pak Chei Soon,
Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  1. Printed ante, page 392.