i was said him i am liar and idiot,then i checked the book...
THE WALL OF SEOUL 35
a vacant plain there, descending into ravines, disappearing and reappearing when least expected. This wall, which contrives to look nearly as solid as the hillsides which it climbs, is from 25 to 40 feet in height, and 14 miles in circumference (according to Mr. Fox of H.B.M.'s Consular Service), battlemented along its entire length, and pierced by eight gateways, solid arches or tunnels of stone, surmounted by lofty gate-houses with one, two, or three curved tiled roofs. These are closed from sunset to sunrise by massive wooden gates, heavily bossed and strengthened with iron, bearing, following Chinese fashion, high-sounding names, such as the " Gate of Bright Ami-ability," the "Gate of High Ceremony," the "Gate of Elevated Humanity."
The wall consists of a bank of earth faced with masonry, or of solid masonry alone, and is on the whole in tolerable repair. It is on the side nearest the river, and onwards in the direction of the Peking Pass, that extra-mural Seoul has expanded. One gate is the Gate of the Dead, only a royal corpse being permitted to be carried out by any other. By another gate criminals passed out to be beheaded, and outside another their heads were exposed for some days after execution, hanging from camp-kettle stands. The north gate, high on Puk-han, is kept closed, only to be opened in case the King is compelled to escape to one of the so-called fortresses on that mountain.
Outside the wall is charming country, broken into hills and wooded valleys, with knolls sacrificed to stately royal tombs, with their environment of fine trees, and villages in romantic positions among orchards and garden cultivation. Few Eastern cities have prettier walks and rides in their immediate neighborhood, or greater possibilities of rapid escape into sylvan solitudes, and I must add that no city has environs so safe, and that ladies without a European escort can ride, as I have done, in every direction outside the walls without meeting with the slightest annoyance.
I shrink from describing intra-mural Seoul.1 I thought it the foulest city on earth till I saw Peking, and its smells the most odious, till I encountered those of Shao-shing! For a great city and a capital its meanness is indescribable. Etiquette forbids the erection of two-storeyed houses, consequently an estimated quarter of a million people are living on "the ground," chiefly in labyrinthine alleys, many of them not wide enough for two loaded bulls to pass, indeed barely wide enough for one man to pass a loaded bull, and further narrowed by a series of vile holes or green, slimy ditches, which receive the solid and liquid refuse of the houses, their foul and fetid margins being the favourite resort of half-naked children, begrimed with dirt, and of big, mangy, blear-eyed dogs, which wallow in the slime or blink in the sun. There too the itinerant vendor of "small wares," and candies dyed flaring colours with aniline dyes, establishes himself, puts a few planks across the ditch, and his goods, worth perhaps a dollar, thereon. But even Seoul has its "spring cleaning," and I encountered on the sand plain of the Han, on the ferry, and on the road from Mapu
1 Nous avons changi tout cela. As will be seen from a chapter near the end of the book, the Chief Commissioner of Customs, energetically seconded by the Governor of Seoul, has worked surprising improvements and sanitary changes which, if carried out perseveringly, will redeem the capital from the charges which travellers have brought against it.
II HOUSES AND SHOPS 37
to Seoul, innumerable bulls carrying panniers laden with the contents of the city ditches.
The houses abutting on these ditches are generally hovels with deep eaves and thatched roofs, presenting nothing to the street but a mud wall, with occasionally a small paper window just under the roof, indicating the men's quarters, and invariably, at a height varying from 2 to 3 feet above the ditch, a blackened smoke-hole, the vent for the smoke and heated air, which have done their duty in warming the floor of the house. All day long bulls laden with brushwood to a great height are entering the city, and at six o'clock this pine brush, preparing to do the cooking and warming for the population, fills every lane in Seoul with aromatic smoke, which hangs over it with remarkable punctuality. Even the superior houses, which have curved and tiled roofs, present nothing better to the street than this debased appearance.
The shops partake of the general meanness. Shops with a stock-in-trade which may be worth six dollars abound. It is easy to walk in Seoul without molestation, but any one standing to look at anything attracts a great crowd, so that it is as well that there is nothing to look at. The shops have literally not a noteworthy feature. Their one characteristic is that they have none! The best shops are near the Great Bell, beside which formerly stood a stone with an inscription calling on all Koreans to put intruding foreigners to death. So small are they that all goods are within reach of the hand. In one of the three broad streets there are double rows of removable booths, in which now and then a small box of Korean niello work, iron inlaid with silver, may be picked up. In these and others the principal commodities are white cottons, straw shoes, bamboo hats, coarse pottery, candle-sticks with draught screens, combs, glass beads, pipes, tobacco-pouches, spittoons, horn-rimmed goggles, much worn by officials, paper of many kinds, wooden pillow-ends, decorated pillow-cases, fans, ink-cases, huge wooden saddles with green leather flaps bossed with silver, laundry sticks, dried persimmons, loathsome candies dyed magenta, scarlet, and green, masses of dried seaweed and fungi, and ill-chosen collections of the most trumpery of foreign trash, such as sixpenny kerosene lamps, hand mirrors, tinsel vases, etc., the genius of bad taste presiding over all.
Plain brass dinner sets and other brass articles are made, and some mother-of-pearl inlaying in black lacquer from old designs is occasionally to be purchased, and embroideries in silk and gold thread, but the designs are ugly, and the colouring atrocious. Foreigners have bestowed the name Cabinet Street on a street near the English Legation, given up to the making of bureaus and marriage chests. These, though not massive, look so, and are really hand-some, some being of solid chestnut wood, others veneered with maple or peach, and bossed, strapped, and hinged with brass, besides being ornamented with great brass hasps and brass padlocks 6 inches long. These, besides being thoroughly Korean, are distinctly decorative. There are few buyers, except in the early morning, and shopping does not seem a pastime, partly because none but the poorest class of women can go out on foot by daylight.
II THE GREAT BELL 39
In the booths are to be seen tobacco-pipes, pipe-stems, and bowls, coarse glazed pottery, rice bowls, Japanese lucifer matches, aniline dyes, tobacco-pouches, purses, flint and tinder pouches, rolls of oiled paper, tassels, silk cord, nuts of the edible pine, rice, millet, maize, peas, beans, string shoes, old crinoline hats, bamboo and reed hats in endless variety, and coarse native cotton, very narrow.
In this great human hive the ordinary sightseer finds his vocation gone. The inhabitants constitute the "sight" of Seoul. The great bronze bell, said to be the third largest in the world, is one of the few " sights" usually seen by strangers. It hangs in a bell tower in the centre of the city, and bears the following inscription :-
"Sye Cho the Great, 12th year Man cha [year of the cycle] and moon, the 4th year of the great Ming Emperor Hsiian-hua [A.D. 1468], the head of the bureau of Royal despatches, Sye Ko chyeng, bearing the title Sa Ka Chyeng, had this pavilion erected and this bell hung."
This bell, whose dull heavy boom is heard in all parts of Seoul, has opened and closed the gates for five centuries.
The grand triple gateway of the Royal Palace with its double roof, the old audience hall in the Mulberry Gardens, and the decorative roofs of the gate towers, are all seen in an hour. There remains the Marble Pagoda, seven centuries old, so completely hidden away in the back yard of a house in one of the foulest and narrowest alleys of the city, that many people never see it at all As I was intent on photographing some of the reliefs upon it, I visited it five times, and each time with fresh admiration; but so wedged in is it, that one can only get any kind of view of it by climbing on the top of a wall. Every part is carved, and the flat parts richly so, some of the tablets representing Hindu divinities, while others seem to portray the various stages of the soul's progress towards Nirvana. The designs are undoubtedly Indian, modified by Chinese artists, and this thing of beauty stands on the site of a Buddhist monastery. It is a thirteen-storeyed pagoda, but three storeys were taken off in the Japanese invasion three centuries ago,
and placed on the ground uninjured. So they remained, but on my last visit children had defaced the exquisite carving, and were offering portions for sale. Not far off is another relic of antiquity, a decorated and inscribed tablet standing on the back of a granite turtle of prodigious size. Outside the west gate, on a plain near the Peking Pass, was a roofed and highly-decorated arch of
II THE JAPANESE COLONY 41
that form known as the P'ai-low, and close by it a sort of palace hall, in which every new sovereign of Korea waited for the coming of a special envoy from Peking, whom he joined at the P'ai-low, accompanying him to the palace, where he received from him his investiture as sovereign.
On the slope of Nam San the white wooden buildings, simple and unpretentious, of the Japanese Legation are situated, and below them a Japanese colony of nearly 5000 persons, equipped with tea-houses, a theatre, and the various arrangements essential to Japanese well-being. There, in acute contrast to everything Korean, are to be seen streets of shops and houses where cleanliness, daintiness, and thrift reign supreme, and unveiled women, and men in girdled dressing-gowns and clogs, move about as freely as in Japan. There also are to be seen minute soldiers or military police, and smart be-sworded officers, who change guard at due intervals; nor are such precautions needless, for the heredity of hate is strong in Korea, and on two occasions the members of this Legation have had to fight their way down to the sea. The Legation was occupied at the time of my first visit by Mr. Otori, an elderly man with pendulous white whiskers, who went much into the little society which Seoul boasts, talked nothings, and gave no promise of the rough vigour which he showed a few months later. There also are the Japanese bank and post-office, both admirably managed.
The Chinese colony was in 1894 nearly as large, and differed in no respect from such a colony anywhere else. The foreigners depend for many things on the Chinese shops, and as the Koreans like the Chinese, they do some trade with them also. The imposing element connected with China was the yamen of Yuan, the Minister Resident and representative of Korea's Suzerain, by many people regarded as " the power behind the throne," who is reported to have gone more than once unbidden into the King's presence, and to have reproached him with his conduct of affairs. Great courtyards and lofty gates on which are painted the usual guardian gods, and a brick dragon screen, seclude the palace in which Yuan lived with his guards and large retinue; and the number of big, supercilious men, dressed in rich brocades and satins, who hung about both this Palace and the Consulate, impressed the Koreans with the power and stateliness within. The Americans were very severe on Yuan, but so far as I could learn his chief fault was that he let things alone, and neglected to use his unquestionably great power in favour of reform and common honesty-but he was a Chinese mandarin! He possessed the power of life and death over Chinamen, and his punishments were often to our thinking barbarous, but the Chinese feared him so much that they treated the Koreans fairly well, which is more than can be said of the Japanese.
One of the "sights " of Seoul is the stream or drain or watercourse, a wide, walled, open conduit, along which a dark-coloured festering stream slowly drags its malodorous length, among manure and refuse heaps which cover up most of what was once its shingly bed. There, tired of crowds masculine solely, one may be refreshed by the sight of women of the poorest class, some ladling into pails the compound which passes for water, and others washing clothes in the fetid pools which pass for a stream. All wear one costume, which is peculiar to the capital, a green silk coat-a man's coat with the " neck " put over
FEMALE SLAVERY 43
the head and clutched below the eyes, and long wide sleeves falling from the ears. It is as well that the Korean woman is concealed, for she is not a houri. Washing is her manifest destiny so long as her lord wears white. She washes in this foul river, in the pond of the Mulberry Palace, in every wet ditch, and outside the walls in the few streams which exist. Clothes are partially unpicked, boiled with ley three times, rolled into hard bundles, and pounded with heavy sticks on stones. After being dried they are beaten with wooden sticks on cylinders, till they attain a polish resembling dull satin. The women are slaves to the laundry, and the only sound which breaks the stillness of a Seoul night is the regular beat of their laundry sticks.
From the beautiful hill Nam San, from the Lone Tree Hill, and from a hill above the old Mulberry Palace, Seoul is best seen, with its mountainous surroundings, here and there dark with pines, but mostly naked, falling down upon the city in black arid corrugations. These mountains enclose a valley about 5 miles long by 3 broad, into which 200,000 people are crammed and wedged. The city is a sea of low brown roofs, mostly of thatch, and all but monotonous, no trees and no open spaces. Rising out of this brown sea there are the curved double roofs of the gates, and the gray granite walls of the royal palaces, and within them the sweeping roofs of various audience halls. Cutting the city across by running from the east to the west gate is one broad street, another striking off from this runs to the south gate, and a third 95 yards wide runs from the great central artery to the palace. This is the only one which is kept clear of encumbrance at all times,the others being occupied by double rows of booths, leaving only a narrow space for traffic on either side. When I first looked down on Seoul early in March, one street along its whole length appeared to be still encumbered with the drift of the previous winter's snow. It was only by the aid of a glass that I discovered that this is the great promenade, and that the snow-drift was just the garments of the Koreans, whitened by ceaseless labour with the laundry sticks. In these three broad streets the moving crowd of men in white robes and black dress hats seldom flags. They seem destitute of any object. Many of them are of the yang-ban or noble class, to whom a rigid etiquette forbids any but official or tutorial occupation, and many of whom exist by hanging on to their more fortunate relatives. Young men of the middle class imitate their nonchalance and swinging gait.
There, too, are to be seen officials, superbly dressed, mounted on very fat but handsome ponies with profuse manes and tails, the riders sitting uneasily on the tops of saddles with showy caparisonings a foot high, holding on to the saddle-bow, two retainers leading the steed, and two more holding the rider in his place ; or officials in palanquins, with bearers at a run, amid large retinues. In the more plebeian streets nothing is to be seen but bulls carrying pine brush, strings of ponies loaded with salt or country produce, water-carriers with pails slung on a yoke, splashing their contents, and coolies carrying burdens on wooden pack-saddles.
But in the narrower alleys, of which there are hundreds, further narrowed by the low deep eaves, and the vile ditches outside the houses, only two men can pass each
II THE NIGHT SIDE OF SEOUL 45
other, and the noble red bull with his load of brushwood is rarely seen. Between these miles of mud walls, deep eaves, green slimy ditches, and blackened smoke-holes, few besides the male inhabitants and burden-bearers are seen to move. They are the paradise of mangy dogs. Every house has a dog, and a square hole through which he can just creep. He yelps furiously at a stranger, and runs away at the shaking of an umbrella. He was the sole scavenger of Seoul, and a very inefficient one. He is neither the friend nor companion of man. He is ignorant of Korean and every other spoken language. His bark at night announces peril from thieves. He is almost wild. When young he is killed and eaten in spring.
I have mentioned the women of the lower classes, who wash clothes and draw water in the daytime, Many of these were domestic slaves, and all are of the lowest class. Korean women are very rigidly secluded, perhaps more absolutely so than the women of any other nation. In the capital a very curious arrangement prevailed. About eight o'clock the great bell tolled a signal for men to retire into their houses, and for women to come out and amuse themselves, and visit their friends. The rule which clears the streets of men occasionally lapses, and then some incident occurs which causes it to be rigorously re-enforced. So it was at the time of my arrival, and the pitch dark streets presented the singular spectacle of being tenanted solely by bodies of women with servants carrying lanterns. From its operation were exempted blind men, officials, foreigners' servants, and persons carrying prescriptions to the druggists'. These were often forged for the purpose of escape from durance vile, and a few people got long staffs and
46 FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE CAPITAL CHAP. II
personated blind men. At twelve the bell again boomed, women retired, and men were at liberty to go abroad. A lady of high position told me that she had never seen the streets of Seoul by daylight.
The nocturnal silence is very impressive. There is no human hum, throb, or gurgle. The darkness too is absolute, as there are few if any lighted windows to the streets. Upon a silence which may be felt, the deep, penetrating boom of the great bell breaks with a sound which is almost ominous.
BEFORE leaving England letters from Korea had warned me of the difficulty of travelling in the interior, of getting a trustworthy servant, and above all, a trustworthy interpreter. Weeks passed by, and though Bishop Corfe and others exerted themselves on my behalf, these essential requisites were not forthcoming, for to find a reliable English-speaking Korean is well-nigh impossible. There are English-speaking Koreans who have learned English, some in the Government School, and others in the Methodist Episcopal School, and many of these I interviewed. The English of all was infirm, and they were all limp and timid, a set of poor creatures. Some of them seemed very anxious to go with me, and were partially engaged, and the next day came, looking uneasy, and balancing themselves on the edge of their chairs, told me that their mothers said they must not go because there were tigers, or that three months was too long a journey, or that they could not go so far from their families, etc. At last a young man came who really spoke passable English, but on entering the room with a familiar
48 THE KUR-DONG CHAP.
nod, he threw himself down in an easy-chair, swinging his leg over the arm! He asked many questions about the journey, said it was very long to be away from Seoul, and that he should require one horse for his baggage and another for himself. I remarked that, in order to get through the difficulties of the journey, it would be necessary to limit the baggage as much as possible. He said he could not go with fewer than nine suits of clothes! I remarked that a foreigner would only take two, and that I should reduce myself to two. " Yes," he replied, " but foreigners are so dirty in their habits." This from a Korean! So once more I had to settle down, and accept the kindly hospitality of my friends, trusting that something would " turn up."
By this delay I came in for the Kur-dong, one of the most remarkable spectacles I ever saw, and it had the added interest of being seen in its splendour for probably the last time, as circumstances which have since occurred, and the necessity for economy, must put an end to much of the scenic display. The occasion was a visit of the King in state to sacrifice in one of the ancestral temples of his dynasty, members of which have occupied the Korean throne for five centuries. Living secluded in his palace, guarded by 1000 men, his subjects forbidden to pronounce his name, which indeed is seldom known, in total igno-rance of any other aspect of his kingdom and capital than that furnished by the two streets through which he passes to offer sacrifice, the days on which he performs this pious
1 If an apology be necessary for the following minute description of this unique ceremonial, I offer it on the ground that it was probably the last of its kind, and that full details of it have not been given before.
III THE KUR-DONG 49
act offer to his subjects their sole opportunities of gazing on his august countenance. As the Queen's procession passed by on the day of the Duke of York's marriage, I heard a working man say, "It's we as pays, and we likes to get the vally for our money." The Korean pays in another and heavier sense, and as in tens of thousands he crowds in reverential silence the route of the Kur-dong, he is probably glad that the one brilliant spectacle of the year should be as splendid as possible.
The monotony of Seoul is something remarkable. Brown mountains "picked out" in black, brown mud walls, brown roofs, brown roadways, whether mud or dust, while humanity is in black and white. Always the same bundled-up women clutching their green coats under their eyes, always the same surge of yang-bans and their familiars swinging along South Street, the same strings of squealing ponies " spoiling for a fight," the same processions of majestic red bulls under towering loads of brushwood, the same coolies in dirty white, for ever carrying burdens, the same joyless, dirty children getting through life on the gutter's edge, and the same brownish dogs, feebly wrangling over offal On such monotony and colourlessness, the Kur-dong bursts like the sun. Alas for this mean but fascinating capital, that the most recent steps towards civilisation should involve the abolition of its one spectacle!
By six in the morning of the looked-for day we were on our way from the English Legation to a position near the Great Bell, all the male population of the alleys taking the same direction, along with children in colours, and some of the poorer class of women with gay handkerchiefs folded
Roman fashion on their hair. For the first time I saw the
VOL. I E 50 THE KUR-DONG chap.
grand proportions of the road called by foreigners South Street. The double rows of booths had been removed the night before, and along the side of the street, at intervals of 20 yards, torches 10 feet high were let into the ground to light the King on his return from sacrificing. It is only by its imposing width that this great street lends itself to such a display, for the houses are low and mean, and on one side at least are only superior hovels. In place of the booths the subjects were massed twelve deep, the regularity of the front row being preserved by a number of Yamen runners, who brought down their wooden paddles with an unmerciful whack on any one breaking the line. The singular monotony of baggy white coats and black crinoline hats was relieved by boy bridegrooms in yellow hats and rose pink coats, by the green silk coats of women, and the green, pink, heliotrope and Turkey red dresses of children. The crowd had a quietly pleased but very limp look. There was no jollity or excitement, no flags or popular demonstrations, and scarcely a hum from a concourse which must have numbered at least 150,000, half the city, together with numbers from the country who had walked three and four days to see the spectacle. Squalid and mean is ordinary Korean life, and the King is a myth for most of the year. No wonder that the people turn out to see as splendid a spectacle as the world has to show, its splendour centring round their usually secluded sovereign. It is to the glory of a dynasty which has occupied the Korean throne for five centuries as well as in honour of the present occupant. The hour of leaving the palace had been announced as 6 A.M., but though it was 7.30 before the boom of a heavy gun announced that the procession was in motion, the in-
III KOREAN CAVALRY
베이징을 볼 때까지 나는 서울이야말로 이 세상에서 제일(가장) 불결한 도시라고 생각하고 있고, 사오성에 갈 때까지는 서울의 악취야말로 이 세상에서 제일(가장) 지독한 냄새라고 생각하고 있었다.
도회이며 수도인으로 해서는, 그 변변치 못함은 실로 형용하기 어렵다.
예절상 2층 건물 집은 세워지지 않고, 따라서 추정 25만명의 주민은 주로 미로와 같은 「바닥」에서 생활하고 있다.
골목길의 대부분은 짐을 실은 소끼리가 스쳐 다를 수 없고, 짐소와 인간이라면 간신히 스쳐 다를 수 있는 정도의 폭밖에 없고, 게다가 그 폭은 집집에서 넘은 개체 및 액체의 오물을 받는 구멍인가 도랑에서 좁힐 수 있을 수 있다.
악취착각들의 그 구멍이나 도랑의 옆에 좋아해서 모이는 것이, 흙먼지에 투성이가 된 반나체의 어린이들, 개선(옴) 떡으로 가스미째의 큰 개로, 개는 오물 안(속)에서 굴러 돌거나, 양지에서 깜빡거리거나 하고 있다.
골목길에는 또 「장신구」라고 아닐린(anilin) 염료로 물들인 야한 색의 엿을 파는 보따리장수도 있고, 도랑 위에 판을 넣어 건네 주고, 아마 1달러정도의 물품을 늘어 놓고 있다.
이러한 도랑에 인접하는 가옥은 일반적으로 처마가 깊은 지푸라기ぶ오기의 황폐한 집에서, 통행으로부터는 진흙벽에밖에 보이지 않고, 때때로 지붕의 바로 아래로 종이를 붙인 작은 창문이 있어서 인간의 주거라고 안다.
기와 지붕이 뒤로 젖힌 상류계급의 가정에서도, 통행으로부터 본 체재의 나쁨이라고 하는 점에서는 （아무런）조금도 변함이 없다.
서울에는 예술품이 완전히 없고, 공원도 없으면 볼 만한 모임(연예)도 극장도 없다. 다른 도회라면 있는 매력이 서울에는 모조리 빠져 있다.
낡은 수도에서는 있지만, 구적도 도서관도 문헌도 없고, 종교에는 대충 무관심했기 때문 사원도 없는, 결과로서 기요시(淸)국이나 일본의 어떤 초라한 도시에이기도 하는, 당당한 종교건축물이 주는 박력이 여기에는 없다.