King of Korea
from China
with reluctance

(From "Korea and Her Neighbours")




I will pick up the description about the ceremony for the Declaration of Independence of Korea. I quoted this description from "Korea and Her Neighbours" by Isabella Lucy Bird. This ceremony took place On the 8th of January, 1895 ", during Japan-Sino(China) war.

In this Imperialism age, Sino(China) was rapidly modernizing her military troops, and threatened Japan, who could not overlook Sino was colonial master of Korea.

Korea(Chosen Dynasty) for Japan was a little similar to Cuba for United States in Cold War age.
But Japan of this age was never a powerful nation as United States of today. Japan was only tiny country of Far East.

And what is worse, this age was not Cold War age, but the Imperialism age.
Asia nations had been invaded by powerful powers, and there were only three nations maintained their independence in Asia.

This is what is the age of Imperialism.

Japan kept winning from the beginning of this Japan-Sino war, and made Sino accepted the independence of Korea in Shimonoseki Treaty in the last result.
But before it, it was necessary to make Korea declare her independence.

The king of Korea was extremely reluctant to declare independence or modernize his nation. You can see well that he was often forced to do them by Japan from total parts of"Korea and Her Neighbours".

But Korean government-designated textbooks never explain that Japan played a vital role in independence and modernization of Korea. They explain Koreans had done all about independence and modernization

-- quote from "Korea and Her Neighbours"--
 The stagnation of the previous winter was at an end. Japan was in the ascendant. She had a large garrison in the capital, some of the leading men in the Cabinet were her nominees, her officers were drilling the Korean army, changes, if not improvements, were everywhere, and the air was thick with rumors of more to come. The King, whose Royal authority was nominally restored to him, accepted the situation, the Queen was credited with intriguing against the Japanese, but Count Inouye was acting as Japanese minister, and his firmness and tact kept everything smooth on the surface.

On the 8th of January, 1895, I witnessed a singular ceremony, which may have far-reaching results in Korean history. The Japanese having presented Korea with the gift of Independence, demanded that the King should formally and publicly renounce the suzerainty of China, and having resolved to cleanse the Augean stable of official corruption, they compelled him to inaugurate the task by proceeding in semi-state to the Altar of the Spirits of the Land, and there proclaiming Korean independence, and swearing before the spirits of his ancestors to the proposed reforms. His Majesty, by exaggerating a trivial ailment, had for some time delayed a step which was very repulsive to him, and even the day before the ceremony, a dream in which an Ancestral Spirit had appeared to him adjuring him not to depart from ancestral ways, terrified him from taking the proposed pledge.

But the spirit of Count Inouye proved more masterful than the Ancestral Spirit, and the oath was taken in circumstances of great solemnity in a dark pine wood, under the shadow of Puk Han, at the most sacred altar in Korea, in presence of the Court and the dignitaries of the kingdom. Old and serious men had fasted and mourned for two previous days, and in the vast crowd of white-robed and black-hatted men which looked down upon the striking scene from a hill in the grounds of the Mulberry Palace, there was not a smile or a spoken word. The sky was dark and grim, and a bitter east wind was blowing-ominous signs in Korean estimation.

The Royal procession, which had something of the aspect of the kur-dong, was shorn of the barbaric splendor which made that ceremonial one of the most imposing in the Eastern world. It was, in fact, barbaric with the splendor left out; and there were suggestions of a new era and a forthcoming swamping wave of Western civilization, in the presence within the Palace gates and in the procession or a few trim, dapper, blue−ulstered Japanese policemen,as the special protectors of the Home Minister Pak-Yong-Ho, one of the revolutionaries of I884,against whom there was a vow of vengeance, though the King had been compelled to pardon him, to reinstate his ancestors who had been degraded, to recall him from exile,and to confer upon him high office.

The long road outside the Palace was lined with Korean cavalry,who turned their faces to the wall and their backs and their ponies,tails to the King. Great numbers of Korean soldiers carrying various makes of muskets,dressed in rusty black, brown and blue cotton uniforms,trousers sometimes a foot too short,and others a foot too long, white wadded socks, string shoes, and black felt hats of Tyrolese style, with pink ribbon round the crowns, stood in awkward huddles, mixed up with the newly-created Seoul police in blue European uniforms,and a number of handsome over fed ponies of Court officials, with saddles over a foot high, gorgeous barbaric trappings, red pompons on their heads, and a flow of red manes. The populace stood without speech or movement.

After a long delay and much speculation as to whether the King at the last moment would resist the foreign pressure, the procession emerged from the Palace gate-huge flags on trident-headed poles, purple bundles carried aloft, a stand of stones conveyed with much ceremony*1-groups of scarlet- and blue-robed men in hats of the same colors, shaped like fools' caps, the King's personal servants in yellow robes and yellow bamboo hats, and men carrying bannerets. Then came the red silk umbrella, followed not by the magnificent State chair with its forty bearers, but by a plain wooden chair with glass sides, in which sat the sovereign, pale and dejected, borne by only four men. The Crown Prince followed in a similar chair. Mandarins, ministers, and military officers were then assisted to mount their caparisoned ponies, and each, two attendants holding his stirrups and two more leading his pony, fell in behind the Home Minister, riding a dark donkey, and rendered conspicuous by his foreign saddle and foreign guard.
When the procession reached the sacred enclosure, the military escort and the greater part of the cavalcade remained outside the wall, only the King, dignitaries, and principal attendants proceeding to the altar. The grouping of the scarlet-robed men under the dark pines was most effective from an artistic point of view, and from a political standpoint the taking of the following oath by the Korean King was one of the most significant acts in the tedious drama of the late war.

On this 12th day of the 12th moon of the 503rd year of the founding of the Dynasty, we presume to announce clearly to the Spirits of all our Sacred Imperial Ancestors that we, their lowly descendant, received in early childhood, now thirty and one years ago, the mighty heritage of our ancestors, and that in reverent awe towards Heaven, and following in the rule and pattern of our ancestors, we, though we have encountered many troubles, have not loosed hold of the thread. How dare we, your lowly descendant, aver that we are acceptable to the heart of Heaven? It is only that our ancestors have graciously looked down upon us and be-nignly protected us. Splendidly did our ancestor lay the foundation of our Royal House, opening a way for us his descendants through five hundred years and three. Now, in our generation, the times are mightily changed, and men and matters are expanding. A friendly Power, designing to prove faithful, and the deliberations of our Council aiding thereto, show that only as an independent ruler can we make our country strong.
How can We, your lowly descendant, do now take the fourteen clauses of the Great Charter and swear before the Spirits of our Ancestors in Heaven that we, reverently trusting in the merits bequeathed by our ancestors, will bring these to a successful issue, nor will we dare to go back on our word. Do you, bright Spirits, descend and behold !

1. All thoughts of dependence on China shall be cut away, and a firm foundation for independence secured.
2. A rule and ordinance for the Royal House shall be established, in order to make clear the line of succession and precedence among the Royal family.
3. The King shall attend at the Great Hall for the inspection of affairs, where, after personally interrogating his Ministers, he shall decide upon matters of State. The Queen and the Royal family are not allowed to interfere.
4. Palace matters and the government of the country must be kept separate, and may not be mixed up together.
5. The duties and powers of the Cabinet and of the various Minister', shall be clearly defined.
6. The payment of taxes by the people shall be regulated by law. Wrongful additions may not be made to the list, and no excess collected.
7. The assessment and collection of the land tax, and the disbursement of expenditure, shall be under the charge and control of the Finance Department.
8. The expenses of the Royal household shall be the first to be reduced, by way of setting an example to the various Ministries and local officials.
9. An estimate shall be drawn up in advance each year of the expenditure of the Royal household and the various official establishments, putting on a firm foundation the management of the revenue.
10. The regulations of the local officers must be revised in order to discriminate the functions of the local officials.
11. Young men of intelligence in the country shall be sent abroad in order to study foreign science and industries.
12. The instruction of army officers, and the practice of the methods of enlistment, to secure the foundation of a military system.
13. Civil law and criminal law must be strictly and clearly laid down; none must be imprisoned or fined in excess, so that security of life and property may be ensured for all alike.
14. Men shall be employed without regard to their origin, and in seeking for officials recourse shall be had to capital and country alike in order to widen the avenues for ability.

Official translation of the text of the oath taken by His Majesty the King of Korea, at the Altar of Heaven, Seoul, on January 8, 1895.

Though at this date Korea is being reformed under other than Japanese auspices, it is noteworthy that nearly every step in advance is on the lines laid down by Japan.
Count Inouye is reported by the Nichi Nichi Shimbun to have said regarding Korea, "In my eyes there were only the Royal Family and the nation." Such a conclusion was legitimate in the early part of 1895, and in arriving at it as I did I am glad to be sheltered by such an unexceptionable authority.

*1 These are ancient musical instruments called by the Chinese ch'ing, and were in use at courts in the days of Confucius.

----- unquote (Some words are made bold by bxninjin) -----






日本はこの日清戦争を当初から優勢に進め、結局下関条約で朝鮮との宗主国−属国関係を断ち切らせることに 成功しましたが、その前提として、朝鮮に自らの独立を宣言させることが必要でした。



----- 引用開始 -----



 しかし井上伯爵の気迫は祖先の霊を凌駕し、北漢山(プッカンサン)のふもとの鬱蒼とした松林にある、朝鮮で最も聖なる祭壇において、王族と政府高官列席のもとに誓告式は執り行われた。事態を由々しく受けとめた老年人々はその止別々日から食を断って嘆いた。また 《桑の宮殿》 の敷地にある丘からこの印象的な光景を眺めていた白服の群衆のあいだには、笑みもなければ発されることばもなかった。空には暗雲がたれこめ、厳しい東風が吹き − 朝鮮式の考えでは不吉なしるしだった。







一 清国に依存する考えをことごとく断ち、独立のための確固たる基礎を築く。

二 王室典範を制定し、王族の継承順位と序列を明らかにする。

三 国王は正殿において事を見、みずから大臣に諮って国務を裁決する。王妃ならびに王族は干渉することを許されない。

四 王室の事務と国政とは切り離し、混同してはならない。

五 内閣[議政府]および各省庁の職務と権限は明らかに定義されねばならない。

六 人民による税の支払いは法で定めるものとする。税の項目をみだりに追加し、過剰に徴収してはならない。

七 地租の査定と徴収および経費の支出は、大蔵省の管理のもとに置くものとする。

八 王室費は率先して削減し、各省庁ならびに地方官吏の規範をなすものとする。

九 王室費および各官庁の費用は毎年度予算を組み、財政管理の基礎を確立するものとする。

一〇 地方官制度の改正を行い、地方官吏の職務を正しく区分せねばならない。

一一 国内の優秀な若者を外国に派遣し、海外の学術、産業を学ばせるものとする。





----- 引用終わり -----

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