The police can arrest and search or detain any person, without warrant. This right of search is freely used on foreigners as well as Koreans. Any Korean taken to the police station can, in practice, be kept in custody as long as wanted, without trial, and then can be released without trial, or can be summarily punished without trial by the police.
The usual punishment is flogging—only Koreans and not Japanese or foreigners are liable to be flogged. This punishment can be given in such a way as to cripple, to confine the victim to his home for weeks, or to kill. While it is not supposed to be practiced on women, on men over sixty-five or on boys under fifteen, the police flog indiscriminately.
The Japanese Government passed, some years ago, regulations to prevent the abuse of flogging. These regulations are a dead letter. Here is the official statement:
"It was decided to retain it (flogging), but only for application to native offenders. In March, 1912, Regulations concerning Flogging and the Enforcing Detailed Regulations being promulgated, many improvements were made in the measures hitherto practiced. Women, boys under the age of fifteen and old men over the age of sixty are exempt from flogging, while the infliction of this punishment on sick convicts and on the insane is to be postponed for six months. The method of infliction was also improved so that by observing greater humanity, unnecessary pain in carrying out a flogging could be avoided, as far as possible,"
[Footnote 1: Annual Report of Reforms and Progress in Chosen. Keijo (Seoul), 1914.]
So much for the official claim. Now for the facts.
In the last year for which returns are available, 1916-17, 82,121 offenders were handled by police summary judgment, that is, punished by the police on the spot, without trial. Two-thirds of these punishments (in the last year when actual flogging figures were published) were floggings.
The instrument used is two bamboos lashed together. The maximum legal sentence is ninety blows, thirty a day for three days in succession. To talk of this as "greater humanity" or "avoiding unnecessary pain" gives me nausea. Any experienced official who has had to do with such things will bear me out in the assertion that it is deliberately calculated to inflict the maximum of pain which the human frame can stand, and in the most long drawn out manner.
Sick men, women and boys and old men are flogged.
In the disturbances of 1919 wounded men who were being nursed in the foreign hospitals in Seoul were taken out by the police to be flogged, despite the protests of doctors and nurses. There were many cases reported of old men being flogged. The stripping and flogging of women, particularly young women, was notorious.
Here is one case of the flogging of boys.
The following letter from a missionary in Sun-chon—where there is a Presbyterian hospital,—dated May 25, 1919, was printed in the report of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America. I have seen other communications from people who saw these boys, amply confirming the letter, if it requires confirmation.
Eleven Kangkei boys came here from ——. All the eleven were beaten ninety stripes—thirty each day for three days, May 16, 17 and 18, and let out May 18th. Nine came here May 22nd, and two more May 24th.
Tak Chan-kuk died about noon, May 23rd.
Kim Myungha died this evening.
Kim Hyungsun is very sick.
Kim Chungsun and Song Taksam are able to walk but are badly broken.
Kim Oosik seemed very doubtful but afterwards improved.
Choi Tungwon, Kim Changook, Kim Sungkil, and Ko Pongsu are able to be about, though the two have broken flesh.
Kim Syungha rode from —— on his bicycle and reached here about an hour before his brother died. The first six who came into the hospital were in a dreadful fix, four days after the beating. No dressing or anything had been done for them. Dr. Sharrocks just told me that he feels doubtful about some of the others since Myungha died. It is gangrene. One of these boys is a Chun Kyoin, and another is not a Christian, but the rest are all Christians.
Mr. Lampe has photographs. The stripes were laid on to the buttocks and the flesh pounded into a pulp.
Greater humanity! Avoiding unnecessary pain! It is obvious that the method of police absolutism is open to very great abuse. In practice it works out as galling tyranny. A quotation from the Japan Chronicle illustrates one of the abuses:
"In the course of interpellations put forward by a certain member in the last session of the Diet, he remarked on the strength of a statement made by a public procurator of high rank in Korea, that it was usual for a gendarme who visits a Korean house for the purpose of searching for a criminal to violate any female inmate of the house and to take away any article that suits his fancy. And not only had the wronged Koreans no means of obtaining redress for this outrageous conduct, but the judicial authorities could take no proceedings against the offender as they must necessarily depend upon the gendarmerie for acceptable evidence of crime."
The police tyranny does not end with flogging. When a person is arrested, he is at once shut off from communication with his friends. He is not, necessarily, informed of the charge against him; his friends are not informed. He is not in the early stages allowed counsel. All that his friends know is that he has disappeared in the grip of the police, and he may remain out of sight or sound for months before being brought to trial or released.
During this period of confinement the prisoner is first in the hands of the police who are getting up the case against him. It is their work to extract a confession. To obtain this they practice torture, often of the most elaborate type. This is particularly true where the prisoners are charged with political offences. I deal with this aspect of affairs more in detail in later chapters, so that there is no need of me to bring proof at this point.
After the police have completed their case, the prisoner is brought before the procurator, whose office would, if rightly used, be a check on the police. But in many cases the police act as procurators in Korea, and in others the procurators and police work hand in hand.
When the prisoner is brought before the court he has little of the usual protection afforded in a British or American Court. It is for him to prove his innocence of the charge. His judge is the nominee of the Government-General and is its tool, who practically does what the Government-General tells him. The complaint of the most sober and experienced friends of the Koreans is that they cannot obtain justice unless it is deemed expedient by the authorities to give them justice.
Under this system crime has enormously increased. The police create it. The best evidence of this is contained in the official figures. In the autumn of 1912 Count Terauchi stated, in answer to the report that thousands of Korean Christians had been confined in jail, that he had caused enquiry to be made and there were only 287 Koreans confined in the various jails of the country (New York Sun, October 3, 1912). The Count's figures were almost certainly incorrect, or else the police released all the prisoners on the day the reckoning was taken, except the necessary few kept for effect. The actual number of convicts in Korea in 1912 was close on twelve thousand, according to the official details published later. If they were true they make the contrast with later years the more amazing.
The increase of arrests and convictions is shown in the following official return.
NUMBER OF KOREANS IMPRISONED
Convicts Awaiting trial Total
1911 7,342 9,465 16,807 1912 9,652 9,842 19,494 1913 11,652 10,194 21,846 1914 12,962 11,472 24,434 1915 14,411 12,844 27,255 1916 17,577 15,259 32,836
Individual liberty is non-existent. The life of the Korean is regulated down to the smallest detail. If he is rich, he is generally required to have a Japanese steward who will supervise his expenditure. If he has money in the bank, he can only draw a small sum out at a time, unless he gives explanation why he needs it.
He has not the right of free meeting, free speech or a free press. Before a paper or book can be published it has to pass the censor. This censorship is carried to an absurd degree. It starts with school books; it goes on to every word a man may write or speak. It applies to the foreigners as well as Koreans. The very commencement day speeches of school children are censored. The Japanese journalist in Korea who dares to criticize the administration is sent to prison almost as quickly as the Korean. Japanese newspaper men have found it intolerable and have gone back to Japan, refusing to work under it. There is only one newspaper now published in Korea in the Korean language, and it is edited by a Japanese. An American missionary published a magazine, and attempted to include in it a few mild comments on current events. He was sternly bidden not to attempt it again. Old books published before the Japanese acquired control have been freely destroyed. Thus a large number of school books—not in the least partizan—prepared by Professor Hulbert were destroyed.
The most ludicrous example of censorship gone mad was experienced by Dr. Gale, one of the oldest, most learned and most esteemed of the missionaries in Korea. Dr. Gale is a British subject. For a long time he championed the Japanese cause, until the Japanese destroyed his confidence by their brutalities in 1919. But the fact that Dr. Gale was their most influential friend did not check the Japanese censors. On one occasion Dr. Gale learned that some Korean "Readers" prepared by him for use in schools had been condemned. He enquired the reason. The Censor replied that the book "contained dangerous thoughts." Still more puzzled, the doctor politely enquired if the Censor would show the passages containing "dangerous thoughts." The Censor thereupon pointed out a translation of Kipling's famous story of the elephant, which had been included in the book. "In that story," said he ominously, "the elephant refused to serve his second master." What could be more obvious that Dr. Gale was attempting to teach Korean children, in this subtle fashion, to refuse to serve their second master, the Japanese Emperor!
For a Korean to be a journalist has been for him to be a marked man liable to constant arrest, not for what he did or does, but for what the police suppose he may do or might have done. The natural result of this has been to drive Koreans out of regular journalism, and to lead to the creation of a secret press.
The next great group of grievances of Koreans come under the head of Exploitation. From the beginning the Japanese plan has been to take as much land as possible from the Koreans and hand it over to Japanese. Every possible trick has been used to accomplish this. In the early days of the Japanese occupation, the favourite plan was to seize large tracts of land on the plea that they were needed for the Army or Navy; to pay a pittance for them; and then to pass considerable portions of them on to Japanese. "There can be no question," admitted Mr. W.D. Stevens, the American member and supporter of Prince Ito's administration, "that at the outset the military authorities in Korea did intimate an intention of taking more land for their uses than seemed reasonable."
The first attempt of the Japanese to grab in wholesale fashion the public lands of Korea, under the so-called Nagamori scheme, aroused so much indignation that it was withdrawn. Then they set about accomplishing the same end in other ways. Much of the land of Korea was public land, held by tenants from time immemorial under a loose system of tenancy. This was taken over by the Government-General All leases were examined, and people called on to show their rights to hold their property. This worked to the same end.
The Oriental Development Company was formed for the primary purpose of developing Korea by Japanese and settling Japanese on Korean land, Japanese immigrants being given free transportation, land for settlement, implements and other assistance. This company is an immense semi-official trust of big financial interests in direct coeoperation with the Government, and is supported by an official subsidy of L50,000 a year. Working parallel to it is the Bank of Chosen, the semi-official banking institution which has been placed supreme and omnipotent in Korean finance.
How this works was explained by a writer in the New York Times (January 29, 1919). "These people declined to part with their heritage. It was here that the power of the Japanese Government was felt in a manner altogether Asiatic.... Through its branches this powerful financial institution ... called in all the specie in the country, thus making, as far as circulating-medium is concerned, the land practically valueless. In order to pay taxes and to obtain the necessaries of life, the Korean must have cash, and in order to obtain it, he must sell his land. Land values fell very rapidly, and in some instances land was purchased by the agents of the Bank of Chosen for one-fifth of its former valuation." There may be some dispute about the methods employed. There can be no doubt about the result. One-fifth of the richest land in Korea is to-day in Japanese hands.
Allied to this system of land exploitation comes the Corvee, or forced labour exacted from the country people for road making. In moderation this might be unobjectionable. As enforced by the Japanese authorities, it has been an appalling burden. The Japanese determined to have a system of fine roads. They have built them—by the Corvee.
The most convincing evidence for outsiders on this land exploitation and on the harshness of the Corvee comes from Japanese sources. Dr. Yoshino, a professor of the Imperial University of Tokyo, salaried out of the Government Treasury, made a special study of Korea. He wrote in the Taschuo-Koron of Tokyo, that the Koreans have no objection to the construction of good roads, but that the official way of carrying out the work is tyrannical. "Without consideration and mercilessly, they have resorted to laws for the expropriation of land, the Koreans concerned being compelled to part with their family property almost for nothing. On many occasions they have also been forced to work in the construction of roads without receiving any wages. To make matters worse, they must work for nothing only on the days which are convenient to the officials, however inconvenient these days may be to the unpaid workers." The result has generally been that while the roads were being built for the convenient march of the Japanese troops to suppress the builders of the roads, many families were bankrupted and starving.
"The Japanese make improvements," say the Koreans. "But they make them to benefit their own people, not us. They improve agriculture, and turn the Korean farmers out and replace them by Japanese. They pave and put sidewalks in a Seoul street, but the old Korean shopkeepers in that street have gone, and Japanese have come. They encourage commerce, Japanese commerce, but the Korean tradesman is hampered and tied down in many ways." Education has been wholly Japanized. That is to say the primary purpose of the schools is to teach Korean children to be good Japanese subjects. Teaching is mostly done in Japanese, by Japanese teachers. The whole ritual and routine is towards the glorification of Japan.
The Koreans complain, however, that, apart from this, the system of teaching established for Koreans in Korea is inferior to that established for Japanese there. Japanese and Korean children are taught in separate schools. The course of education for Koreans is four years, for Japanese six. The number of schools provided for Japanese is proportionately very much larger than for Koreans, and a much larger sum of money is spent on them. The Japanese may however claim, with some justice, that they are in the early days of the development of Korean education, and they must be given more time to develop it. Koreans bitterly complain of the ignoring of Korean history in the public schools, and the systematic efforts to destroy old sentiments. These efforts, however, have been markedly unsuccessful, and the Government school students were even more active than mission school students in the Independence movement.
It was a Japanese journalist who published the case of the Principal of a Public School for girls who roused the indignation of the girls under him during a lecture on Ethics with the syllogism, "Savages are healthy; Koreans are healthy; therefore Koreans are savages." Other teachers roused their young pupils to fury, after the death of the ex-Emperor, by employing openly of him the phrase which ordinarily indicates a low-class coolie. In the East, where honorifics and exact designations count for much, no greater insults could be imagined.
The greatest hardships of the regime of the Government-General have been the denial of justice, the destruction of liberty, the shutting out of the people from all real participation in administration, the lofty assumption and display of a spirit of insolent superiority by the Japanese, and the deliberate degradation of the people by the cultivation of vice for the purpose of personal profit. In the old days, opium was practically unknown. Today opium is being cultivated on a large scale under the direct encouragement of the Government, and the sale of morphia is carried on by large numbers of Japanese itinerant merchants. In the old days, vice hid its head. To-day the most prominent feature at night-time in Seoul, the capital, is the brilliantly lit Yoshiwara, officially created and run by Japanese, into which many Korean girls are dragged. Quarters of ill fame have been built up in many parts of the land, and Japanese panders take their gangs of diseased women on tours through smaller districts. On one occasion when I visited Sun-chon I found that the authorities had ordered some of the Christians to find accommodation in their homes for Japanese women of ill fame. Some Koreans in China sent a petition to the American Minister in Peking which dealt with some moral aspects of the Japanese rule of Korea. They said:
"The Japanese have encouraged immorality by removing Korean marriage restrictions, and allowing marriages without formality and without regard for age. There have been marriages at as early an age as twelve. Since the annexation there have been 80,000 divorce cases in Korea. The Japanese encourage, as a source of revenue, the sale of Korean prostitutes in Chinese cities. Many of these prostitutes are only fourteen and fifteen years old. It is a part of the Japanese policy of race extermination, by which they hope to destroy all Koreans. May God regard these facts.
"The Japanese Government has established a bureau for the sale of opium, and under the pretext that opium was to be used for medicinal purposes has caused Koreans and Formosans to engage in poppy cultivation. The opium is secretly shipped into China. Because of the Japanese encouragement of this traffic many Koreans have become users of the drug.
"The Japanese forbid any school courses for Koreans higher than the middle school and the higher schools established by missionary organizations are severely regulated. The civilization of the Far East originated in China, and was brought first to Korea and thence to Japan. The ancient books were more numerous in Korea than in Japan, but after annexation the Japanese set about destroying these books, so that Koreans should not be able to learn them. This 'burning of the books and murder of the literati' was for the purpose of debasing the Koreans and robbing them of their ancient culture....
"How can our race avoid extermination? Even if the Government of Japan were benevolent, how could the Japanese understand the aches and pains of another race of people? With her evil Government can there be anything but racial extermination for us?"
From the time of the reopening of Korea the Japanese have treated the Koreans in personal intercourse as the dust beneath their feet, or as one might imagine a crude and vixenish tempered woman of peasant birth whose husband had acquired great wealth by some freak of fortune treating an unfortunate poor gentlewoman who had come in her employment. This was bad enough in the old days; since the Japanese acquired full power in Korea it has become infinitely worse.
The Japanese coolie punches the Korean who chances to stand in his august path. The Japanese woman, wife of a little trader, spits out the one contemptuous sentence she has learned in the Korean tongue, when a Korean man draws near on the boat or on the train. The little official assumes an air of ineffable disdain and contempt. A member of the Japanese Diet was reported in the Japanese press to have said that in Korea the Japanese gendarmes were in the habit of exacting from the Korean school children the amount of deference which in Japan would be proper to the Imperial Household.
The lowest Japanese coolie practices the right to kick, beat and cuff a Korean of high birth at his pleasure, and the Korean has in effect no redress. Had the Koreans from the first have met blow with blow, a number of them no doubt would have died, but the Japanese would have been cured of the habit. The Korean dislike of fighting, until he has really some serious reason for a fight, has encouraged the Japanese bully; but it makes the bully's offence none the less.
Japanese officials in many instances seem to delight in exaggerating their contempt on those under them. This is particularly true of some of the Japanese teachers. Like all Government officials, these teachers wear swords, symbols of power. Picture the dignity of the teacher of a class of little boys who lets his sword clang to terrify the youngsters under him, or who tries to frighten the girls by displaying his weapon.
The iron rule of Terauchi was followed by the iron rule of Hasegawa, his successor. The struggle of the rebel army in the hills had died down. But men got together, wondering what steps they could take. Christians and non-Christians found a common bond of union. Their life had come to a pass where it was better to die than to live under unchecked tyranny. Thus the Independence movement came into being.
The Koreans who, despoiled of their homes or determined to submit no longer to Japan, escaped into Manchuria, escaped as a rule by the difficult and dangerous journey across the high mountain passes. What this journey means can best be understood from a report by the Rev. W.T. Cook, of the Manchuria Christian College at Moukden.
"The untold afflictions of the Korean immigrants coming into Manchuria will doubtless never be fully realized, even by those actually witnessing their distress. In the still closeness of a forty below zero climate in the dead of winter, the silent stream of white clad figures creeps over the icy mountain passes, in groups of tens, twenties and fifties, seeking a new world of subsistence, willing to take a chance of life and death in a hand-to-hand struggle with the stubborn soil of Manchuria's wooded and stony hillsides. Here, by indefatigable efforts, they seek to extract a living by applying the grub axe and hand hoe to the barren mountain sides above the Chinese fields, planting and reaping by hand between the roots the sparse yield that is often insufficient to sustain life.
"Many have died from insufficient food. Not only women and children but young men have been frozen to death. Sickness also claims its toll under these new conditions of exposure. Koreans have been seen standing barefooted on the broken ice of a riverside fording place, rolling up their baggy trousers before wading through the broad stream, two feet deep, of ice cold water, then standing on the opposite side while they hastily readjust their clothing and shoes.
"Women with insufficient clothing, and parts of their bodies exposed, carry little children on their backs, thus creating a mutual warmth in a slight degree, but it is in this way that the little ones' feet, sticking out from the binding basket, get frozen and afterwards fester till the tiny toes stick together. Old men and women, with bent backs and wrinkled faces, walk the uncomplaining miles until their old limbs refuse to call them further.
"Thus it is by households they come, old and young, weak and strong, big and little.... Babies have been born in wayside inns.
"In this way over 75,000 Koreans have entered during the past year, until the number of Koreans now living in both the north and western portions of Manchuria now totals nearly half a million."
[Footnote 2: Report to the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions.]
I have had occasion in previous chapters to make occasional reference to the work of the missionaries in Korea. It is necessary now to deal with them in detail, for they had become one of the great factors, and from the Japanese point of view one of the great problems, of the country.
Long before Korea was open to the outside world, missionary pioneers tried to enter it. The French Catholics forced admission as far back as the end of the eighteenth century, and made many converts, who were afterwards exterminated. Gutzaleff, a famous Protestant pioneer, landed on an island at Basil's Bay, in 1832, and remained there a month, distributing Chinese literature. Mr. Thomas, a British missionary, secured a passage on board the ill-fated General Sherman in 1866, and was killed with the rest of the crew. Dr. Ross, the Scottish Presbyterian missionary of Moukden, Manchuria, became interested in the Koreans, studied their language, talked with every Korean he could find, and built up a grammar of the language, publishing an English-Korean primer in 1876. He and a colleague, Mr. McIntyre, published Gospels in the language, and opened up a work among the Koreans on the north side of the Yalu. Those who can recall the state of that district in the days before railways were opened and order established, can best appreciate the nerve and daring needed for the task. They made converts, and one of these converts took some newly printed Christian books and set back home, reaching Seoul itself, spreading the new religion among his friends.
It was two years after the opening of Korea to the West before the first missionary arrived. In 1884 Dr. Allen, a Presbyterian physician (afterwards United States Minister to Korea), arrived at Seoul. It was very doubtful at this time how missionaries would be received, or how their converts would be treated. The law enacting death against any man who became a Christian was still unrepealed, but it was not enforced. Officialism might, however, revive it at any time. It was thought advisable, when the first converts were baptized in 1887, to perform the ceremony behind closed doors, with an earnest and athletic young American educationalist, Homer B. Hulbert, acting as guard.
Dr. Allen was soon followed by others. Dr. Underwood, brother of the famous manufacturer of typewriting machines, was the first non-medical missionary. The American and Canadian Presbyterians and Methodists undertook the main work, and the Church of England set up a bishopric. Women missionary doctors came, and at once won a place for themselves. Names like Appenzeller, Scranton, Bunker and Gale—to name a few of the pioneers—have won a permanent place in the history of missions.
The missionaries found a land almost without religion, with few temples and few monks or priests. Buddhism had been discredited by the treachery of some Japanese Buddhists during the great Japanese invasion by Hideyoshi in 1592, and no Buddhist priest was allowed inside the city of Seoul. Young men of official rank studied their Confucius diligently, but to them Confucianism was more a theory for the conduct of life and a road to high office than a religion. The main religion of the people was Shamanism, the fear of evil spirits. It darkened their souls, as the tales of a foolish nurse about goblins darken the mind of a sensitive and imaginative child. The spirits of Shamanism were evil, not good, a curse, not a blessing, bringing terror, not hope.
Christianity was very fortunate in its representatives. I have seen much of the missionaries of Manchuria and Korea. A finer, straighter lot of men I never want to meet. The magnificent climate enables them to keep at the top of form. They have initiative, daring and common sense. Those I have known are born leaders, who would have made their mark anywhere, in business or politics.
In the early days they had to be ready to set their hands to anything, to plan and build houses and churches, to open schools, to run a boat down dangerous rapids or face a dangerous mob, to overawe a haughty yang-ban or break in a dangerous horse. They were the pioneers of civilization as well as of Christianity.
Religion had to be commended by the courage of its adherents. When there came a dangerous uprising, and every one else fled, the missionary had to stay at his post. When an epidemic of cholera or yellow fever swept over a district, the missionary had to act as doctor or nurse. Sometimes the missionary died, as Dr. Heron died at Seoul and McKenzie at Sorai. Their deaths were even more effective than their lives in winning people.
Dr. Allen gained a foothold soon after his arrival by sticking to his post in Seoul during the uprising against foreigners that followed the attack by the Japanese and the reformers on the Cabinet and their seizure of the King and Queen. When Min Yung-ik, the Queen's nephew, was badly wounded, Dr. Allen attended to him and saved his life. Henceforth the King was the missionaries' friend. He built a hospital and placed Dr. Allen in charge. Women missionary doctors were appointed Court physicians to the Queen.
There were years of waiting, when the converts were few, and when it seemed that the barriers of four thousand years never would be broken down. Then came the Chino-Japanese War. Koreans were forced to see that this Western civilization, which had enabled little Japan to beat the Chinese giant, must mean something. A young man from Indiana, Samuel Moffett, with a companion, Graham Lee, had gone some time before to Pyeng-yang, reputedly the worst city in Korea. Here they had been stoned and abused. When the Chinese Army came to Pyeng-yang, and the country was devastated in the great and decisive battle between the Chinese and Japanese, these two men stayed by the Koreans in their darkest and most perilous hours. Koreans still tell how "Moksa" Moffett put on the dress of a Korean mourner and went freely around despite the Chinese, who would have almost certainly devised a specially lingering death for him, had they discovered his presence.
"There must be something in this religion," said the Koreans. Sturdy old John Newton's belief that the worst sinner makes the finest saint was borne out in the case of Pyeng-yang. It became in a few years one of the greatest scenes of missionary triumph in Asia. The harvest was ripening now. In Seoul men flung into jail for political offences turned to prayer in the darkness and despair of their torture chambers, and went to death praising God. The Secretary to the King's Cabinet preached salvation to his fellow Cabinet Ministers.
The tens of converts grew to tens of thousands. From the first, the Koreans showed themselves to be Christians of a very unusual type. They started by reforming their homes, giving their wives liberty and demanding education for their children. They took the promises and commands of the Bible literally and established a standard of conduct for church members which, if it were enforced in some older Christian communities, would cause a serious contraction of the church rolls. The first convert set out to preach to his friends. Latter converts imitated his example. From Pyeng-yang the movement spread to Sun-chon, which in a few years rivalled Pyeng-yang as a Christian centre. From here Christianity spread to the Yalu and up the Tumen River.
The Koreans themselves established Christianity in distant communities where no white man had ever been. Soon many of the missionaries were kept busy for several months each year travelling with pack-pony and mafoo, from station to station in the most remote parts of the country, fording and swimming unbridged rivers, climbing mountain passes, inspecting and examining and instructing the converts, admitting them to church membership and organizing them for still more effective work.
When I hear the cheap sneers of the obtuse stay-at-home or globe-trotter critics against missionaries and their converts, I am amused. It gives me the measure of the men, particularly of the globetrotters. When the British and American Churches seek to send out missionaries, the British and American people will have registered the sure sign of their decadence. For the Churches and nations will then cease to be alive. In travelling through the north country I employed a number of the Christian converts, I found them clean and honest, good, hard workers, men who showed their religion not by talk, but by good, straight action. It is a grief to me to know that some of these "boys" have since, because of their prominence as Christian workers, been the victims of official persecution.
Under the influence of the missionaries many schools were opened; hospitals and dispensaries were maintained, and a considerable literature, educational as well as religious, was circulated.
When the Japanese landed in Korea in 1904, the missionaries welcomed them. They knew the tyranny and abuses of the old Government, and believed that the Japanese would help to better things. The ill-treatment of helpless Koreans by Japanese soldiers and coolies caused a considerable reaction of feeling. When, however, Prince Ito became Resident-General the prevailing sentiment was that it would be better for the people to submit and to make the best of existing conditions, in the hope that the harshness and injustice of Japanese rule would pass.
Most of the Europeans and Americans in Korea at the time adopted this line. I travelled largely in the interior of Korea in 1906 and 1907. Groups of influential Koreans came to me telling their grievances and asking what to do. Sometimes big assemblies of men asked me to address them. They believed me to be their friend, and were willing to trust me. My advice was always the same. "Submit and make yourselves better men. You can do nothing now by taking up arms. Educate your children, improve your homes, better your lives. Show the Japanese by your conduct and your self-control that you are as good as they are, and fight the corruption and apathy that helped to bring your nation to its present position." Let me add that I did what I could in England, at the same time, to call attention to their grievances.
Prince Ito was openly sympathetic to the missionaries and to their medical and educational work. He once explained why, in a public gathering at Seoul. "In the early years of Japan's reformation, the senior statesmen were opposed to religious toleration, especially because of distrust of Christianity. But I fought vehemently for freedom of belief and religious propaganda, and finally triumphed. My reasoning was this: Civilization depends on morality and the highest morality upon religion. Therefore religion must be tolerated and encouraged."
Ito passed off the scene, Korea was formally annexed to Japan, and Count Terauchi became Governor-General. Terauchi was unsympathetic to Christianity and a new order of affairs began. One of the difficulties of the Christians was over the direction that children in schools and others should bow before the picture of the Japanese Emperor on feast days. The Japanese tried to maintain to the missionaries that this was only a token of respect; the Christians declared that it was an act of adoration. To the Japanese his Emperor is a divine being, the descendant of the gods.
Christians who refused to bow were carefully noted as malignants. In the famous Conspiracy Case, the official Assistant Procurator, in urging the conviction of one of the men, said: "He was head teacher of the Sin-an School, Chong-ju, and was a notorious man of anti-Japanese sentiments. He was the very obstinate member of the Society who, at a meeting on the first anniversary of the birthday of the Emperor of Japan after the annexation of Korea, refused to bow before the Imperial picture on the ground that such an act was worshipping an image." This one item was the only fact that the Assistant Procurator produced to prove the head teacher's guilt. He was convicted, and awarded seven years' penal servitude.
A strong effort was made to Japanize the Korean Churches, to make them branches of the Japanese Churches, and to make them instruments in the Japanese campaign of assimilation. The missionaries resisted this to the utmost. They declared that they would be neutral in political matters, as they were directed by their Governments to be. Having failed to win them over to their side, the Japanese authorities entered into a campaign for the breaking down of the Churches, particularly the Presbyterian Churches of the north. I am well aware that they deny this, but here is a case where actions and speeches cannot be reconciled.
Attempts were pushed to create churches of Koreans under Japanese. Son Pyung-hi, who had proved a good friend of Japan during the Chinese War, had been encouraged by the Japanese some time before to start a religious sect, the Chon-do Kyo, which it was hoped would replace Christianity, and prove a useful weapon for Japan. Here a blunder was made, for later on Son Pyung-hi flung all his influence against Japan and worked with the native Christian leaders to start the Independence movement. More important than either of these two things, however, direct persecution was begun. Several hundred Korean Christian leaders in the north were arrested, and out of them 144 were taken to Seoul, tortured, and charged with a conspiracy to murder the Governor-General. Various missionaries were named as their partners in crime. The tale of the conspiracy was a complete fabrication manufactured by the police. I describe it fully in the next chapter.
Following this came regulations aimed at the missionary schools and institutions. At the time of annexation, almost the whole of the real modern education of Korea was undertaken by the missionaries, who were maintaining 778 schools. A series of Educational Ordinances was promulgated in March, 1915, directing that no religious teaching is to be permitted in private schools, and no religious ceremonies allowed to be performed. The Japanese authorities made no secret of their intention of eventually closing all missionary schools, on the ground that even when religious teaching was excluded, pupils were influenced by their teachers, and the influence of the foreign teachers was against the Japanization of the Koreans. Mr. Komatsu, Director of the Bureau of Foreign Affairs, put this point without any attempt at concealment, in a public statement. "Our object of education is not only to develop the intellect and morality of our people, but also to foster in their minds such national spirit as will contribute to the existence and welfare of our Empire.... I sincerely hope that you will appreciate this change of the time and understand that missions should leave all affairs relating entirely to education entirely in the hands of the Government, by transferring the money and labour they have hitherto been expending on education to their proper sphere of religious propagation.... Whatever the curriculum of a school may be, it is natural that the students of that school should be influenced by the ideas and personal character of its principal and teachers. Education must be decidedly nationalistic and must not be mixed up with religion that is universal." This is a much harsher regulation against missions than prevails in Japan, where mission schools are allowed to continue their work, with freedom to carry on their religious teaching.
The Government-General agreed to allow mission schools that had already obtained Government permits to continue for ten years without having the regulations enforced. Schools that had applied for the permit but had not obtained it, owing to formal official delays, were ordered to obey or close, and police were sent to see that they closed.
The Government commanded the mission schools to cease using their own text-books and to use the officially prepared text-books. These are carefully prepared to eliminate "dangerous thoughts," i.e., anything that will promote a desire for freedom. They directly teach ancestral worship. The missionaries have protested in every way they can. The Government-General is adamant.
Before the start of the Independence movement the mission schools were being carefully watched. Dr. Arthur J. Brown gives one example of their experiences, in connection with the graduating exercises at the Pyeng-yang Junior College last year.
[Footnote 1: "The Mastery of the Far East," by Arthur Judson Brown.]
"Four students made addresses. The foreigners present deemed them void of offence, but the police declared that all the speakers had said things subversive of the public good. The students were arrested, interrogated and then released, as their previous records had been good. The provincial chief of gendarmes, however, summoned the students before him and again investigated the case. The president of the college was called to the office, and strictly charged to exercise greater care in the future. The matter was then reported to the Governor of the Province, and then to the Governor-General. The latter wrote to the president of the college that the indiscretion of the students was so serious that the Government was contemplating closing the school. A similar communication was sent by the Governor-General to the provincial Governor, who thereupon called the president to his office, and said that unless he was prepared to make certain changes the school would have to close. These changes were enumerated as follows: (1) Appointment of a Japanese head master; (2) dismissal of three of the boys who had spoken; relief of the fourth from certain assignments of teaching which he was doing in the academy, and promise not to repeat the oratorical program in the future; (3) secure more Japanese teachers, especially those who could understand Korean; (4) do all teaching, except the Chinese classics, Korean language and English, through the medium of the Japanese language; prepare syllabi of the subjects of instruction, so as to limit it to specified points, teachers not to deviate from them nor to speak on forbidden subjects; (6) conform to the new regulations. (That is, eliminate all Christian instruction.) When the president replied that he would do all that he could to make the first five changes desired, but that as to the sixth change, the mission preferred to continue for the present under the old permit which entitled the college to the ten year period of grace, the official was plainly disappointed, and he intimated that number six was the most important of all."
The Independence movement in 1919 enormously increased the difficulties of the missionaries, although they refrained from any direct or indirect participation in it, and the Koreans carefully avoided letting them know anything ahead about it. The difficulties of the missionaries, and the direct action of the authorities against Christianity at that time is told later, in the chapters dealing with the movement.
The Japanese authorities will probably do two things. They will order the closing of schools under various pretexts where Christian teaching is still maintained. They will endeavour to secure the elimination of those missionaries who have shown a marked sympathy with the Korean people. They have ample powers to prosecute any missionary who is guilty of doing anything to aid disaffection. They have repeatedly searched missionary homes and missionaries themselves to find evidence of this. Save in the case of Mr. Mowry, who was convicted of sheltering some students wanted by the police, they have failed. Even in that case the original conviction has been quashed on appeal. Such evidence does not exist, because the missionaries have been really neutral. Neutrality does not satisfy Japan; she wants them to come out on her side. Unfortunately her action this year has turned many away from her who tried hard up to then to be her friends.
TORTURE A LA MODE
"The main thing, when you are tortured, is to remain calm."
The Korean spoke quietly and in a matter-of-fact way. He himself had suffered torture in its most severe form. Possibly he thought there was a chance that I, too, might have a personal experience.
"Do not struggle. Do not fight," he continued. "For instance, if you are strung up by the thumbs and you struggle and kick desperately, you may die on the spot. Keep absolutely still; it is easier to endure it in this way. Compel your mind to think of other things."
Torture! Who talks of torture in these enlightened days?
Let me tell you the tale of the Conspiracy Case, as revealed in the evidence given in open court, and then judge for yourself.
When the heads of the Terauchi administration had made up their minds that the northern Christians were inimical to the progress of the Japanese scheme of assimilation, they set their spies to work. Now the rank and file of spies are very much alike in all parts of the world. They are ignorant and often misunderstand things. When they cannot find the evidence they require, they will manufacture it.
The Japanese spies were exceptionally ignorant. First they made up their minds that the northern Christians were plotting against Japan, and then they searched for evidence. They attended church services. Here they heard many gravely suspicious things. There were hymns of war, like "Onward, Christian Soldiers" and "Soldiers of Christ Arise." What could these mean but that Christians were urged to become an army and attack the Japanese? Dangerous doctrines were openly taught in the churches and mission schools. They learned that Mr. McCune, the Sun-chon missionary, took the story of David and Goliath as the subject for a lesson, pointing out that a weak man armed with righteousness was more powerful than a mighty enemy. To the spies, this was nothing but a direct incitement to the weak Koreans to fight strong Japan. Mission premises were searched. Still more dangerous material was found there, including school essays, written by the students, on men who had rebelled against their Governments or had fought, such as George Washington and Napoleon. A native pastor had preached about the Kingdom of Heaven; this was rank treason. He was arrested and warned that "there is only one kingdom out here, and that is the kingdom of Japan."
In the autumn of 1911 wholesale arrests were made of Christian preachers, teachers, students and prominent church members, particularly in the provinces of Sun-chon and Pyeng-yang. In the Hugh O'Neill, Jr., Industrial Academy, in Sun-chon, one of the most famous educational establishments in Korea—where the principal had made the unfortunate choice of David and Goliath for one of his addresses—so many pupils and teachers were seized by the police that the school had to close. The men were hurried to jail. They were not allowed to communicate with their friends, nor to obtain the advice of counsel. They and their friends were not informed of the charge against them. This is in accordance with Japanese criminal law. Eventually 149 persons were sent to Seoul to be placed on trial. Three were reported to have died under torture or as the result of imprisonment, twenty-three were exiled without trial or released, and 123 were arraigned at the Local Court in Seoul on June 28, 1912, on a charge of conspiracy to assassinate Count Terauchi, Governor-General of Korea.
"The character of the accused men is significant," wrote Dr. Arthur Judson Brown, an authority who can scarcely be accused by his bitterest critics of unfriendliness to Japan. "Here were no criminal types, no baser elements of the population, but men of the highest standing, long and intimately known to the missionaries as Koreans of faith and purity of life, and conspicuous for their good influence over the people. Two were Congregationalists, six Methodists and eighty-nine Presbyterians. Of the Presbyterians, five were pastors of churches, eight were elders, eight deacons, ten leaders of village groups of Christians, forty-two baptized church members, and thirteen catechumens.... It is about as difficult for those who know them to believe that any such number of Christian ministers, elders and teachers had committed crime as it would be for the people of New Jersey to believe that the faculty, students and local clergy of Princeton were conspirators and assassins."
Baron Yun Chi-ho, the most conspicuous of the prisoners, had formerly been Vice Foreign Minister under the old Korean Government, and was reckoned by all who knew him as one of the most progressive and sane men in the country. He was a prominent Christian, wealthy, of high family, a keen educationalist, vice-president of the Korean Y.M.C.A., had travelled largely, spoke English fluently, and had won the confidence and good will of every European or American in Korea with whom he came in contact. Yang Ki-tak, formerly Mr. Bethell's newspaper associate, had on this account been a marked man by the Japanese police. He had been previously arrested under the Peace Preservation Act, sentenced to two years' imprisonment and pardoned under an amnesty. He had also previously been examined twice in connection with the charge against the assassin of Prince Ito, and twice on account of the attack made on Yi, the traitor Premier, but had each time been acquitted. "I am not very much concerned as to what happens to me now," he said, "but I do protest against being punished on a charge of which I am innocent."
The case for the prosecution was based on the confessions of the prisoners themselves. According to these confessions, a body of Koreans, in association with the New People's Society, headed by Baron Yun Chi-ho, plotted to murder General Terauchi, and assembled at various railway stations for that purpose, when the Governor-General was travelling northwards, more particularly at Sun-chon, on December 28, 1910. They were armed with ready revolvers, short swords or daggers, and were only prevented from carrying out their purpose by the vigilance of the gendarmerie.
A number of missionaries were named as their associates or sympathizers. Chief of these was Mr. McCune, who, according to the confessions, distributed revolvers among the conspirators and told them at Sun-chon that he would point out the right man by shaking hands with him. Dr. Moffett of Pyeng-yang, Dr. Underwood of Seoul, Bishop Harris, the Methodist Bishop for Japan and Korea who had long been conspicuous as a defender of the Japanese Administration, and a number of other prominent missionaries were implicated.
When the prisoners were faced by these confessions in the open court they arose, one after another, almost without exception, and declared either that they had been forced from them by sustained and intolerable torture, or that they had been reduced by torture to insensibility and then on recovery had been told by the Japanese police that they had made the confessions. Those who had assented under torture had in nearly every case said "Yes" to the statements put to them by the police. Now that they could speak, they stoutly denied the charges. They knew nothing of any conspiracy. The only man who admitted a murder plot in court was clearly demented.
The trial was held in a fashion which aroused immediate and wide-spread indignation. It was held, of course, in Japanese, and the official translator was openly charged in court with minimizing and altering the statements made by the prisoners. The judges acted in a way that brought disgrace on the court, bullying, mocking and browbeating the prisoners. The high Japanese officials who attended heartily backed the sallies of the bench.
The missionaries who, according to the confessions, had encouraged the conspirators were not placed on trial. The prisoners urged that they should be allowed to call them and others as witnesses, and they were eager to come. The request was refused. Under Japanese law, the judges have an absolute right to decide what witnesses shall, or shall not be called. The prosecuting counsel denied the charge of torture, and declared that all of the men had been physically examined and not one of them had even a sign of having been subjected to such ill-treatment Thereupon prisoners rose up and asked to be allowed to show the marks still on them. "I was bound up for about a month and subjected to torture," said one. "I have still marks of it upon my body." But when he asked permission to display the marks to the Court, "the Court," according to the newspaper reports, "sternly refused to allow this to be done."
The trial closed on August 30th, and judgment was delivered on September 21st. Six prisoners, including Yun Chi-ho and Yang Ki-tak, were sentenced to ten years' penal servitude; eighteen to seven years' penal servitude; forty to six years; forty-two to five years; and seventeen discharged.
The trial was widely reported, and there was a wave of indignation, particularly in America. The case was brought before the Court of Appeal, and Judge Suzuki, who heard the appeal, was given orders by the Government-General that he was to act in conciliatory fashion. The whole atmosphere of the Court of Appeal was different. There was no bullying, no browbeating. The prisoners were listened to indulgently, and were allowed considerable latitude in developing their defence. Let me add that both in the first and in subsequent trials, prominent Japanese counsel appeared for the prisoners, and defended them in a manner in accordance with the best traditions of the law.
The prisoners were now permitted in the Appeal Court to relate in detail how their "confessions" had been extracted from them by torture. Here are some typical passages from the evidence.
Chi Sang-chu was a Presbyterian, and a clerk by calling. He denied that he was guilty.
"All my confession was made under torture. I did not make these statements of my own accord. The police said they must know what information they wanted. They stripped me naked, tied my hands behind my back, and hung me up in a doorway, removing the bench on which I stood. They swung me, making me bump against a door, like a crane dancing. When I lost consciousness, I was taken down and given water, and tortured again when I came to.
"A policeman covered my mouth with my hand, and poured water into my nose. Again my thumbs were tied behind my back, one arm over and one under, and I was hung up by the cord tying them. A lighted cigarette was pressed against my body, and I was struck in my private parts. Thus I was tortured for three or four days. One evening, just after the meal, I was hung up again, and was told that I would be released if I confessed, but if not I would be tortured till I died. They were determined to make me say whatever they wanted. Leaving me hanging, the policemen went to sleep, and I fainted from the torture of hanging there.
"When I came to, I found myself lying on the floor, the police giving me water. They showed me a paper, which they said was the order of release for Yi Keun-tak and O Hak-su, who had confessed. If I wanted to be set at liberty I must do the same. Then they beat me again. I saw the paper and managed with difficulty to read it. It was to the effect that they did confess and promised never to do such things again.
"I was then introduced to Yi Keun-tak, who, they said, had confessed and been acquitted, and they urged me to follow Yi's example. I urged them to treat me as they had treated Yi. They told me what to confess, but as I had never heard of such things I refused, and they said they had better kill me.
"They resumed their tortures, and after two or three months, being unable to bear it any longer, I confessed all that is required."
Paik Yong-sok, a milk seller and a Presbyterian, with eleven in his family, said he had been a Christian for fifteen years and had determined only to follow the teachings of the Bible; he had never thought of assassination or considered establishing the independence of the country. Having to support a family of eleven, he had no time for such things.
He had made the confession recited by the Court, but it was under compulsion and false. "For a number of days I was tortured twice by day and twice by night. I was blindfolded, hung up, beaten. Often I fainted, being unable to breathe. I thought I was dying and asked the police to shoot me, so intolerable were my tortures. Driven beyond the bounds of endurance by hunger, thirst and pain, I said I would say whatever they wanted.
"The police told me that I was of no account among the twenty million Koreans, and they could kill or acquit me as they pleased.... Meanwhile five or six police dropped in and said, 'Have you repented? Did you take part in the assassination plots?' It was too much for me to say 'Yes' to this question, so I replied 'No.' Immediately they slapped my cheeks, stripped me, struck, beat and tormented me. It is quite beyond my power to describe the difficulty of enduring such pain."
The man paused and pointed to a Japanese, Watanabe by name, sitting behind the judges, "That interpreter knows all about it," he said, "He was one of the men who struck me." Watanabe was pointed out by other prisoners as a man who had been prominent in tormenting them.
Im Do-myong, a barber and a Presbyterian, also fell into the hands of experts at the game.
"At the police headquarters, I was hung up, beaten with an iron rod and tortured twice a day. Then I was taken into the presence of superiors, the interpreter (pointing out Watanabe, who was sitting: behind the judges) being present, and tortured again.
"My thumbs were tied together at my back, the right arm being put back over the shoulder and the left arm turned up from underneath. Then I was hung up by the cord that bound my thumbs. The agony was unendurable. I fainted, was taken down, was given torture, and when I came to was tortured again."
By the Court: "It would be impossible to hang you by your thumbs."
Prisoner: "My great toes scarcely touched the ground. Under such circumstances I was told to say the same thing at the Public Procurator's Office, and as I feared that I should be tortured there, too, I said 'Yes' to all questions."
Some variety was introduced into the treatment of Cho Tok-chan, a Presbyterian pastor, at Chong-ju.
"The police asked me how many men took part in the attempt at Sun-chon, saying that as I was a pastor I must know all about it. They hung, beat and struck me, saying that I had taken part in the plot and was a member of the New People's Society. At last I fainted, and afterwards was unable to eat for a number of days.
"A policeman in uniform, with one stripe, twisted my fingers with a wire, so that they were badly swollen for a long time after. Then a man with two white stripes tortured me, declaring that I had taken part in the Sun-chon affair. I said that I was too busy with Christmas preparations to go anywhere, on which the policeman severely twisted my fingers with an iron rod."
Again came one of the dramatic pauses, while the prisoner pointed out a Japanese official sitting behind the judges, Tanaka by name. "The man who interpreted at that time is sitting behind you," he declared. "He knows it very well."
They extracted his confession. But it was some time before he had been able to sign it; his fingers were hurt too severely.
It was necessary, after the police examination, for prisoners to repeat their stories or confirm them before the procurator. This might originally have been intended as a protection for the prisoners. In Korea police and procurators worked together. However, steps were taken to prevent any retraction at that point.
"When I was taken to the Public Procurator's Office," continued the Presbyterian pastor, "I did not know the nature of the place, and being put in a separate room, I feared that it might be an even more dreadful place than the police headquarters. Generally, when examined at the police headquarters, my hands were free, but here I was brought up for cross-examination with my hands and arms pinioned very firmly, so I thought it must be a harder place. Moreover, an official pulled me very hard by the cords which bound my hands, which gave me excruciating pain, seeing how they had already been treated by the police."
The next prisoner, Yi Mong-yong, a Presbyterian money lender, also pointed out the proud Tanaka. He had been describing how the police kicked and struck him to make him say what they wanted. "One of them is behind you now," said he to the judges, pointing to Tanaka.
Some of the prisoners broke down while giving their evidence. Unimas described how he had been hung, beaten, stripped and tortured by the police, and again tortured in the office of the Public Procurator. "Having got so far," the reports continue, "the prisoner began to weep and make a loud outcry, saying that he had a mother who was eighty years old at home. With this pitiful scene, the hearing ended for the day."
Yi Tai-kyong was a teacher. The police reminded him that the murderer of Prince Ito was a Christian; he was a Christian, therefore—
"They hung, beat and otherwise tormented me, until I was compelled to acknowledge all the false fabrication about the plot. The following day I was again taken into Mr. Yamana's room and again tortured with an iron rod from the stove and other things, until I had acknowledged all the false statements.
"When asked what was the party's signal, I remained silent, as I knew nothing about it. But I was tortured again, and said, 'the church bell,' that being the only thing I could think of at the time."
"I confessed to the whole prosecution story, but only as the result of torture, to which I was submitted nine times, fainting on two occasions, and being tortured again on revival," said Pak Chou-hyong. "I made my false confession under a threat that I and my whole family would be killed. I reiterated it at the Public Procurator's Office, where I was conducted by two policemen, one of them a man with a gold tooth, who boxed my ears so hard that I still feel the pain, and who told me not to vary my story.
"Fearing that my whole family would be tortured, I agreed. But when I arrived before the Public Procurator, I forgot what I had been taught to say, and wept, asking the officials to read what I had to confess. This they did, and I said, 'Yes, yes.'"
Choi Che-kiu, a petty trader, repudiated his confession of having gone with a party to Sun-chon.
"Had such a large party attempted to go to the station," he said, "they must infallibly have been arrested on the first day. Were I guilty I would be ready to die at once. The whole story was invented by officials, and I was obliged to acquiesce in it by severe torture. One night I was taken to Nanzan hill by two policemen, suspended from a pine tree and a sharp sword put to my throat. Thinking I was going to be killed, I consented to say 'Yes' to any question put to me."
"No force can make you tell such a story as this, unless you consent voluntarily," interposed the Court.
"You may well say that," replied the prisoner, grimly. "But with the blade of a sword in my face and a lighted cigarette pressed against my body, I preferred acquiescence in a story, which they told me that Kim Syong had already confessed, to death."
The prisoner paused, and the Judge looked at him with his head on one side. Suddenly the prisoner burst into a passion of weeping, with loud, incoherent cries.
In the previous trial one of the prisoners, Kim Ik-kyo, was asked why he admitted all the facts at his preliminary examination. "If the police were to go down Chong-no (one of the busiest streets in Seoul)," he replied, "and indiscriminately arrest a number of passers-by, and then examine them by putting them to torture, I am sure they would soon confess to having taken part in a plot."
The same thing was put in another way by a prisoner, Kim Eung-pong. He related a long story of torture by binding, hanging, beating and burning, continued for fifteen days, during which he was often threatened with death. Then he was taken to the "supreme enquiry" office of the police headquarters, where he was stripped naked and beaten with an iron bar from the stove. This office, he understood, had control and power of life or death over the whole peninsula, so he was compelled to confess all that they wanted. "I even would have said that I killed my father, if they put it to me," he added.
Hear the tale of An Sei-whan. As An was called up in the Appeal Court, a wave of pity passed over the white men there, for An was a miserable object, pale and emaciated. He was a consumptive and afflicted with other ills. He had been in the Christian Hospital at Pyeng-yang most of the winter, and had nearly died there. He had been walking a little for a few days, when he was arrested at the hospital in April. He had been vomiting blood.
"In this condition I was taken to the police headquarters and tortured. My thumbs were hung together and I was hung up, with my toes barely touching the ground. I was taken down nearly dead, and made to stand for hours under a chest nearly as high as my chest. Next day, when I was put under the shelf again my hair was fastened to the board, and my left leg doubled at the knee and tied. Blood came up from my lung, but fearful of the police I swallowed it. Now, I think it would have been better if I had vomited it. Then they might have had pity on me; but I did not think so then.
"Again I was hung up by the thumbs, clear of the floor this time. At the end of five minutes I was nearly dead. I asked if it would do to assent to their questions, and they took me down and took me before some superiors. When I said anything unsatisfactory I was beaten, and in this way learned what was wanted. I had no wish to deny or admit anything, only to escape further pain."
He asked that some of the missionaries who knew him might be called, to show that he was too ill to take part in any conspiracy.
One old man, Yi Chang-sik, a Presbyterian for sixteen years, had refused even under the torture to confess, and had tried to escape by suicide. "I thought that I had better commit suicide than be killed by their cruel tortures," he said. "They asked me if I had joined the conspiracy at the suggestion of Mr. McCune. I would not consent to this, so they tortured me harder. I was nearly naked, and so cold water was poured upon me. I was also beaten. Sometimes I would be tortured till the early hours of the morning.
"I longed for death to deliver me. Thanks to heaven, I found a knife one night in my room. The warder was not very careful with me. I took it secretly, intending to cut my throat—but my hand had become too weak. So I stuck it erect in the floor, and tried to cut my throat that way. Alas! At this moment the warder surprised me. When I had endured torture for over forty days, I asked them to make me guilty or innocent as quickly as possible. When I was taken to the Public Procurator's, I had pains in my ears, body and limbs. I could not stand the torture and wanted to die."
"Having got so far," wrote a spectator, "the old man broke down and began to weep, crying louder and louder. He said something as he wept, but the interpreter could not make out what it was. The Court evidently pitied him and told him to stand down. He withdrew, sobbing."
A Presbyterian student from Sun-chon, Cha Heui-syon, was arrested and kept for four months in the gendarmes office, becoming very weak. Then he was taken to the police headquarters.
"First I was hung up by my thumbs, then my hands and legs were tied, and I was made to crouch under a shelf about as high as my chest, which was intensely painful, as I could neither sit nor stand. Something was put in my mouth. I vomited blood, yet I was beaten. I was stood up on a bench and tied up so that when it was removed, I was left hanging. The interpreter who has often been in this court (Watanabe) tortured me. My arms stiffened so that I could not stretch them. As I hung I was beaten with bamboos three or four feet long and with an iron rod, which on one occasion made the hand of the official who was wielding it bleed."
At last he gave in. He was too weak to speak. They took him down and massaged his arms, which were useless. He could only nod now to the statements that they put to him. Later on they took him to the Public Procurator. Here he attempted to deny his confession. "The Public Procurator was very angry," he said. "He struck the table, getting up and sitting down again. He jerked the cord by which my hands were tied, hurting me very severely."
The case of Baron Yun Chi-ho excited special interest. The Baron being a noble of high family, the police used more care in extracting his confession. He was examined day after day for ten days, the same questions being asked and denied day after day. One day when his nerves were in shreds, they tortured another prisoner in front of his eyes, and the examiner told him that if he would not confess, he was likely to share the same fate. They told him that the others had confessed and been punished; a hundred men had admitted the facts. He did not know then that the charge against him was conspiracy to murder. He determined to make a false confession, to escape torture. He was worn out with the ceaseless questioning, and he was afraid.
The rehearing in the Court of Appeal lasted fifty-one days. In the last days many of the prisoners were allowed to speak for themselves. They made a very favourable impression. Judgment was delivered on March 20th. The original judgment was quashed in every case, and the cases reconsidered. Ninety-nine of the prisoners were found not guilty. Baron Yun Chi-ho, Yang Ki-tak and four others were convicted. Five of them were sentenced to six years' penal servitude, and one to five years. Two other appeals were made, but the only result was to increase the sentence of the sixth man to six years. Three of the men finally convicted had been members of the staff of the Dai Han Mai Il Shinpo. The Japanese do not forget or forgive readily. They had an old score to pay against the staff of that paper.
I have never yet met a man, English, American or Japanese, acquainted with the case, or who followed the circumstances, who believed that there had been any plot at all. The whole thing, from first to last, was entirely a police-created charge. The Japanese authorities showed later that they themselves did not believe it. On the coronation of the Japanese Emperor, in February, 1915, the six prisoners were released as a sign of "Imperial clemency." Baron Yun Chi-ho was appointed Secretary of the Y.M.C.A, at Seoul on his release, and Count Terauchi (whom he was supposed to have plotted to murder) thereupon gave a liberal subscription to the Y. funds.
There was one sequel to the case. The Secretary of the Korean Y.M.C.A., Mr. Gillett, having satisfied himself of the innocence of Baron Yun and his associates, while the trial was pending, sent a letter to prominent people abroad, telling the facts. The letter, by the indiscretion of one man who received it, was published in newspapers. The Japanese authorities, in consequence, succeeded in driving Mr. Gillett out of Korea. Before driving him out, they tried to get him to come over on their side. Mr. Komatsu, Director of the Bureau for Foreign Affairs, asked him and Mr. Gerdine, the President, to call on him. "The Government has met the demands of the missionary body and released ninety-nine out of the hundred and five prisoners who stood trial at the Appeal Court," said Mr. Komatsu. "It is to be expected that the missionary body will in return do something to put the Government in a strong and favourable light before the people of Japan." Mr. Komatsu added that Judge Suzuki's action was in reality the action of the Government-General, a quaint illustration of the independence of the judiciary in Korea.
The Administration made a feeble attempt to deny the tortures. Its argument was that since torture was forbidden by law, it could not take place. Let we quote the official statement:
"A word should be added in reference to the absurd rumours spread abroad concerning it (the conspiracy case) such as that the measures taken by the authorities aimed at 'wiping out the Christian movement in Korea,' since the majority of the accused were Christian converts, and that most of the accused made 'false confessions against their will,' as they were subject to 'unendurable ill-treatment or torture.' As if such imputations could be sustained for one minute, when the modern regime ruling Japan is considered!... As to torture, several provisions of the Korean criminal code indirectly recognized it, but the law was revised and those provisions were rescinded when the former Korean law courts were reformed, by appointing to them Japanese judicial staffs, in August, 1908.... According to the new criminal law (judges, procurators or police) officials are liable, if they treat accused prisoners with violence or torture, to penal servitude or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years. In reply to the memorial presented to the Governor-General by certain missionaries in Korea, in January, 1912, he said, 'I assure you that the entire examination of the suspected persons or witnesses is being conducted in strict compliance with the provisions of the law, and the slightest divergence from the lawful process will under no circumstances be permitted.' How then could any one imagine that it was possible for officials under him to act under any other way than in accordance with the provisions of the law."
Unfortunately for the noble indignation of the writer, the torture left its marks, and many men are living as I write still bearing them. Others only escaped from the hell of the Japanese prison in Seoul to die. They were so broken that they never recovered.
THE INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT
The people of Korea never assented to the annexation of their country. The Japanese control of means of communication prevented their protests from being fully known by the outside world.
It was explained that the movement against the Japanese was due to the work of Koreans living outside of the land and to foreign agitators. The Japanese blamed the missionaries. They blamed foreign publicists. I understand that I was and am esteemed a special malignant. They never thought to blame themselves. As a matter of fact, missionaries and the rest of us had nothing to do with it. The real origin of the movement was among the people themselves, and it was fostered, not by outsiders, but by the iron and unjust rule of Japan.
At the same time, the Koreans living in freedom were naturally concerned over conditions at home. The large Korean communities in Manchuria and Siberia, estimated to number in all two millions, the flourishing colony in the United States and Hawaii, the Koreans in Mexico and China heard with indignation of what was happening. Young students and political prisoners released after torture, who escaped to America, fanned the flame to white heat. The Koreans living outside Korea formed a National Association, with headquarters in San Francisco, under the Presidency of Dr. David Lee, which in 1919 claimed a million and a half adherents.
The steps taken by the Japanese to suppress and prevent discontent often created and fostered it. This was specially illustrated in the schools. The new educational system, with its constant inculcation of loyalty to the Mikado, made even the little girls violently Nationalist. School children were spied upon for incipient treason as though the lisping of childish lips might overthrow the throne. The speeches of boys and girls in junior schools, at their school exercises, were carefully noted, and the child who said anything that might be construed by the Censor as "dangerous thought" would be arrested, examined and punished.
The effect of this was what might have been expected. "They compel us to learn Japanese," said one little miss, sagely. "That does not matter. We are now able to understand what they say. They cannot understand what we say. All the better for us when the hour comes." On Independence Day the children, particularly in the Government schools, were found to be banded together and organized against Japan. They had no fear in expressing their views and sought martyrdom. Some of them won it.
The Japanese hoped much from the Chon-do Kyo, a powerful movement encouraged by the authorities because they thought that it would be a valuable counteractive to Christianity. Its leader was Son Pyung-hi, an old Korean friend of Japan. As far back as 1894, when the Japanese arranged the Tong-hak Rebellion in Korea, to give them an excuse for provoking war with China, Son was one of their leading agents. He believed that Western influence and in particular Western religion was inimical to his country, and he hoped by the Tong-haks to drive them out.
As a result of his activities, he had to flee from Korea, and he did not return until 1903. He became leader of the Chon-do Kyo, the Heavenly Way Society, a body that tried to include the best of many religions and give the benefits of Christian organization and fellowship without Christianity. He had learned many things while in exile, and was now keen on reform and education. Many of his old Tong-hak friends rallied around him, and the Chon-do Kyo soon numbered considerably over a million members.
Son realized after a time that the Japanese were not the friends but the enemies of his people. He made no violent protestations. He still maintained seemingly good relations with them. But his organization was put to work. His agents went over the country. Each adherent was called on to give three spoonfuls of rice a day. Close on a million dollars was accumulated. Most of this was afterwards seized by the Japanese.
The Chon-do Kyo and the native Christian leaders came together. The Christian pastors had up to now kept their people in check. But the burden was becoming intolerable. They gave the missionaries no inkling of what was brewing. They did not wish to get them in trouble. Their real grief was that their action would, they knew, make it harder for the Churches.
Two remarkable characters took the lead among the Christians, Pastor Kil and Yi Sang-jai. Pastor Kil of Pyeng-yang was one of the oldest and most famous Christians in Korea. He had become a leader in the early days, facing death for his faith. A man of powerful brain, of fine character and with the qualities of real leadership, he was looked up to by the people as British Nonconformists a generation ago regarded Charles Spurgeon. In recent years Kil had become almost blind, but continued his work.
I have already described in an earlier chapter how Yi Sang-jai, once Secretary to the Legation at Washington, became a Christian while thrown into prison for his political views. He was now a Y.M.C.A. leader, but he was held in universal veneration by all men—Christian and non-Christian alike—as a saint, as a man who walked with God and communed with Him.
When things seemed rapidly ripening, President Wilson made his famous declaration of the rights of weaker nations. One sentence went round among the Koreans, and its effect was electrical.
"What is the task that this League of Nations is to do?
"IT IS TO PROVIDE FOR THE FREEDOM OF SMALL NATIONS, TO PREVENT THE DOMINATION OF SMALL NATIONS BY BIG ONES."
Here was the clarion call to Korea. Here was hope! Here was the promise of freedom, given by the head of the nation they had all learned to love. If any outsider was responsible for the uprising of the Korean people, that outsider was Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America.
"Now is the time to act," said the people. For a start, they resolved to send delegates to present their case to the Paris Conference. Three leaders in America were chosen but were refused passports. Finally another young leader, Mr. Kiusic Kimm, succeeded in landing in France. Perhaps it would not be wise to say, at this time, how he managed to get there. He soon found that his mission was in vain. The Paris Conference would not receive him. President Wilson's declaration was not to be put into full effect.
The people resolved, by open and orderly demonstration, to support their delegate in France. There were some who would have started a violent revolution. The Christians would have none of it "Let us have no violence," said they. "Let us appeal to the conscience of Japan and of the world."
There were no constitutional means for them to employ to make their case heard. But if ever there was an effort at peaceful constitutional change, this was it. Instructions were sent out, surely the most extraordinary instructions ever issued under similar circumstances:—
"Whatever you do DO NOT INSULT THE JAPANESE DO NOT THROW STONES DO NOT HIT WITH YOUR FISTS. For these are the acts of barbarians."
It was unnecessary to tell the people not to shoot, for the Japanese had long since taken all their weapons away, even their ancient sporting blunderbusses.
A favourable moment was approaching. The old Korean Emperor lay dead. One rumour was that he had committed suicide to avoid signing a document drawn up by the Japanese for presentation to the Peace Conference, saying that he was well satisfied with the present Government of his country. Another report, still more generally believed, was that he had committed suicide to prevent the marriage of his son, Prince Kon, to the Japanese Princess Nashinoto. The engagement of this young Prince to a Korean girl had been broken off when the Japanese acquired control of the Imperial House. Royal romances always appeal to the crowd. The heart of the people turned to the old Emperor again. Men, women and children put on straw shoes, signs of national mourning, and a hundred thousand people flocked to Seoul to witness the funeral ceremonies.