The funeral was to take place on March 4th. By now the Japanese suspected something to be afoot. The astonishing thing is that the Koreans had been able to keep it from them so long. A network of organizations had been created all over the country. The Japanese hurried their preparations to prevent popular demonstrations on the day of the funeral. The leaders learned of this, and outwitted the police by a simple device. They resolved to make their demonstration not on Tuesday, March 4th, but on the previous Saturday.
Gatherings were arranged for all over the country. A Declaration of Independence was drawn up in advance and delivered to the different centres. Here it was mimeographed, and girls and boys organized themselves to ensure its distribution. Meetings, processions and demonstrations in all the big cities were planned.
Thirty-three men chose martyrdom. They were to be the original signers of the Declaration of Independence. They knew that at the best this must mean heavy punishment for them, and at the worst might well mean death. They had no delusions. Pastor Kil's son had died from the effects of Japanese torture, Yang Chun-paik and Yi Seung-hun, two of the signers, had been victims in the Conspiracy case. The first two names on the list of signers were Son Pyung-hi, leader of the Chon-do Kyo, and Pastor Kil.
On the morning of March 1st the group of thirty-two met at the Pagoda Restaurant at Seoul. Pastor Kil was the only absentee; he had been temporarily delayed on his journey from Pyeng-yang.
Some prominent Japanese had been invited to eat with the Koreans. After the meal, the Declaration was produced before their guests and read. It was despatched to the Governor-General. Then the signers rang up the Central Police Station, informed the shocked officials of what they had done, and added that they would wait in the restaurant until the police van came to arrest them.
The automobile prison van, with them inside, had to make its way to the police station through dense crowds, cheering and shouting, "Mansei! Mansei! Mansei!" It was the old national battle cry, "May Korea live ten thousand years." Old flags had been brought out, old Korean flags, with the red and blue germ on the white ground, and were being widely waved. "Mansei!" Not only Seoul but the whole country had in a few minutes broken out in open demonstration. A new kind of revolt had begun.
Pastor Kil, arriving late, hurried to the police station to take his place with his comrades.
The Declaration of Independence is a document impossible to summarize, if one is to do full justice to it. It is written in the lofty tone of the ancient prophets. It was something more than the aspiration of the Korean people. It was the cry of the New Asia, struggling to find its way out of oppression and mediaeval militarism into the promised land of liberty and peace.
THE PROCLAMATION OF KOREAN INDEPENDENCE
"We herewith proclaim the independence of Korea and the liberty of the Korean people. We tell it to the world in witness of the equality of all nations and we pass it on to our posterity as their inherent right.
"We make this proclamation, having back of us 5,000 years of history, and 20,000,000 of a united loyal people. We take this step to insure to our children for all time to come, personal liberty in accord with the awakening consciousness of this new era. This is the clear leading of God, the moving principle of the present age, the whole human race's just claim. It is something that cannot be stamped out, or stifled, or gagged, or suppressed by any means.
"Victims of an older age, when brute force and the spirit of plunder ruled, we have come after these long thousands of years to experience the agony of ten years of foreign oppression, with every loss to the right to live, every restriction of the freedom of thought, every damage done to the dignity of life, every opportunity lost for a share in the intelligent advance of the age in which we live.
"Assuredly, if the defects of the past are to be rectified, if the agony of the present is to be unloosed, if the future oppression is to be avoided, if thought is to be set free, if right of action is to be given a place, if we are to attain to any way of progress, if we are to deliver our children from the painful, shameful heritage, if we are to leave blessing and happiness intact for those who succeed us, the first of all necessary things is the clear-cut independence of our people. What cannot our twenty millions do, every man with sword in heart, in this day when human nature and conscience are making a stand for truth and right? What barrier can we not break, what purpose can we not accomplish?
"We have no desire to accuse Japan of breaking many solemn treaties since 1636, nor to single out specially the teachers in the schools or government officials who treat the heritage of our ancestors as a colony of their own, and our people and their civilization as a nation of savages, finding delight only in beating us down and bringing us under their heel.
"We have no wish to find special fault with Japan's lack of fairness or her contempt of our civilization and the principles on which her state rests; we, who have greater cause to reprimand ourselves, need not spend precious time in finding fault with others; neither need we, who require so urgently to build for the future, spend useless hours over what is past and gone. Our urgent need to-day is the setting up of this house of ours and not a discussion of who has broken it down, or what has caused its ruin. Our work is to clear the future of defects in accord with the earnest dictates of conscience. Let us not be filled with bitterness or resentment over past agonies or past occasions for anger.
"Our part is to influence the Japanese government, dominated as it is by the old idea of brute force which thinks to run counter to reason and universal law, so that it will change, act honestly and in accord with the principles of right and truth.
"The result of annexation, brought about without any conference with the Korean people, is that the Japanese, indifferent to us, use every kind of partiality for their own, and by a false set of figures show a profit and loss account between us two peoples most untrue, digging a trench of everlasting resentment deeper and deeper the farther they go.
"Ought not the way of enlightened courage to be to correct the evils of the past by ways that are sincere, and by true sympathy and friendly feeling make a new world in which the two peoples will be equally blessed?
"To bind by force twenty millions of resentful Koreans will mean not only loss of peace forever for this part of the Far East, but also will increase the evergrowing suspicion of four hundred millions of Chinese—upon whom depends the danger or safety of the Far East—besides strengthening the hatred of Japan. From this all the rest of the East will suffer. To-day Korean independence will mean not only daily life and happiness for us, but also it would mean Japan's departure from an evil way and exaltation to the place of true protector of the East, so that China, too, even in her dreams, would put all fear of Japan aside. This thought comes from no minor resentment, but from a large hope for the future welfare and blessing of mankind.
"A new era wakes before our eyes, the old world of force is gone, and the new world of righteousness and truth is here. Out of the experience and travail of the old world arises this light on life's affairs. The insects stifled by the foe and snow of winter awake at this same time with the breezes of spring and the soft light of the sun upon them.
"It is the day of the restoration of all things on the full tide of which we set forth, without delay or fear. We desire a full measure of satisfaction in the way of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and an opportunity to develop what is in us for the glory of our people.
"We awake now from the old world with its darkened conditions in full determination and one heart and one mind, with right on our side, along with the forces of nature, to a new life. May all the ancestors to the thousands and ten thousand generations aid us from within and all the force of the world aid us from without, and let the day we take hold be the day of our attainment. In this hope we go forward.
THREE ITEMS OF AGREEMENT
"1. This work of ours is in behalf of truth, religion and life, undertaken at the request of our people, in order to make known their desire for liberty. Let no violence be done to any one.
"2. Let those who follow us, every man, all the time, every hour, show forth with gladness this same mind.
"3. Let all things be done decently and in order, so that our behaviour to the very end may be honourable and upright."
The 4252nd year of the Kingdom of Korea 3d Month.
Representatives of the people.
The signatures attached to the document are:
Son Pyung-hi, Kil Sun Chu, Yi Pil Chu, Paik Yong Sung, Kim Won Kyu, Kim Pyung Cho, Kim Chang Choon, Kwon Dong Chin, Kwon Byung Duk, Na Yong Whan, Na In Hup, Yang Chun Paik, Yang Han Mook, Lew Yer Dai, Yi Kop Sung, Yi Mung Yong, Yi Seung Hoon, Yi Chong Hoon, Yi Chong Il, Lim Yei Whan, Pak Choon Seung, Pak Hi Do, Pak Tong Wan, Sin Hong Sik, Sin Suk Ku, Oh Sei Chang, Oh Wha Young, Chung Choon Su, Choi Sung Mo, Choi In, Han Yong Woon, Hong Byung Ki, Hong Ki Cho.
THE PEOPLE SPEAK—THE TYRANTS ANSWER
On Saturday, March 1st, at two in the afternoon, in a large number of centres of population throughout the country, the Declaration of Korean Independence was solemnly read, usually to large assemblies, by representative citizens. In some places, the leaders of the Christians and the leaders of the non-Christian bodies acted in common. In other places, by mutual agreement, two gatherings were held at the same time, the one for Christians and the other for non-Christians. Then the two met in the streets, and sometimes headed by a band they marched down the street shouting "Mansei" until they were dispersed. Every detail had been thought out. Large numbers of copies of declarations of independence were ready. These were circulated, usually by boys and schoolgirls, sometimes by women, each city being mapped out in districts.
It was soon seen that every class of the community was united. Men who had been ennobled by the Japanese stood with the coolies; shopkeepers closed their stores, policemen who had worked under the Japanese took off their uniforms and joined the crowds, porters and labourers, scholars and preachers, men and women all came together.
In every other Korean demonstration, for untold centuries, only part of the nation had been included. When the yang-bans started a political revolt, in the old days, they did not recognize that such a thing as popular opinion existed and did not trouble to consult it. Korea had long known demonstrations of great family against great family, of Yis against Mins; of section against section, as when the Conservatives fought the Progressives; and of Independents against the old Court Gang. But now all were one. And with the men were the women, and even the children. Boys of six told their fathers to be firm and never to yield, as they were carried off to prison; girls of ten and twelve prepared themselves to go to jail.
The movement was a demonstration, not a riot. On the opening day and afterwards—until the Japanese drove some of the people to fury—there was no violence. The Japanese, scattered all over the country, were uninjured; the Japanese shops were left alone; when the police attacked, elders ordered the people to submit and to offer no resistance. The weak things had set themselves up to confound the strong.
At first, the Japanese authorities were so completely taken by surprise that they did not know what to do. Then the word was passed round that the movement was to be suppressed by relentless severity. And so Japan lost her last chance of winning the people of Korea and of wiping out the accentuated ill-will of centuries.
The first plan of the Japanese was to attack every gathering of people and disperse it, and to arrest every person who took part in the demonstrations or was supposed to have a hand in them. Japanese civilians were armed with clubs and swords and given carte blanche to attack any Korean they suspected of being a demonstrator. They interpreted these instructions freely. Firemen were sent out with poles with the big firemen's hooks at the end. A single pull with one of these hooks meant death or horrible mutilation for any person they struck.
The police used their swords freely. What I mean by "freely" can best be shown by one incident A little gathering of men started shouting "Mansei" in a street in Seoul. The police came after them, and they vanished. One man—it is not clear whether he called "Mansei" or was an accidental spectator—was pushed in the deep gutter by the roadside as the demonstrators rushed away. As he struggled out the police came up. There was no question of the man resisting or not resisting. He was unarmed and alone. They cut off his ears, cut them off level with his cheek, they slit up his fingers, they hacked his body, and then they left him for dead. He was carried off by some horrified spectators, and died a few hours later. A photograph of his body lies before me as I write. I showed the photograph one evening to two or three men in New York City. Next day I met the men again. "We had nightmare all night long, because of that picture," they told me.
In Seoul, when the thirty-three leaders were arrested, a demonstration was held in the Park and the Declaration read there. Then the crowd made an orderly demonstration in the streets, waving flags and hats, shouting "Mansei," parading in front of the Consulates and public buildings, and sending letters to the Consuls informing them of what they had done. There was no violence. The police, mounted and foot, tried to disperse the crowds and made numerous arrests, but the throngs were so dense that they could not scatter them.
Next day was Sunday. Here the strong Christian influences stopped demonstrations, for the Korean Christians observe the Sunday strictly. This gave the Japanese authorities time to gather their forces. Numerous arrests were made that day, not only in Seoul but all over the country. On Monday there was the funeral of the ex-Emperor. The people were quiet then. It was noticed that the school children were entirely absent from their places along the line of march. They had struck.
On Wednesday life was supposed to resume its normal aspects again. The schools reopened, but there were no pupils. The shops remained closed. The coolies in official employ did not come to work. The authorities sent police to order the shopkeepers to open. They opened while the police were by, and closed immediately they were out of sight. Finally troops were placed outside the shops to see that they remained open. The shopkeepers sat passive, and informed any chance enquirer that they did not have what he wanted. This continued for some weeks.
The authorities were specially disturbed by the refusal of the children to come to school. In one large junior school, the boys were implored to come for their Commencement exercises, and to receive their certificates. Let me tell the scene that followed, as described to me by people in the city. The boys apparently yielded, and the Commencement ceremonies were begun, in the presence of a number of official and other distinguished Japanese guests. The precious certificates were handed out to each lad. Then the head boy, a little fellow of about twelve or thirteen, came to the front to make the school speech of thanks to his teachers and to the authorities. He was the impersonation of courtesy. Every bow was given to the full; he lingered over the honorifics, as though he loved the sound of them. The distinguished guests were delighted. Then came the end. "I have only this now to say," the lad concluded. A change came over his voice. He straightened himself up, and there was a look of resolution in his eyes. He knew that the cry he was about to utter had brought death to many during the past few days. "We beg one thing more of you." He plunged one hand in his garment, pulled out the Korean flag, the possession of which is a crime. Waving the flag, he cried out, "Give us back our country. May Korea live forever. Mansei!"
All the boys jumped up from their seats, each one pulling out a flag from under his coat and waved it, calling, "Mansei! Mansei! Mansei!" They tore up their precious certificates, in front of the now horrified guests, threw them on the ground, and trooped out.
At nine o'clock that Wednesday morning there was a great demonstration of students and high school girls around the palace. The girls had planned out their part ahead. A big crowd gathered around. Then a large force of police rushed on them, with drawn swords, knocking down, beating and arresting, lads and girls alike. The girls were treated as roughly as the men. Over four hundred, including one hundred girl students, were taken to the police station that morning. What happened to the girls there, I tell in a later chapter. Fifteen nurse-probationers of the Severance Hospital, one of the most famous missionary hospitals in the Far East, hurried out with bandages to bind up the wounded. The police took them in custody also. They were severely examined, to find if the foreigners had instigated them to take part in the demonstrations, but were released the same afternoon.
As Prince Yi was returning from the ex-Emperor's funeral that afternoon, a group of twenty literati approached his carriage and attempted to present a petition. They were stopped by the police. A petition was sent by the literati to the Governor-General; the delegates were told to take it to the police office. Here they were arrested.
Two of the most famous nobles in the land, Viscount Kim and Viscount Li, sent a dignified petition to the Governor-General, begging him to listen to the people, and deploring the severe measures taken to suppress the demonstrations. Viscount Kim was senior peer, head of the Confucian College, and had ever been a friend of Japan. As far back as 1866, he had run the risk of death by urging the King to open the country to outside nations and to conclude a treaty with Japan. The Japanese had made him one of their new Korean peerage. He was now eighty-five, feeble and bedridden. The protest of himself and his fellow senior was measured, polished, moved with a deep sympathy for the people, but with nothing in it to which the Governor-General should have taken offence.
The Japanese treatment of these two nobles was crowning proof of their incapacity to rule another people. The two were at once arrested, and with them various male members of their families. Kim was so ill that he could not be immediately moved, so a guard was placed over his house. All were brought to trial at Seoul in July. With Viscount Kim were Kim Ki-ju, his grandson, and Kim Yu-mon. With Viscount Li was his relative Li Ken-tai. The charge against them was, of violating the Peace Preservation Act. Ki-ju aggravated his position by trying to defend himself. The Japanese press reported that he was reported to "have assumed a very hostile attitude to the bench enunciating this theory and that in defence of his cause." This statement is the best condemnation of the trial. Where a prisoner is deemed to add to his guilt by attempting to defend himself, justice has disappeared.
Viscount Kim was sentenced to two years' penal servitude, and Viscount Li to eighteen months, both sentences being stayed for three years. Kim Ki-ju, Kim Yu-mon and Li Ken-tai were sentenced to hard labour for eighteen months, twelve months and six months respectively. The sentence reflected disgrace on the Government that instituted the prosecution and decreed the punishment.
The white people of Seoul were horrified by the Japanese treatment of badly wounded men who flocked to the Severance Hospital for aid. Some of these, almost fatally wounded, were put to bed. The Japanese police came and demanded that they should be delivered up to them. The doctors pointed out that it probably would be fatal to move them. The police persisted, and finally carried off three men. It was reported that one man they took off in this fashion was flogged to death.
Reports were beginning to come in from other parts. There had been demonstrations throughout the north, right up to Wiju, on the Manchurian border. At Song-chon, it was reported, thirty had been killed, a number wounded, and three hundred arrested Pyeng-yang had been the centre of a particularly impressive movement, which had been sternly repressed. From the east coast, away at Hameung, there came similar tidings. The Japanese stated that things were quiet in the south until Wednesday, when there was an outbreak at Kun-san, led by the pupils of a Christian school. The Japanese at once seized on the participation of the Christians, the press declaring that the American missionaries were at the bottom of it. A deliberate attempt was made to stir up the Japanese population against the Americans. Numbers of houses of American missionaries and leaders of philanthropic work were searched. Several of them were called to the police offices and examined; some were stopped in the streets and searched. Unable to find any evidence against the missionaries, the Japanese turned on the Korean Christians. Soon nearly every Korean Christian pastor in Seoul was in jail; and news came from many parts of the burning of churches, the arrest of leading Christians, and the flogging of their congregations. The Japanese authorities, on pressure from the American consular officials, issued statements that the missionaries had nothing to do with the uprising, but in practice they acted as though the rising were essentially a Christian movement.
In the country people were stopped by soldiers when walking along the roads, and asked, "Are you Christians?" If they answered, "Yes," they were beaten; if "No," they were allowed to go. The local gendarmes told the people in many villages that Christianity was to be wiped out and all Christians shot. "Christians are being arrested wholesale and beaten simply because they are Christians," came the reports from many parts.
Soon dreadful stories came from the prisons, not only in Seoul, but in many other parts. Men who had been released after investigation, as innocent, told of the tortures inflicted on them in the police offices, and showed their jellied and blackened flesh in proof. Some were even inconsiderate enough to die a few days after release, and on examination their bodies and heads were found horribly damaged. The treatment may be summed up in a paragraph from a statement by the Rev. A.E. Armstrong, of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, who was on a visit to Korea at the time:
"The tortures which the Koreans suffer at the hands of the police and gendarmes are identical with those employed in the famous conspiracy trials. I read affidavits, now on their way to the United States and British Governments, which made one's blood boil, so frightful were the means used in trying to extort confessions from prisoners. And many of these had no part in the demonstrations, but were simply onlookers."
Within a fortnight, the arrests numbered thousands in Seoul alone. Every man, particularly every student, suspected of participation was jailed. But it was evident that the authorities had not secured the leaders, or else that the leaders had arranged a system by which there were men always ready to step into the place of those who were taken. The official organ, the Seoul Press, would come out with an announcement that the agitation had now died down; two or three days later there would be another great demonstration in the streets. The hundred thousand visitors who had come to Seoul for the funeral returned home to start agitations in their own districts. The authorities were particularly annoyed at their inability to discover the editors and publishers of the secret paper of the protest, the Independence News, which appeared in mimeographed form. To prevent its publication the authorities took control of mimeograph paper, and seized every mimeograph machine they could find. Time after time it was stated that the editors of the paper had been secured; the announcement was barely published before fresh editions would mysteriously appear in Seoul and in the provinces.
Despite every effort to minimize it, news of the happenings gradually crept out and were published abroad. Mr. I. Yamagata, the Director-General of Administration, was called to Tokyo for a conference with the Government. Much was hoped by many friends of Japan in America from this. It was believed that the Liberal Premier of Japan, the Hon. T. Hara, would promptly declare himself against the cruelties that had been employed. Unfortunately these hopes were disappointed. While speaking reassuringly to foreign enquirers, Mr. Hara and his Government officially determined on still harsher measures.
Mr. Yamagata's own statement, issued on his return, announced that after conference with the Premier, an audience with the Emperor and conferences with the Cabinet "decision was reached in favour of taking drastic measures by despatching more troops to the peninsula."
"In the first stage of the trouble, the Government-General was in favour of mild measures (!), and it was hoped to quell the agitation by peaceful methods," Mr. Yamagata continued. "It is to be regretted, however, that the agitation has gradually spread to all parts of the peninsula, while the nature of the disturbance has become malignant, and it was to cope with this situation that the Government was obliged to resort to force. In spite of this, the trouble has not only continued, but has become so uncontrollable and wide-spread that the police and military force hitherto in use has been found insufficient, necessitating the despatch of more troops and gendarmes from the mother country.... Should they (the agitators) continue the present trouble, it would be necessary to show them the full power of the military force. It is earnestly to be hoped that the trouble will be settled peacefully, before the troops are obliged to use their bayonets."
Count Hasegawa, the Governor-General, had already issued various proclamations, telling the people of the Imperial benevolence of Japan, warning them that the watchword "self-determination of races" was utterly irrevelant to Japan, and warning them of the relentless punishment that would fall on those who committed offences against the peace. Here is one of the proclamations. It may be taken as typical of all:
"When the State funeral of the late Prince Yi was on the point of being held, I issued an instruction that the people should help one another to mourn his loss in a quiet and respectful manner and avoid any rash act or disorder. Alas! I was deeply chagrined to see that, instigated by certain refractory men, people started a riot in Seoul and other places. Rumour was recently circulated that at the recent Peace Conference in Paris and other places, the independence of Chosen was recognized by foreign Powers, but the rumour is absolutely groundless. It need hardly be stated that the sovereignty of the Japanese Empire is irrevocably established in the past, and will never be broken in the future. During the ten years since annexation, the Imperial benevolence has gradually reached all parts of the country, and it is now recognized throughout the world that the country has made a marked advancement in the securing of safety to life, and property, and the development of education and industry. Those who are trying to mislead the people by disseminating such a rumour as cited know their own purpose, but it is certain that the day of repentance will come to all who, discarding their studies or vocations, take part in the mad movement. Immediate awakening is urgently required.
"The mother country and Chosen, now merging in one body, makes a State. Its population and strength were found adequate enough to enter upon a League with the Powers and conduct to the promotion of world peace and enlightenment, while at the same time the Empire is going faithfully to discharge its duty as an Ally by saving its neighbour from difficulty. This is the moment of time when the bonds of unity between the Japanese and Koreans are to be more firmly tightened and nothing will be left undone to fulfill the mission of the Empire and to establish its prestige on the globe. It is evident that the two peoples, which have ever been in inseparably close relations from of old, have lately been even more closely connected. The recent episodes are by no means due to any antipathy between the two peoples. It will be most unwise credulously to swallow the utterances of those refractory people who, resident always abroad, are not well informed upon the real conditions in the peninsula, but, nevertheless, are attempting to mislead their brethren by spreading wild fictions and thus disturbing the peace of the Empire, only to bring on themselves the derision of the Powers for their indulgence in unbridled imagination in seizing upon the watchword 'self-determination of races' which is utterly irrelevant to Chosen, and in committing themselves to thoughtless act and language. The Government are now doing their utmost to put an end to such unruly behaviour and will relentlessly punish anybody daring to commit offences against the peace. The present excitement will soon cease to exist, but it is to be hoped that the people on their part will do their share in restoring quiet by rightly guarding their wards and neighbours so as to save them from any offence committing a severe penalty."
[Footnote 1: Quoted from the Seoul Press.]
The new era of relentless severity began by the enactment of various fresh laws. The regulations for Koreans going from or coming into their country were made more rigid. The Regulations Concerning Visitors and Residents had already been revised in mid-March. Under these, any person who, even as a non-commercial act, allowed a foreigner to stay in his or her house for a night or more must hereafter at once report the fact to the police or gendarmes. A fresh ordinance against agitators was published in the Official Gazette. It provided that anybody interfering or attempting to interfere in the preservation of peace and order with a view to bringing about political change would be punished by penal servitude or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years. The ordinance would apply to offences committed by subjects of the Empire committed outside its domains, and it was specially emphasized in the explanations of the new law given out that it would apply to foreigners as well as Japanese or Koreans.
The Government-General introduced a new principle, generally regarded by jurists of all lands as unjust and indefensible. They made the law retroactive. People who were found guilty of this offence, their acts being committed before the new law came into force, were to be sentenced under it, and not under the much milder old law. This was done.
The Koreans were quickly to learn what the new military regime meant. One of the first examples was at Cheamni, a village some miles from Suigen, on the Seoul-Fusan Railway. Various rumours reached Seoul that this place had been destroyed, and a party of Americans, including Mr. Curtice of the Consulate, Mr. Underwood, son of the famous missionary pioneer, and himself a missionary and a correspondent of the Japan Advertiser, went to investigate. After considerable enquiry they reached a place which had been a village of forty houses. They found only four or five standing. All the rest were smoking ruins.
"We passed along the path," wrote the correspondent of the Japan Advertiser, "which ran along the front of the village lengthwise, and in about the middle we came on a compound surrounded by burnt poplars, which was filled with glowing ashes. It was here that we found a body frightfully burned and twisted, either of a young man or a woman. This place we found later was the Christian church, and on coming down from another direction on our return I found a second body, evidently that of a man, also badly burned, lying just outside the church compound. The odour of burned flesh in the vicinity of the church was sickening.
"We proceeded to the end of the village and climbed the hill, where we found several groups of people huddled under little straw shelters, with a few of their pitiful belongings about them. They were mostly women, some old, others young mothers with babes at breast, but all sunk in the dull apathy of abject misery and despair.
"Talking to them in their own language and with sympathy, Mr. Underwood soon won the confidence of several and got the story of what happened from different groups, and in every case these stories tallied in the essential facts. The day before we arrived, soldiers came to the village, some time in the early afternoon, and ordered all the male Christians to gather in the church. When they had so gathered, to a number estimated to be thirty by our informers, the soldiers opened fire on them with rifles and then proceeded into the church and finished them off with sword and bayonets. After this they set fire to the church, but as the direction of the wind and the central position of the church prevented the upper houses catching, soldiers fired these houses individually, and after a time left.
"As we passed down the ruined village, returning to our rikishas, we came on the last house of the village, which was standing intact, and entered in conversation with the owner, a very old man. He attributed the safety of his house to its being slightly removed, and to a vagary of the wind. He was alive because he was not a Christian and had not been called into the church. The details of his story of the occurrence tallied exactly with the others, as to what had happened."
One example will serve to show what was going on now all over the country. The following letter was written by a cultured American holding a responsible position in Korea:
"Had the authorities handled this matter in a different way, this letter would never have been written. We are not out here to mix in politics, and so long as it remained a purely political problem, we had no desire to say anything on one side or the other. But the appeal of the Koreans has been met in such a way that it has been taken out of the realm of mere politics and has become a question of humanity. When it comes to weakness and helplessness being pitted against inhumanity, there can be no such thing as neutrality.
"I have seen personal friends of mine among the Koreans, educated men, middle-aged men, who up to that time had no part in the demonstrations, parts of whose bodies had been beaten to a pulp under police orders.
"A few hundred yards from where I am writing, the beating goes on, day after day. The victims are tied down on a frame and beaten on the naked body with rods till they become unconscious. Then cold water is poured on them until they revive, when the process is repeated. It is sometimes repeated many times. Reliable information comes to me that in some cases arms and legs have been broken.
"Men, women and children are shot down or bayonetted. The Christian church is specially chosen as an object of fury, and to the Christians is meted out special severity....
"A few miles from here, a band of soldiers entered a village and ordered the men to leave, the women to remain behind. But the men were afraid to leave their women, and sent the women away first. For this the men were beaten.
"A short distance from this village, this band is reported to have met a Korean woman riding in a rickshaw. She was violated by four of the soldiers and left unconscious. A Korean reported the doings of this band of soldiers to the military commander of the district in which it occurred and the commander ordered him to be beaten for reporting it.
"Word comes to me to-day from another province of a woman who was stripped and strung up by the thumbs for six hours in an effort to get her to tell the whereabouts of her husband. She probably did not know.
"The woes of Belgium under German domination have filled our ears for the past four years, and rightly so. The Belgian Government has recently announced that during the more than four years that the Germans held the country, six thousand civilians were put to death by the Germans. Here in this land it is probably safe to say that two thousand men, women and children, empty handed and helpless, have been put to death in seven weeks. You may draw your own conclusions!
"As for the Koreans, they are a marvel to us all. Even those of us who have known them for many years, and have believed them to be capable of great things, were surprised. Their self-restraint, their fortitude, their endurance and their heroism have seldom been surpassed. As an American I have been accustomed to hear, as a boy, of the 'spirit of 76,' but I have seen it out here, and it was under a yellow skin. More than one foreigner is saying, these days, 'I am proud of the Koreans.'"
There were exciting scenes in Sun-chon. This city is one of the great centres of Christianity in Korea, and its people, hardy and independent northerners, have for long been suspected by the Japanese. Large numbers of leaders of the church and students at the missionary academy had been arrested, confined for a very long period and ill-treated at the time of the Conspiracy trial. They were all found to be innocent later, on the retrial at the Appeal Court. This had not tended to promote harmonious relations between the two peoples.
Various notices and appeals were circulated among the people. Many of them, issued by the leaders, strongly urged the people to avoid insulting behaviour, insulting language or violence towards the Japanese.
"Pray morning, noon and night, and fast on Sundays" was the notice to the Christians. Other appeals ran:
"Think, dear Korean brothers!
"What place have we or our children? Where can we speak? What has become of our land?
"Fellow countrymen, we are of one blood. Can we be indifferent? At this time, how can you Japanese show such ill feeling and such treachery? How can you injure us with guns and swords? How can your violence be so deep?
"Koreans, if in the past for small things we have suffered injuries, how much more shall we suffer to-day? Even though your flesh be torn from you, little by little, you can stand it! Think of the past. Think of the future! We stand together for those who are dying for Korea.
"We have been held in bondage. If we do not become free at this time, we shall never be able to gain freedom. Brethren, it can be done! It is possible! Do not be discouraged! Give up your business for the moment and shout for Korea. Injury to life and property are of consequence, but right and liberty are far more important. Until the news of the Peace Conference is received, do not cease. We are not wood and stones, but flesh and blood. Can we not speak out? Why go back and become discouraged? Do not fear death! Even though I die, my children and grandchildren shall enjoy the blessings of liberty. Mansei! Mansei! Mansei!"
Mr. D.V. Hudson, of the Southern Presbyterian University at Shanghai, brought the records of many outrages back with him on his return to America. From them I take the following:
"At Maingsang, South Pyeng-yang Province, the following incident took place on March 3rd. When the uprising first broke out there were no Japanese gendarmes in the village, but Koreans only. The people there were mostly Chun-do Kyo followers, so no Christians were involved in the trouble. These Chun-do Kyo people gathered on the appointed day for the Korean Independence celebration, and held the usual speeches and shouting of 'Mansei.' The Korean gendarmes did not want to or dared not interfere, so that day was spent by the people as they pleased.
"A few days later Japanese soldiers arrived to investigate and to put down the uprising. They found the people meeting again, ostensibly to honour one of their teachers. The soldiers immediately interfered, seized the leader of the meeting and led him away to the gendarme station. He was badly treated in the affray and the people were badly incensed. So they followed the soldiers to the station, hoping to effect the release of their leader. The soldiers tried to drive them away. Some left but others remained.
"The police station was surrounded by a stone wall, with but one gate to the enclosure. The soldiers permitted those who insisted on following to enter, and, when they had entered, closed the door; then the soldiers deliberately set to work, shooting them down in cold blood. Only three of the fifty-six escaped death."
Let me give one other statement by a newspaper man. I might go on with tale after tale of brutality and fill another volume. Mr. William R. Giles is a Far Eastern correspondent well known for the sanity of his views and his careful statements of facts. He represents the Chicago Daily News at Peking. He visited Korea shortly after the uprising, specially to learn the truth. He remained there many weeks. Here is his deliberate verdict:
"Pekin, June 14th.—After nearly three months of travelling in Korea, in which time I journeyed from the north to the extreme south, I find that the charges of misgovernment, torture and useless slaughter by the Japanese to be substantially correct.
"In the country districts I heard stories of useless murder and crimes against women. A number of the latter cases were brought to my notice. One of the victims was a patient in a missionary hospital.
"In a valley about fifty miles from Fusan, the Japanese soldiery closed up a horseshoe-shaped valley surrounded by high hills, and then shot down the villagers who attempted to escape by climbing the steep slopes. I was informed that more than 100 persons were killed in this affray.
"In Taku, a large city midway between Seoul and Fusan, hundreds of cases of torture occurred, and many of the victims of ill-treatment were in the hospitals. In Seoul, the capital, strings of prisoners were seen daily being taken to jails which were already crowded.
"While I was in this city I spent some time in the Severance Hospital as a patient, and saw wounded men taken out by the police, one of them having been beaten to death. Two days later the hospital repeatedly was entered and the patients catechized, those in charge being unable to prevent it. Detectives even attempted in the night time secretly to enter my room while I was critically ill.
"In Seoul, Koreans were not allowed to be on the streets after dark and were not allowed to gather in groups larger than three. All the prisoners were brutally and disgustingly treated. Innocent persons were being continually arrested, kept in overcrowded prisons a month or more, and then, after being flogged, released without trial.
"Northern Korea suffered the most from the Japanese brutalities. In the Pyeng-yang and Sensan districts whole villages were destroyed and churches burned, many of which I saw and photographed.
"In Pyeng-yang I interviewed the Governor and easily saw that he was powerless, everything being in the hands of the chief of the gendarmerie. At first I was not allowed to visit the prison, but the Governor-General of Korea telegraphed his permission. I found it clean and the prisoners were well fed, but the overcrowded condition of the cells caused untold suffering.
"In one room, ten feet by six, were more than thirty prisoners. The prison governor admitted that the total normal capacity of the building was 800, but the occupants then numbered 2,100. He said he had requested the Government to enlarge the prison immediately, as otherwise epidemics would break out as soon as hot weather came.
"I visited an interior village to learn the truth in a report that the Christians had been driven from their homes. The local head official, not a Christian, admitted to me that the non-Christian villagers had driven the Christians into the mountains because the local military officials had warned him that their presence would result in the village being shot up. He said he had the most friendly feeling for the Christians but drove them out in self-protection.
"In other villages which I visited the building had been entirely destroyed and the places were destroyed. In some of the places I found only terrorized and tearful women who did not dare to speak to a foreigner because the local gendarmes would beat and torture them if they did so.
"The majority of the schools throughout the country are closed. In most places the missionaries are not allowed to hold services. Though innocent of any wrong-doing, they are under continual suspicion. It was impossible for them or others to use the telegraph and post-offices, the strictest censorship prevailing. Undoubtedly an attempt is being made to undermine Christianity and make the position of missionaries so difficult that it will be impossible for them to carry on their work.
"In the course of my investigation I was deeply impressed with the pitiful condition of the Korean people. They are allowed only a limited education and attempts are being made to cause them to forget their national history and their language.
"There is no freedom of the press or of public meeting. The people are subject to the harshest regulations and punishments without any court of appeal. They are like sheep driven to a slaughter house. Only an independent investigation can make the world understand Korea's true position. At present the groanings and sufferings of 20,000,000 people are apparently falling on deaf ear."
As these tales, and many more like them, were spread abroad, the Japanese outside of Korea tried to find some excuse for their nationals. One of the most extraordinary of these excuses was a series of instructions, said to have been issued by General Utsonomiya, commander of the military forces in Korea, to the officers and men under him. Copies of these were privately circulated by certain pro-Japanese in America among their friends, as proof of the falsity of the charges of ill-treatment. Some extracts from them were published by Bishop Herbert Welsh, of the Methodist Church, in the Christian Advocate.
"Warm sympathy should be shown to the erring Koreans, who, in spite of their offence, should be treated as unfortunate fellow countrymen, needing love and guidance.
"Use of weapons should be abstained from till the last moment of absolute necessity. Where, for instance, the demonstration is confined merely to processions and the shouting of banzai and no violence is done, efforts should be confined to the dispersal of crowds by peaceful persuasion.
"Even in case force is employed as the last resource, endeavour should be made to limit its use to the minimum extent.
"The moment the necessity therefor ceases the use of force should at once be stopped....
"Special care should be taken not to harm anybody not participating in disturbances, especially aged people, children and women. With regard to the missionaries and other foreigners, except in case of the plainest evidence, as, for instance, where they are caught in the act, all forbearance and circumspection should be used.
"You are expected to see to it that the officers and men under you (especially those detailed in small parties) will lead a clean and decent life and be modest and polite, without abating their loyalty and courage, thus exemplifying in their conduct the noble traditions of our historic Bushido."...
If a final touch were wanted to the disgrace of the Japanese administration, here it was. Brutality, especially brutality against the unarmed and against women and children, is bad enough; but when to brutality we add nauseating hypocrisy, God help us!
One of the Japanese majors who returned from Korea to Tokyo to lecture was more straightforward. "We must beat and kill the Koreans," he said. And they did.
After a time the Japanese papers began to report the punishments inflicted on the arrested Koreans. Many were released after examination and beatings. It was mentioned that up to April 13th, 2,400 of those arrested in Seoul alone had been released, "after severe admonition." The usual sentences were between six months' and four years' imprisonment.
Soon there came reports that prisoners were attempting to commit suicide in jail. Then came word that two of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence were dead in prison. Koreans everywhere mourned. For they could imagine how they had died.
During the summer the authorities published figures relating to the number of prisoners brought under the examination of Public Procurators between March 1st and June 18th, on account of the agitation. These figures do not include the large numbers released by the police after arrest, and after possibly summary punishment. Sixteen thousand one hundred and eighty-three men were brought up for examination. Of these, 8,351 were prosecuted and 5,858 set free after the Procurators' examination. One thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight were transferred from one law court to another for the purpose of thorough examination, while 178 had not yet been tried.
THE REIGN OF TERROR IN PYENG-YANG
Pyeng-Yang, the famous missionary centre in Northern Korea, has been described in previous chapters. The people here, Christians and non-Christians alike, took a prominent part in the movement. It was announced that three memorial services would be held on March 1st, in memory of the late Emperor, one in the compound of the Christian Boys' School, one in the compound of the Methodist church and the third at the headquarters of the Chun-do Kyo.
The meeting at the boys' school was typical of all. Several of the native pastors and elders of the Presbyterian churches of the city, including the Moderator of the General Assembly, were present, and the compound was crowded with fully three thousand people. After the memorial service was finished, a prominent Korean minister asked the people to keep their seats, as there was more to follow.
Then, with an air of great solemnity, the Moderator of the General Assembly read two passages from the Bible, 1 Peter 3:13-17 and Romans 9:3.
"And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good.
"But, if ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye, and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.
"For I could wish that I were accurst from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh."
It was the great appeal to all that was most heroic in their souls. Some of them whispered the words after the Moderator.
"Sarami doorupkei hanangusul dooru wo malmyu sodong chi malgo."
"Be not afraid of their terror."
These white-robed men knew what was before them. Terror and torture and suffering were no new things to them. Within a quarter of a century conquering and defeated armies had passed through their city time after time. They knew war, and they knew worse than war. Japan had during the past few years planted her terror among them, persecuting the Church, arresting its most prominent members on false charges, breaking them in prison by scientific torture. Many of the men knew, in that assembly, of the meaning of police flogging, the feel of police burning, the unspeakable agony of being strung up by the thumbs under the police inquisition.
"Be not afraid of their terror!" Easy to say this to Western peoples, to whom terror is known only in the form of the high explosives and dropping bombs of honourable war. But for these men it had another meaning, an inquisition awaiting them compared with which the tortures of Torquemada paled.
"Be not afraid!"
There was no tremor of fear in the voice of the college graduate who rose to his feet and came to the front. "This is the proudest and happiest day of my life," he said. "Though I die to-morrow, I cannot help but read." He had a paper in his hand. As the vast audience saw it, they gave a great cheer. Then he read the Declaration of Independence of the Korean people.
When he had finished, another man took the platform. "Nothing of an unlawful nature is to be permitted," he said. "You are all to obey orders, and make no resistance to the authorities, nor to attack the Japanese officials or people." A speech on Korean independence followed. Then some men came out of the building bearing armfuls of Korean flags, which they distributed among the people. A large Korean flag was raised on the wall behind, and the crowd rose to its feet cheering, waving flags, calling "Mansei."
There was to be a parade through the streets. But spies had already hurried off to the police station, and before the people could leave, a company of policemen arrived. "Remain quiet," the word went round. The police gathered up the flags.
In the evening a large crowd gathered in front of the police station shouting "Mansei." The police ordered the hose to be turned on them. The Korean policemen refused to obey their Japanese superiors, threw off their uniforms and joined the mob. The hose at last got to work. The mob responded by throwing stones, breaking the windows of the police station. This was the only violence. On the following day, Sunday, the churches were closed. At midnight, the police had summoned Dr. Moffett to their office and told him that no services could be allowed. Early in the morning, the leaders of the Saturday meetings were arrested, and were now in jail. "Be not afraid!"
At nine o'clock on Monday morning a company of Japanese soldiers was drilling on the campus. A number of students from the college and academy were on the top of a bank, looking on at the drill. Suddenly the soldiers, in obedience to a word of command, rushed at the students. The latter took to their heels and fled, save two or three who stood their ground. The students who had escaped cheered; and one of the men who stood his ground called "Mansei." The soldiers struck him with the butts and barrels of their rifles. Then one poked him with his rifle in his face. He was bleeding badly. Two soldiers led him off, a prisoner. The rest were dispersed with kicks and blows.
Now the Japanese started their innings. One man in plain clothes confronted a Korean who was walking quietly, slapped his face and knocked him down. A soldier joined in the sport, and after many blows with the rifle and kicks, they rolled him down an embankment into a ditch. They then ran down, pulled him out of the ditch, kicked him some more, and hauled him off to prison.
The streets were full of people now, and parties of troops were going about everywhere dispersing them. The crowds formed, shouting "Mansei"; the soldiers chased them, beating up all they could catch. There were rumours that most of the Korean policemen had deserted; they had joined the crowds; the Japanese were searching for them and arresting them; and, men whispered, they would be executed. By midday, every one had enough trouble, and the city quieted down for the rest of the day. It was not safe to go abroad now. The soldiers were beating up every one they could find, particularly women.
By Tuesday the city was full of tales of the doings of the soldiers; having tasted blood, the troops were warming to their work, "The soldiers have been chasing people to-day like they were hunters after wild beasts," wrote one foreign spectator. "Outrages have been very numerous." Still, despite the troops, the people held two or three patriotic meetings.
Let me tell the tale of Tuesday and Wednesday from two statements made by Dr. Moffett. These statements were made at the time to the officials in Pyeng-yang and in Seoul:
"On Tuesday, March 4th, I, in company with Mr. Yamada, Inspector of Schools, went into the midst of the crowds of Koreans on the college grounds, and thence went through the streets to the city.
"We saw thousands of Koreans on the streets, the shops all closed, and Japanese soldiers here and there....
"As we came back and near a police station, soldiers made a dash at some fifteen or more people in the middle of the street, and three of the soldiers dashed at some five or six men standing quietly at the side, under the eaves of the shops, hitting them with their guns. One tall young man in a very clean white coat dodged the thrust of the gun coming about five feet under the eaves when an officer thrust his sword into his back, just under the shoulder blades. The man was not more than ten feet from us in front....
"Mr. Yamada was most indignant and said, 'I shall tell Governor Kudo just what I have seen and tell him in detail.'
"I asked him if he had noticed that the man was quietly standing at the side of the road, and had given no occasion for attack. He said, 'Yes.'
"Just after that we saw thirty-four young girls and women marched along by some six or eight policemen and soldiers, the girls ahead not being more than twelve or thirteen years of age.
"Just outside the West Gate Mr. Yamada and I separated and I went towards home. As I arrived near my own compound, I saw a number of soldiers rush into the gate of the Theological Seminary professor's cottage, and saw them grab out a man, beat and kick him and lead him off. Others began clubbing a youth behind the gate and then led him out, tied him tightly and beat and kicked him.
"Then there came out three others, two youths and one man, dragged by soldiers, and then tied with rope, their hands tied behind them.
"Thinking one was my secretary, who lived in the gate house, where the men had been beaten, I moved to the junction of the road to make sure, but I recognized none of the four. When they came to the junction of the road and some of the soldiers were within ten or twelve feet of me, they all stopped, tied the ropes tighter, and then with four men tied and helpless, these twenty or more soldiers, in charge of an officer, struck the men with their fists in the face and back, hit them on the head and face with a piece of board, kicked them on the legs and back, doing these things repeatedly. The officer in a rage raised his sword over his head as he stood before a boy, and both I and the boy thought that he was to be cleft in two. The cry of terror and anguish he raised was most piercing. Then, kicking and beating these men, they led them off.
"The above I saw myself and testify to the truthfulness of my statements. In all my contact with the Koreans these five days, and in all my observation of the crowds inside and outside the city, I have witnessed no act of violence on the part of any Korean."
The Theological Seminary was due to open on March 5th. Five students from South Korea arrived and went into their dormitory on the afternoon of the 4th. They had taken no part in the demonstrations. Later in the afternoon the soldiers, searching after some people who had run away from them, burst into the seminary. They broke open the door of the dormitory, pulled the five theologues out and hauled them off to the police station. There, despite their protests, they were tied by their arms and legs to large wooden crosses, face downwards, and beaten on the naked buttocks, twenty-nine tremendous blows from a hard cane, each. Then they were dismissed.
That same night firemen were let loose on the village where many of the students lived and boarded. They dragged out the young men and beat them. The opening of the seminary had to be postponed.
The Japanese were eager to find grounds for convicting the missionaries of participation in the movement. One question was pressed on every prisoner, usually by beating and burning, "Who instigated you? Was it the foreigners?"
Dr. Moffett was a special object of Japanese hatred. The Osaka Asahi printed a bitter attack on him on March 17th. This is the more notable because the Asahi is a noted organ of Japanese Liberalism.
THE EVIL VILLAGE OUTSIDE THE WEST GATE IN PYENG-YANG
A Clever Crowd
"Outside the West Gate in Pyeng-yang there are some brick houses and some built after the Korean style, some high and some low. These are the homes of the foreigners. There are about a hundred of them in all, and they are Christian missionaries. In the balmy spring, strains of music can be heard from there. Outwardly they manifest love and mercy, but if their minds are fully investigated, they will be found to be filled with intrigue and greed. They pretend to be here for preaching, but they are secretly stirring up political disturbances, and foolishly keep passing on the vain talk of the Koreans, and thereby help to foster trouble. These are really the homes of devils.
"The head of the crowd is Moffett. The Christians of the place obey him as they would Jesus Himself. In the 29th year of Meiji freedom was given to any one to believe in any religion he wished, and at that time Moffett came to teach the Christian religion. He has been in Pyeng-yang for thirty years, and has brought up a great deal of land. He is really the founder of the foreign community. In this community, because of his efforts there have been established schools from the primary grade to a college and a hospital. While they are educating the Korean children and healing their diseases on the one hand, on the other there is concealed a clever shadow, and even the Koreans themselves talk of this.
"This is the centre of the present uprising. It is not in Seoul but in Pyeng-yang.
"It is impossible to know whether these statements are true or false, but we feel certain that it is in Pyeng-yang, in the Church schools,—in a certain college and a certain girls' school—in the compound of these foreigners. Really this foreign community is very vile."
[Footnote 1: Osaka Asahi, quoted in the Peking and Tientsin Times, March 38,1919.]
A veritable reign of terror was instituted. There were wholesale arrests and the treatment of many of the people in prison was in keeping with the methods employed by the Japanese on the Conspiracy Trial victims. The case of a little shoe boy aroused special indignation. The Japanese thought that he knew something about the organization of the demonstration—why they thought so, only those who can fathom the Japanese mind would venture to say—so they beat and burned him almost to death to make him confess. A lady missionary examined his body afterwards. There were four scars, five inches long, where the flesh had been seared with a red-hot iron. His hands had swollen to twice their normal size from beating, and the dead skin lay on the welts. He had been kicked and beaten until he fainted. Then they threw water over him and gave him water to drink until he recovered when he was again piled with questions and beaten with a bamboo rod until he collapsed.
Some of those released from prison after they had satisfied the Japanese of their innocence had dreadful tales to tell. Sixty people were confined in a room fourteen by eight feet, where they had to stand up all the time, not being allowed to sit or lie down. Eating and sleeping they stood leaning against one another. The wants of nature had to be attended to by them as they stood. The secretary of one of the mission schools was kept for seven days in this room, as part of sixteen days' confinement, before he was released.
A student, arrested at his house, was kept at the police station for twenty days. Then they let him go, having found nothing against him. His bruised body when he came out showed what he had suffered. He had been bound and a cord around his shoulders and arms pulled tight until the breastbone was forced forward and breathing almost stopped. Then he was beaten with a bamboo stick on the shoulders and arms until he lost consciousness. The bamboo stick was wrapped in paper so as to prevent the skin breaking and bleeding. He saw another man beaten ten times into unconsciousness, and ten times brought round; and a boy thrown down hard on the floor and stamped on repeatedly until he lost consciousness. Those who came out were few; what happened to those who remained within the prison must be left to the imagination.
Despite everything, the demonstrations of the people still continued. On March 7th the people of the villages of Po Paik and Kan, twenty miles north of Pyeng-yang, came out practically en masse to shout for independence. Next day four soldiers and one Korean policeman arrived, asking for the pastor of the church. They could not find him, so they seized the school-teacher, slashed his head and body with their swords and thrust a sword twice into his legs. An elder of the church stepped up to protest against such treatment, whereupon a Japanese soldier ran a sword through his side. As the soldiers left some young men threw stones at them. The soldiers replied with rifle fire, wounding four men.
Soldiers and police came again and again to find the pastor and church officers who had gone into hiding. On April 4th they seized the women and demanded where their husbands were, beating them with clubs and guns, the wife of one elder being beaten till great red bruises showed all over her body.
The police evidently made up their minds that the Christians were responsible for the demonstration, and they determined to rid the place of them. The services of some liquor sellers were enlisted to induce people to tear down the belfry of the church. On April 18th a Japanese came and addressed the crowd through an interpreter.
He told them that the Christians had been deceived by the "foreign devils," who were an ignorant, low-down lot of people, and that they should be driven out and go and live with the Americans who had corrupted them. There was nothing in the Bible about independence and "Mansei." Three thousand cavalry and three thousand infantry were coming to destroy all the Christians, and if they did not drive them out but continued to live with them, they would be shot and killed.
A number of half drunken men got together to drive out the Christians. This was done. A report was taken to the gendarmes that the Christians had been driven away, whereupon the villagers were praised. In other parts, near by, the same chief of gendarmes was ordering the families of Christians out of their homes, arresting the men and leaving the women and children to seek refuge where they might.
Word came to some other villages in the Pyeng-yang area that the police would visit them on April 27th, to inspect the house-cleaning. The Christians received warning that they must look out for a hard time. Everything was very carefully cleaned, ready for the inspection. The leader of the church sent word to all the people to gather for early worship, so as to be through before the police should come. But the police were there before them, a Japanese in charge, two Korean policemen, two secretaries and two dog killers.
The two leaders of the church were called up by the Japanese, who stepped down and ran his fingers along the floor. "Look at this dust," he said. Ordering the two men to sit down on the floor, he beat them with a flail, over the shoulders.
"Do you beat an old man, seventy years old, this way?" called the older man.
"What is seventy years, you rascal of a Christian?" came the reply.
The police took the names of the Christians from the church roll, and went round the village, picking them out and beating them all, men, women and children. They killed their dogs. The non-Christians were let alone.
On the afternoon of April 4th a cordon of police and gendarmes was suddenly picketed all around the missionary quarter in Pyeng-yang, and officials, police and detectives made an elaborate search of the houses. Some copies of an Independence newspaper, a bit of paper with a statement of the numbers killed at Anju, and a copy of the program of the memorial service were found among the papers of Dr. Moffett's secretary, and two copies of a mimeographed notice in Korean, thin paper rolled up into a thin ball and thrown away, were found in an outhouse. The secretary was arrested, bound, beaten and hauled off. Other Koreans found on the premises were treated in similar fashion. One man was knocked down, beaten and kicked on the head several times.
Dr. Moffett and the Rev. E.M. Mowry, another American Presbyterian missionary from Mansfield, Ohio, were ordered to the police office that evening, and cross-examined. Dr. Moffett convinced the authorities that he knew nothing of the independence movement and had taken no part in it (he felt bound, as a missionary, not to take part in political affairs), but Mr. Mowry was detained on the charge of sheltering Korean agitators.
Mr. Mowry had allowed five Korean students wanted by the police to remain in his house for two days early in March. Some of them were his students and one was his former secretary; Mr. Mowry was a teacher at the Union Christian College, and principal of both the boys' and girls' grammar schools at Pyeng-yang. Mr. Mowry declared that Koreans often slept at his house, and he had no knowledge that the police were trying to arrest these lads.
The missionary was kept in jail for ten days. His friends were told that he would probably be sent to Seoul for trial Then he was suddenly brought before the Pyeng-yang court, no time being given for him to obtain counsel, and was sentenced to six months' penal servitude. He was led away wearing the prisoners' cap, a wicker basket, placed over the head and face.
An appeal was at once entered, and eventually the conviction was quashed, and a new trial ordered.
GIRL MARTYRS FOR LIBERTY
The most extraordinary feature of the uprising of the Korean people is the part taken in it by the girls and women. Less than twenty years ago, a man might live in Korea for years and never come in contact with a Korean woman of the better classes, never meet her on the street, never see her in the homes of his Korean friends. I have lived for a week or two at a time, in the old days, in the house of a Korean man of high class, and have never once seen his wife or daughters. In Japan in those days—and with many families the same holds true to-day—when one was invited as a guest, the wife would receive you, bow to the guest and her lord, and then would humbly retire, not sitting to table with the men.
Christian teaching and modern ways broke down the barrier in Korea. The young Korean women took keenly to the new mode of life. The girls in the schools, particularly in the Government schools, led the way in the demand for the restoration of their national life. There were many quaint and touching incidents. In the missionary schools, the chief fear of the girls was lest they should bring trouble on their American teachers. The head mistress of one of these schools noticed for some days that her girls were unusually excited. She heard them asking one another, "Have you enrolled?" and imagined that some new girlish league was being formed. This was before the great day. One morning the head mistress came down to discover the place empty. On her desk was a paper signed by all the girls, resigning their places in the school. They thought that by this device they would show that their beloved head mistress was not responsible.
Soon there came a call from the Chief of Police. The mistress was wanted at the police office at once. All the girls from her school were demonstrating and had stirred up the whole town. Would the mistress come and disperse them?
The mistress hurried off. Sure enough, here were the girls in the street, wearing national badges, waving national flags, calling on the police to come and take them. The men had gathered and were shouting "Mansei!" also.
The worried Chief of Police, who was a much more decent kind than many of his fellows, begged the mistress to do something. "I cannot arrest them all," he said. "I have only one little cell here. It would only hold a few of them," The mistress went out to talk to the girls. They would not listen, even to her. They cheered her, and when she begged them to go home, shouted "Mansei!" all the louder.
The mistress went back to the Chief. "The only thing for you to do is to arrest me," she said.
The Chief was horrified at the idea, "I will go out and tell the girls that you are going to arrest me if they do not go," she said. "We will see what that will do. But mind you, if they do not disperse, you must arrest me."
She went out again. "Girls," she called, "the Chief of Police is going to arrest me if you do not go to your homes. I am your teacher, and it must be the fault of my teaching that you will not obey."
"No, teacher, no," the girls shouted. "It is not your fault. You have nothing to do with it. We are doing this." And some of them rushed up, as though they would rescue her by force of arms.
In the end, she persuaded the girls to go home, in order to save her. "Well," said the leaders of the girls, "it's all right now. We have done all we wanted. We have stirred up the men. They were sheep and wanted women to make a start. Now they will go on."
The police and gendarmerie generally were not so merciful as this particular Chief. The rule in many police stations was to strip and beat the girls and young women who took any part in the demonstrations, and to expose them, absolutely naked, to as many Japanese men as possible. The Korean woman is as sensitive as a white woman about the display of her person, and the Japanese, knowing this, delighted to have this means of humiliating them. In some towns, the schoolgirls arranged to go out in sections, so many one day, so many on the other. The girls who had to go out on the later days knew how those who had preceded them had been stripped and beaten. Anticipating that they would be treated in the same way, they sat up the night before sewing special undergarments on themselves, which would not be so easily removed as their ordinary clothes, hoping that they might thus avoid being stripped entirely naked.
The girls were most active of all in the city of Seoul. I have mentioned in the previous chapter the arrest of many of them. They were treated very badly indeed. Take, for instance, the case of those seized by the police on the morning of Wednesday, March 5th. They were nearly all of them pupils from the local academies. Some of them were demonstrating on Chong-no, the main street, shouting "Mansei." Others were wearing straw shoes, a sign of mourning, for the dead Emperor. Still others were arrested because the police thought that they might be on the way to demonstrate. A few of these girls were released after a spell in prison. On their release, their statements concerning their treatment were independently recorded.
They were first taken to the Chong-no Police Station, where a body of about twenty Japanese policemen kicked them with their heavy boots, slapped their cheeks or punched their heads. "They flung me against a wall with all their might, so that I was knocked senseless, and remained so for a time," said one. "They struck me such blows across the ears that my cheeks swelled up," said another. "They trampled on my feet with their heavy nailed boots till I felt as though my toes were crushed beneath them.... There was a great crowd of students, both girls and boys. They slapped the girls over the ears, kicked them, and tumbled them in the corners. Some of them they took by the hair, jerking both sides of the face. Some of the boy students they fastened down with a rope till they had their heads fastened between their legs. Then they trampled them with their heavy boots, kicking them in their faces till their eyes were swelled and blood flowed."
Seventy-five persons, forty men and thirty-five girls, were confined in a small room. The door was closed, and the atmosphere soon became dreadful. In vain they pleaded to have the door open. The girls were left until midnight without food or water. The men were removed at about ten in the evening.
During the day, the prisoners were taken one by one before police officials to be examined. Here is the narrative of one of the schoolgirls. This girl was dazed and almost unconscious from ill-treatment and the poisoned air, when she was dragged before her inquisitor.
"I was cross-questioned three times. When I went out to the place of examination they charged me with having straw shoes, and so beat me over the head with a stick. I had no sense left with which to make a reply. They asked:
"'Why did you wear straw shoes?'
"'The King had died, and whenever Koreans are in mourning they wear straw shoes,'
"'That is a lie,' said the cross-examiner. He then arose and took my mouth in his two hands and pulled it each way so that it bled. I maintained that I had told the truth and no falsehoods. 'You Christians are all liars,' he replied, taking my arm and giving it a pull.
"... The examiner then tore open my jacket and said, sneeringly, 'I congratulate you,' He then slapped my face, struck me with a stick until I was dazed and asked again, 'Who instigated you to do this? Did foreigners?'
"My answer was, 'I do not know any foreigners, but only the principal of the school. She knows nothing of this plan of ours!'
"'Lies, only lies,' said the examiner.
"Not only I, but others too, suffered every kind of punishment. One kind of torture was to make us hold a board at arm's length and hold it out by the hour. They also had a practice of twisting our legs, while they spat on our faces. When ordered to undress, one person replied, 'I am not guilty of any offence. Why should I take off my clothes before you?'
"'If you really were guilty, you would not be required to undress, but seeing you are sinless, off with your clothes,'"
He was a humorous fellow, this cross-examiner of the Chong-no Police Station. He had evidently learned something of the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. His way was first to charge the girls—schoolgirls of good family, mind you—with being pregnant, making every sort of filthy suggestion to them. When the girls indignantly denied, he would order them to strip.
"Since you maintain you have not sinned in any way, I see the Bible says that if there is no sin in you take off all your clothes and go before all the people naked," he told one girl. "Sinless people live naked."
Let us tell the rest of the story in the girl's own words. "The officer then came up to where I was standing, and tried to take off my clothes. I cried, and protested, and struggled, saying, 'This is not the way to treat a woman.' He desisted. When he was making these vile statements about us, he did not use the Korean interpreter, but spoke in broken Korean. The Korean interpreter seemed sorrowful while these vile things were being said by the operator. The Korean interpreter was ordered to beat me. He said he would not beat a woman; he would bite his fingers first. So the officer beat me with his fist on my shoulders, face and legs."
These examinations were continued for days. Sometimes a girl would be examined several times a day. Sometimes a couple of examiners would rush at her, beating and kicking her; sometimes they would make her hold a chair or heavy board out at full length, beating her if she let it sink in the least. Then when she was worn out they would renew their examination. The questions were all directed towards one end, to discover who inspired them, and more particularly if any foreigners or missionaries had influenced them. During this time they were kept under the worst possible conditions.
"I cannot recount all the vile things that were said to us while in the police quarters in Chong-no," declared one of the girls. "They are too obscene to be spoken, but by the kindness of the Lord I thought of how Paul had suffered in prison, and was greatly comforted. I knew that God would give the needed help, and as I bore it for my country, I did not feel the shame and misery of it." One American woman, to whom some of the girls related their experiences, said to me, "I cannot tell you, a man, all that these girls told us. I will only say this. There have been stories of girls having their arms cut off. If these girls had been daughters of mine I would rather that they had their arms cut off than that they faced what those girls endured in Chong-no."
There came a day when the girls were bound at the wrists, all fastened together, and driven in a car to the prison outside the West Gate. Some of them were crying. They were not allowed to look up or speak. The driver, a Korean, took advantage of a moment when the attention of their guard was attracted to whisper a word of encouragement. "Don't be discouraged and make your bodies weak. You are not yet condemned. This is only to break your spirits."
The prison outside the West Gate is a model Japanese jail. There were women officials here. It seemed horrible to the girls that they should be made to strip in front of men and be examined by them. Probably the men were prison doctors. But it was evidently intended to shame them as much as possible. Thus one girl relates that, after her examination, "I was told to take my clothes and go into another room. One woman went with me, about a hundred yards or more away. I wanted to put my clothes on before leaving the room, but they hurried me and pushed me. I wrapped my skirt about my body before I went out, and carried the rest of my clothes in my arms. After leaving this room, and before reaching the other, five Korean men prisoners passed us."
For the first week the girls, many of them in densely crowded cells, were kept in close confinement. After this, they were allowed out for fifteen minutes, wearing the prisoners' hat, which comes down over the head, after breakfast. Their food was beans and millet It was given to the accompaniment of jeers and insults. "You Koreans eat like dogs and cats," the wardresses told them.
The routine of life in the prison was very trying. They got up at seven. Most of the day they had to assume a haunched, kneeling position, and remain absolutely still, hour after hour. The wardresses in the corridors kept close watch, and woe to the girl who made the slightest move. "They ordered us not to move a hand or a foot but to remain perfectly still," wrote one girl. "Even the slightest movement brought down every kind of wrath. We did not dare to move even a toe-nail."
One unhappy girl, mistaking the call of an official in the corridor, "I-ri-ma sen" for a command to go to sleep, stretched out her leg to lie down. She was scolded and severely punished. Another closed her eyes in prayer. "You are sleeping," called the wardress. In vain the girl replied that she was praying. "You lie," retorted the polite Japanese lady. More punishment!
After fifteen days in the prison outside the West Gate, some of the girls were called in the office. "Go, but be very careful not to repeat your offence," they were told. "If you are caught again, you will be given a heavier punishment."
The worst happenings with the women were not in the big towns, where the presence of white people exercised some restraint, but in villages, where the new troops often behaved in almost incredible fashion, outraging freely. The police in many of these outlying parts rivalled the military in brutality. Of the many stories that reached me, the tale of Tong Chun stands out. The account was investigated by experienced white men, who shortly afterwards visited the place and saw for themselves.
The village of Tong Chun contains about 300 houses and is the site of a Christian church. The young men of the place wished to make a demonstration but the elders of the church dissuaded them for a time. However, on March 29th, market day, when there were many people in the place, some children started demonstrating, and their elders followed, a crowd of four or five hundred people marching through the streets and shouting "Mansei!" There was no violence of any kind. The police came out and arrested seventeen persons, including five women.
One of these women was a widow of thirty-one. She was taken into the police office and a policeman tore off her clothes, leaving her in her underwear. Then the police began to take off her underclothes. She protested, whereupon they struck her in the face with their hands till she was black and blue. She still clung to her clothes, so they put a wooden paddle down between her legs and tore her clothes away. Then they beat her. The beating took a long time. When it was finished the police stopped to drink tea and eat Japanese cakes, they and their companions—there were a number of men in the room—amusing themselves by making fun of her as she sat there naked among them. She was subsequently released. For a week afterwards she had to lie down most of the time and could not walk around.
Another victim was the wife of a Christian teacher, a very bright, intelligent woman, with one child four months old, and two or three months advanced in her second pregnancy. She had taken a small part in the demonstration and then had gone to the home of the mother of another woman who had been arrested, to comfort her. Police came here, and demanded if she had shouted "Mansei." She admitted that she had. They ordered her to leave the child that she was carrying on her back and took her to the police station. As she entered the station a man kicked her forcibly from behind and she fell forward in the room. As she lay there a policeman put his foot on her neck, then raised her up and struck her again and again. She was ordered to undress. She hesitated, whereupon the policeman kicked her, and took up a paddle and a heavy stick to beat her with. "You are a teacher," he cried. "You have set the minds of the children against Japan. I will beat you to death."
He tore her underclothes off. Still clinging to them, she tried to cover her nakedness. The clothes were torn out of her hands. She tried to sit down. They forced her up. She tried by turning to the wall to conceal herself from the many men in the room. They forced her to turn round again. When she tried to shelter herself with her hands, one man twisted her arms, held them behind her back, and kept them there while the beating and kicking continued. She was so badly hurt that she would have fallen to the floor, but they held her up to continue the beating. She was then sent into another room. Later she and other women were again brought in the office. "Do you know now how wrong it is to call 'Mansei'?" the police asked. "Will you ever dare to do such a thing again?"
Gradually news of how the women were being treated spread. A crowd of five hundred people gathered next morning. The hot bloods among them were for attacking the station, to take revenge for the ill-treatment of their women. The chief Christian kept them back, and finally a deputation of two went inside the police office to make a protest. They spoke up against the stripping of the women, declaring it unlawful. The Chief of Police replied that they were mistaken. It was permitted under Japanese law. They had to strip them to search for unlawful papers. Then the men asked why only the younger women were stripped, and not the older, why they were beaten after being stripped, and why only women and not men were stripped. The Chief did not reply.
By this time the crowd was getting very ugly. "Put us in prison too, or release the prisoners," the people called. In the end the Chief agreed to release all but four of the prisoners.
Soon afterwards the prisoners emerged from the station. One woman, a widow of thirty-two who had been arrested on the previous day and very badly kicked by the police, had to be supported on either side. The wife of the Christian teacher had to be carried on a man's back. Let me quote from a description written by those on the spot:
"As they saw the women being brought out, in this condition, a wave of pity swept over the whole crowd, and with one accord they burst into tears and sobbed. Some of them cried out, 'It is better to die than to live under such savages,' and many urged that they should attack the police office with their naked hands, capture the Chief of Police, strip him and beat him to death. But the Christian elder and other wiser heads prevailed, kept the people from any acts of violence, and finally got them to disperse."
On April 23rd, at a time when the persecution was at its height, delegates, duly elected by each of the thirteen provinces of Korea, met, under the eyes of the Japanese police, in Seoul, and adopted a constitution, creating the Republic.
Dr. Syngman Rhee, the young reformer of 1894, who had suffered long imprisonment for the cause of independence, was elected the first President. Dr. Rhee was now in America, and he promptly established headquarters in Washington, from which to conduct a campaign in the interests of his people. Diplomatically, of course, the new Republican organization could not be recognized; but there are many ways in which such a body can work.
The First Ministry included several men who had taken a prominent part in reform work in the past The list was:
Prime Minister........................Tong Hui Yee Minister Foreign Affairs..............Yongman Park Minister of Interior..................Tong Yung Yee Minister of War.......................Pak Yin Roe Minister of Finance...................Si Yung Yee Minister of Law.......................Kiu Sik Cynn Minister of Education.................Kiusic Kimm Minister of Communications............Chang Bum Moon Director Bureau of Labour.............Chang Ho Ahn Chief of Staff........................Tong Yul Lew Vice Chief of Staff...................Sei Yung Lee Vice Chief of Staff...................Nan Soo Hahn
The Provisional Constitution was essentially democratic and progressive:
By the will of God, the people of Korea, both within and without the country, have united in a peaceful declaration of their independence, and for over one month have carried on their demonstrations in over 300 districts, and because of their faith in the movement they have by their representatives chosen a Provisional Government to carry on to completion this independence and so to preserve blessings for our children and grandchildren.
The Provisional Government, in its Council of State, has decided on a Provisional Constitution, which it now proclaims.
1. The Korean Republic shall follow republican principles.
2. All powers of State shall rest with the Provisional Council of State of the Provisional Government.
3. There shall be no class distinction among the citizens of the Korean Republic, but men and women, noble and common, rich and poor, shall have equality.
4. The citizens of the Korean Republic shall have religious liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of writing and publication, the right to hold public meetings and form social organizations and the full right to choose their dwellings or change their abode.
5. The citizens of the Korean Republic shall have the right to vote for all public officials or to be elected to public office.
6. Citizens will be subject to compulsory education and military service and payment of taxes.
7. Since by the will of God the Korean Republic has arisen in the world and has come forward as a tribute to the world peace and civilization, for this reason we wish to become a member of the League of Nations.
8. The Korean Republic will extend benevolent treatment to the former Imperial Family.
9. The death penalty, corporal punishment and public prostitution will be abolished.
10. Within one year of the recovery of our land the National Congress will be convened.
The Provisional Secretary of State, And the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Justice, Finance, War, Communications.
In the 1st Year of the Korean Republic, 4th Month.
The following are six principles of government:
1. We proclaim the equality of the people and the State.
2. The lives and property of foreigners shall be respected.
3. All political offenders shall be specially pardoned.
4. We will observe all treaties that shall be made with foreign powers.
5. We swear to stand by the independence of Korea.
6. Those who disregard the orders of the Provisional Government will be regarded as enemies of the State.
The National Council issued a statement of its aims and purpose:
April 22 1919. We, the people of Korea, represented by thirty-three men, including Son Pyeng Heui, have already made the Declaration of Independence of Korea, found on the principle of righteousness and humanity. With a view to upholding the authority of the Declaration, solidifying the foundations of the Independence, and meeting the natural needs of humanity, we, by combining the large and small groups and the provincial representatives, have organized the Korean National Council, and hereby proclaim it to the world.
We, the people of Korea, have a history of over forty-two centuries, as a self-governing and separate state, and of special, creative civilization, and are a peace-loving race. We claim a right to be sharers in the world's enlightenment, and contributors in the evolution of mankind. With a distinctive and world-wide glorious past, and with our healthy national spirit, we should never be subjected to inhuman and unnatural oppression, nor assimilation by another race; and still less could we submit to the materialistic subjugation by the Japanese, whose spiritual civilization is 2,000 years behind ours.
The world knows that Japan has violated the sworn treaties of the past and is robbing us of the right of existence. We, however, are not discussing the wrongs done us by the Japanese in the past, nor considering their accumulated sins; but, in order to guarantee our rights of existence, extend liberty and equality, safeguard righteousness and humanity, maintain the peace of the Orient, and respect the equitable welfare of the whole world, do claim the independence of Korea. This is truly the will of God, motivation of truth, just claim, and legitimate action. By this the world's verdict is to be won, and the repentance of Japan hastened.
At this time, when the militarism which once threatened the peace of the world is brought to submission, and when the world is being reconstructed for a lasting peace, will Japan refuse self-reflection and self-awakening? Obstinate clinging to the errors, which have gone contrary to the times and nature, will result in nothing but the diminution of the happiness of the two peoples and endangering of the peace of the world. This council demands with all earnestness that the government of Japan abandon as early as possible the inhuman policy of aggression and firmly safeguard the tripodic relationship of the Far East, and further duly warn the people of Japan.
Can it be that the conscience of mankind will calmly witness the cruel atrocities visited upon us by the barbarous, military power of Japan for our actions in behalf of the rights of life founded upon civilization? The devotion and blood of our 20,000,000 will never cease nor dry under this unrighteous oppression. If Japan does not repent and mend her ways for herself, our race will be obliged to take the final action, to the limit of the last man and the last minute, which will secure the complete independence of Korea. What enemy will withstand when our race marches forward with righteousness and humanity? With our utmost devotion and best labour we demand before the world our national independence and racial autonomy.
THE KOREAN NATIONAL COUNCIL
Representatives of the thirteen Provinces:
Yee Man Jik Kim Hyung Sun Yee Nai Su Yu Keun Pak Han Yung Kang Ji Yung Pak Chang Ho Chang Seung Yee Yeng Jun Kim Heyen Chun Choi Chun Koo Kim Ryu Yee Yong Kiu Kim Sig Yu Sik Kiu Chu Ik Yu Jang Wuk Hong Seung Wuk Song Ji Hun Chang Chun Yee Tong Wuk Chung Tam Kio Kim Taik Pak Tak Kang Hoon
That a Provisional Government shall be organized.
That a demand be made of the Government of Japan to withdraw the administrative and military organs from Korea.
That a delegation shall be appointed to the Paris Peace Conference. That the Koreans in the employ of the Japanese Government shall withdraw.
That the people shall refuse to pay taxes to the Japanese Government.
That the people shall not bring petitions or litigations before the Japanese Government.
* * * * *
It was expected in Korea that there would be an immediate agitation in America to secure redress. The American churches were for some weeks strangely silent. There is no reason why the full reasons should not be made public.
The missionary organizations mainly represented in Korea are also strongly represented in Japan. Their officials at their headquarters are almost forced to adopt what can be politely described as a statesmanlike attitude over matters of controversy between different countries. When Mr. Armstrong, of the Presbyterian Board of Missions of Canada, arrived in America, burning with indignation over what he had seen, he found among the American leaders a spirit of great caution. They did not want to offend Japan, nor to injure Christianity there. And there was a feeling—a quite honest feeling,—that they might accomplish more by appealing to the better side of Japan than by frankly proclaiming the truth. The whole matter was referred, by the Presbyterian and Methodist Boards, to the Commission on Relations with the Orient of the Federal Council of the Churches, a body representing the Churches as a whole.