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Sat, May 28, 2022 | 16:30
Dragons in the Palace
For many young foreign diplomats, Seoul in the late 1880s was a wild and exciting adventure. It was, of course, filled with political intrigue and assassinations; the main players were disgruntled court officials, members of the royal family and, reportedly, even the supernatural.
Shocking treatment: Electricity in 19th-century medical treatment
In the summer of 1877, a new type of medicine was introduced into Korea. Dr. Yano, a Japanese naval surgeon, established a hospital in Fusan (now part of modern Busan) where he treated not only the Japanese residents of the enclave but also Koreans from the surrounding regions. At first, many Koreans distrusted this foreign doctor and his new medicines, but, upon hearing glow...
The open secrets of Korea's 'namsadang' art troupes
In the late 19th century, large itinerant troupes of male entertainers - known as “namsadang” - roamed the Korean countryside providing the people with a brief respite from their everyday lives through acrobatics, music, dance and puppet plays. They have been described as the “voice of the common people,” as the performers were commoners themselves.
Folk entertainment at a village festival in 1957
In 1957, Richard Rutt - an Anglican missionary - wrote a series of anonymous articles for The Korea Times in which he described his life in a small village near Pyeongtaek. He was a master storyteller and his narratives were vivid, humorous and filled with detail which granted his readers the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of Seoul and relax in the simplicity of ...
The 1893 wreck of the Russian warship, the Vitiaz
In early April 1893, the Russian warship, the Vitiaz (Valiant Warrior), departed Japan for Korea - its mission was to survey the coast along the eastern side of the peninsula so that the Russian government could update its charts. The previous charts were about forty years old and were filled with inaccuracies.
Jemulpo tennis tournament in 1902
One of the first foreign sports to be introduced into Korea was tennis. In the spring of 1884, the American minister, Lucius Foote, and his wife Rose had a tennis court constructed at the American Legation in Seoul. About a month later, a tennis court was set up in Fusan (modern Busan) by the Western employees of the Korean Customs Service.
Children during the Korean War
In the spring of 1952, Frederic H. Dustin, a 22-year-old American soldier, arrived at Incheon and was quickly transported to his unit in the Gapyeong area. One of his first impressions of Korea was the children gathered along the railroad tracks asking the soldiers aboard the train for chocolates and change. For the next couple of months, he saw nothing of the country save th...
Jemulpo in the 1900s: An 'unattractive entrance to a great adventure'
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jemulpo (modern Incheon) was described as an “unattractive entrance to a great adventure.” Many visitors bemoaned the lack of trees on surrounding hills, the vast expanse of mudflats which were exposed during the low tide and the haphazardly developed port consisting of four parts or settlements: the Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Gen...
Korea's 1902 cholera epidemic
According to William Franklin Sands, an American adviser to the Korean government, the great cholera epidemic of 1902 struck Korea in the late summer without warning. Years later, Sands recalled…
Emperor Gojong's meeting with an observant British sailor
On April 10, 1901, the British representative in Korea presented the Order of the Grand Commander of the Indian Empire to Emperor Gojong. The Korea Review - an English-language magazine published in Seoul - declared in a very short article that the document accompanying the decoration was one of the last signed by the late Queen Victoria with her own hand.