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Thu, October 6, 2022 | 05:59
High price of rice in 1897
In the late fall of 1897, the general Korean population was worried about the ever-increasing prices in local markets. Housewives were quite pleased to discover that imported salt was reasonably inexpensive and cabbages and turnips were found in great abundance. The local newspaper noted that this was very welcome news to the thousands of kimchi makers in Seoul.
Toils of farming in late 19th century
Farmers have always played a vital role in society, but in the late 19th century, they were often overlooked by the pens of visiting Western writers and only occasionally captured in their photographs. While many of these images are unflattering, they are - through their relative simplicity - beautiful and provide a rather fleeting glimpse of life outside of the capital and t...
Military parade during Joseon Dynasty
They say everyone loves a parade - especially a military parade. In late 1888, Frank G. Carpenter, an American travel writer, had the opportunity of reviewing some of Joseon Korea's soldiers - the old and the new. His observations were brutal.
A tiger tale on the road to Wonsan
In the past, tigers reigned in Korea - perhaps the only exception being Jeju Island (legends claim Jeju was spared from tiger infestation due to the island only have 99 peaks) - and could be found in even the most unexpected places, including the bedroom.
Tigers in Wonsan
In May 1880, the Korean port of Wonsan opened to Japanese trade and almost immediately the first tales of tiger encounters began to appear in Japanese newspapers. A Japanese resident in that port described - almost poetically - one of these early encounters.
The perfect gift for the holiday
“Chuseok” (a Korean harvest festival and national holiday) is once again upon us. The markets are full of people rushing to buy last minute gifts before stoically braving traffic snarls, crowded buses, trains and planes to visit their hometowns where, if they are not married, face the ever-increasing demands to know when they will find a mate and have children.
Where was Chuseok in the past?
“Chuseok” is, undoubtedly, one of the most important holidays in Korea. Families gather together, repair and tidy ancestors' graves, celebrate with lots of good food and drink, play games and, in the way only good friends and family are able to, banter throughout the three-day holiday.
Encounters with Kobe in early 1880s: Part 2
On Feb. 28, 1880, the American merchant vessel St. Charles sailed into Hiogo (Kobe) Harbor with a small load of miscellaneous goods and 40,000 cases of kerosene from New York. The ship was relatively new (only 11 years old) and in good repair - having been newly coppered for the voyage and equipped with new sails. After such a long voyage, one can imagine Captain E.V. Gates a...
Encounters with Kobe in early 1880s: Part 1
Sometimes, while following the histories of Westerners residing in Korea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it is easy to go down a rabbit hole. My rabbit hole this week was Kobe, Japan. In 1880, Kobe (commonly referred to as Hiogo) was a bustling Japanese port city of more than 200,000 residents. It had a thriving foreign community of about 875 people. The largest gr...
Western travelers to Seoul in 1882: Part 2
In 1890, an unnamed Westerner provided an account of his experience in Korea in the month or two following the Imo Incident of 1882. According to him, he was a junior officer aboard one of the Japanese steamships that was used to transport Japanese soldiers to Korea. While awaiting orders from headquarters, he and the rest of the crew had a lot of free time which “hung rather...