Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Spirit of Independence

The Spirit of Independence: A Primer of Korean Modernization and Reform

Syngman Rhee
Translated, Annotated, and with an Introduction by Han-Kyo Kim
Copyright Date: 2001
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wr4gh
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Spirit of Independence
    Book Description:

    Syngman Rhee (Yi Sûng-man, 1875-1965) is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in modern Korean history. He emerged as the dominant leader in Korea's nationalist struggle against Japan and served as the first president of the Republic of Korea from 1948 through 1960. Rhee's political career as founder and president, however, was not without controversy. While some hailed him as "the George Washington of Korea," others regarded Rhee as "a little Chiang Kai-shek." This first English translation of Rhee's magnum opus,The Spirit of Independence (Tongnip chôngsin),provides readers with an essential key to understanding the breadth and depth of Rhee's thought at a critical juncture in his life and his country's history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6444-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Young Ick Lew

    Dr. Syngman Rhee (Yi Sŭng-man, 1875–1965), the author of the present volume, was a renowned statesman who played the pivotal role in establishing the Republic of Korea in 1948. The public evaluation of his record as the founder and first president of the republic from 1948 through 1960 remains mixed. Many regard him as the “George Washington of Korea,” while others decry him as a “little Chiang Kai-shek.” A balanced judgment on his caliber and performance as a Korean political leader requires a thorough scrutiny of his background, including his thought and action prior to 1948.

    Few people are...

  4. NOTES ON ASIAN NAMES AND WORDS
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Translatorʹs Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    The Spirit of Independence (Tongnip chŏngsinin Korean; hereafter,The Spirit)was written in 1904 by a political prisoner languishing in a jail in Seoul, Korea.¹ The author, Yi Sŭng-man (better known as Syngman Rhee, the name he used in his English-language writings, which we also shall use in the present work), was a young political activist who was serving a life term in prison for his radical reform and antigovernment activities. He was a passionate nationalist who wished to awaken his tradition-bound compatriots to accept and support modernization and nation building based on Western models. He knew that Korea...

  7. The Spirit of Independence

    • Authorʹs Introduction
      (pp. 25-26)
      Syngman Rhee

      It has been seven long years [sic] that I have been in prison.¹ Because I hate wasting precious time, I have tried to alleviate my suffering and anxiety by burying myself in various books that my domestic and foreign friends have loaned me from time to time.² I could not contain my anger, at times, over current developments that set the blood inside this foolish man boiling. So, I have translated a few titles, but none of them could be published, further aggravating my heavy heart.³ For a few years, I wrote columns in the newspaper to express myself, but...

    • Postscript
      (pp. 27-28)
      Pak Yong-man

      People say that a person can survive an abduction by a tiger as long as one remains alert. That being true, a defeated nation may not remain extinct forever as long as its people keep alive their spirit of independence.

      Consider the independence of Greece; its brilliant success was not achieved overnight. Also consider the independence of Italy; its magnificent achievements are not the work of one individual. For many years, many people worked tirelessly with their pens and voices and shed sweat and blood, cultivating the aspirations of united peoples for independence. Since ancient times, therefore, wise men and...

    • Publisherʹs Postscript
      (pp. 29-31)
      Mun Yang-mok

      The Spirit of Independencewas written to safeguard the sovereignty of our nation. Anyone who reads this book will readily understand how sincere is the author’s patriotic dedication, which requires, therefore, no explanation. But since a reader may wish to learn how this work came about, it may be necessary that we record it briefly.

      The author, Mr. Syngman Rhee, was imprisoned after the collapse of the People’s Assembly [Manmin kongdonghoe] movement [in 1898], and underwent endless torture; for seven months, he wore around his neck a wooden cangue, while his feet were locked in stocks and his hands were...

    • 1. Introduction
      (pp. 32-33)

      How lamentable! Without a nation, there would be no home; without a home, where would I, my parents, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and future offspring live? Where would we go? Born a subject of a nation, a person, therefore, finds one’s well-being and safety to be entirely dependent on the nation regardless of whether one is from an upper- or lower-class social background.

      To illustrate, let us imagine taking a voyage on a boat in a vast ocean. When the wind is gentle and the water calm, all passengers leave the tasks of sailing and rowing to the...

    • 2. Everyone Should Awaken to Their Responsibility
      (pp. 34-39)

      We call upon you, compatriots! Every person—the noble and the humble, the officials and the commoners of all ranks, the rich and the poor, the aristocrats and the servants, men and women, the old and the young—must realize, as a constituent member of this nation of 20 million people, that he or she bears a certain portion of responsibility for what has happened to the country.

      There are those who have power and occupy government positions and whose crimes of selling out the country have been exposed. Many worked for these [traitorous] individuals and helped dismantle the edifice...

    • 3. Failure in Discharging Duties Invites Disaster
      (pp. 40-44)

      Although someone may not have discharged duties to the country and hence be guilty, one may retain control over person and home. Since the immediate imposition of any sanctions for guilt may be difficult, it may be said that this person was wise in managing his or her private interests after all. [On the other hand,] a supposedly brave individual may not manage his or her own person or home well. Take a look at those who used to have power. At one time, they enjoyed dignity and honor that seemed to fill the land and promise to last tens...

    • 4. Things That the People Can Do If They Try
      (pp. 45-47)

      Assume that the common people wish to discharge their duties and that they are not unaware of the damages they must suffer if they fail. But what could they do, some of our readers may ask, if their superiors themselves fail to carry out their responsibilities and they also prevent the commoners from fulfilling the commoners’ duties? This statement may appear to be an exaggeration. Let us first examine what a nation is.

      When many people come together and live in an organized society, we call it a nation. It may be compared to an association where many people gather...

    • 5. Foundation of True Loyalty
      (pp. 48-50)

      What we have discussed above has been shown in the behaviors of those who disregarded their obligations as subjects and only followed their selfish interests. Even those who have some degree of concern for the public and are willing to follow the path of loyalty to the nation are less willing than foreigners to risk their lives for the sake of the nation because they do not know what true loyalty is. They may have the same intention and devote the same amount of energy [as do the foreigners] but end up defeating the real purpose of loyalty. One must...

    • 6. A Strong Resolve for Independence
      (pp. 51-53)

      I am writing this book in order to make a fervent appeal to our compatriots throughout the nation to join together in defending the independence and rights of the Empire of Taehan and in reviving its life, which has been almost fatally wounded, to thrive forever. As I discussed earlier, our life today is like a voyage in a vast stormy ocean. How can we pretend that the danger affects only our superiors up above and not us, the people down below? Can we hope to have a safe voyage while we sit idly without offering any help?

      Every man...

    • 7. Establishing Relations with Foreign Countries
      (pp. 54-58)

      More than four hundred years ago, the nations of the world stayed within their borders and maintained no contact with others. They did not know that the earth was round and believed it to be flat, while the sky was round; hence, the earth’s edge was the sea, which in turn was bounded by the sky. In 1492, an Italian named Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the first time and discovered the continents of North and South America. Subsequently the white people went to America to live and established the United States. The foreigners in our country with the...

    • 8. Distinction between Independence and Neutrality
      (pp. 59-61)

      In addition to these four types [independent state, federation, dependent state, and colony], there exists the permanently neutral state that is sometimes called the permanently independent state [sic], which means that it stays, under agreement with major powers, in the middle and does not lean to any side; it is surrounded by other countries but will not lose its independence. It cannot make an alliance to help another country; neither can it make war with and abhor another country. It only protects its own territory and sovereignty, avoids entanglement in others’ disputes, maintains equal relationships with other countries at all...

    • 9. The Nation May Not Last If the People Remain Unenlightened
      (pp. 62-66)

      We have distinguished the rights and benefits of various nations in the world under international law. International law is not established by any one state nor was it formulated by judges selected by all the nations in the world. Nevertheless, those countries with high levels of civilization exercise restraint on their power and observe international law. Should one or two strong and ruthless countries behave unlawfully toward and try to take advantage of a weak nation, the latter has the right to reject such attempts, thanks to the power of international law. Even when the weak nation cannot reject unwarranted...

    • 10. Crucial Importance of the Right of Self-Rule
      (pp. 67-70)

      Self-rule and independence are thus important and their benefits are necessarily large and deserve careful thought. In general, self-rule refers to a person or a nation managing one’s or its own affairs, while independence means standing on one’s own without relying on anyone else. Anyone worthy of the name is born with them as part of their innate nature. The distinctions between the high[born] and the low[born] or between the noble and the humble reflect differences in circumstances as determined by the human mind. In terms of heavenly principles, the so-called noble and highborn person and the weak and humble...

    • 11. An Outline of the Laws of the Universe
      (pp. 71-75)

      The foregoing discussion shows that a person’s well-being and safety depends upon the nation. A nation’s well-being and safety depend upon the conditions of the world. No one in this world can afford to remain ignorant about the conditions of the world, which, in order for us to understand, require that we have knowledge of all the laws related to the sun, the moon, and the stars. From ancient times, we have studied astronomy and geography, and a number of scholarly classics and scripts exist. But they lack a correct understanding of the basics; they merely state what the people...

    • 12. Classification of the Six Continents
      (pp. 76-79)

      One quarter of the earth’s surface is land and three quarters are water. A large body of water is called a sea and a larger one the ocean. There are five oceans. The Pacific Ocean surrounds the land we live in and is the largest. The Atlantic Ocean is the second [largest] and is located between the United States and Great Britain. The Indian Ocean is the body of water that the country of India fronts and through which we have to pass when we go to the West by going westward. The Arctic and the Antarctic Oceans, situated at...

    • 13. Classification of the Five Races
      (pp. 80-81)

      On the six continents of the world, there are approximately 1.5 billion people in total. They can be classified into five groups: Mongolian, Caucasian, Ethiopian, American, and Malayan. These races differ from one another in physical shape and skin color. The Malayan race is dark colored and lives on the Australian continent. The American race is dark red and they are the indigenous people on the North and South American continents. The Ethiopian race is black colored and indigenous to the African continent; they are barbarians. The Caucasians are very white in skin color and comprise all peoples in the...

    • 14. Distinctions between the New and the Old
      (pp. 82-84)

      The five races in the world that number 1.5 billion people are classified into three kinds: those who are civilized and enlightened, those who are semienlightened, and the barbarians. In this threefold classification, the termyamanmeansorangk’ae(barbarian), and it is further divided into two groups. The more backward group is barely distinguishable from beasts; they have no written language and no education, hence no ethics nor manners. There is nothing that can be called the state, only tribal chiefs. They move in groups and looting and killing are their primary pursuits. They hunt and eat wild animals and...

    • 15. Three Types of Government
      (pp. 85-88)

      Inasmuch as these many races have divided the vast land space and set up countries, it is easy to see that there are more than a few countries. As a rule, people live in groups. When they congregate, it is human nature that there will be conflicts. If the vast land area is left to many people without any rules, they would, like herds of beasts, run amuck and eat whatever they were capable of garnering. The big fish would swallow the middle-size fish while the middle-size fish would swallow the small fish. As long as they are preying upon...

    • 16. Rights of the American People
      (pp. 89-94)

      To survey the political system of the United States, there are the upper and the lower houses of Congress, which represent the whole country. The government is divided into three branches, the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary, and the power is divided among them. The legislators exercise only the power to decide what the laws should be and they do not interfere with other powers. The executive officials only enforce the law, while the judicial officials only take charge of the law. None of them can have two of these powers so that power will be divided evenly and...

    • 17. Events Leading to American Independence
      (pp. 95-97)

      In the past, the Western nations did not have constitutions; although some of them had rules for parliaments, most were ruled by autocracy. At the outset everyone benefited greatly, but as people changed, schisms slowly developed. In one or two hundred years, a multitude of schisms grew and plunged the common people into severe distress. Struggles for power among sovereigns led to wars that killed innocent souls like flies. Some individuals flaunted the authority of the Roman Pope, while some others relied on all the powers and influences of emperors, aristocrats, generals, and judges in creating turmoil. In the heat...

    • 18. The Declaration of American Independence
      (pp. 98-103)

      That such a protracted war [the American War of Independence] raged on, producing a multitude of casualties, was due to the oppression of vicious autocratic rule—an unprecedented event in the annals of history. As a rule, such oppression could not but cause uprisings among the people or within the military. These uprisings were temporary disturbances that attempted, in sudden flashes of anger, to retaliate or avenge for humiliation. A few fair-minded persons of influence might have been able to persuade, suppress, or otherwise pacify such an uprising without, however, eradicating the root cause of the problem.

      The American war...

    • 19. History of the American Civil War
      (pp. 104-107)

      The right of independence that was won at such a high cost as we have discussed above has been preserved and passed down from one generation to the next. Everyone guards their rights jealously and refrains from encroaching on others’ rights. Protection of others’ rights is considered one’s own duty. History records many instances of endeavors that were made in the interest of other peoples’ or other governments’ right of self-rule. We shall present an outline of the more illustrious of these endeavors.

      From the beginning, the United States was blessed with a wealth of material things, but it suffered...

    • 20. History of the French Revolution
      (pp. 108-112)

      The nations in Europe were mostly under oppressive regimes that drove the people to the depths of misery and suffering; the people dreaded their sovereigns as they would tigers and hated them like sworn enemies. Everywhere loud voices of grievance were heard, but those up above blindly trusted their power and continued to push the heads of the people down. The conditions at the time were such that the strength of the people appeared to be completely exhausted. But these people were not by nature weak. Moreover, education and scholarship had some effect in developing their minds. Consequently, even under...

    • 21. Benefits of Constitutional Government
      (pp. 113-115)

      From this time on [following the French Revolution], an interest in political reform became more widespread and many countries in Europe became republics. In some other countries those in power realized, by observing gradual changes in people’s behavior, how unfair their political system was. They also knew that if they became more repressive in order to prevent popular uprisings, it would lead to the disaster that they greatly dreaded. They therefore changed the political system on their own, granted certain rights to the people, and avoided coming into conflict with the people; these changes brought peace and quiet at home...

    • 22. Damages Caused by Failure to Change Government
      (pp. 116-118)

      To compare the regions of the six continents, Europe is the smallest but it is foremost in the world in civilization, wealth, and power. That is because all the countries in Europe have changed their governments; some adopted republicanism while some others have championed the constitutional system, thereby developing the people’s minds. Moving eastward, the big countries that had been rich and powerful for millennia failed to change the old autocratic systems and could not save themselves from extinction.

      At the eastern edge of Europe, Turkey was once a very powerful nation, but it is barely surviving today and deteriorating...

    • 23. Political System Matches the Level of the People
      (pp. 119-120)

      We have explained above how the rise or fall of a nation is the consequence flowing from its political system. From this, we can conclude that politics must be reformed. We have to realize first, however, that the political system is dependent on the level of the people. If we fail to notice the people’s level and only see the differences between various foreign political systems, we may be deluded into thinking that any one of these systems would be satisfactory in the new world of today. This would result not only in a punishable offense under our law but...

    • 24. The Peopleʹs Mind Must Be Free First
      (pp. 121-136)

      It is not too difficult to write a constitution, and the need for it is most urgent. The current level of the Korean people is such, however, that one must not expect it to happen anytime soon. The Western nations have not been established for as long as the Eastern nations have; therefore, their people have not been contaminated by bad customs for too long. The people in the Eastern nations have been so thoroughly immersed in diseased and rotten [customs] for thousands of years that, even with the help of [new] learning and education, the fundamental cause cannot be...

    • 25. Limits on the Right of Freedom
      (pp. 137-138)

      The Creator was most fair and impartial when myriad things in the universe were first created; from the smallest to the largest, they were made to check one another with an equal chance for survival. A mouse is so small that it hardly attracts attention; one may, therefore, presume that it must be truly free. But there is the cat that restricts its freedom. The cat, in turn, has [to contend with] the dog. The dog has the tiger, the tiger has the lion, and the lion has humankind, each checking the other. A whale is so huge in size...

    • 26. History of Korean (Taehan) Independence
      (pp. 139-142)

      Since the time of Tan’gun, for nearly five thousand years, Korea (Taehan) has been a full-fledged, strong, independent nation. At the time of Koguryŏ, Emperor Yang of Sui [in China] led 1,113,000 men to invade Korea (Chosŏn); they passed through the Liaotung region, crossed the Yalu River, and came as far as P’yŏngyang only to be defeated by General Ŭlchi Mundŏk. Only a little over twenty-six hundred [invaders] survived and fled. A study of our history reveals similar glorious historical events. Everyone should realize that [Korea] was then powerful. But only Chinese history has been widely studied. Our own illustrious...

    • 27. Chinaʹs Obstinacy
      (pp. 143-145)

      Since the time of Yao and Shun, China has had a highly developed civilization, and its moral culture and politics have been developed to an admirably high level. This led to an arrogant mentality, claiming that China alone was a [civilized] nation while the adjoining countries were all barbarian, namely the eastern(tung-i), the western(hsi-jung), the southern(nan-man), and the northern barbarians(pei-ti). When a country asked for an amicable relationship and sent an emissary, [China] dispatched troops to repel it, or lacking strength, appeased it by sending a [Chinese] princess in marriage or generous gifts in order to...

    • 28. History of Japanʹs Progress
      (pp. 146-148)

      Japan was known in the past as the nation of Woe [Wa in Japanese]. It is situated to the east of Korea and consists of three small [sic] islands. The territory and the population are a little larger than those of Korea [sic]. Since ancient times, the people were known to be fierce and to value weapons. Their morality is deficient and they have many odd customs. Because they live in isolation surrounded by the ocean, which has protected them from foreign invasion, they have come to develop a sense of self-importance. They consider that submission to foreign domination is...

    • 29. Political History of Russia
      (pp. 149-151)

      Russia is situated to the north of China and it straddles the continents of Europe and Asia; it and Great Britain are considered to be the two largest countries in the world. Great Britain is a large country when all its territories scattered throughout the world are included. Russia is large by itself, and the width of its domain is accordingly huge. Because it is located near the northern edge of the earth, its weather is extremely cold. The broad plains are very wet and many regions are illsuited for human habitation. All its harbors are frozen for half of...

    • 30. Western Influence Extends Eastward
      (pp. 152-158)

      Russia’s power could not expand to the West only because everyone was aware of its ambition. Everywhere people were cautious and on the alert and avoided falling into Russia’s trap, and they cooperated with one another to block Russia. Had the Eastern nations realized at an early stage what was afoot and prepared for it, [Russia] would not have become too greedy. But both Korea and China were completely unaware and did not prepare for the steadily approaching disaster. The situation became very dangerous: China became so frightened just hearing Russia’s imperious demands that it would yield [on matters affecting...

    • 31. Japanese Endeavor to Establish Relations with Korea
      (pp. 159-160)

      About this time, Russia also sent an envoy who arrived at Wŏnsan and asked our government for a trade agreement, but it was denied. Under the growing pressure of the Western nations’ power, public opinion had become divided. Then Japan sent an envoy who came to Tongnae42and asked for a trade agreement in these words:

      As Japan surveys the world situation, now that it has established relations with foreign countries, it is clearly aware that it cannot remain isolated as it has been in the past, and that it has no choice but to maintain relationships [with other nations]....

    • 32. Trading with Japan for the First Time
      (pp. 161-163)

      Japan, at this time, wished to send an envoy to Korea and ask for trade. Under international law, a dependent state is not to make a treaty or exchange envoys with another state. China has repeatedly explained to foreign countries that Korea was not a dependent state of China. But China was not always forthright: It would say one thing under difficult conditions and then say another under different circumstances. Because China was not consistent and reliable, [Japan] thought that it should first ask China for a definitive answer before negotiating with Korea.

      An envoy was promptly sent to China...

    • 33. The Imo Mutiny (1882)
      (pp. 164-166)

      In 1879, Hanabusa Yoshitada arrived in Seoul as the Japanese minister to Korea. This was the first time a minister representing a foreign government came to Korea. The Japanese minister, therefore, could take the place of honor when ministers from countries that traded with our country sat at a meeting, and Japan felt most proud. Because this minister had been inside the royal palace in a private capacity before the treaty—which was the reason why he was sent by Japan—he was somewhat familiar with those in power in Korea, as one might expect. He chose Ch’ŏnyŏn-jŏng as the...

    • 34. Korea, Japan, and China before the Sino-Japanese War
      (pp. 167-170)

      In 1875, Kim Ok-kyun and Sŏ Kwang-bŏm48secretly went to Japan and saw a new society. Japan at this time was at the beginning of its reforms and was much less impressive than it is today. All the same, this was the first instance of scions of noble families in our country taking a tour of a foreign country. Without doubt, they were excited and full of admiration. When [they] learned what various people were saying and how the situation in the East was evolving, they felt the urgent need for reforms [in Korea]. They soon returned home and reported...

    • 35. Events of the Kapsin Coup (1884)
      (pp. 171-174)

      It was in 1884 [sic;1882] that trade with the United States was opened. Since this country has had, from the beginning, specially close relations with Korea’s independence and progress, we are particularly interested in the United States. In that year, the American plenipotentiary, [Robert W.] Shufeldt, entered the capital of Korea via Japan. On a previous occasion, [he] had come to Kanghwa [Island], but the entire country had been alarmed and had tried to stop his visit. At the same spot, coming aboard the same ship as before, he landed safely and entered the city [of Chemulp’o?] in peace,...

    • 36. Sending Ministers to the West for the First Time
      (pp. 175-177)

      As it turned out, although the Kapsin Coup was basically aimed at expelling China [from Korea], it only expelled Japan. An investigation after the disturbance showed that more than three hundred Japanese had been killed either in the firefight with the Chinese or by the Korean mob. Representatives from three countries, Kim Hong-jip56of Korea, Inoue Kaoru of Japan, and Li Hung-chang of China, met in Tientsin, China, to discuss a new agreement. They agreed that Korea was to pay indemnities to Japan, and both Japan and China were to withdraw their troops from Korea. France had repeatedly but unsuccessfully...

    • 37. Causes of the Sino-Japanese War
      (pp. 178-181)

      The Taewŏn’gun at this time was out of power and in retirement. He had no opportunity to take part in political affairs and was discontented in his heart, according to popular rumor. All the in-laws of the royal family held the power and they were extremely extortionist and avaricious. The common people were preyed upon and became alienated. They had reached a point where they could not sustain themselves. In their dark mood, they complained: In the days before the advent of the foreigners, the nation was in peace and the people were affluent. After the foreigners’ arrival, nobody can...

    • 38. [Foreign] Relations after the Sino-Japanese War
      (pp. 182-184)

      The Chinese suffered a series of defeats. They were routed out of Ŭiju [in northern Korea] and crossed the Yalu River into China, but they lost Chiu-lien Cheng and Feng-huang Cheng [cities in southern Manchuria] in succession. The formidable batteries at Lushun [Port Arthur] had been considered by foreign countries as invincible, but they fell all at once, shocking Peking and alarming the people. The entire country was surprised and world opinion changed overnight. At the outset, foreign powers had considered China to be a giant nation. Although Britain and France had since marched into Peking and shattered China’s dignity,...

    • 39. Russian Power Invades Liaotung
      (pp. 185-186)

      At this time, other foreign powers stayed neutral and watched the war from the sidelines. When the war ended and Japan received 200 million taels of silver in reparations and acquired the Liaotung region in its entirety, they raised the question of Japan’s excessive extortion. Three countries—Russia, France, and Germany—joined in presenting Japan a memorandum demanding the retrocession of Liaotung to China. The Japanese government was not willing to comply but, under pressure, retreated and returned Liaotung to China in return for approximately 100 million won in cash and the island of Taiwan.64

      The net gain for Japan...

    • 40. The Boxer Incident in China
      (pp. 187-191)

      Li Hung-chang had been the single most vocal leader of China and was the most preeminent individual, save for the emperor, among the 400 million Chinese. Foreign nations, therefore, praised his fame and included him as one of the great men of the world. Moreover, all negotiations with foreign nations had been handled and decisions made by Mr. Li, who was also the first among political leaders of the Orient to become awakened. No wonder that people in and out of China expected a great deal from him. As the situation in the Orient gradually became critical, some of the...

    • 41. Causes of the Russo-Japanese War
      (pp. 192-197)

      Because the Chinese had been, from the early years, miscreant and ruthless toward foreigners, creating frequent controversies, the world resented Chinese behavior and innumerable conflicts ensued, to the point that plans for dividing China’s territory and doing away with its sovereignty were discussed. When large forces from ten nations occupied Peking [in 1900–1901], there were more agitated debates in various nations on partitioning the country and eliminating sovereignty in order to guarantee the nonrecurrence of similar events in the future. The situation was so critical that the nameChinaappeared unlikely to survive. Most worrisome was the possibility that...

    • 42. Korea in 1894–1895
      (pp. 198-201)

      Korea had long been unable to break away from the mentality of reliance on China—until the war of 1894–1895. After the end of the war, the officials and the people alike completely discarded the old idea of only relying on someone else. The reforms (kyŏngjang) thus began. The six boards [that corresponded to cabinet ministries] were replaced by ten departments(amun).69Sinecures were eliminated to save expenditures, while tax assessments were equitably rearranged to prevent arbitrary increases or decreases. Policemen were hired to provide better security.

      The [old] civil service examination system(kwagŏ)was abolished and talented persons...

    • 43. Japan and Russia after 1894–1895
      (pp. 202-208)

      The political objective of the Russians has always been focused on taking land that belonged to other people. They would seize an opportunity and employ a stratagem, offer a favor and win over the person who was in power, or use whatever other means necessary to place a piece of land, however small, under their influence. They would then establish permanent control over the land. They thus developed gradually a desire to unite the whole world [under their control]. Histories of various nations can provide the details. What Russia wanted in the Orient was to utilize every means available to...

    • 44. Japan and Russia before the War
      (pp. 209-215)

      Following the agreements between Japan and Russia that we have discussed above, there gradually developed [in Korea] two partisan factions consisting of officials and civilians of various ranks who became conscious of their group affiliation. Those who frequented the legations of these two countries were often in power and prominent. The common people, who had no detailed insider information, were confused in talking about the [pro-]Japan and the [pro-]Russia factions. In actuality, those who were said to be close to the Japan faction enjoyed only empty titles without a chance to participate in issues involving real power, while the Russia...

    • 45. Results of the Russo-Japanese Negotiations
      (pp. 216-220)

      As the Japanese foreign minister Komura Jutarō and the Russian minister “Urotsu” [sic;Roman Romovich Rosen ?]80were engaged in a long negotiation, other foreign powers were anxious to find out what was going on; politicians, journalists, and officials and civilians of all ranks were constantly on the lookout for news. The Japanese people were most anxious of all and expended much energy to find out, but the Japanese government enforced strict controls so that credible news was scarce and only wild rumors filled the air. The Japanese people became very agitated and the voices of antigovernment criticism grew louder...

    • 46. Situation in Korea Following the Outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War
      (pp. 221-226)

      On the day the war began, Russian troops had not yet landed and the two Russian warships were in Inch’ŏn Harbor. On February 9 of this year, the Japanese warship off P’almi Island sent a message informing [the Russian ships] of an impending attack unless they departed by noon of the same day. As the Russian vessels left [the harbor], a battle broke out, guns firing at each other. For almost two hours, the noise of bombardment thundered on; even in Seoul, 80ri[about 20 miles or 32 km] away, the cannonade could be heard like popping beans in...

    • 47. Japanese Intentions Are Different from Before
      (pp. 227-232)

      We are currently in the midst of a war. The newspapers continuously report stories about the warships of the two nations being destroyed at various locations on the sea with so many casualties. [The press reports also said that] at Lushun, the Japanese ground troops launched several assaults and the gains and losses were such and such, and the fall of the [Russian] batteries is expected on a certain date. As for Russia, it will send in before long some three hundred thousand troops who will move as far [south] as Seoul, Korea, some say, within the next few days....

    • 48. Damages Inflicted by China, Japan, and Russia
      (pp. 233-235)

      To summarize what we have discussed in the preceding pages, Korea’s conditions today are a result of damages inflicted in tandem by China, Japan, and Russia. And these damages were not initiated by the foreign countries without cause; rather they developed out of our invitation to them.

      Let us first talk about the damage inflicted by the Chinese. After [China] had been soundly defeated by Britain and France in Peking, China was struggling for its own survival.85Instead of standing apart on our own at this time, we indicated our wish to depend [on China]. Whenever foreigners came asking for...

    • 49. We Have Missed Many Good Opportunities
      (pp. 236-238)

      As we have already mentioned, when we interacted with foreign countries we often suffered. But this was not because we did not have ample opportunities [to avoid getting hurt]. Rather, [we] failed to recognize, every time, the value of the opportunities that we had, and we missed them all. If we should fail to recognize how good the current opportunity is, nothing further can ever be done. In order to understand [what is at stake], let me present the following synopses of missed opportunities in the past:

      1. We failed to stand up on our own after the yearPyŏngja[1636].87...

    • 50. Intentions of the Japanese Government
      (pp. 239-242)

      Since the withdrawal of Russian influence from Korea, the Korean attitude toward political issues has become extremely uneasy. Everyone predicted that the Korean government would soon be changed; some of them worried, some waited, while some others expressed concern that the change would be too late. Everyone spoke on the basis of what he had heard and what he had experienced. [People] said that the change would come today—or tomorrow.

      Early in the second month of the lunar calendar [March 1904], the Japanese government dispatched to Korea Itō Hirobumi89as ambassador extraordinary to promote the friendly sentiments between the...

    • 51. Intentions of the Japanese People
      (pp. 243-252)

      In the preceding pages, [I] have tried to discuss the intentions of the Japanese government on the basis of the views expressed by a political leader of Japan [Itō?]. We have no way of knowing whether the consensus within that government was to help or harm Korea. Actually, we need not be too anxious to know, because even if Japan wishes to harm us—if we manage our affairs well—world public opinion would prevent Japan from harming us. Or, even if the Japanese government or the whole world wishes to help, if we mismanage our affairs there will be...

    • 52. Epilogue: Essential Conditions for Independence
      (pp. 253-284)

      In this book, we have recorded an outline of events that are related to the independence of Korea. Details cannot all be spelled out, but what has been presented can be sufficient, upon careful reflection, to suggest what independence is or what it involves, what circumstances our independence is in today, or what is likely to happen to it in the future. I hope everyone will study the book many times and will also do their best to encourage everyone else to do the same, so that not a person in the entire country will remain uninformed.

      It would be...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 285-296)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 297-306)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 307-308)