This article discusses the education-related contents of the English edition of the bilingual Korean newspaper
The opening of Korea orchestrated by King Kojong, the penultimate ruler of the Chosŏn dynasty, from the 1870s onwards had direct consequences on education.2 A process began that led to a massive transformation of education. New educational offers competed with and slowly replaced existing ones. During most of the Chosŏn dynasty, education for the nobility had been based on the Confucian classics, while local schools (
In addition, private actors also started to establish new educational institutions. These private schools can be roughly divided into three categories, the background of the founders clearly differentiating them from each other. Firstly, Koreans established schools that comprised new curricular contents. The Wŏnsan haksa founded in 1883 by local citizens of the port city in the north-eastern part of the country has been referred to as the “first modern school in Korea.”4 Secondly, American Protestant missionaries created schools, as education was one of their means to Christianize the Koreans. The most famous example was the Methodist Paejae Haktang for boys, established in 1885 by Henry G. Appenzeller.5 Mary F. Scranton of the same denomination founded Ewha (Ihwa) Haktang, Korea’s first girls’ school, in 1886.6 Thirdly, Japanese settlers also created schools for Korean students.7
The Kabo Reforms initiated in 1894 reformed Korean state education decisively. These reforms, modelled on the experiences of the Meiji state, were orchestrated by Japanese diplomats after their victory in the Sino-Japanese War that brought an end to Chinese influence on the Korean peninsula. The Confucian state examinations were abolished and a Ministry of Education was established. The government promulgated, but never effectively implemented, a comprehensive education system that even included compulsory primary schooling. Eventually, during the late 1890s, the Ministry of Education controlled a set of Foreign Language Schools (English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, French and German), a Normal School, as well as nine primary schools in Seoul and twenty-one in provincial cities. Additionally, the government signed a contract with the Paejae Haktang to send two hundred students there annually on government fellowships.
It was in this situation following the Kabo Reforms that the bilingual newspaper
The main actors behind
Sŏ and Yun played a leading role in organising the Independence Club founded in July 1896 of which
The Independence Club and its enlightenment spirit were part of a global phenomenon.13 Ideas and practices to reform, improve and develop societies can be described as civilizing missions. Scholars have recently adopted this notion, transforming it from a programmatic term used by imperialists of the late nineteenth century into a heuristic tool for historians. Such an approach has been mostly applied to the British presence in South Asia.14 However, the concept of civilizing missions does not only apply to imperial countries acting upon their colonial possessions, it also applies to elites within European national contexts. In the aftermath of the Parisian Universal Exhibition of 1867, for example, when public instruction had yet to fully take hold in all the French provinces, one expert called for a “saint mission” to bring education to every French child.15 Similarly, as a consequence of their contact with European and American knowledge and practices, East Asian elites perceived their own countries as backward and engaged in civilizing missions. In Korea and elsewhere, enlightenment reformers adopted civilizing discourses and applied them to their own society.16 Such a “self-civilizing initiative”17 involved cultural transfers, that is, the appropriation of foreign ideas, practices, and techniques to one’s own territorial setting.18 It also involved cooperation with and backing from foreign actors. In particular, Sŏ and Yun’s civilizing mission coincided with a Protestant revival in the United States that brought American missionaries to Korea.19
Education was a key component of the Independence Club’s civilizing mission for the religious and moral improvement of the country. Newspapers and education were intimately linked in the late nineteenth century. Not only was education a central topic in a paper such as
2Recent English language scholarship includes Yoonmi Lee, Modern Education, Textbooks and the Image of the Nation: Politics of Modernization and Nationalism in Korean Education, 1880–1910 (New York: Garland, 2000); Leighanne Yuh, “Rejection, Selection, and Acceptance: Early Modern Korean Education and Identity (Re)Construction, 1895–1910,” in Reform and Modernity in the Taehan Empire, ed. Dong-no Kim, John B. Duncan, Do-hyung Kim (Seoul: Jimoondang, 2006); Leighanne Yuh, “Education, the Struggle for Power, and Identity Formation in Korea, 1876–1910” (Ph.D.diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2008). 3Kwang-rin Lee, “Royal College: The Earliest Modern Government School in Korea,” Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities 21 (1964). 4Yong-ha Shin, “The Establishment of the First Modern School in Korea,” Social Science Journal 5 (1978). 5For consistency’s sake I use the Korean name of the school rendered in McCune-Reischauer Romanization, unless I am directly quoting from The Independent. In the case of Ewha Haktang, I use the Romanization ‘Ewha”, as it is still commonly used today. 6Myung-Keun Choi, Changes in Korean Society between 1884–1910 as a Result of the Introduction of Christianity (New York: Peter Lang, 1997), 71–126. 7Jun Uchida, Brokers of Empire: Japanese Settler Colonialism in Korea, 1876-1945 (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2011), 55–58. 8Philip Jaisohn, My Days in Korea and Other Essays, ed. Sun-pyo Hong (Seoul: Institute for Modern Korean Studies, Yonsei University, 1999). 9Kenneth M. Wells, New God, New Nation: Protestants and Self-Reconstruction Nationalism in Korea, 1896-1937 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990), 56–61. 10Vipan Chandra, “Sentiment and Ideology in the Nationalism of the Independence Club (1896– 1898),” Korean Studies 10 (1986); Vipan Chandra, Imperialism, Resistance, and Reform in Late NineteenthCentury Korea: Enlightenment and the Independence Club (Berkeley: University of California, Institute of East Asian Studies, 1988); Se Eung Oh, Dr. Philip Jaisohn’s reform movement, 1896–1898: a critical appraisal of the Independence Club (Lanham: University Press of America, 1995). 11Jongtae Kim, “The Origins of Korea’s Eurocentrism: A Study of Discourses on Gaehwa and Munmyeong,” Seoul Journal of Korean Studies 25 (2012): 42–45. Vladimir Tikhonov has insightfully shown the contrast of Sŏ being a Republican in the United States and an advisor to the monarch in Korea, envisioning reforms from above. See Vladimir Tikhonov, Social Darwinism and Nationalism in Korea: The Beginnings (1880s–1910s). ‘Survival’ as an Ideology of Korean Modernity (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 197. Yun as well saw the masses merely as objects for cultivation: Eun-Jeung Lee, Yun Ch’i-ho. Intellektueller in einer Transformationszeit (München: Iudicium, 2012), 62–63. 12Andre Schmid, Korea between Empires, 1895-1919 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002). 13Sebastian Conrad, “Enlightenment in Global History: A Historiographical Critique,” American Historical Review 117 (2012). 14Boris Barth and Jürgen Osterhammel, ed., Zivilisierungsmissionen: imperiale Weltverbesserung seit dem 18. Jahrhundert (Konstanz: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft, 2005); Harald Fischer-Tiné and Michael Mann, ed., Colonialism as Civilizing Mission. Cultural Ideology in British India (London: Anthem Press, 2004); Carey A. Watt and Michael Mann, ed., Civilizing Missions in Colonial and Postcolonial South Asia. From Improvement to Development (London: Anthem Press, 2011). See also Alice Conklin, A Mission to Civilize: the Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa, 1895–1930 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000). 15Philibert Pompée, “Collections diverses,” in Rapports du jury international. Tome 13, ed. Michel Chevalier (Paris: Dupont, 1868), 772. 16Gil-jun Yu, “Levels of Enlightenment,” in Sourcebook of Korean Civilization. Volume II. From the Seventeenth Century to the Modern Period, ed. Peter H. Lee (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996). 17Michael Mann, “‘Torchbearers Upon the Path of Progress’: Britain’s Ideology of a ‘Moral and Material Progress’ in India,” in Colonialism as Civilizing Mission. Cultural Ideology in British India, ed. Harald Fischer-Tiné and Michael Mann (London: Anthem Press, 2004), 13. 18Young-sun Ha, “The Global Diffusion of the Western Concept of Civilisation to NineteenthCentury Korea,” in Cultural Transfers in Dispute. Representations in Asia, Europe and the Arab World since the Middle Ages, ed. Jörg Feuchter, Friedhelm Hoffmann and Bee Yun (Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 2011); Si-hyun Ryu, “Multiply-Translated Modernity in Korea: Samuel Smiles’ Self-Help and its Japanese and Korean Translation,” International Journal of Korean History 16 (2011). 19Ian Tyrrell, Reforming the World. The Creation of America’s Moral Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010). 20William T. Harris, “The Centennial Exposition,” in Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the St. Louis Public Schools, for the Year Ending August 1, 1876 (St. Louis: Slawson, 1877), 181. 21The Independent, I, 87, 24 October 1896. 22The Independent, I, 14, 7 May 1896.
The first editorial on education in
The editors labelled hitherto dominant ways of education as “old,” “Confucian,” or “Chinese,” and contrasted them to a set of knowledge and practices they perceived as “new,” “modern,” or “Western”. In April 1898
Education played a central role in the intellectual readjustment and nationbuilding process that Andre Schmid has interpreted as “de-centering the middle kingdom.”29 This implied a departure from Sino-centric worldviews and contributed to the geo-cultural positioning of Korea between China and the United States, shortly after the tributary ties between China and Korea had ceased. Enlightenment actors, proud of this new independence wanted to emancipate themselves from a China that was now perceived as backward.
In place of rituals that underscored Korea’s participation in Chinese culture,
The editors’ view was shared by the missionary and government school teacher Homer B. Hulbert who took over the principalship of the Normal School in May 1897. At this stage, Hulbert argued that instruction should be in Korean, not Chinese. Consequently new textbooks were needed. He envisioned that Chinese in Korea would in future play a similar role to “Latin for the Englishman.”32 Concomitantly, there was a desire to teach Korean history and geography as distinct disciplines in order to instil a sense of national pride. A related issue was the adaptation of the solar or Gregorian calendar which was also a result of the Kabo Reforms. This transition, too, was interpreted as a passage from Eastern or Chinese to Western standards. Beyond their symbolic relevance, calendars had practical implications when school holidays needed to be negotiated and Korean children sometimes enjoyed holidays according to both calendars.33
Educational reforms had not only intellectual, but also practical consequences that were well represented in
More importantly, school uniforms were “icons of improvement”35 and as such a central component of the civilizing mission.36 The question of uniforms was first dealt with in May 1896 when
the students of the Royal English School […] have been allowed to assume military dress. It will be a great change in student life. We commend the spirit of these progressive young Koreans and trust that with Western garments they will also adopt some of the more useful western ideas.37
A few weeks later the students presented themselves to Kojong in their new uniforms. The paper reported that Kojong “was very much pleased with them” and that “they looked really nice and orderly.”38 This reference to neatness and order became a paradigmatic feature in the reporting on schools because it best symbolised the transformation of educational practices. Some days later
The students’ hair style was even more controversial.40 Korean males used to have long hair. The Kabo Reform government tried to change this through the socalled hair-cutting edict. In May 1897, it was announced that “the students of the government schools decided to have their hair cut and in a few days the scholars will do away with the time-honored top-knots.”41 The students, praised and supported by the paper, set an example in a time when the question of hairstyles was highly controversial. Students belonged to an avant-garde that adopted the new clothing and hair styles.
As part of their civilizing mission, the editors labored to eradicate the dichotomy between
An anecdote from September 1897 highlights the same idea when the paper reported on a nobleman who had committed suicide and left behind a farewell letter. Therein the
The Korean elite did not embrace
The polemics started in early June when Sin submitted a memorial, criticizing foreign innovations, including universal public instruction, government students sent abroad, the use of Han’gŭl, the Gregorian calendar, as well as the new classroom practices.47 He also opposed Sunday rest, offending the editors’ Christian convictions.48 Sin specified his critiques when he ordered that Korean history and geography textbooks should disappear, that all kinds of physical exercises should be stopped and that taking off hats in classrooms should be prohibited. Also, he wanted Korean teachers to be present when foreign teachers were instructing students, revealing distrust of the foreign teaching staff.
Sin, in short, opposed all the achievements enlightenment thinkers associated with modern life and straightforwardly opposed the editors’ nationalization efforts and emancipation from China.
School uniforms became one central point of Sin’s criticism. Sin ordered that government school students be forbidden to wear Western clothes. Students and teachers alike were to be punished if they showed up in Western dress.51 This enraged the students and teachers of the English Language School who presented a petition in favor of uniforms to the minister. The question of student’s dress became highly politicized.
Shortly thereafter, Sin amplified his critique, harshly criticizing the new classroom practices for which he was in turn attacked by
A Confucian textbook recommended by the Minister incited further debate and eventually would lead to his dismissal. According to
Minister Sin resigned at the beginning of October 1896.
Indeed, this was one of the “successes”
During 1898, the last year of appearance of
Thus, elementary instruction was the absolute priority for Korea, according to this editorial. Yun went on with a statement he repeatedly used in order to hint at the, in his opinion, false priorities of spending: “The Department of Education we believe to be a farce.”61 Yun considered the ministry as being too expensive, criticising the fact that too many officials served there and the money could be better used for additional schools.62
One week later an editorial on foreign language schools partly put the uselessness of education above elementary level into question:
The role of higher education in Korea was to appropriate Western knowledge and, Yun argued, foreign language schools played a positive role in this process. But what were the “disadvantages and discouragements?” Yun deplored the fact that all foreign language schools were independent from one another, “with no common management, no common discipline, no common uniform, no common feeling among them.” This state of affairs led to practical problems, such as higher costs and students not being able to study more than one language. But this arrangement, according to Yun, was also “full of dangers,” the biggest problem being the proliferation of “partisan spirits.” Expertise in a certain language may lead to advocating closer relations with that foreign power to the disadvantage of a student’s ties with Korea:
Finally, Yun urged the Ministry of Education to establish one big school located in a common building so “that the study of a foreign language is not to make [students] half-fledged foreigners but full developed Koreans with higher ideals and nobler patriotism.”63 The Italian diplomat Carlo Rossetti who stayed in Seoul in 1903 advocated the same position, arguing that the foreign language schools served primarily diplomatic, not educational purposes.64
Yun, in conclusion, stressed the necessity of both elementary and higher education for Korea’s development. As in other fields, such as railway construction and the exploitation of gold mines—in which the Korean government had given concessions to foreign companies—Yun warned against imperialist encroachment. To his eyes, the foreign dimension, the appropriation of Western knowledge, played a crucial role. However, it was important to him that this process was not foreign-controlled, but regulated by Koreans, so that education produced Korean patriots and not “half-fledged foreigners.”
The articles in
23The Independent, I, 18, 16 May 1896. 24The Independent, II, 55, 11 May 1897 and II, 56, 13 May 1897. 25On this question with reference to China see Barbara Schulte, “Europe Refracted. Western Education and Knowledge in China,” European Education 44 (2012): 77, 82. 26The Independent, III, 41, 7 April 1898. 27The Independent, III, 90, 4 August 1898. 28Ibid. 29Schmid, Korea between Empires, 1895–1919, 55–100. 30The Independent, II, 3, 9 January 1897. The enthusiastic reporting of The Independent is in sharp contrast to the depressed atmosphere depicted by the British traveller Isabella Bishop who assisted at the initial ceremony of 1895. See Isabella Bird Bishop, Korea and Her Neighbours: a Narrative of Travel, with an Account of the Recent Vicissitudes and Present Position of the Country (London: John Murray, 1897), 31–32. 31The Independent, II, 96, 14 August 1897. 32The Independent, II, 69, 12 June 1897. On the other hand, contemporary Chinese became a “foreign” language useful for commerce. On the status of Chinese and its relation to the vernacular languages in East Asia see Michael Facius, “Japanisch–Kundoku–Chinesisch. Zur Geschichte von Sprache und Übersetzung in Japan,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 38 (2012). 33The Independent, III, 6, 15 January 1898. 34On the implementation of a modern system of classroom interaction in Europe see Marcelo Caruso, Geist oder Mechanik: Unterrichtsordnungen als kulturelle Konstruktionen in Preußen, Dänemark (Schleswig-Holstein) und Spanien 1800–1870 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2010). For a vivid description of older class room practices see Daniel Gifford, “Education in the Capital of Korea. I,” Korean Repository 3 (1896): 281. 35Mann, “Torchbearers,” 14. 36Hyung Gu Lynn, “Fashioning Modernity: Changing Meanings of Clothing in Colonial Korea,” Journal of International and Area Studies 11 (2004): 78. 37The Independent, I, 16, 12 May 1896. 38The Independent, I, 22, 26 May 1896. 39The Independent, I, 10, 28 April 1896. 40Sukman Jang, “The Politics of Haircutting in Korea: A Symbol of Modernity and the ‘Righteous Army Movement’ (1895–96),” Review of Korean Studies 1 (1998). 41The Independent, II, 52, 4 May 1897. 42On how modern education started to influence career paths from the late nineteenth century onwards, see Kyung Moon Hwang, Beyond birth: Social Status in the Emergence of Modern Korea (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2004). 43The Independent, II, 16, 9 February 1897. 44The Independent, II, 104, 2 September 1897. 45Ibid. 46On this affair see also Chandra, Imperialism, 137–138; Young Ick Lew, “The Perception of the United States during the Enlightenment Period,” in Korean Perceptions of the United States: a History of Their Origins and Formation, ed. Young Ick Lew, trans. Michael Finch (Seoul, Jimoondang, 2006), 183–185. Lew argues that Sin’s views were rather balanced and the critique made by The Independent exaggerated. 47The Independent, I, 26, 4 June 1896. 48The Independent, I, 28, 9 June 1896. 49The Independent, I, 34, 23 June 1896. 50The Independent, I, 27, 6 June 1896 and I, 31, 16 June 1896. 51The Independent, I, 29, 11 June 1896. 52The Independent, I, 35, 25 June 1896. See also The Independent, I, 36, 27 June 1896. 53The Independent, I, 44, 16 July 1896. 54The Independent, I, 76, 29 September 1896. 55Byong-ik Koh, “Diplomacy and Missionary in the Late 19th Century Korea—the Case of Education Minister’s Slandering of Christianity,” in Essays on East Asian History and Cultural Traditions, ed. Byong-ik Koh (Seoul: Sowha, 2004). 56The Independent, I, 78, 3 October 1896. On the Independence Club’s role in the dismissal of Sin see also Oh, Dr. Philip Jaisohn's reform movement, 99. 57The Independent, I, 86, 22 October 1896. 58The Independent, I, 115, 29 December 1896. 59Michael Kim, “Giving Reasons to the Unreasonable: Philip Jaisohn and the New Urban Space of The Independent,” Comparative Korean Studies 11 (2003). 60Ibid. 61Ibid. 62The Independent, III, 77, 5 July 1898. 63The Independent, III, 80, 12 July 1898. 64Carlo Rossetti, Corea e Coreani: Impressioni e ricerche sull'impero del gran Han (Bergamo: Istituto italiano d’arti grafiche, 1904–1905), 142–144. 65For a similar discussion with regard to India, albeit with a stronger emphasis on foreign imperial interference see Tim Allender, “Closing Down an Intellectual Interchange: The Gifting of Text to Colonial India,” Comparativ 22 (2012). Until the first half of the nineteenth century British colonisers regarded Indian scientific and medical practices as essentially having the same value as their own and considered further developing them. Only afterwards were they perceived as categorically inferior. 66Mann, “Torchbearers,” 5. 67I am using the term “field” in Bourdieu’s understanding: Pierre Bourdieu, “Quelques propriétés des champs,” in Questions de sociologie, ed. Pierre Bourdieu (Paris: Minuit, 1980). 68Dohyung Kim, “Modern Reform Theories and Confucian Thought of Chang Chiyŏn,” Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies 2 (2002); Dong-no Kim, “Views of Modern Reforms as Depicted in the Hwangsŏng sinmun during the Taehan Empire,” in Reform and Modernity in the Taehan Empire, ed. Dong-no Kim, John B. Duncan and Do-hyung Kim (Seoul: Jimoondang, 2006), 45–50.
The enlightenment reformers’ civilizing mission found expression not only in discourses and institutions. We have already seen how hair styles and seating arrangements were reformed and became the subject of heated debate. This section further analyses changes in educational practices with a special focus on school celebrations, sporting events and debating societies which appear to be the most frequent educational themes in
The paper regularly reported on the celebrations, picnics and military drills of the government schools and the Paejae Haktang.69 On these occasions, it was constantly emphasised that the locations had a “pleasing and festive appearance”, that the guests were “comfortably seated”, “dainty refreshments” served and that, as one example proves, “there were a large number of ladies present in their pretty summer dresses making the assembly appear very picturesque”.70 Korean and foreign dignitaries were present, Kojong was also often in attendance, which provided occasions for the students to demonstrate their talents before the king while teachers had the chance to have an audience. These festivities included the singing of patriotic songs in English and Korean, as well as praise of the king. They were important social events that emphasised contemporary bourgeois values and forms of interaction.
The closing exercises of the Paejae Haktang in July 1897 were an especially well-organized event and resulted in some especially vivid reporting.
The guests included the elite of the Anglophone community of Seoul. There were the diplomatic representatives of the United States and Great Britain, John M. B. Sill and John N. Jordan. The leading American missionaries Hulbert, C. F. Reid and George Heber Jones, as well as the British missionary Alexander Kenmure, were all present. The teachers of the government English Language School W. du Fon Hutchinson and Thomas E. Halifax, both from Britain, also attended. From the Korean side, the article mentioned high government officials, including ministers and vice-ministers as well as the governor of Seoul. However, only the minister of education Min Chong-muk is mentioned by name. The Paejae Haktang appeared as a quasi-official United States school in Korea.
One of the central points of the editorial is the positioning of Korea between the East and the West and the role of education in this process of positioning. In fact, the ceremony consisted of a Chinese and an English program. The author of the editorial highlighted a contrast between the two parts, writing in an extremely negative way about the Chinese part. In his opinion the Chinese presentation was “comical,” “painful,” and “tiresome”: “The sooner the teaching of Chinese classics and the doctrines of Chinese sages in the Korean schools are abolished, the better for the country and its people.” The disdain for China and Chinese education also found expression in Yi Sŭngman’s (Syngman Rhee who was one of the Paejae students and would become the first President of the Republic of Korea) oration on the independence of Korea. In strong contrast to the negative evaluation of China, most participants in the ceremony seemed to show great enthusiasm for everything related to the “West.” Reverend Jones argued that “education stands in a vital relation to the West.” He “regarded with much pleasure the broadening interest of Korea in schools.” Without any doubt, the author of this editorial agreed with this opinion. In this sense embracing the West also had an important religious dimension, as it entailed accepting Protestant Christianity.73 The yearly closing ceremonies and similar celebrations were important social events that showed the beginning of a patriotic festival culture in Korea.
Similarly, pageantry became a prominent part of regular school activities.74 King Kojong lived in the Russian legation compound for almost a year from 1896 to 1897. In June 1896 the students of the Russian and French language schools performed for Kojong which provides us with an impression of patriotic culture during this period: “The boys marched into the Russian legation headed by a drum corps and went through the exercises very credibly and received hearty praise from his Majesty.” Each student received a gift, and after dinner fireworks were set off. Russian and French teachers, diplomats and officers were also present.75 When Kojong left the Russian legation compound in February 1897 the Paejae boys formed a line, carrying Korean flags, throwing flowers, and cheering. According to the editors they were learning modern patriotic festival culture. Their loyalty to King Kojong symbolised their commitment to the Korean nation. The students’ behavior showed their “progressive spirit as well as their knowledge of foreign customs.”76 Similar to the aforementioned campaign against Minister Sin, this example shows how the editors used the students as agents for their civilizing mission.77
As the analysis of the festivities indicates, sports and military drills acquired a central role in education, or at least in its public representation in the newspaper.78 Seoul experienced a veritable “military craze.”79 In May 1896,
Schools had to be equipped with facilities for physical exercise. Initially, the paper continuously lamented that schools in Seoul did not yet have drill grounds. One year later, however, it could be reported that the new gymnasium at the Paejae Haktang had finally been completed: “The Paichai School boys are enjoying themselves nowadays in their new gymnasium. Some of the lads are quite expert with the horizontal bars, swings and ladders.”83 Team sports were also introduced to Korean schools.
The government schools started to organise annual athletic exercises.86 In June 1897, the English, Russian and French language schools held a common exercise before Kojong. All key diplomats were present. Z. Polianovsky, the Russian vice-consul in Seoul, acted as chief examiner. According to
Praising the students’ efforts,
Debates intensified in spring 1898 when the government schools held a field day for athletic contests: “The exercises will consist of races, jumping, putting the shot, throwing at a mark and other events common to such occasions. It is said that interest in the event is keenly felt by the Koreans and we doubt not that this joint field day will be a grand success. We trust the public will be allowed to attend for it will be a new number on Seoul’s social program.”89 During April and May 1897, notices appeared continuously in
Just a few days later the government primary schools organized a similar contest. According to
Not only was physical exercise in the form of competitive sport new to Korea. Debating societies became increasingly popular in Korea and introduced a new form of sociability. In November 1896, the students of the Paejae Haktang established a debating society. The society’s purpose was, as
The first anniversary of the debating society resembled the many school celebrations analysed above. At this time membership had increased from the initial thirteen members to over two hundred. The building was decorated with Korean flags and more than three hundred people joined the event. Before the contest began, the participants and attendees sang the Korean national anthem. Sŏ, who was referred to as “the father of the Society,” and Yun were the invited speakers.97 At the aforementioned closing exercises of the Paejae Haktang in July 1897, the Debating Society also took an active part. The students discussed the following issue: “Resolved that the time has come for the Orient to accept in the main the civilizations of the Occident.” Obviously, the “question was overwhelmingly carried in the affirmative.”98
In February 1898 the students of the government schools organized their own debating society. Every Saturday, they discussed scientific and economic questions at the Normal School building. The students elected a Korean teacher of the Normal School as president of the society. Initially the society had eighty members. Their object was “to cultivate friendship among the students of various schools and to learn the art of public debate.”99
The author praised the debating society of the Paejae Haktang and the military drills as a moment of modernity that would profoundly change the country’s future: “Young Koreans take to them as ducks to water.”101 The festivities, sporting contests, and debating events were meant to make the students feel that they belonged to the same political community and create a sentiment of national belonging. Sports and public debates were two of the foreign practices brought to Korea in the late 1890s, both constituting typically male forms of sociability.
These practices were part of a new form of masculinity that emerged in the late nineteenth century, as Vladimir Tikhonov has convincingly argued.102 This new masculinity was a combination of older rough elements that included bloody practices such as stone fighting which were combined with European bourgeois manliness. Moreover, it was embedded in a specifically national framework. It is striking that
Educational opportunities for girls were rare.104 However, some coverage in
In September 1898 Korean women formed a Female Education Society with the purpose of urging the government to establish a school for girls.106
This manifesto has been referred to as “the first declaration of women’s rights in Korea.”108 One month later, about 100 members of the Female Education Society memorialised the throne that the Ministry of Education should establish schools for the education of girls.
In conclusion, the editors’ civilizing mission comprised various practices newly introduced to Korea and essentially reserved for men. On the one hand, these practices fostered discipline and order, as in the case of sports. On the other hand they also promoted liberal values, as in the case of the debating societies which would prepare Korean youth for parliamentary debates.110
69The Independent, I, 24, 30 May 1896; I, 26, 4 June 1896 and I, 38, 2 July 1896. Similarly, students of various schools also participated in the ground breaking ceremony of the Independence Arch, see The Independent, I, 100, 24 November 1896. 70The Independent, II, 72, 19 June 1897. 71The Independent, II, 79, 6 July 1897 and II, 80, 8 July 1897. 72Mann, “Torchbearers,” 14. 73The Independent, II, 82, 13 July 1897. 74For a comparison with Japanese and European pageantry see Takashi Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996); Johannes Paulmann, Pomp und Politik: Monarchenbegegnungen in Europa zwischen Ancien Régime und Erstem Weltkrieg (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2000); Shun’ya Yoshimi, “Les rituels politiques du Japon moderne. Tournées impériales et stratégies du regard dans le Japon de Meiji,” Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 50 (1995): 363–364. Yoshimi notes how the Meiji Emperor visited schools and attended performances of military exercises. 75The Independent, I, 35, 25 June 1896. 76The Independent, II, 21, 20 February 1897. 77Yun also mentions in his diary how students participated in the Independence Club’s protests against Russian control of Korea in March 1898. See Yun Ch’i-ho’s Diary. Yun Ch’i-ho ilgi. Volume 8 (Seoul: National History Compilation Committee, 1975), 141. 78Gwang Ok, The transformation of Modern Korean Sport: Imperialism, Nationalism, Globalization (Elizabeth: Hollym, 2007). With an emphasis on imperialism see J. A. Mangan, The games ethic and imperialism: aspects of the diffusion of an ideal (Harmondsworth/New York: Viking, 1986). 79Vladimir Tikhonov, “Masculinizing the Nation: Gender Ideologies in Traditional Korea and in the 1890s–1900s Korean Enlightenment Discourse,” The Journal of Asian Studies 66 (2007): 1051. 80The Independent, I, 13, 5 May 1896. See also The Independent, I, 22, 26 May 1896. 81The Independent, I, 31, 16 June 1896. 82The Independent, II, 115, 28 September 1897. On Biryukov see Aleksandr Nikolaevich Khokhlov, “Pervyj prepodavatel’ russkogo yazyka v Koree N. N. Biryukov: pedagog, organizator voennoy razbedki i diplomat,” Problemy Dal’nego Vostoka 2 (2008). 83The Independent, II, 47, 22 April 1897. 84The Independent, II, 37, 30 March 1897. 85The Independent, II, 149, 16 December 1897. 86The Independent, II, 50, 29 April 1897; I, 22, 26 May 1896. 87The Independent, II, 75, 26 June 1897. 88The Independent, II, 72, 19 June 1897. 89The Independent, III, 39, 2 April 1898. 90The Independent, III, 49, 26 April 1898. 91The Independent, III, 55, 10 May 1898. 92The Independent, III, 62, 31 May 1898. 93The Independent, III, 64, 4 June 1898. 94Paul Dimeo, “Sporting and the ‘Civilizing Mission’ in India,” in Colonialism as Civilizing Mission. Cultural Ideology in British India, ed. Harald Fischer-Tiné and Michael Mann (London: Anthem Press, 2004). 95Luther Stearns Cushings, Manual of Parliamentary Practice. Rules of Proceedings and Debate in Deliberative Assemblies (Boston: Reynolds, 1845). The book was reedited several times until the beginning of the twentieth century. 96The Independent, I, 103, 1 December 1896. 97The Independent, II, 143, 2 December 1897. 98The Independent, II, 82, 13 July 1897. 99The Independent, III, 17, 10 February 1898 and III, 19, 15 February 1898. 100The Independent, III, 35, 24 March 1898. 101The Independent, I, 104, 3 December 1896. 102Tikhonov, “Masculinizing the Nation.” On similar discussions in China see Barbara Schulte, ‘Zur Rettung des Landes’: Bildung und Beruf im China der Republikzeit (Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag, 2008), 229–232. For Germany and France see Karen Hagemann, “Of ‘Manly Valor’ and ‘German Honor’: Nation, War, and Masculinity in the Age of the Prussian Uprising against Napoleon,” Central European History 30 (1997) and Thierry Terret, Jean Saint-Martin, “Journey in the historiography of the French Method of Physical Education: a matter of nationalism, imperialism and gender,” History of Education 41 (2012). 103Christophe Charle, La discordance des temps: une brève histoire de la modernité (Paris: Armand Colin, 2011), 268. 104Hyaeweol Choi, Gender and Mission Encounters in Korea: New Women, Old Ways (Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2009), 35–38. 105The Independent, I, 71, 17 September 1896. As a reaction to this editorial, a letter by a certain Fairplay (probably a pseudonym for a Catholic missionary) appeared in The Independent, arguing that 150 girls were currently receiving education in the Roman Catholic Orphanage in Seoul. See The Independent, I, 76, 29 September 1896. 106On the women’s school movement see Choi, Gender and Mission Encounters, 38–42; Se-Mi Oh, “Women, Newspapers, and the Public Sphere in Turn-of-the-Century Korea,” in Epistolary Korea: letters in the communicative space of the Chosŏn, 1392-1910, ed. JaHyun Kim Haboush (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009); Yung-Hee Kim, “Under the Mandate of Nationalism: Development of Feminist Enterprises in Modern Korea, 1860-1910,” Journal of Women’s History 7 (1995): 128–130. 107The Independent, III, 106, 10 September 1898. 108Seung-kyung Kim and Kyounghee Kim, “Mapping a hundred years of activism: women’s movements in Korea,” in Women’s Movements in Asia. Feminism and Transnational Activism, ed. Mina Roces and Louise Edwards (London/New York: Routledge, 2010), 190. 109The Independent, III, 120, 13 October 1898. 110According to Se Eung Oh, debating societies were part of a “self-training process to create a political force.” See Oh, Dr. Philip Jaisohn's reform movement, 56.
Beyond the use of education in direct relation to the editors’ civilizing project,
The paper occasionally reported on education in foreign countries. Firstly, there were reports concerning Japan and the Japanese Empire. A notice on education in the Japanese colony of Taiwan in January 1898 draws on the Japanese newspaper
Secondly, the paper featured educational news from China related to the Hundred Days Reform, a short-lived reform movement of 1898. An article taken from the journal
This reporting testifies to the vivid transnational exchange with other East Asian and American newspapers.122 Although some of the news was certainly reproduced solely because of this exoticism, most reports related to debates going on in Korea of the time. The Japanese restrictions on missionary schools surely concerned the Protestant editors of
The English edition of
In June 1898 Americans organised a party on the occasion of Children’s Day exclusively for American and European children. The comment that “some [children] who were with us in the past are now in school in Chefoo and in Lausanne in Switzerland” informs us that it was common for foreign children to receive an education outside the peninsula.125 In order to find a remedy, Ellen Pash, a graduate of Cambridge University and a missionary, planned to establish a high school for the children of the foreign community in Seoul that would prepare the children for American and English universities.126 Lessons were scheduled to take place in the house of a missionary from Monday to Friday for five hours a day and included subjects such as French, Latin and needle work for girls.127 Due to the lack of documentation, it is not known to what extent this project was actually implemented. In his book, Horace H. Underwood merely indicates that Pash and a certain Miss Perry occasionally provided informal schooling. Only from 1912 onwards, did the Seoul Foreign School offer a more stable form of instruction for American and European children.128
Japanese actors played a significant role in introducing modern education to Korea. These activities are partly related to the Christian educator Honda Yōitsu who had been a Japanese army chaplain in Manchuria during the Sino-Japanese War and apparently was on good terms with the editors of
One year after its foundation the school had fifty-eight students.
In November 1897 the number of students had tripled, as Honda announced at a speech before the imperialist Tōa Dōbunkai (East Asia Common Culture Society) in Tokyo.
During his visit to Korea in August 1897, Itō Hirobumi visited the Keijō Gakkō and addressed the students. The Japanese statesman “emphasized the importance of education as the best foundation for individual welfare as well as for national prosperity.”135 In his speech Itō promoted Korean-Japanese friendship and Japanese efforts for Korean independence vis-à-vis China, as he had done in a meeting with the Japanese residents of Seoul some days earlier.136
The Japanese connection also played out on another level. One measure decided during the Kabo Reform period was to send students to Japan at Korean government expense to receive a higher education.
The paper also reported regularly on the cultural activities of the Korean students in Japan. They created the “Society of Korean Students in Japan” for the purpose of “cultivating mutual friendship and exchanging views on various topics, generally relating to their studies and the political and social affairs of their native land.”140 Twice a year, this society published a journal in the mixed script of Chinese characters and Han’gŭl.
The funding of the students provoked major debates when it was decided to recall all government students from Japan in 1898. One third decided to return, the rest wanted to continue studies at their own expense.142
Whereas most government foreign language schools had already been established before 1896, the German language school was created in 1898, during the time when
On 15 September, finally,
In a situation where education slowly became the instrument of social advance, students of modern schools benefitted from a high status. When the students did not live up to the social expectations, they were sure to attract the rage of their surrounding. A drunken student at the Russian Language School used abusive language one evening in Chongno. When people from the neighbourhood started to attack him the police had to intervene.150 As a consequence, the students of the Russian Language School sent a petition to the Ministry urging to expel the culprit from school.151 The Ministry endorsed this decision.152
Some criminal cases were related to modern schools.
Moreover, the English edition of
In January 1897,
In February 1897 another issue occurred. It was announced that the money used for students’ lunch in the Royal English School should be used for hiring a Chinese teacher.
Despite the pre-eminence of the Paejae Haktang and the English Language School in the reporting of
111The Independent, III, 9, 22 January 1898. 112The Independent, III, 89, 2 August 1898. 113The Independent, III, 47, 21 April 1898. 114The Independent, III, 129, 3 November 1898. 115The Independent, IV, 11, 17 August 1899. 116The Independent, III, 94, 13 August 1898. 117The Independent, III, 121, 15 October 1898. 118The Independent, III, 115, 1 October 1898. 119The Independent, II, 28, 9 March 1897. The original report is probably Report of the Commissioner of Education for the Year 1894–1895, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1896. 120The Independent, III, 49, 26 April 1898. 121The Independent, III, 78, 7 July 1898. 122Bryna Goodman, “Networks of News: Power, Language and Transnational Dimensions of the Chinese Press, 1850–1949,” The China Review 4 (2004). 123Girls’ Secondary Education in the Western World. From the 18th to the 20th Century. Secondary Education in a Changing World, ed. James C. Albisetti, Joyce Goodman and Rebecca Rogers (Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). 124The Independent, II, 88, 29 July 1897. 125The Independent, III, 68, 14 June 1898. 126The Independent, III, 117, 6 October 1898. 127The Independent, III, 129, 3 November 1898 and III, 144, 13 December 1898. 128Horace H. Underwood, Modern Education in Korea (New York: International Press, 1926), 155– 157. See also Donald N. Clark, Living Dangerously in Korea: the Western Experience, 1900–1950 (Norwalk: EastBridge, 2003). 129Korean Repository, II, 6, 1895, p. 239. 130Akira Iriye, “Japan’s Drive to Great-Power Status,” in The Cambridge History of Japan. The Nineteenth Century, ed. Marius B. Jansen (Cambridge et al., Cambridge University Press, 1989), 756– 757. 131Han Yong-jin, “Kyŏngsŏng Haktang,” in Kŭndae Han’guk kodŭnggyoyuk yŏn’gu, ed. Han Yong-jin (Seoul: Koryŏ taehakkyo, 2012). 132The Independent, I, 6, 18 April 1896. 133The Independent, II, 44, 15 April 1897. 134The Independent, II, 139, 23 November 1897. 135The Independent, III, 101, 30 August 1898. 136The Independent, III, 102, 1 September 1898. 137The Independent, I, 113, 24 December 1896. 138The Independent, II, 61, 25 May 1897. This article also provided the affiliations of the students: Seijo School 22, Waseda 4, Keio 2, Industrial School 1, Agricultural Department of Tokyo Imperial University 3, Meiji Law School 2, Post and Telegraph School 2, Board of Metropolitan Police, Treasury Department 2, Shizuoka Prefectural Office 2, Railroad Bureau 2, Tokyo Hospital 1. 139The Independent, II, 92, 5 August 1897. 140The Independent, I, 80, 8 October 1896. 141The Independent, II, 131, 4 November 1897. 142The Independent, II, 151, 21 December 1897. See also The Independent, IV, 11, 17 August 1899. 143Vladimir Tikhonov, “The 1890s Korean Reformers’ View of Japan—A Menacing Model,” International Journal of Asian Studies 2 (2005). 144The Independent, II, 117, 2 October 1897. 145The Independent, III, 78, 7 July 1898. On Bolljahn see Sylvia Bräsel, “Johann Bolljahn (1862– 1928): Begründer des Deutschunterrichts in Korea—zur interkulturellen Karriere eines pommerschen Lehrers in Ostasien,” Baltische Studien. Pommersche Jahrbücher für Landesgeschichte 95 (2009); Hans-Alexander Kneider, Globetrotter, Abenteurer, Goldgräber. Auf deutschen Spuren im alten Korea. Mit einem Abriss zur Geschichte der Yi-Dynastie und der deutsch-koreanischen Beziehungen bis 1910 (München: Iudicium, 2010), 136–145. 146The Independent, III, 92, 9 August 1898. Interestingly, the notice directly following announced the death of the German ex-chancellor Bismarck, which found expression in the fact that the national flags of most foreign legations and consulates in Seoul were at half mast to mourn the deceased statesman. 147The Independent, III, 108, 15 September 1898. 148The Independent, III, 109, 17 September 1898. 149On German cultural imperialism see for example Lewis Pyenson, Cultural Imperialism and Exact Sciences: German Expansion Overseas 1900–1930 (New York: Lang, 1985). 150The Independent, II, 78, 3 July 1897. 151The Independent, II, 82, 13 July 1897. 152The Independent, II, 83, 15 July 1897. 153The Independent, II, 28, 9 March 1897. 154The Independent, II, 93, 7 August 1897. 155On the dismissal of students of the English and Japanese language schools because they broke the school regulations see The Independent, I, 4, 14 April 1896. 156The Independent, I, 10, 28 April 1896. 157The Independent, I, 57, 15 August 1896 and I, 74, 24 September 1896. 158The Independent, II, 5, 14 January 1897 and The Independent, II, 8, 21 January 1897. 159The Independent, III, 41, 7 April 1898. 160The Independent, III, 73, 25 June 1898. 161The Independent, II, 13, 2 February 1897 and II, 16, 9 February 1897. 162The Independent, II, 60, 22 May 1897. 163The Independent, II, 76, 29 June 1897. 164The Independent, II, 81, 10 July 1897. 165The Independent, I, 12, 2 May 1896. For details on this school see Chong-Ko Choi, “The Reception of Western Law in Korea,” Korea Journal 20 (1980). 166The Independent, II, 79, 6 July 1897. 167The Independent, IV, 11, 17 August 1899. 168The Independent, III, 14, 3 February 1898. 169The Independent, III, 143, 10 December 1898. 170The Independent, III, 139, 29 November 1898. 171The Independent, IV, 1, 8 June 1899.
Education was a central theme in
The reporting was most extensive on the government language schools, especially the English Language School, and the Paejae Haktang. This clearly shows the editors’ preference for Anglo-Saxon and Protestant references. This emphasis was also due to the strength of Protestant missionary networks in which Sŏ and Yun were well integrated. The Russian, French and German language schools were also present in
Educational articles in
172Carmen Blacker, The Japanese Enlightenment: A Study of the Writings of Fukuzawa Yukichi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964); Schulte, Zur Rettung des Landes, 206–211; Hoda A. Yousef, “Seeking the Educational Cure. Egypt and European Education, 1805-1920,” European Education 44 (2012). 173The Independent, III, 120, 13 October 1898.