By H. B. Hulbert, Esq., F.R.G.S. [Homer Bezaleel Hulbert]
We had the pleasure a short time since of listening to an able presentation of the subject of “China’s Influence upon Korea” by the Rev. Jas. S. Gale. It would be difficult if not impossible to bring together a more complete array of the facts which argue the existence of such influence. But the impression left by the paper was that there is nothing in Korean society that is not dominated by Chinese ideas. If this is true, we have in Korea a condition of affairs that must be acknowledged to be unique; for Korea is a nation of over twelve million people who have preserved a distinct national life for more than two thousand years, and it would be strange indeed if there remained in the Peninsula nothing that is peculiarly and distinctively Korean. If Korea’s subjection to Chinese ideals was complete in the days of the Tang dynasty and has continued ever since, there would be no one so hardy as to point to anything in the country and claim for it a native origin and survival after a lapse of fifteen hundred years. And yet, at the suggestion of our President, I have undertaken to present the other side of the picture and to point out what remains that is distinctive of Korea and differentiates her from China. In this sense it is merely supplementary to what we have already heard on the subject.
The observations that I have to make divide themselves into two portions: first a short historical resumé, and second some natural deductions.
Korean tradition tells us that the first civilizer of Korea was the Tan-gun (檀君), a purely native character, born on the slopes of Tă-băk Mountain (太白山). The wild tribes [page 26] made him their king. He taught them the relations of king and subject; he instituted the rite of marriage; he instructed them in the art of cooking and the science of house-building; he taught them to bind up the hair by tying a cloth about the head. This tradition is universally accepted among Koreans as true. They believe his reign to have begun a thousand years before the coming of Keui-ja. We place no confidence in the historical value of the legend, but the Koreans do; and it is significant that according to the general belief in Korea the Tan-gun taught two, at least, of the most important of the Confucian doctrines, namely those concerning the government and the home. And from these two all the others may be readily deduced. The legend also intimates that the much respected top-knot, at least in all its essential features, antedated the coming of Keui-ja.
If the legendary character of this evidence is adduced against it, the very same can be adduced against the story of Keui-ja, at least as regards his coming to Korea. The Chinese histories of the Tang dynasty affirm that Keui-ja’s kingdom was in Liao-tung (遼東). The histories of the Kin and Yuan dynasties say that Keui-ja’s capital was at Kwang-nyŭng (廣寧) in Liao-tung. A Keui ja well is shown there to this day and a shrine to him. A picture of this great sage hung there for many years, but it was burned in the days of Emperor Sé-jong of the Ming dynasty. Even a Korean work entitled Sok-mun Heun-tong-no (續文獻通考), states that Keui-ja’s capital was at Ham-p’yŭng-no (咸平路) in Liao-tung. The Chinese work Il-tong-ji (一統志), of the Ming dynasty, states that the scholars of Liao-tung compiled a book on this subject entitled Sŭng-gyüng-ji (盛京志), in which they said that Cho-sŭn included Sim-yang (瀋陽, i.e. Mukden), Pong-ch’ŭn-bu (奉天府), Kwang-nyŭng and Eui-ju (義州), which would throw by far the larger portion of Cho-sŭn beyond the Yalu River and preclude the possibility of Keui-ja’s capital being at P’yŭng-yang. I believe that P’yŭng-yang was his capital, but the evidence cited shows that it is still an open question and if the Tan-gun story is excluded because of its legendary character the Keui-ja story must be treated likewise. We have as many remains of the Tan-gun dynasty as of the Keui-ja. The Tan-gun altar on Kang-wha, the fortress of [page 27] Sam-nāng (三郞) on Chŭn-dung Mountain, the Tan-gun shrine at Mun-wha and the grave of the Tan-gun at Kang-dong attest at least the Korean belief in their great progenitor.
When Keui-ja came in 1122 B.C. he brought with him a mass of Chinese material, but we must note the way in which it was introduced. From the first he recognised the necessity of adapting himself and his followers to the language of the people among whom they had come. The Chinese language was not imposed upon the people. He determined to govern through magistrates chosen from the native population; and for this purpose he selected men from the various districts and taught them the science of government.
The Chinese character was not introduced into Korea at this time as a permanency. The square character had not as yet been invented and the ancient seal character was as little known even among the upper classes as the art of writing among the same classes in Europe in the Middle Ages. The total absence of literary remains, even of inscriptions, bears evidence to the fact that the Chinese character played no part in the ancient kingdom of Cho-sŭn.
The Keui-ja dynasty was overthrown by Wi-man in 193 B.C., but neither Wi-man nor his followers were Chinese. We are distinctly told that he was a native of Yŭn (燕), a semibarbarous tribe in Manchuria. His coming, therefore, could have added nothing to the influence of China upon Korea, Only eighty-six years passed before Wi-man’s kingdom fell before the Emperor Mu (武帝), of the powerful Han dynasty, and was divided into four provinces. But we must ask what had become of the Keui-ja civilization. The conquering emperor called the Koreans “savages.” Mencius himself speaks of a greater and a lesser Māk (貊), meaning by greater Măk the kingdom of Cho-sŭn. This is considered an insult to the Keui-ja kingdom, for Măk was the name of a wholly barbarous tribe on the eastern side of the Peninsula and the reference implies that Cho-sŭn was also savage. The celebrated Chinese work, the Mun-hon Tong-go (文獻通考), almost our only authority on the wild tribes of Korea at the time of which we are speaking, shows that almost the whole of northern Korea was occupied by the tribes of Ye (穢), of Măk (貊), of Nang-nang (樂浪) and Ok-jŭ (沃沮). The kingdom of Wi-man [page 28] comprised only a portion of the province of P’yŭng-an. The evidence is made still stronger by the fact that the Emperor Mu gave the name of Nang-nang (樂浪), to the whole of north-western Korea, clean to the Yalu River. It seems plain that he considered the trans-Yalu portion of Wi-man’s kingdom its most important part.
It was not to be expected that Chinese could long continue to hold any portion of Korea. It was too far from the Chinese base and the intractability of the semi-barbarous tribes made the task doubly difficult. So we are not surprised to find that within a century the whole of northern Korea fell into the hands of Chu-mong (朱蒙), a refugee from the far northern kingdom of Pu-yu (夫餘). Tradition gives him a supernatural origin, but his putative father was a descendant of the oldest son of the Tan-gun. So here again we find no indication of Chinese influence. From almost the very first this new kingdom of Ko-gu-ryū was China’s natural enemy, and while there were intervals of peace, for the most part a state of war existed between Ko-gu-ryŭ and the various Chinese dynasties which arose and fell between 37 B.C. and 668 A.D. The Mun-hon T’ong-go describes the manners and customs of Ko-gu-ryŭ in detail. It says nothing about Confucianism, but describes the native fetichism and shamanism in terms which make it plain that northern Korea had very largely reverted to its semi-barbarism―if indeed it had ever been civilized. Her long wars with China at last came to an end when the latter, with the aid of Sil-la, brought her to bay in 668 A.D.
We must now turn to the south where interesting events were transpiring. In 193 B.C. Wi-man drove Keui-jun out of P’yŭng-yang. He fled by boat with a handful of followers, landing finally at the site of the present town of Ik-san. At that time the southern part of Korea was occupied by three congeries of little states. The western and most powerful of these groups was called Ma-han (馬韓), the southern group was Pyön-han (卞韓) and the eastern group Chin-han (辰韓). These names were already in use in southern Korea long before the coming either of Keui-jun or the Chinese refugees from the Chin empire across the Yellow Sea. Keui-jun undoubtedly brought with him a civilization superior to that of the southern Koreans and so he found little difficulty in setting [page 29] up a kingdom. This kingdom did not, however, include the whole of Ma-han. At first it probably included only a few of the fifty-four independent communities which composed the Ma-han group. He had with him only a few score of followers and he found in Ma-han a people differing from his own in language, customs, laws and religion. It is inconceivable that during the short period that this kingdom survived it could have exerted any powerful influence upon the general population of the Ma-han group. It was only a few years after Chu-mong founded Ko-gu-ryŭ that his two sons moved southward and settled well within the borders of Keui-jun’s little kingdom and within two decades, by a single short campaign, they overthrew Ma-han and set up the kingdom of Păk-je (百濟). Thus we see that Păk-je was founded by people that were in no wise connected with the Chinese traditions.
But some time before this the kingdom of Sil-la had been founded in the south-eastern portion of the Peninsula. We are credibly informed that at the time of the building of the great wall of China large numbers of Chinese fled from China and found asylum in southern Korea. Landing on the coast of Ma-han they were apparently considered unwelcome visitors, for they were immediately deported to the eastern side of the Peninsula and given a place to live among the people of Chin-han. They did not found Chin-han. The names of all the independent settlements of that group are preserved to us and none of them has a Chinese name. Chin-han had existed long before the coming of these Chinese. There is nothing in the records on which to base the belief that these Chinese immigrants had anything to do with the founding of the kingdom of Sil-la. The chiefs of five of the native communities agreed to unite their people under a single government, but the name they gave the kingdom was not Sil-la but Sŭ-ya-bŭl (徐耶伐), a purely native word. The name Sil-la was not applied to the kingdom until some centuries later, that is in 504 A.D., during the reign of King Chi-deung. It was in the same year that the horrible custom was discontinued of burying five boys and five girls alive when the body of a king was interred. The title of the king was Kŭ-sŭ-gan (居西干), a purely native word. The word “wang” was not introduced [page 30] till the name Sil-la was. The names of all the government offices and all official titles were pure native words. These are also preserved to us in the Mun-hon Tong-go which I have already mentioned. We have now noticed the origin of the three states which divided the Peninsula between them at about the beginning of our era and we find that in none of them was there any considerable Chinese influence manifest. Indeed it was not until five hundred years later that even the barbarous and revolting custom of burying people alive was discontinued, and even then it was discontinued only because a king on his death-bed gave most stringent orders that no children were to be buried alive with him.
There was at the same time a certain admixture of Chinese blood in Korea. In human society as in the vegetable kingdom we find that a wise admixture of the different species of a family produces the very best of results. The admixture of Celtic, Teutonic, Scandinavian and Norman blood produced the powerful combination which we call English. So the slight infusion of Chinese blood in Sil-la helped to produce a civilization that was confessedly far in advance of either Păk-je or Ko-gu-ryŭ.
But the kingdom of Sil-la was without a system of writing, and consequently adopted the system that the Chinese had brought with them. There can be no doubt that these Chinese brought many new ideas, which, being entirely foreign to the Koreans, had no corresponding words in their vocabulary. The Koreans therefore adopted the names along with the ideas. But in borrowing from the Chinese vocabulary the Koreans did it in no slaving way. They attached Korean endings to the Chinese words, compounded them with Korean words and in truth assimilated them to the genius of Korean speech as thoroughly as the Old English did the Romance dialects brought over by the Norman conquerors. Korean etymology and syntax differed so widely from the Chinese that Korean scholars despaired of blending the two, and in order to render a Chinese text intelligible they found it necessary to introduce the Korean endings. This was done by means of a system called the Ni-t’u, which was described some years ago in the Korean Repository.
As a medium of writing the Koreans adopted the Chinese [page 31] character and they still continue to use it. There has never risen a man in Korea to do for his country what Chaucer, Dante and Cervantes did for theirs, namely, write a classic in the native tongue and begin the good work of weaning the people away from a foreign system which restricts the benefits of erudition to the meagrest minority of the people. And yet Korea has not been wanting in men who recognised the need of a change. The first of these was Sŭl-ch’ong (薛聽), to whom reference was made in the paper read last month as being one of Korea’s great men. It is true; but the foundation of his greatness lies, it seems to me, in his attempt to make popular education possible in his native land. He it was who invented the Ni-t’u (吏套), which was a half-measure and therefore doomed to failure. But such as it was it was entirely anti-Chinese, at least in this respect that, by weaning the Koreans away from the Chinese grammatical system, the first step would be taken towards weaning them away from the whole system. He labored under far greater difficulties in this matter than did those who took the first steps toward freeing the English people from their bondage to the Latin. This difficulty was the entire lack of any phonetic system of writing in Korea. The highly inflected language of Korea is wholly unfit to be expressed in terms of the rigid, unyielding characters of China. The English on the other hand not only had a phonetic system similar to that of the Continent but they had almost identically the same alphabet. Such being the case it is small wonder that Sŭl-ch’ong failed.
Another great scholar of Sil-la was Ch’oé Ch’i-wun (崔致遠). At an early age he went to China, where he took high honours in the national examinations. He travelled widely — as far as Persia, it is said — and then came back to Korea to give his countrymen the benefit of his experience. But it soon became evident that the jealousy of his fellow-courtiers would let him do nothing. He was forced to flee from the court and find refuge among the mountains, where he wrote an interesting biographical work. It is natural enough that the Chinese mention him with enthusiasm because of his achievements in China. The Koreans owe him little except the lesson which he taught, that a Korean who denationalizes himself can hope to have little influence upon his fellow-countrymen. [page 32]
Down through the history of Sil-la we find a constantly broadening civilization and a constant borrowing of Chinese ideas of dress, laws, religious and social observances. This is freely granted, but what we do not grant is that this borrowing made the Korean any less a Korean or moulded his disposition into any greater likeness to the Chinese than a tiger’s fondness for deer moulds him into any likeness to that animal.
It was during the early days of Sil-la that Confucianism and Buddhism were introduced into Korea. Before the beginning of our era Chinese influence had been stamped out of the whole north and west of Korea and it was only with the impetus that Sil-la gave to the study of Chinese that this religion took firm root in Korean soil. I shall take up the matter of Confucianism and Buddhism later, and only mention them here to emphasize the date of their introduction.
Sil-la finally, with the help of the Chinese, gained control of nearly the whole of the Peninsula, but for many years there was a sharp dispute between her and China as to the administration of the northern provinces. It was only when Sil-la assumed control of the whole Peninsula that the people began to be moulded into a homogeneous mass.
In the tenth century Sil-la fell before the Ko-ryŭ (高麗) dynasty and the palmy days of Buddhism were in sight. During the next five hundred years Chinese influence in Korea was almost exclusively along Buddhistic lines. It was during this period that the law was promulgated requiring every third son to become a monk, and that the pagoda was erected in this city. But, as I shall attempt to show later, Buddhism cannot be cited as Chinese influence in any proper sense.
With the beginning of this dynasty in 1392 happier days were in store for Korea. Sweeping reforms were instituted. King Se-jo (世祖) ordered the casting of metal types in 1406, thus anticipating the achievement of Gutenberg by nearly half a century. These were Chinese characters, but the same king ordered the construction of a phonetic alphabet that would make possible the education of the masses. This command resulted in the composition of an alphabet which for simplicity and phonetic power has not a superior in the [page 33] world. It was a system capable of conveying every idea that the Korean brain could evolve or that China had to lend. It would be as absurd to say that the Korean requires the Chinese written language with its widely divergent grammar as to say that the Englishman needs the Latin written language with all its grammatical system. But the alphabet never became popular among the upper or educated class. The reason is two-fold. In the first place, this upper class had been so long accustomed to a system that appealed to the eye rather than to the ear that the change was too radical. It would be like asking a painter to stop expressing his ideas on canvas and do it on the piano instead. The whole technique of the art must be relearned. The artistic spirit might enable him to do it, but the effort would be too great a strain on the patience to render his acquiescence probable. In the second place, the use of the Chinese character was an effectual barrier between the upper and the lower classes. The caste spirit, which has always been pronounced in Korea was fed and strengthened by the use of Chinese; for only a leisure class could hope to learn the “Open Sesame” to learning. The retention of the Chinese character grew out of no love for Chinese ideas, but from intellectual inertia on the one hand and caste prejudice on the other.
Since the beginning of this dynasty there have been no considerable borrowings from China.
This closes the historical part of our theme, and now, in commenting upon it, I shall make use of a comparison which, though not exact in all particulars, is sufficiently so for our purposes. I shall attempt to show that the influence of China upon Korea has been almost identical with that of Continental Europe upon the inhabitants of the British Isles. Not that there is any similarity between Korea and England, any more than there is between China and Continental Europe, but that the law of cause and effect has worked in identically the same way in each case.
I. I have granted that there has been admixture of Chinese blood in Korea. This admixture terminated over a thousand years ago, for the Manchu and Mongol invasions left no traces in the Korean stock. But we find precisely the same process occurring in England at approximately the same [page 34] time. The admixture of Norman blood in England was indeed far greater than the Chinese admixture in Korea.
II. I have granted that the language of Korea has been modified by Chinese admixture, but the modification has been identical both in kind and in degree with that which the Romance languages exerted upon English. The changes which occurred among the Korean tribes between the years 200 B.C. and 100 A.D. may fitly be compared with the changes which took place in England at the same or a little later period, namely from the beginning of the Roman conquest. The influence of Norman-French upon English did not begin till somewhat later than the influence of Chinese upon Korean, but it was of the same nature. It is necessary then to inquire what was the kind of influence which the Chinese exerted over the Korean.
(a) At the time when this influence commenced Korea already possessed a highly inflected language, which differed radically from the Chinese in its phonetics, etymology and syntax, and this difference is as great to-day as ever. If we turn to the British Isles we find that at the time of the Norman conquest there existed in England a highly inflected language which differed widely from that of the conquerors and that the distinction has been maintained in spite of all glossarial innovations.
(b) The influence of the Chinese upon the Korean, as of the Norman upon the English, consisted almost solely in the borrowing of new terms to express new ideas and of synonyms to add elegance and elasticity to the diction. In both cases the legal, ecclesiastical, scientific and literary terms were borrowed, while the common language of ordinary life remained comparatively free from change. The difficulty of writing in pure Korean without the use of Chinese derivatives is precisely the same as that of writing in pure English without the use of Latin derivatives. Of course there are many Chinese terms that have no Korean equivalent, just as there are many Latin derivatives that have no Anglo-Saxon equivalent. But we must remember that there are thousands of common Korean words that have no Chinese equivalent. The whole range of onomatopoetic or mimetic words, in which Korea is particularly rich, has never been reduced to [page 35] Chinese nor sought a Chinese synonym. In our English vocabulary there are only 28,000 Anglo-saxon roots. I feel sure that an exhaustive list of Korean words would show a larger proportion of native roots than this.
(c) Ideas come first, words afterwards, and the Korean who has grasped the idea needs only to borrow the phonetic symbol of the idea. No written character is necessary. The fact that the whole New Testament has been intelligibly rendered into Korean and written in the native alphabet is sufficient answer to all who say that the Korean requires the Chinese character to enable him to express even the most recondite ideas.
III. I have granted that Korea has borrowed largely from the religious systems of China. I have shown that the Confucian cult was introduced into Korea a little after the beginning of our era. It was at this same time that Christianity was first introduced into England. But Christianity effected a far more radical change in England than Confucianism did in Korea. The ancient Druidical rites of prehistoric England correspond very well with the fetichism of the wild tribes of Korea, but though Christianity put an end to the whole Druidical system Confucianism never was able to displace the fetichism of Korea. It exists here to-day and forms the basis of Korean religious belief. It exercises an influence upon the Korean masses incalculably greater than Confucianism. The fetichism of Korea is not a Chinese product. It is described by the writers who tell of the ancient tribes of Korea, and what they say corresponds closely with what we know of Korean superstitions to-day. There were the full moon and the new moon feast. There was the worship of animals and of spirits of numberless kinds. The omens which the Koreans dreaded long before the coming of the Chinese were the same as those which frightened the ancient Chaldeans, Persians, Romans, namely, eclipses, meteors, wailings, wild animals in the streets, showers of various articles of a most unexpected nature.
Much stress is naturally laid upon Confucianism, but what is Confucianism? A formulation of those simple laws of conduct which are common to the entire human family. The love of parents in instinctive to the race. It is common [page 36] even among animals. Conjugal faithfulness, loyalty to rulers, the sacredness of friendship―these are things that all men possess without the suggestion of Confucianism and they existed here before Confucianism was heard of. The Koreans accepted the written Confucian code as naturally as the fledgeling takes to its wings. They had never formulated it before and so they naturally accepted the Chinese code.
But I would ask what influence Confucianism has actually exerted upon Korea. It has dictated the form of ceremonial observances and has overspread the surface of Korean social life with a veneer that appeals wholly to the eye, but which finds little sanction in the judgement. Which one of the Confucian precepts have the Koreans observed with even a reasonable degree of faithfulness? Not one. Their Confucianism is a literary shibboleth―a system of casuistry which is as remote from the field of practical ethics as the system of Machiavelli was remote from the field of genuine diplomacy. In Korea Confucianism has moulded merely the form of things and has left the substance untouched. To prove this I would ask to whom or what does the Korean have recourse when in trouble of any kind? Every one conversant with Korean customs will answer that it is to his primitive and inborn fetichism or to that form of shamanism to which Korean Buddhism has degenerated. And this brings us to the subject of Buddhism.
Korea received Buddhism not from China but merely by way of China. In origin and philosophy Buddhism is an Indian product and can no more be cited as Chinese influence than Japanese Buddhism can be cited as Korean influence. We must look farther back to trace the genesis of that influence. China was merely the physical medium through which Indian ideas were transmitted to Korea and thence to Japan.
Buddhism flourished in Korea from about 400 A.D. to 1392 A.D. At that time an opposing current set in which pushed it into the background, but it would be a great mistake to think that the principles and philosophy of Buddhism are extinct. They have been pushed to the background, but they still remain in their modified form the background of the Korean temperament, as I shall show later.
IV. I shall grant that Korea has received her scientific [page 37] ideas from China, but in the same way that the English received their fundamental scientific notions from the Continent. The astronomical system of Copernicus, the medical systems of Galen and Hippocrates, the mathematical systems of Euclid and Archimedes and the philosophical systems of Plato, Spinoza, Descartes and Kant―these form the background of English science. In the same way Korea received her astronomy, astrology, geomancy and necromancy from China.
V. I shall grant that Korea received her artistic ideals from China, but in the same sense that the English have always looked upon Phidias and Praxiteles, Correggio and Raphael, Mendelssohn and Bach as unapproachable in their own spheres.
VI. I shall grant that Korea has borrowed her literary ideals from China. But among all the forms of poetry, whether epic, didactic or lyric, whether ode, sonnet, elegy or ballad, which one of them has originated in the British Isles? It is all merely a matter of form, not of substance.
VII. I shall grant that the Koreans have copied the Chinese in the matter of dress. But is it not a notorious fact that the whole of Christendom has been dictated to in this matter for centuries by a coterie of tailors and modistes in Paris? To-day Korea is more independent of China in the matter of dress than is England of the Continent.
VIII. I shall grant that Korea has acknowledged the suzerainty of China for two thousand years or more. In like manner the English people continued for centuries to pay Peter’s pence, but the submission was only a superficial one. Korea had been overawed by the prestige of Chinese literature just as England had been overawed by the papacy, but even as the English people were moved to this more by reverence for authority in the abstract than by the personality of the Roman pontiff so the Koreans were kept bound to China more as a grateful source of intellectual enlightenment than as a political dictator. The Roman pontiff never pressed his temporal claims into the domain of English politics without the people of England becoming restive, and even so the Chinese never pressed their claim to suzerainty over Korea to its logical limits without the people of Korea becoming restive. [page 38]
These are some of the points of similarity between China’s influence upon Korea and the influence of Continental Europe upon England, and I beg to submit the proposition that if the mere borrowing of foreign ideas brings the borrower into complete conformity to the lender we have a right to say that England is as subservient to Continental ideas as Korea is to Chinese. But no one would dream of saying that England has shown any such subserviency. With all her adaptation of foreign ideas England is a distinct and separate national unit. The same is true of Korea. Her borrowings have not merged her personality nor the characteristics of her people into any likeness to the Chinese.
The Chinese are utilitarian, phlegmatic, calculating, thrifty, honest through policy, preferring a steady moderate profit to a large but precarious one. The Korean on the other hand, is a man of sanguine temperament, happy-go-lucky, hand-to-mouth, generous when he has the means, unthrifty, honest (when he is honest) not so much from policy as from contempt of dishonesty. This open-handedness of the Korean explains in part the very small amount of mendicancy here as compared with China.
Again, the Korean is passionately fond of nature, and is never so happy as when climbing his native hills or walking beside his streams. There is in him a real poetic vein which I fail to find in the Chinese either through my very slight personal acquaintance with them or through what I read of them in books.
The barrenness of Chinese literature has not got into the bones of the Koreans. Their temperament is such as to throw if off as a healthy mind throws off an attack of melancholy. This is possible because the Korean study of the classics is a matter of custom or habit and not a matter of enthusiasm or love. He studies them because he is ashamed not to know them. Testimony may differ as to the status of Korean scholarship, but it is the belief of some among us that the average grade of that scholarship is exceedingly low. Among the so-called educated class in Korea the vast majority know just enough Chinese to read their notes to each other and to spell out the easy Chinese that the daily paper affords, but I am not prepared to admit that more than the meagrest [page 39] fraction even of the upper class could take up any ordinary Chinese book and read it with passable fluency at sight.
The Korean temperament is a mean between that of the Chinese and that of the Japanese. He is more a child of impulse that the Chinese but less than the Japanese. He combines the rationalism of the Chinese with the idealism of the Japanese. It is the idealism in the Japanese nature that makes the mysticism of the Buddhistic cult such a tremendous power. The Korean is a less enthusiastic Buddhist, but he has in him enough idealism to make it sure that the philosophy of Buddhism will never lose its hold upon him until he comes in contact with the still deeper mysticism of Christianity. In all this he is at the widest remove from the Chinese. I have been informed by one of the most finished students of Chinese, a European who for twenty-seven years held an important position in Peking, that there was not a single monastery within easy distance from that city where there lived a monk who understood even the rudiments of Buddhism. This is quite what we might have expected, and to a certain extent it is true of Korea. The native demonology of Korea has united with Buddhism and formed a composite religion that can hardly be called either the one or the other, but running through it all we can see the underlying Buddhistic fabric, with its four fundamentals―mysticism, fatalism, pessimism and quietism. That these are inherent in the Korean temperament I will show by quoting four of their commonest expressions. “Moragěsso” ―I don’t know―is their mysticism. “Halsu öpso” ― It can’t be helped―is their fatalism. “Mang hagesso”―going to the dogs―is their pessimism, and “Nopsita”―Let’s knock off work―is their quietism.
If we enter the fruitful field of Korean folk-lore we shall find a mixture of Confucian, Buddhistic and purely native material. We should note that the stories of the origin of Korea’s heroes are strikingly non-Chinese. Hyŭk-kŭ-sé, the first king of Sil-la, is said to have originated from a luminous egg that was found in the forest on a mountain side. For this reason the kingdom was for many years called Kyé-rim or “Hen Forest” The second king of Sil-la was Sŭk-tŭl-hă, who is said to have originated from an egg among the people [page 40] of Ta-p’a-ra in northern Japan. The neighbours determined to destroy the egg, but the mother wrapped it in cotton and, placing it in a strong chest, committed it to the waters of the sea. Some months later a fisherman at A-jin harbor in Sil-la saw the chest floating off the shore. He secured it and upon lifting the cover found a handsome boy within. He became the second king of Sil-la and in reality the founder of the line of Sil-la kings. Chu-mong, the founder of Ko-gu-ryŭ, was also born from an egg in far-off North Pu-yŭ. His foster father wished to destroy the egg, but found it impossible to do so even with a sledge-hammer. The mother wrapped it in silks and in time it burst and disclosed the future hero. Origin from an egg is thus found to be a striking trait of Korean folk-lore. The transformation into human shape of animals that have drunk of water that has lain for twenty years in a human skull is another favourite theme with Korean story-tellers. Buddhistic stories are very common and probably outnumber all others two to one. This is because Buddhism gives a wider field for the play of the Korean imagination. The stories of filial love and other Confucian themes comprise what may be called the Sunday-school literature of the Koreans and while numerous they hold the same relation to other fiction, as regards amount, that religious or ethical stories hold to ordinary of fiction at home.
It remains to sum up what I have tried to say.
(1) None of the Korean dynasties, since the beginning of the historical era, has been founded through the intervention of Chinese influence.
(2) The language of Korea, in that particular which all philologists admit to be the most distinctive of any people, namely, in the grammar, has been wholly untouched by the Chinese, and even in the vocabulary the borrowed words have been thoroughly assimilated and form no larger proportion of the whole vocabulary than do borrowed words in English or in many other languages.
(3) In spite of the adoption of so many Chinese customs the temperament and disposition of the Korean remains clearly defined and strikingly distinct from that of the Chinese.
(4) The religion of the vast majority of the Korean [page 41] people consists of a perfunctory acceptance of Confucian teachings and a vital clinging to their immemorial fetichism, the latter being modified by the Indian Buddhistic philosophy.
(5) The one physical feature that differentiates the Korean from other men in his own eyes and which forms his most cherished heirloom from the past — which in fact is his own badge of Korean citizenship — the top knot, is, according to his own belief, a purely Korean survival; while the Korean hat, the second most cherished thing, is also confessedly of native origin.
(6) Every story borrowed from China can be matched with two drawn from native sources and the proverbs of Korea are overwhelmingly Korean. Even in borrowing they Koreanized their borrowings, just as the greatest English poet drew the plots for most of his non-historical dramas from European originals. In a country where illiteracy is so profound as here folk lore exerts a powerful influence upon the people, and the very fact that the Korean resembles the Chinese in nothing except superficial observances shows that Chinese literature has taken no vital hold of him.
(7) When it comes to tabulating those Korean things that are purely native and which have come down through the centuries untouched by Chinese influences the task is impossible because there are so many such things. They abound in Korean architecture, music, painting, medicine, agriculture, fetichism, marriage and burial customs, sacrifices, exorcism, games, dancing, salutations and jugglery.
The Korean’s boats, carts, saddles, yokes, implements, embroidery, cabinets, silver work, paper, ji-gis, po-gyos, pipes, fans, candle-sticks, pillows, matting, musical instruments, knives, and in fact the whole range of ordinary objects are sui generis, and the constant mention of these objects all down the course of Korean history shows that they are Korean and not Chinese
In closing, I would call attention to the fact that in carefully studying Korean life and customs it is very easy to pick out those things which are of Chinese origin. Mr. Gale in his valuable paper, pointed out many of them with great distinctness; but this very fact is a refutation of the statement [page 42] that Korea has been overwhelmed and swallowed up by Chinese ideas. If Korean life were such an exact replica of the Chinese as we have been led to believe, would it not be very difficult thus to pick out the points of resemblance and place them side by side with the points of difference?
I would ask anyone who has travelled both in China and Korea whether, in walking through the streets of Seoul, he is struck with any sort of resemblance between the Koreans and the Chinese. They do not dress like the Chinese, nor look like them, nor talk like them, nor work like them, nor play like them, nor worship like them, nor eat like them, nor bury like them, nor marry like them, nor trade like them. In all the large, the common, the outstanding facts of daily life and conduct the Korean is no more Chinese than he is Japanese. In his literature he courts the Chinese, but the gross illiteracy of Korea as a whole detracts enormously from the importance of this argument.
It must be confessed then that, all things considered, the points of similarity with the Chinese are the exception and that the survivals of things purely native and indigenous are the rule.
MR. GALE—The writer of this evening’s paper was to point out “what remains that is distinctive of Korea and that differentiates her from China.” I still ask, What are the survivals? The race is here as little like the Chinese ethnologically as is their language philologically, but in their world of thought what survives? I ask.
We are told by the reader that they used to call their king Kŭ-sŭ-gan or Precious One; also Ch’a-ch’a-ong and Ch’a-ch’ŭng, diviner, wizard; also I-sa-geum, the Honourable; also Ma-rip-kan. No other than our mutual friend Ch’oé Chi-wŭn says that these vulgar uncouth names were disliked, that the officials met and had them wiped out from the vocabulary of the nation. And what have they continued to call the king since 503 A.D.? Wang, in-gun, sang-gam, p’e-ha, whang-je — every native name disappeared and nothing but Chinese names left — just as if in Great Britain they should drop the word king and say “rex” or “roi.” This was not forced upon Sil-la, but was of her own accord. Surely this is evidence rather of Chinese influence than of Korean survivals. [page 43]
The writer in drawing a contrast between Tan-gun and Keui-ja would seem to leave the impression that Tan-gun’s influence was considerable, and that Keui-ja was largely mythical or doubtful and his whole influence to be questioned.
Let me read a part of the prefece of the Tong-guk T’ong-gam, before quoting from it a reference to Tan-gun and Keui-ja. “His Gracious Majesty King Kang-hŭn, in conformity with destiny, opened up the kingdom, collected ancient writings and stored them away in the private library.” [This was the founder of the present dynasty, who came to the throne in 1392]. Three kings in succession, increasing in excellent rule, appointed offices, opened up boards and collected histories of Ko-ryŭ, of which there was one called Chŭn-sa and one Chŭl-yo [Complete Chronicle and Important Events], and by degrees the writings of historians were put in order.
“King Se-jo He-jang, the holy heaven-sent scholar whose spirit dwelt in history, said to his courtiers ‘Although our Eastern State has many chronicles or outlines (Sa) it is without an extensive book of history (T’ong-gam). Let us make one according to the Cha-ch’i’ [*A famous history written in the Song dynasty by Sa Ma-giung and used as a model by Chu-ji. See Notes on Chinese Literature by Wylie, page 20.] and so he ordered his scribe to prepare it but it was never finished (1455-1468 A.D.).
“His Majesty, our present king, came to the throne, took control (1469), and following the plans of his ancestors commanded Prince Tal-sŭng and nine others, including the writer, Ye Keuk-ton, to prepare the Tong-guk T’ong-gam.”
They completed their work in the twenty-sixth day of the seventh moon, 1485, seven years before Columbus discovered America, and their work is regarded to-day — yes, I believe I am safe in saying it — as the very highest authority on Korean history. The Educational Department has made it the basis of the Tong-guk Sa-geui recently published.
Now that the authority is given let me in two or three paragraphs quote what is said of Tan-gun and Keui-ja. Regarding Tan-gun it reads―
“The last State was without a king when a spirit-man alighted beneath the Sandalwood tree. The people of the country made him king. King Sandalwood (Tan-gun). The name of the state was Cho-sŭn. This took place in Mu-jin year of Tang-jo (2333 B.C.). At first P’yŭng-yang was the site of the capital, but afterwards it was removed to Păk-ak. He continued till the year Eul-mi, the eighth year of the Song monarch Mu-jong (1317 B.C.?). Then he entered A-sa-tal Mountain and became a spirit.”
This is all that is said of Tan-gun. No mention is made of him in Chinese history that I have been able to discover. In fact, he belongs entirely to the mythical age. But with Keui-ja it is different. As long as the “Great Plan” stands in the Book of History we have no doubt of Keui-ja’s having once lived. Over 100 pages in Vol. VI. of the Korean edition are filled with notes of Chu-ja and other sages of China, explaining [page 44] the meaning and purpose of Wisdom as seen in the Hong-pŭm. We must admit that he existed in a very different way from Tan-gun. Now as to his having been in Korea, Ch’ă-jim, a Chinese scholar of the 12th century, who annotated the Book of History, says “After Keui-ja wrote the Great Plan, King Mu appointed him to Cho-sŭn and made it an independent state because Keui-ja did not wish to serve King Mu.” In the ninth book of the Analects we read that Confucius desired to go east and live among the barbarians, crossing the sea, which certainly proves that Manchuria was out of the question. Some one asked, “Would that not soil you, master?” His reply was “Nothing can defile where the Superior Man is.” Hu-ja-pang adds the note “When a man like Keui-ja could take over Cho-sŭn and live among barbarians, what is there about it that is mean?” Mayers, Giles and Legge, all understand that Keui-ja came to Cho-sŭn across the Yalu, and Carles says that the sights and associations around P’yŭng-yang make him as evident there as Shakespeare is in Stratford-on-Avon.
The T’ong-gam goes on to say, quoting from the Book of History. Vol. VI., that Keui-ja did not wish to serve a usurper; that King Mu handed him over Cho-sŭn; that he gave the people the Eight Laws and the Nine Field Divisions — in fact, that the endeavoured to carry out the principles so wonderfully stated in the Book of History and so highly praised by the sages of China. The result was—no need to lock the doors; the women were chaste and faithful; fields and meadows were opened up; towns and cities were built [apparently before that time they were the wandering people called the “Nine Tribes” in the Book of History]; people ate from sacrificial dishes and there was development of truth and goodness.
A Chinaman, Pŭm-yŭp, who lived about the 5th century A.D. and wrote the Book of the After Han, says Keui-ja made his escape. came to Cho-sŭn, gave the document of the Eight Laws and made the people know what they prohibited, so that there was no unchastity or theft in the cities; they did not lock their doors by night; gentleness became the custom; religion and righteousness abounded; laws for teaching were definitely stated, and faith and virtue were practised so that the source of law as acknowledged by the ancient sages was received.
Ham Ho-ja also says “Keui-ja mustered 5,000 men of the Middle Kingdom, came to Cho-sŭn, and brought with him poetry, history, ceremony, music, medicine, witchcraft, the Eum-yang, divination, fortune telling; also the various kinds of workmanship, skilled labor. When he came to Cho-sŭn he could not communicate by speech and so understood by interpretation. He taught poetry, history — so that the people might know the forms of ceremony and music of the Middle Kingdom — the religion of father and son, king and courtier, the law of the five relationships, also the eight laws, elevating faith and goodness and making much of culture and causing the customs of the Middle Kingdom to ferment in the land. He taught them to esteem lightly military valour, but to repay violence by virtue. The neighbouring states all looked [page 45] up at his righteousness and made friends. Because his clothing and fashions were all like those of the Middle Kingdom, they called Cho-sŭn the State of Poetry, History, Ceremony and Music, the King of Charity. Keui-ja began these things and who can fail to think so? As a result of the reign of Keui-ja the Han records speak of Korea as the Development of Goodness; the Tang records, “The Superior Man’s Nation;” the Song records, as the Country of Ceremony, Music and Literature.
This ends the account regarding Keui-ja and Tan-gun, and to my mind it excludes the possibility of the correctness of the comparison drawn in to-day’s paper.
I mention Keui-ja particularly because I believe that his is the most powerful influence that has touched this country in the person of one man, for he has continued till to-day in his writing and laws. Even the formulation of the Five Relationships came from Keui-ja.
Wi-man is spoken of as a semi-barbarian half Manchu. He was a Yŭn-in, which to-day means Pekingese; he helped build the Great Wall against barbarian tribes, so I include his influence in that of China. When he first came to Cho-sŭn Keui-jun made him a Pak-sa or Doctor of Laws. He must have been acquainted with Chinese civilization to merit such a title — unless he purchased his degree — in which case it would show his respect for things Chinese. I connected the top-knot with Wi-man, because the history says “Wi-man flying for his life with 1000 followers and more wearing the ‘Ch’u’ (top-knot) came to Korea.” I would like to get from the reader of the day the anthority that says Tan-gun gave the top-knot and to see the Chinese character that is used to express it.
The writer maintains that the Three Hans were all named years before the Chinese came and that they, the Chinese, did not in any way figure in the founding of these states. The name Han, however, has evidently come from China and it came to stay for the present name is Han once more. The Tong-guk T’ong-gam says; “Chin Han (using the Chinese hour character Chin) was to the west of Ma-han, The story is that fugitives from the Chin State of China, in order to escape trouble, came to Han. Han apportioned to them territory to the east, where they set up their city. Their speech was the same as that of the people of Chinese Chin. Some call the country Chin-Han (using the same Chin as the Chinese). They had as king a man from Ma-han, and although they continued from generation to generation it is evident that they did not become independent. They were permanently under the restraint of Ma-han. The land was suitable for the Five Grains. Their custom of agriculture provided sufficient. They skilfully wove silk and cotton; they rode in ox and horse carts. They had marriage laws and the sexes were separated. Those on the road meeting women would stop and ask others to pass before them.”
Kwŭn-geun, who was a minister of the Ko-ryŭ dynasty and royal librarian in 1375, says “The language of the Three Hans was not the same. The Cho-sŭn king, Keui-jun, who escaped from the war of Wi-man [page 46] and came south by sea, united fifty separate states, opened up a kingdom and called it Ma-han. It lasted till the time of On-jo of Păk-je, who united it into one. Ok-ju of to-day is the ancient site and people still call it Keui-jun’s city. The founder of Sil-la, Hyŭk-kŭ-se, set up Chin-Han or made it one state.” All this would seem to contradict what we have heard and to say that the Chinese and descendants of Chinese had much to do with the gathering together of the small separate states under the names of Ma-Han and Chin-Han.
The reader asks What is Confucianism? Simply a formulation of those simple laws of conduct which are common to the entire human family, the love of parents, etc. I leave a future paper before this Society, whoever it may be written by, to deal with this paragraph. It seems to me it has looked at a detail or two and missed the whole colossal outline of Confucianism.
Sŭl-chŭng invented the Nitu to “wean” the natives from Chinese, we are told, but it seems to me to be a system designed rather to aid and encourage the reading of Chinese.
The simile so well worked out with England as the other quantity is most interesting but I question the correctness of it. If the comparison with England were true and classic and Continental influences were equal to the influence of China upon Korea, I should not expect to find England mother of a republic like the United States or so evident in India, South Africa, Australia and Canada. Since the ancient Britons were, as the reader affirms, much like the ancient Koreans — equal in their manner of life, ignorance and superstition, and if, as the writer also maintains, the influence from the Continent were the same as that of China upon Korea. I should expect to find in England to-day a condition similar to the one here. What would it be? Let us picture it merely in the literary kingdom. I enter a primary school and the boys are singing away at Latin and Greek. There are no girls, I beg you to notice; that is part of the influence. Do they understand what they read? Oh, no! they’re studying the sounds now; they’ll get the meanings later. No England history is taught; no English literature. English is spoken merely as a means of getting at the classics. “Sing, oh goddess! the destructive wrath of Achilles.” In recess time games on the lawn would be between Priam and Agamemnon. They would talk of battering down the walls of Troy, as though it had happened yesterday. The nurse caring for the baby would sing of Diomedes and Hector and the men as they work at the docks would sing of Menelaus, who was a contemporary of Kang-tă-kong that the coolies sing of here; of Agamemnon, who stands for Mo-wang; of the Troubadours of Languedoc, who lived at the time of Yi Ta-păk and of Titus Quintius Flaminius, who was a contemporary of Han-sin. Nine songs out of ten would take you to the Olympian Mountains or the Forum.
I go to a book-store and inquire “Have you a history of the reign of Elizabeth?” — Upso (no-have-got). “Or of George the Third?” — “George the Third? why you must be ignorant!” says the book man. “There can be no official history of George the Third until after this dynasty goes to [page 47] pieces. There is one written of Elizabeth, however. I haven’t any; but there is a Jew down in Whitechapel who had one last year, but whether it is sold or not I can’t tell.” “What histories have you, pray?” — “This room is filled with the Taking of Troy, Invasion of the Persians, Battle of Marathon, The Messenic War, Philip of Macedon. Punic Wars, Mithridates, Caesar. Of course you know the Goths came in the 5th century and knocked out everything. We’ve had no history since. I have here a new edition of a book of prayers to Pluto and Venus. Here is a book also that proves that Ovid was superior to Moses; also the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides. By the way, I have a book or two on the Crusades, but it is too modern to be interesting and the style is poor; I advise you to read Thucydides instead.” “But I’m after English history. What about the battle of Waterloo?” — “Waterloo? when was that? Oh, yes! I remember now, but it has never been put into Latin; we have not any. Wellington, was that his name? He was great, they say; but yet he was nothing compared with Leonidas. How those Spartans did fight! Wonderful, wasn’t it?” The books, too, are all in Latin and Greek.
At last I find a modest shop that sells English stories. I open one and it reads “In the Fourth Year of Sextius Pompius” — and drop it. Another “John Smith, a soldier serving under Charles Martel.” This is the latest date that figures in the book store. Another “When Alaric invaded Italy.” I ask for newspapers and am told that there are none. “Why do you wish newspapers? Can they equal the classics?” — and silence settles over me. People talk in a half conscious way of South Africa but no one knows definitely. Scholars are reading Xenophon in place of Chamberlain. The non-lettered classes are eating, dozing, smoking, sleeping.
“Who are your noted men and what public days do you have?” I ask. “Our noted men, in fact, the only noted men the world has ever seen, are Homerus, Aeschylus, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Themistocles, Epicurus, Hyacinthus, etc., etc. “But what about Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare?” — “We do not keep them. They are low class literature, and you’ll find them in second-hand shops and old clothes stores. Our noted days are 1st. The Roman New Year, 2nd. The Birthday of Romulus, 3rd. In honour of Alexander, 4th. Thanksgiving Day.”
“Whom do you worship?” — “Worship! Why, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, of course and the rest of them.”
If I should find such a state of affairs in the world of literature and thought in England I should not say that Englishmen were Romans or that the English language was Greek, but I should say; “These people have been influenced by the Continent in precisely the same way that Korea has been influenced by China.” But as there is no such condition I believe there has been no similar influence. The voice of Greece and Rome says “Forward, march!” the voice of China says “Retreat.”
MR. JONES: — In attempting to identify those customs and institutions of the Koreans which are not traceable to China, and which may be said to be original with the Peninsular people, and to have persisted through [page 48] the centuries of Chinese influence to the present day, we are confronted at the outset by the question of the origin of the Korean people. Without attempting to enter into a discussion of this very interesting phase of the question, I would say that it seems agreed on all sides that the aboriginal Korean did not come from China. That is to say—there was an original stock here upon which Chinese influence came to work, and in relation to that stock Chinese influence was foreign. Mr. Hulbert is therefore correct in contending that there are among the Koreans many customs and institutions which are purely Korean and do not belong to the category of Chinese influence. There was a time when this Chinese influence did not exist here. The Koreans were then simon-pure, as the saying is. They had their own social and political economies, and were developing along the line of forces which were original with themselves. But we must also agree with Mr. Gale that there was a time and a point at which Chinese influence came in, and a period during which it gradually spread itself over the face of Korean society and impressed it with many of its features. We must also agree with Mr. Gale that this period has been a long one and the work very thorough. The Chinese influence had its beginning with the Keui-ja dynasty, but when Keui-ja came to Korea he found here a settled populace existing under the rule of the Tan-gun chiefs. Then when Keui-jun, the last of the Keui-jun kings, fled south, he found numerous communities out of which he organized his principality of Ma-han. As history develops we hear of other peoples as inhabiting the Peninsula, such as the Măk, Yé, Ok-chŭ and Eum-yu tribes, all possessing customs and peculiarities of their own. These peoples were confessedly not Chinese, and the customs and habits which they originated have either persisted through the centuries, or have been modified or have been utterly obliterated. Many of them have been obliterated. The So-do or “‘thieves’ city,” a place of refuge for criminals among the Han peoples, to which they might flee from the vengeance of those they had wronged, and which is a remarkable reminder of the Cities of Refuge of the Old Testament, has not existed for many centuries. The custom of burying people alive in the tombs of royalty was discontinued in Sil-la in the 6th century A.D. The Ok-chŭ custom of preserving the skeletons of the dead in the trunks of burial-trees has also disappeared. These and many others are the customs of savage tribes, which naturally gave way to the better order Chinese influence introduced.
Among the customs and institutions of to-day which have not come from China, but seem to be entitled to the term “Koran survivals,” the spirit or Shaman worship of the Koreans is one of the chief. The traces of Shamanism are to be found in the very dawn of Korean history. Tan-gun, the first worthy mentioned, claimed descent from Ché-sŭk, one of the chief Shaman demons. The early kings of Sil-la took the Shaman title of seers or exorcists for the royal designation. As far as we know this has always been the Korean’s religion and while we would not deny that China has its demon worship, yet, at the same time, we would claim that the Koreans did not have to go to China for [page 49] their system, but that it existed from pre-Keui-ja days and has persisted to the present time.
In this connection I would mention another “survival” of some interest, namely, the fetich system which is a part of Korean Shamanism. The old shoes and battered hats and torn costumes and broken pots which are the emblems of its demons, seem to belong to Korea. This is mentioned as being a special feature, distinguishing the aborigines of South Korea from the Chin emigrants who came to the Peninsula in the days of the Great Wall Builder, and mention is also made at that time of the shrine just inside the door, where, to this day, the Korean keeps the emblems of the gods of luck. Along the same line are the sŭng-whang-dang, or shrine along the way-side and in mountain defiles, composed of loose stones. These, I am told, are certainly not Chinese.
Turning now to the Korean social system we notice that one of its most prominent features is the caste idea which is firmly held to among the Koreans — a feature which stands them up in direct contrast to the Chinese. The gulf which separates the Korean sang-nom from the yang-ban is a wide one. The low-class man may not enter the aristocrat’s presence without permission, and then the favour, if granted, must be recompensed with humiliating observances, which would seem to indicate that the yang-ban regards himself as of separate origin and clay from the coolie. We call this Yangbanism. which is another word for Caste. It certainly does not point us to China. It is not to be deduced from the teachings of the Confucian sages, though these have inspired the Korean with such a high estimation of the worth of learning that he has been willing, in order to recognize literary talent, to mitigate some of the severities of the Caste system. The poor, blooded aristocrat, tracing his ancestry back to a superior and conquering family or clan, moves in a circle of society to which the tainted low-class man can never hope to find entrance. No intermarriage is possible among them. Certain of the middle grades of the social scale may furnish the yang-ban with concubines but never with a wife, and there are some grades among the lower classes from which he would not take even a concubine. Men from the lower classes may by sheer merit force themselves high up in official preferment, but under the system which prevailed until 1895, and which was distinctively Korean, there were lines of civil service from which they and their descendants were for ever barred by the accident of their low birth. This certainly is not Chinese. While there is a vast difference between the Caste idea of India and that of Korea, yet its manifestation in the latter country points away from and not to China.
Under this general heading of Caste in Korea we must place the honorifics of the language. These constitute one of the most complicated and knotty problems confronting the student. And yet to the Korean they come as easy as breathing the air. To him they are not simply a habit or frame of mind learned from some outside source, but they constitute an element of personality and the key-note of his entire philosophy of life, which neither Confucius nor Sakyamuni have educated out of him. [page 50]
Another Korean “survival” may be found in connection with the architecture of the country. For instance, in China the chief building material is brick. Brick meets the eye wherever it turns there. Now I suppose that as good brick can be made of Korean clay as of Chinese clay, and yet the Koreans have remained loyal to their native mud. The constituent materials of which the Korean houses are built have survived all the rude shocks of Chinese influence and are to-day, as in ancient times, of unbaked mud. We are told that in the times of Tan-gun the aborigines lived in pits in the ground in winter time and in the trees in the summer. And to-day it would not be difficult to find a score or more of families in Seoul or Chemulpo who have simply dug a pit or hole in the ground, covered it with a thatch-roof with a hole for an entrance, and are living in it unembarrassed to any appreciable extent by this literal return to their original source. Then take the mud hut which is the universal domicile here and contrast it with the pits alongside, and it does not require a very vivid imagination to see in the hut simply the pit or hole in the ground taken out of the ground, set up above the surface, and braced with sticks and straw so that it will stand. The Korean house, as far as the average type is concerned, is not Chinese.
Whether there are any pure Korean “survivals” in the Korean costume I am unable to say, but they themselves claim that the wristlet worn by them is not Chinese. It would be interesting to know whether this claim will stand the test of investigation. While on this point, however, I would say that I am inclined to think that the green cloak worn by the women as a veil over their heads, which has caused some one to liken them to animated Christmas trees, is not Chinese.
From earliest times the Koreans have been noted among the Chinese for their fondness for fermented and distilled drinks. We find this weakness mentioned in the native histories of the aboriginal tribes, and it seems to be in a special sense a Korean custom. The Korean has certainly not gone to China for his beverages, else tea would have come into use here. Neither did the Korean go to China to learn how to make alcoholic drinks. He has certainly possessed that knowledge as long as we find any trace of him.
In this connection the Korean’s fondness for hot flavours in his food might be mentioned. Pepper is a favourite condiment with him and in this the stands in direct contrast with the Chinese. Among his foodstuffs investigation would doubtless reveal many interesting and remarkable “survivals.” And so with ordinary life. Did we know more about the Korean and his history, and how he regards the customs and institutions which are his, we would find many things of which he alone is the ingenious contriver. In conclusion I would mention the Korean method of ironing, which the Koreans claim is their own or at least did not come from China. How true this is I cannot say, but I mention it as representing the native idea in the matter.