Category : 【 THE NEW KOREA 】 Tag :
About twenty years ago I published three volumes dealing with colonial administration in the Far East. They related to British rule in Burma, the Federated Malay States, the Straits Settlements, Sarawak, British North Borneo, and Hong Kong, American rule in the Philippines, Dutch rule in Java, and French rule in Indo-China.
It had been my intention to include an account of Japanese rule in Formosa; but by the time I had turned back east after two years of westerly travel the Russo-Japanese war was in progress, and a visit to Formosa was out of the question. When, in 1922, the opportunity presented itself to spend the greater part of the year in the Far East, I decided that a volume describing Japanese administration in Korea would make a more interesting contribution to the study of Government than a similar work about Formosa.
Formosa is merely one example among many of a civilized race ruling a people in a very low stage of development. Korea, on the other hand, presents the rare spectacle of one civilized race ruling another civilized race. It is true that at the time Japan annexed Korea, in 1910, the actual conditions of life in the Peninsula were extremely bad. This was not due, however, to any lack of inherent intelligence and ability in the Korean race, but to the stupidity and corruption which for five hundred years had, almost continuously, characterized the government of the Korean dynasty, and to the existence during that period of a royal court which maintained throughout Korea a system of licensed cruelty and corruption.
Such was the misrule under which the Koreans had suffered for generation after generation that all incentive to industry, thrift, and social progress had been destroyed, because none of the common people had been allowed to enjoy the fruits of their own efforts.
The title of the present volume gives the key to its contents. What I have attempted is to present in some detail the aims, the methods, and the results of Japanese administration in Korea. Of the right of the Koreans to govern themselves, of the right of the Japanese to govern them I have said but little, for the subject has been discussed exhaustively by other writers, both from the point of view of the Korean nationalists and from that of the Japanese imperialists, and is in any case of such a nature that a judgment one way or the other can reflect nothing but the individual temperament of the judge.
There is already in existence a voluminous literature relating to Korea, much of it of great interest and importance. Most of it, however, falls under one of two heads--writing descriptive of the country and of the people, or polemical writing in which Japanese administration in Korea is attacked or eulogized on the basis of material specially selected to serve one purpose or the other.
To the English-reading public there is available at present only one source of statisticallybased information covering every phase of Japanese rule in Korea--the Annual Report on Reforms and Progress in Chosen, compiled and published by the Government-General. Although these reports contain a great deal of valuable comment and a considerable body of statistical data, a careful perusal of the volumes covering the past ten years convinced me that a work such as I had in mind could not be written from that material alone. It was clear that a good deal of the matter appearing in the reports had been condensed from departmental reports in which various subjects had been treated in full detail. Both as to data and to comment a large proportion of the contents of the present volume is taken from translations of official material which has not hitherto been accessible in English.
Where I have expressed my own opinion of Japanese administration in Korea, it has been derived from the consideration of what I saw in the country, what I have read about it in official and in unofficial publications, and from discussions with persons--Japanese, Korean, and foreign--who were living in the Peninsula at the time of my visit.