Foreigners Who Loved Korea
Ernest Thomas Bethell and Frank William Schofield
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Korea was colonized by Japan from 1910 to 1945. During that period, Japan illegally exercised sovereign power in Joseon, which was the name of Korea then. For the independence of Korea, there were thousands of activists who fought Japan’s violence. Among them, there were foreign activists who deeply empathized with Joseon’s hardship and accommodated with Koreans to accuse Japans’ brutality to the world. This week, the Internet Hanyang News (IHN) introduces two foreign independence activists- Ernest Thomas Bethell and Frank William Schofield.
Englishman Who Established the Korean Daily News
Bethell, also known as Bae Seol as his Korean name, first came to Korea in 1904 as a correspondent for the Daily Chronicle, a British newspaper, to cover the Russo-Japanese War. However, when he witnessed the reality of Korea, he decided to report on Japanese imperialism in Korea instead. Although there are no official records, it is said that he was able to relate with Koreans well as Jews himself. With Yang Gi-tak, a Korean independence activist, Bethell founded the Daehan Maeil Shinbo (the Korea Daily News) which was published in both Korean and English. The content of the newspaper was strongly antagonistic to Japanese rule and many Korean activists and historians contributed to it. As Bethell was British, he could enjoy extraterritorial rights, protecting the newspaper against the Japanese colonialists’ strong suppression against the media at the time.
The Korea Daily News had two aspects of influence internationally and domestically. Since the newspaper covered a lot about Japanese imperialism and Koreans’ resistance toward it, they could lead international public opinion to go against Japan. Within Korea, the strong tone words used in articles greatly instilled Korean people to actively participate in independence movements. Right before the Russo-Japanese war, Japan tried to forcefully gain the right to cultivate the wasteland of Korea for more than 50 years. Japan wanted to claim more than two thirds of Korean land to immigrate the overgrowing population of Japan and supplement more crops from Korea. Korean newspapers’ articles were stirring up opposition among citizens. Although it was just four days after its establishment, the Korea Daily News also issued an article that strongly criticized Japan’s plan. It helped Joseon, which had no supportive diplomatic relationship at the time, to spread the world about its situation to other countries like Britain, which was in a favorable relationship with Japan.
In the perspective of Japan, the Korean Daily News was a very disturbing obstacle to conquer Korea and remain in amicable relationships with other countries. Japan constantly asserted to Britain the need to capture and expel Bethell from Joseon. While the Korea Daily News reproached Japan repeatedly, Japan continuously requested the British to punish Bethell. Britain’s consul general Henry Cockburn had no choice but to sentence him 6 months of probation. Even after the probation, Japan saw Bethell as a problem and continued to oppress the Korean Daily News. Due to many hardships that struck him, Bethell suddenly faced death in 1909 due to cardiectasis. Many Koreans mourned his death and voluntarily started to collect money to erect a gravestone for Bethell. He died, leaving behind the famous saying “Even after I die, protect the newspaper and save Koreans.”
One Canadian among 48 National Activists
Frank William Schofield came to Korea as a missionary and a professor at the Severance Medicine School. He taught bacteriology in Korea from 1916. Since then, Schofield sympathized with the Koreans who were under Japan’s harsh imperialistic condition and decided to help them. From 1910, Japan was both politically and economically taking advantage of Korea.
After World War I, the US President Woodrow Wilson declared the 14 points- peace principles. One of them was the principle of national self-determination. As many other countries that were influenced by the principle, there were independence movements held in different regions of Korea since March 1st, 1919. It was meaningful in the sense that it was the first movement of Koreans to declare sovereignty and democracy. It also motivated the establishment of the provisional government of the Republic of Korea. Schofield was the only foreigner who was notified of the event a day earlier to translate the declaration of independence and send it to the White House.
Even though Schofield was suffering from polio and his one leg and arm deterred him from moving freely, he took photos of the 3.1 movement, beginning on its first day. Almost all photos related to the movement were taken by him. While the 3.1 movements were spread all across the country, Japan committed a dreadful crime to strike against the 3.1 movement. At April 4th, in Jae-am-ni, Kyunggi-do where citizens shouted out for independence of Korea, Japan massacred more than 30 citizens. Schofield visited the place and helped the people. He also reported on the crime with his article “The massacre of Jae-am-ni” to newspapers in China and the US.
Schofield didn’t hesitate to personally meet and contact officials of the Japanese Government’s General of Korea to stop the ruthless torture of Korean activists. He was able to do so, as he also enjoyed extraterritorial rights in Korea as an English-Canadian. After Schofield reported on the 3.1 movement, he was threatened to be killed by an unknown robber. After such an incident, he had to go back to Canada for his safety but still continued to support and advise Koreans through articles. Once in one of his articles, Schofield stated, “I think of myself more as a Korean than a Canadian”, and showed how deeply he loved Korea. Unlike other Western missionaries who thought they were superior to Koreans, Schofield was truly considerate towards Koreans.
Even after Korea’s independence, Schofield came to Korea in 1958 with the Korean government’s invitation to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the birth of the Korean government. He subsequently stayed in Korea as a professor in Seoul National University. While Korea was still unstable with its new democratic form of rule, Schofield didn’t stop advising the Korean people to remember the spirit of the 3.1 movement. He continuously emphasized the importance of human rights and free country. Schofield died in 1970 due to cardiac asthma he suffered from for years, leaving a famous saying, “Always remember the people and their sacrifice in 1919.”
Yun Ji-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
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