National Geographic : 1904 Feb
GEOGRAPHIC NOTES SOME FACTS ABOUT KOREA T HE foreign commerce of Korea amounts to about fifteen millions of dollars, of which two-thirds are ex ports. It is difficult to learn how much the United States sends Korea, as much of what we send goes by way of China and Japan and is not directly credited to us. In 1903 the value of American ex ports to Korea, of which there is record, amounted to about $400,000, but it is probable that our actual exports to the country reached double that amount. The trade of Korea with Japan is growing more rapidly than with any other country, the importation of cotton goods from Japan amounting to from two to three million yen annually (one yen equals 50 cents). Cotton goods are the largest single article in the value of importations into Korea, amounting to between six and seven million yen an nually. Silk goods amount to about one and a half million yen per annum. The chief articles of export are rice, 41 mil lion yen in value; beans, 2 million yen; hides, 650,00ooo yen; and ginseng, 527,000 yen. The currency chiefly consists of cop per cash and nickel coins, gold and silver coins being out of circulation. The total currency is stated as aggregating about $22,000,000, of which $6,000,000 is copper cash, $14,000,000 nickel, $i, 550,000 Japanese coins, and $530,000 Korean silver dollars. The minerals of Korea are of consid erable value. Copper, iron, and coal are reported as abundant, and gold and silver mines are being successfully oper ated, an American company having charge of and operating a gold mine at the treaty port of Wunsan under a con cession granted in 1895. Concessions have also been granted to Russian, Ger man, Japanese, and French subjects. Railways, telegraphs, telephones, and a postal system have been recently intro duced into Korea. A railway from the seaport of Chemulpo to Seoul, the capi tal, a distance of 26 miles, was built by American contractors, and has reduced the time between the seaport and capital from eight hours to one and three-quar ter hours. The Seoul Electric Com pany, organized chiefly by Americans and with American capital,has built and operated an electric railway near Seoul, which is much used by the natives. This electrical plant is said to be the largest single electrical plant in Asia. The machinery is imported from the United States, and the consulting engi neer, a Japanese, is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Transportation in the interior is chiefly carried on by porters, pack horses, and oxen, though small river steamers owned by Japanese run on such of the streams as are of sufficient size to justify the use of steamers. The postal system is under French direction and has, in addition to the central bureau at Seoul, 37 postal stations in full operation and 326 substa tions for registered correspondence. The area of Korea is estimated at 82,000 square miles, or about equal to that of the State of Kansas. The popu lation is variously estimated at from eight to sixteen millions. The foreign population consists of about 30,000 Jap anese, 5,000 Chinese, 300 Americans, 100 British, ioo French, Ioo Russians, 50 Germans, and about 50 of various other nationalities.