National Geographic : 1906 Oct
THE PASSING OF KOREA* H OMER B. HULBERT, for many years resident of Korea and editor of the Korean Re view, is the author of a new book, enti tled "The Passing of Korea," published this month by Messrs Doubleday, Page & Co., of New York. It is undoubtedly the most reliable and interesting volume on this people that has been issued in many years. Mr Hulbert sympathizes very deeply with the Koreans in their loss of independence, and feels that they have been harshly treated by the Japan ese. Unquestionably it is a sad fact when a nation forfeits its independence, but this must occasionally happen in the progress of the world. While many will differ from Mr Hulbert in his judg ment as to the justice of the Japanese advance through Korea, every one must admire the sympathetic and eloquent manner in which he outlnes the history and describes the mannec-, customs, and personality of the country, and will profit by as well as greatly enjoy the reading of the book. Through the courtesy of the publishers, the NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC MAGAZINE is enabled to repub lish several of the striking and typical illustrations from the volume, and to give the following extracts: There is a peculiar pathos in the ex tinction of a nation. Especially is this true when the nation is one whose his tory stretches back into the dim centuries until it becomes lost in a labyrinth of myth and legend-a nation which has played an important part in the moulding of other nations and which is filled with monuments of past achievements. Kija, the founder of Korean civilization, flour ished before the reign of David in Jeru salem. In the fifth century after Christ, Korea enjoyed a high degree of civiliza tion and was the repository from which the half-savage tribes of Japan drew their first impetus toward culture. The American public has been persist ently told that the Korean people are a degenerate and contemptible nation, in capable of better things, intellectually in ferior, and better off under Japanese rule than independent. The following pages may in some measure answer these charges, which have been put forth for a specific purpose-a purpose that came to full fruition on the night of November 17, 1905, when, at the point of the sword, Korea was forced to acquiesce "volun tarily" in the virtual destruction of her independence once for all. Topographically Korea lies with her face toward China and her back toward Japan. This has had much to do in de termining the history of the country. Through all the centuries she has set her face toward the west, and never once, though under the lash of foreign invasion and threatened extinction, has she ever swerved from her allegiance to her Chi nese ideal. Lacordaire said of Ireland that she has remained "free by the soul." So it may be said of Korea, that, al though forced into Japan's arms, she has remained "Chinese by the soul." The scenery of Korea as witnessed from the deck of a steamer is very unin viting, and it is this which has sent so many travelers home to assert that this country is a barren, treeless waste. There is no doubt that the scarcity of ,timber along most of the beaten high ways of Korea is a certain blemish, though there are trees in moderate num ber everywhere; but this very abs i'-e of extensive forests gives to the scenery a grandeur and repose which is not to he found in Japanese scenery. The lofts crags that lift their heads three thousand feet into the air and almost overhang the city of Seoul are Alpine in their grandeur. The vegetable life of Korea is like that of other parts of the temperate zone, * "The Passing of Korea." By Homer B. Hulbert. Profusely illustrated from photo graphs. Pp. 475. 7/ by 10o inches. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co. 1906. $4.18, postpaid.