Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Unseen photos of the Samil movement, 1919

While looking for something else I came upon this page, which has scans of a 1919 Korean Red Cross pamphlet about the suppression of the Samil independence movement (which I talked a lot about here). It includes the declaration of Korean independence, 34 photos, and a statement from the Korean Red Cross. What's most remarkable are the photos, many of which I'd never seen before. The pamphlet says they were taken by a foreigner (singular), and one of them was most certainly taken Francis Schofield, so it would seem they came from his camera. I've included some below, but for those who want to see them all but don't want to spend the time necessary to look at them on the website, I made a pdf, which can be downloaded here (scroll down to bottom left).

The photo below is well known - or at least the right half of it is. I made a panorama from two separate photos. To the left is Deoksu Palace (with some sort of awning set up - perhaps for Gojong's funeral) and to the right is the old city hall, a building I know nothing about.


Here the protesters are behind Deoksu palace, with what I'm quite certain is the British legation in the background (The U.S. legation is nearby as well).


The caption for this photo reads "Japanese soldiers guarding the park gate." Perhaps this is the gate to Tapgol Park?


The caption for this photo says it's in a "corner of the park".


Below are women being taken to the police station for shouting "Mansei!"


The caption for the following photo reads: "Japanese soldiers dot the streets of Seoul and other important cities in Korea like flies - one Japanese soldier at an interval of five houses."


Shopkeepers stayed closed in solidarity with the demonstrators.


The photo below is of "A foreigner who was arrested for harbouring Korean revolutionists on way to trial with his head covered." Perhaps this is Eli Miller Mowry, an American missionary who was arrested and sentenced to 6 months in prison.


Schofield, working as he did at Severance Hospital, would have had many chances to photograph those beaten and tortured by the Japanese.



The following two photos are are very unpleasant, just to warn you.



These are about half of the photos of the wounded, and they really do make clear how brutal the repression was. Schofield hid his papers about and photos of the uprising in his false leg when he left Korea, if I remember correctly, because the Japanese were trying everything they could to stop images such as these from leaving the country.

Below is a well known photo taken by Schofield on April 18, 1919, three days after the Jeam-ri massacre. A Japanese police officer is explaining away the burned houses to a foreign missionary.



Above are two grieving widows. Below is one of the only houses left standing in Jeam-ri.



The photo above shows more destruction at Jeam-ri; the one below shows the destruction at the nearby Whasu-ri:


I've seen photos of Koreans tied to crosses at their executions, but have never been sure such photos were real. Here is one from the pamphlet which is captioned "Crucifixion in 1919: This photograph was taken by the International Film Company a few minutes after the execution by the Japanese soldiers." So what it's saying is that the Japanese, who were trying so hard to make sure no photos of atrocities left Korea so as to influence the west, let a foreign film crew photograph crucified prisoners? I'm not saying this didn't happen, I'm just saying I'd need some more proof.


At any rate, it's a fascinating pamphlet, as I'd never seen most of these photos before.

1 comment:

Tukhachevsky said...

Thank you so much for posting these photos. Until now I knew little about the suppression of the Samil movement.

Schofield hid his papers about and photos of the uprising in his false leg when he left Korea, if I remember correctly, because the Japanese were trying everything they could to stop images such as these from leaving the country.

Yes: A KBS show -- possibly Sponge (not my favorite program, but in the US it is broadcast before an historical drama) -- described that Schofield hid the photos in his prosthetic leg to smuggle them out of occupied Korea to "show the world" what had happened.

Glad I found your blog: Your comments on OFK last week regarding Gwangju were very helpful.