Sunday, October 26, 2008

The 100,000 won 'terrorist'

[Update: Apparently the 100,000 bill design with Kim Ku on the front has been shelved, due to the Blue House's dislike for 'commies'.]

Kim Ku's funeral, July 5, 1949

I found this Time Magazine article to be rather interesting:
Death of a Tiger
Monday, Jul. 04, 1949

Jail, exile, violence and intrigue had been part & parcel of Kim Koo's life for more than half a century. At 19, he killed a Japanese policeman in Korea, served several years in prison. Later Kim Koo went into exile in China, further enhanced his reputation both as an intense Korean nationalist and ruthless political terrorist: To friend & foe alike, he became known as "The Tiger."

Kim Koo was a Rightist, but he soon broke with Rightist President Syngman Rhee. Kim made a bitter fight against establishment of the U.S.-sponsored South Korean Republic, which he felt would permanently divide his homeland.

One day last week, the tired, 73-year-old terrorist was resting alone in a second-floor bedroom of his house in Seoul. Shortly after noon, a young Korean army lieutenant, known to the police who guarded the "Tiger's" home dropped in for a visit. He talked with Kim Koo for about five minutes. Then he drew a .45-caliber automatic and fired six shots; four of them struck Kim Koo, who died almost instantly. Later, police reported that the lieutenant had slain Kim Koo to prevent him from using part of the Korean army "for his own purposes." [Emphasis added]
There are many more quotes - from more recent history books - describing Kim's career in this post over at Sperwer's Log, but this Time article is interesting because it's a contemporary source using the word 'terrorist.' More than a year ago, a foreign professor calling Kim a terrorist set off netizen reaction and media attention, though part of his point was that the definition of terrorism has changed since the mid twentieth century. Worth mentioning is that this is the man who will be on the new 100,000 won bill (as soon as they add Dokdo to the map on the back).

Personally, I'd choose someone like Sin Chae-ho, seeing how influential his writing and ideas were (as mentioned here). An essay titled "Shin Ch'ae-ho's Nationalism and Anarchism" can be found here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Protests, public space in Seoul, and cyberspace - Part 2

Part 1: From the Joseon Dynasty to the 5th Republic
Part 2: Sports nationalism in 2002: Through a video screen darkly
Part 3: Funeral processions from the Joseon Dynasty to the present
Part 4: The 2002 candlelight protests: A new form of demonstration
Part 5: Anti-communist exhibitions
Part 2: Sports nationalism in 2002: Through a video screen darkly

One of the more iconic images of the 2002 World Cup was this image of Ahn Jung-hwan pretending to speed skate after scoring the tying goal against the US team on June 10. There's actually much more to this image than meets the eye, and to understand it we have to go back to the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and the 1500 meter short track speed skating final on February 20, 2002 (Feb. 21 in Korea). (A poor quality video is here; the moment pictured below is at 2:30)

Korean skater Kim Dong-sung won the race but was then disqualified for "Cross Track", which this Donga Ilbo article describes as "a kind of course interference that crosses the track intentionally in order to prevent the other athletes from overtaking."

CNN Sports Illustrated described the measured South Korean reaction:
The South Koreans [protested to the International Skating Union,] appealed to International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, hired a Salt Lake City law firm and said they might boycott the closing night of the Salt Lake City Games.

"We will use all measures necessary to rectify the misjudgment," said Park Sung-in, leader of the country's Olympic team. Before learning of the ISU decision, the South Koreans said they also would go to the IOC and Court of Arbitration for Sport. In addition, they plan to sue chief referee James Hewish.[...]

The disqualification of Kim drew angry reactions in South Korea. "Kim Dong-sung was robbed of his gold," said the headline of Dong-A Ilbo newspaper. "Olympic spirit is dead," was the headline in the Hankook Ilbo newspaper.
[...]16,000 e-mails regarding Ohno, mostly from South Korea, crashed the US Olympic Committee's Internet server early Thursday, spokesman Mike Moran said. It took more than nine hours to restore service.
The other response of Korea's netizens was to lampoon Ohno on the internet using photoshop, by placing his head on a dog, making him a prisoner of Osama Bin Laden, or months later, adding Ahn Jung-hwan into the picture (quite clever, that one). Of course, Jay Leno showed how clever he could be when he "said that Kim Dong-sung, who was disqualified after finishing first in Olympic 1,500-meter speed skating, must have kicked a dog in frustration, then eaten it," which pissed off Kim Jong-pil (and numerous, vocal others) to no end. Something the Korean media did not focus on was the fact that it was Korean skater Ahn Hyun-soo who caused the four-skater wipeout that cost Ohno a gold medal in the 1000 m race three days earlier.

One of the interesting things to note is that president Bush's inclusion of North Korea in an "Axis of Evil" in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002, which angered numerous civic groups, preceded the medal furor by just three weeks. Also worth noting, perhaps, is that president Bush was in South Korea when that speed skating race occurred, something I didn't realize until his most recent visit here.

A March 4 Joongang Ilbo article talked about the backlash the 'Ohno incident' had led to:
The controversial call that made Kim Dong-sung give up his gold medal in the men's 1500-meter short track speed skating final has prompted demands for a boycott of American products. Letters calling for such a ban, with an attached list of American companies in Seoul have spread through Korean Web sites, including the Blue House's.

On the widely used Daum community Web site, more than 40 communities that oppose purchasing U.S. products were set up with more than 32,000 registered members. One online community formed to plan street rallies calling for boycotts.
Another response was the classic song, "Fucking USA", which was influenced by both the speed skating medal loss and president Bush's inclusion of North Korea in the "Axis of Evil."

Did you see the short-track skating race?
A vulgar country, Fucking USA
Are you so happy over a gold medal?
A nasty country, Fucking USA
Such as you are, can you claim that the USA is a nation of justice?
Why the hell can't we say what we have to?
Are we slaves of a colonial nation?
Now shout it out: "No to the USA"
A wretched thief that stole our Olympic gold medal, Fucking USA
A wicked robber that tries to rob everything by force, Fucking USA

If you're wondering whether the Korean media has gotten over Ohno, they haven't.

At any rate, this was the atmosphere, three months after the Olympics, that the World Cup started in, though this was not mentioned in the English language press at the time. A May 31 Korea Times article, "Nation Shifts to World Cup Mode," gives us some feel-good details about the mood in Korea on the eve of the World Cup:
Already, the nation is busily preparing to wholeheartedly cheer the team during qualifying games against Poland (June 4), the U.S. (June 10) and Portugal (June 14). [Some will gather] at pubs and restaurants to view the events with their friends and colleagues in a more festive and fun-filled atmosphere.

Some public office workers are getting into the spirit by wearing red shirts _ color of the Red Devil, the Korean cheering squad _ to work instead of their regular attire. Many local companies have decided to view the games in groups, while others will cut regular work hours by an hour or so on the days of the matches. "As the employees’ overall concentration is expected to falter during the World Cup, watching the games together will help promote unity and relieve stress,’’ a Seoul-based company official said. Amid the tournament atmosphere, restaurants, pubs and cafes are rushing to equip their stores with mega TV screens to attract football fans on match days.
A Donga Ilbo article from June 4 describes the plans the Red Devils, the Korean team's official cheering squad, were making to watch the games in several outdoor spots. A June 6 Korea Times article, "Korean Fans Praised for Good Behavior" described the night of Korea's first World Cup victory ever:
On Tuesday night ... an estimated 510,000 people witnessed their country’s first World Cup victory via 52 giant outdoor screens across the nation. In Seoul, more than 340,000 football lovers gathered at a total of 12 downtown areas for "street cheering,’’ including 50,000 in Kwanghwamun, 40,000 at World Cup Park in Sangam-dong and 35,000 in Chamsil Baseball Stadium. Orchestrated by members of "Red Devil,’’ the national team’s official support group, almost all of the fans, who were wearing red T-shirts, formed a tidal wave of raucous cheering.
There's a longer list of the different places they were cheering here. Notice though that the list above mentions Gwanghwamun, but one other well-known location is missing. Here's a typical photo of the 2002 World Cup street rallies:

By the time the 2006 World Cup came along, the street cheering of 2002 had been mythologized as being centered at City Hall. As the article above points out, the first rally did not take place at City Hall at all. The map below helps explain why:

Marked above are the large outdoor screens on the sides of buildings that existed at the time of the 2006 world cup. I can't be so sure about the which ones were there in 2002, though I know the ones by the Gwanghwamun Post Office, on the Koreana Hotel, and by the press center were there at the time. Also worth remembering is that both the Gwanghwamun Intersection and the area in front of City Hall were busy thoroughfares at the time. Of the two, it's obvious which one was more conducive to hosting large crowds to watch the game - Gwanghwamun, because it had several large screens on nearby buildings. So why was City Hall chosen as the main venue?

A Korea Times article on June 7 tells us that
President Kim Dae-jung has decided not to attend the Korea-U.S. World Cup match to be held in Taegu, Monday, due to security reasons, Chong Wa Dae officials said yesterday. "It is a precautionary measure to have President Kim stay away from the stadium, considering the emotional nature of the match,’’ a presidential aide said. [...] Chong Wa Dae officials said that the World Cup fever, being whipped up by Korea’s first-ever World Cup finals victory on Tuesday, might lead to eruptions of anti-American sentiment, particularly in case the home team loses.

Some 80,000 people gathered in Kwanghwamun and neighboring areas to support their team against Poland, some of them near the U.S. Embassy, which is located in Kwanghwamun. Emotions are running high in South Korea against the United States following a series of "mishaps.’’ [Emphasis added]
This article continues:
Seoul's soccer emotion will be channeled from the Gwanghwamun area to City Hall. After 150,000 people -- three times more than expected -- poured into the streets around Gwanghwamun to watch Tuesday's Korea-Poland match on giant screens, police stopped to think about the possibility of violence Monday if the United States should defeat Korea. The American Embassy is in Gwanghwamun.

Plans to set up huge displays at the Sejong Center, across the street from the embassy, were changed. The displays will be moved to the Hotel President and Seoul Plaza Hotel.
As this article notes,
The widespread soccer fever has promoted the police to beef up security around the U.S.Embassy and the stadium in Daegu. Police said they feared that a Korean loss could result in violence against U.S. facilities and businesses in Korea.
An article on June 10 noted that
Over 6,000 policemen have been mobilized while emergency medical and firefighting vehicles have been put on stand-by, officials said. They were concerned about possible eruption of violent rallies, as today marks the 15th anniversary of the "June 10 People's Struggle."
The game was tied 1-1, with the tying goal resulting in this scene:

The goal scorer, Ahn Jung-hwan, pretended to speed skate down the pitch, followed by his teammates, in a not-so-subtle dig at the US and the 'Ohno medal controversy' (which likely confused the rest of the world) - the same controversy which helped set off the anti-Americanism that existed in Korea prior to the World Cup, and which was cited as a reason to put screens up in front of City Hall to try to draw people away from Gwanghwamun and the nearby US Embassy. The measure obviously didn't draw many people people from Gwanghwamun, as the space in front of City Hall seemed to absorb the thousands more who came to the area to join in the street rallies (the participants in which paid no attention to the 15th anniversary of the 1987 June 10 struggle). As a Korea Times article that day said,
About one million people massed around a total of 81 giant outdoor screens installed across the nation. Despite rainy conditions, roughly 150,000 supporters, mostly in their teens and 20s, crammed into the Kwanghwamun area, and another 100,000 gathered in front of City Hall.
From this point on, the focal point of the cheering - at least when it was presented in the media, would be in front of City Hall. Or if you want to put it another way, in front of Daehanmun, the front gate of Deoksugung.

Of course, as I pointed out before, gathering in front of Deoksugung - and later City Hall - is a tradition dating back to the days of the Independence Club in the late 1890s, followed by the 1919 Samil protests, the 1960 Student Uprising, and the protests calling for democracy in 1980 (which failed) and in 1987 (which succeeded).

March, 1919

July, 1987

June, 2002

This was, however, the first time people were gathering there to watch a(n international) sports event. While all of the other mass gatherings in the past had been of a political nature, Seoul during the 2002 World Cup was not entirely devoid of politics. Before Korea's third game, against Portugal, was played on June 14, two other events unrelated to the World Cup would take place. The first was the municipal election, in which Seoul was to choose a new mayor.
The major candidates for mayor of Seoul shifted their campaign strategies from attracting votes to simply attracting voters. Lee Myung-bak, the Grand National Party's mayoral candidate, unveiled a new slogan Tuesday: "Voting is patriotism." Mr. Lee's camp urged the government to lift the special traffic controls in place during the World Cup finals on Thursday to make it easier for elderly voters to get to polling stations. A majority of those voting for Mr. Lee are expected to be over 50. His rival, Kim Min-seok of the Millennium Democratic Party, also has a new campaign slogan: "Let's watch soccer after voting." Mr. Kim is targeting younger voters by sponsoring events like body painting to bring the World Cup fever to the mayoral race.
Lee Myung-bak would go on to win the June 13 election and become the new mayor of Seoul, the stepping stone to an even more powerful office. This Joongang Ilbo article looked at Lee's campaign promises in the wake of his victory, especially his plans for Cheonggyecheon.
Even if the project proceeds, the losing mayoral candidate Kim Min-seok says it is almost impossible to complete the restoration within Mr. Lee's five-year term of office. After all, the original construction took a good 20 years.
I'm sure he pretends not to remember ever saying this. Another incident occurred on June 13, the day of the election. North of Seoul, two middle school girls, Sim Mi-seon and Sin Hyo-sun, were killed when they were run over by an American military vehicle (more information can be found here). It was not noticed at the time, as the few news stories that mentioned it were drowned out by the media coverage of the Korean team's success in the World Cup.

Speaking of which, on June 13 it was reported that
Seoul City will set up outdoor screens again, as they did for Monday's Korea-Poland match, near City Hall today, when the Korea-Portugal match is held in Inchon.
A report the next day said that
An estimated 1.6 million of red-clad fans, mostly in their teens or twenties, clustered around 226 places equipped with giant outdoor screens nationwide to watch the all-important match. In Seoul, roughly 200,000 people packed in front of City Hall, and another 150,000 massed around Kwanghwamun, turning the downtown areas into a swath of red.
You may have noticed the wildly varying figures for the number of street cheerers by now. This June 14 KT article looks at how the counting was done:
On Friday night 2.78 million people took on the streets across the peninsula to support the Korean soccer team. But how was that number calculated so quickly? The Korean police arrived at the number of people by multiplying the size of the area with its density. For example, if a crowd is sitting down but crammed together, they estimate it contains 2.7 people per 3.3 square meters. If the crowd is standing closely packed, then 4.5 people per 3.3 square meters is used. The Seoul City Hall area takes up about 26,400 square meters. Because the crowd was jammed in tight on Friday night, the police multiplied by 4.5 to get 120,000 people.

The National Police Agency in Seoul said on Friday there were 1.4 million people gathered on the streets in Seoul, 170,000 in Busan 100,000 in Incheon. An official at the police agency said the crowd was the largest ever in Korea, beating the peace rally of June 1987 that drew 1.4 million people in 33 cities.
Note that the numbers in the streets were growing with each game:
South Korean soccer fans formed waves of red Friday [June 14] to cheer the Korean team in its match against Portugal. Police estimated that some 2.8 million people gathered outdoors at 260 places -- well over twice the crowd that assembled for Monday's Korea-U.S. meeting. City Hall plaza was Cheers Central, drawing the largest congregation, 200,000.

On June 19, after Korea's victory over Italy, the Joongang Ilbo reported that
Police estimated that some 3.5 million persons -- 700,000 more than the congregation for Friday's match against Portugal -- gathered at 311 outdoor plazas nationwide. Except for the police, just about all of them wore red, the team's color.

Plazas at City Hall and Gwanghwamun, the hub of Seoul's rooting centers, drew about 1 million people. Police stationed 25,000 officers to deter violence as some fans occupied roads, damaged vehicles and climbed onto the roofs of buses.
The numbers got bigger when people gathered to watch Korea play Spain on June 22:
Never in history had more than 4 million people gathered on the streets to support the Korean team, as happened on Tuesday night (18) and Saturday afternoon (22). The enthusiastic cheers from the women were loud and long. Long before the game started, at the plaza in front of Seoul's City Hall, where some 550,000 people had assembled, women cried out with all their might, "Dae-han-min-guk" -- "Republic of Korea" -- urged on by the leader of the Red Devils.

Here are images taken from a youtube video of the people watching the game against Spain on June 22. The first image shows the Gwanghwamun intersection. Sejongno and Taepyeongno were left open to traffic.

It's interesting to note that in the photo below, people are gathered at the end of the Cheonggyero - the street that stood where Cheonggye Plaza - a gathering place for many protests - now stands, due to the uncovering of Cheonggyecheon by the man who had been elected nine days earlier.

The area where people gathered is marked below:

A June 12 article noted that red coloured shirts were flying off shelves as people sought to become a properly-coloured pixel in the overhead shots seen above. They would sell out again in June of 2006 (during the next world cup), while the big seller for June of 2008 was, of course, candles.

As to why the crowds got so big, three academics got together to chat about the street cheering, and their conversation can be found here. Sociology professor Kim Jong-yup's observations are interesting:
I think too that the media served to mobilize the general public. This is clear from a comparison with Japan, where only one television station broadcast each game just once. In our case, all television stations broadcast the games. The Japanese must have been reticent because of a certain fear of hooligans, in terms of public security. A leader in information technology (IT) just like us, Japan has many electric signboards in the streets. Nonetheless, the authorities are said to have forbidden the broadcasting of the World Cup on the electric signboards of Tokyo. Compared to that, we really incited mass mobilization. Electric signboards are just like televisions. So you have televisions in homes and streets, the crowds who watch them, and the images of wildly cheering crowds on those televisions transmitted again as a spectacle―it's probably through this cycle that we ended up with the unbelievable number of crowds in the streets.
Or to put it another way, as I did two years ago, the people gather to watch the game on large outdoor screens and on those screens they (and the rest of the nation) get to partake of the spectacle of themselves gathered in front of the screens.

"Is there anything else on?" A 2006 LG ad.

It's also interesting if you apply internet concepts to it - in some ways the images of the street cheerers, shown again and again on network television, operated in the way that a popular post or news article becomes more popular and gets more comments as it becomes listed as a 'most popular post' on a website. The more the cheering was shown on TV in 2002, the more people added their physical presence to the throng. Another thing to note, while mentioning the internet, is that the first street cheering was organized on the internet by the Red Devils:
Red Devil is planning to undertake supporting event at [Gwanghwamun and Sejongno area, Yeouido Han-Riverside Park and Daehangno] where the majority of super sized public TV screen is placed in Seoul. Also you will be able to meet Red Devil in front of Kunpo City Hall, National Debt Consolation Park Daegu, Hongsung Technical College Chungnam, Tapdong Square Jeju Island, Cultural Plaza Inchon, Busan Main national train station.
Red Devil Association Personnel have expressed that "Due to the fact that we have not planned to place considerable numbers of RD member's for street parade but I am not worried at all because there will be thousands of people who will join in our street parade"
[One Red Devil member said] "I am spending most of my time nowadays on-line to get up-dated-information [about the] Korean National Football team through [the] home page of Red Devil."
While it's not difficult to understand the urge to take part in the spectacle that both accompanied the Korean team's success and was presented by the media as an integral part of it - Korean 'patriotism made flesh' - the desire to both conform and to take part such a massive group activity factors into this as well, and as it was the Red Devils (the official cheering group of the Korean team) who organized the outdoor cheering for the first game, their methods of cheering and choice of uniform (the red 'Be the Reds' t-shirt) became the model for those who followed.

Of course, the larger-than-life, unreal-ness of it all had to end at some point, and after making it to the semi finals, Korea lost to Germany, and then to Turkey. The dream was over, the streets emptied (though people were given July 1 off as a one-time holiday), and the 'Be the Reds' t-shirts were put away to gather dust for four years.

Half Price! (2006)

Other aspects of the World Cup street cheering - the practice of organizing mass street rallies via the internet, and of participants in such rallies visually conforming to become a properly-coloured pixel in the photos taken of them from far above - would not have to wait so long to reappear, however.

Much was made of the good behavior of the people cheering on the streets and in stadiums, but there were also darker moments brought about by the explosion of patriotic (or would that be 'nationalist'?) feelings. The darker aspects of those feelings would come to the fore when anti-American groups - supported by nationalist (and at times xenophobic) media - began to manipulate public perception of the events of June 13, when two girls were killed in an accident by an American armored vehicle.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Foreign correspondents in Korea during the Russo-Japanese War - Part 3

Part 1: From Japan to Korea
Part 2: In Seoul and Chemulpo

Part 3: Along the coast of Korea

On the same day that Robert Dunn and Frederick McKenzie were watching the naval battle off the shore of Chemulpo, Jack London, who had taken a steamer from Moji to Busan on February 6th and from there a ferry which was forced to stop in Mokpo, wrote the following letter to his future wife:
On board Junk, off Korean Coast,
Tuesday, Feb. 9, 1904.

The wildest and most gorgeous thing ever! If you could see me just now, captain of a junk with a crew of three Koreans who speak neither English nor Japanese and with five Japanese guests (strayed travelers) who speak neither English nor Korean—that is, all but one, which last knows a couple of dozen English words. And with this polyglot following I am bound on a voyage of several hundred miles along the Korean coast to Chemulpo. [...]

[F]ired ashore this morning, I chartered this junk, took five of the Japanese passengers along, and here I am, still bound for Chemulpo. Hardest job I ever undertook. Have had no news for several days, do not know if war has been declared and shall not know until I make Chemulpo - or maybe Kun San, at which place I drop my passengers. God, but I'd like to have a mouthful of white man s speech. It's not quite satisfying to do business with a 24-word vocabulary and gesticulations.
I have no idea what the vessel he sailed in looked like (though it's possible he photographed it, no comprehensive collection of his photos has yet been published), but here's a photo of a boat off the coast of Korea taken by Felice Beato in 1871:

It would not exactly be my first choice of vessels to travel in during the winter. London continues in another letter:
Thursday, Feb. 11, 1904.

On board another junk. Grows more gorgeous. Night and day traveled for Kun San. Caught on lee-shore yesterday, and wind howling over Yellow Sea. You should have seen us clawing off—one man at the tiller and a man at each sheet (Koreans), four scared Japanese, and the fifth too seasick to be scared. Of course, we cleared off, or you wouldn t be reading this.

Made Kun San at nightfall, after having carried away a mast and smashed the rudder. And we arrived in driving rain, wind cutting like a knife. And then, you should have seen me being made comfortable last night—five Japanese maidens helping me undress, take a bath, and get into bed, the while visitors, male and female, were being entertained (my visitors). And the maidens passing remarks upon my beautiful white skin, etc. And this morning, same thing repeated—the Mayor of Kun San, the captain of police, leading citizens, all in my bed-room, visiting while I was being shaved, dressed, washed, and fed. And all the leading citizens of the town came to see me off, and cheered me, and cried 'Sayonara' countless times.

New junk, manned by Japanese—five and not one knows one word of English; and here I am, adrift with them, off the Korean Coast. No white man's news for a long time. Hear native rumors of sea-fights, and of landing of troops, but nothing I may believe without doubting. But when I get to Chemulpo, I'll know 'where I'm at.'

And maybe you think it isn't cold, traveling as I am, by junk. . . . The snow is on the land, and in some places, on north slopes, comes down to the water's edge. And there are no stoves by which to keep warm—charcoal boxes, with half a dozen small embers, are not to be sneered—at I am beside one now, which I just bought for 12½ cents from a Korean at a village, where we have landed for water."
Gunsan's port had only been opened to foreign trade 5 years earlier, so the above letter gives some indication of how prominent the Japanese were in the town.
Saturday, Feb. 13, 1904.

Still wilder, but can hardly say so 'gorgeous,' unless landscapes and seascapes seen between driving snow squalls, be gorgeous. You know the tides on this Coast range from 40 to 60 feet (we're at anchor now, in the midst of ten thousand islands, reefs, and shoals, waiting four hours until the tide shall turn toward Chemulpo—30 li—which means 75 miles away).

Well, concerning tides. Yesterday morning found us on a lee shore, all rocks, with a gale pounding the whole Yellow Sea down upon us. Our only chance for refuge, dead to leeward, a small bay, and high and dry. Had to wait on the 40-ft. tide. And we waited, anchored under a small reef across which the breakers broke, until, tide rising, they submerged it. Never thought a sampan (an open crazy boat) could live through what ours did. A gale of wind, with driving snow—you can imagine how cold it was. But I'm glad I have Japanese sailors. They're braver and cooler and more daring than the Koreans. Well, we waited till eleven A.M. It was 'twixt the devil and the deep sea—stay and be swamped, run for the little bay and run the chance of striking in the surf. We couldn't possibly stay longer, so we showed a piece of sail and ran for it. Well, I was nearly blind with a headache which I had brought away with me from Kun San, and which had been increasing ever since; and I did not much care what happened; yet I remember, when we drove in across, that I took off my overcoat, and loosened my shoes—and I didn't bother a bit about trying to save the camera. But we made it half full of water but we made it.

And maybe it didn't howl all night, so cold that it froze the salt water. All of which I wouldn't mind, if it weren't for my ankles. I used to favor the right with the left, but with the left now smashed worse than the right, you can imagine how careful I have to be (where it is impossible to be careful) in a crazy junk going through such rough weather. And yet I have escaped any bad twists so far. Junks, crazy—I should say so. Rags, tatters, rotten—something always carrying away how they navigate is a miracle. I wonder if Hearst thinks I'm lost.
The tale told in the second paragraph above gets a lengthier treatment in an article Jack London wrote in 1911 titled "Small Boat Sailing."
[A]bout the liveliest eight days of my life were spent in a small boat on the west coast of Korea. Never mind why I was thus voyaging up the Yellow Sea during the month of February in below-zero weather. The point is that I was in an open boat, a sampan, on a rocky coast where there were no light-houses and where the tides rip. We did not speak each other's language. Yet there was nothing monotonous about that trip. Never shall I forget one particular cold bitter dawn, when, in the thick of driving snow, we took in sail and dropped our small anchor. The wind was howling out of the northwest, and we were on a lee shore. Ahead and astern, all escape was cut off by rocky headlands, against whose bases burst the unbroken seas. To windward a short distance, seen only between the snow-squalls, was a low rocky reef. It was this that inadequately protected us from the whole Yellow Sea that thundered in upon us.

The Japanese crawled under a communal rice mat and went to sleep. I joined them, and for several hours we dozed fitfully. Then a sea deluged us out with icy water, and we found several inches of snow on top the mat. The reef to windward was disappearing under the rising tide, and moment by moment the seas broke more strongly over the rocks. The fishermen studied the shore anxiously. So did I, and with a sailor's eye, though I could see little chance for a swimmer to gain that surf-hammered line of rocks. I made signs toward the headlands on either flank. The Japanese shook their heads. I indicated that dreadful lee shore. Still they shook their heads and did nothing. My conclusion was that they were paralysed by the hopelessness of the situation. Yet our extremity increased with every minute, for the rising tide was robbing us of the reef that served as buffer. It soon became a case of swamping at our anchor. Seas were splashing on board in growing volume, and we baled constantly. And still my fishermen crew eyed the surf-battered shore and did nothing.

At last, after many narrow escapes from complete swamping, the fishermen got into action. All hands tailed on to the anchor and hove it up. For'ard, as the boat's head paid off, we set a patch of sail about the size of a flour-sack. And we headed straight for shore. I unlaced my shoes, unbottoned my great-coat and coat, and was ready to make a quick partial strip a minute or so before we struck. But we didn't strike, and, as we rushed in, I saw the beauty of the situation. Before us opened a narrow channel, frilled at its mouth with breaking seas. Yet, long before, when I had scanned the shore closely, there had been no such channel. I had forgotten the thirty-foot tide. And it was for this tide that the Japanese had so precariously waited. We ran the frill of breakers, curved into a tiny sheltered bay where the water was scarcely flawed by the gale, and landed on a beach where the salt sea of the last tide lay frozen in long curving lines. And this was one gale of three in the course of those eight days in the sampan.
He described the aftermath of this adventure in his next letter.
Monday, Feb. 15, 1904.

Oh, yes, we waited four hours! When four hours had passed, wind came down out of the north, dead in our teeth. Lay all night in confounded tide-rip, junk standing on both ends, and driving me crazy what of my headache. At four in the morning turned out in the midst of driving snow to change anchorage on account of sea. It was a cruel day-break we witnessed; at 8 A.M. we showed a bit of sail and ran for shelter.

My sailors live roughly, and we put up at a fishing village (Korean) where they live still more roughly, and we spent Sunday and Sunday night there—my five sailors, myself—and about 20 men, women and children jammed into a room in a hut, the floor space of which room was about equivalent to that of a good double-bed. And my foreign food is giving out, and I was compelled to begin on native chow. I hope my stomach will forgive me some of the things I have thrust upon it: Filth, dirt, indescribable, and the worst of it is that I can't help thinking of the filth and dirt as I take each mouthful.
As he would later write,
Their rice was brown as chocolate. Half the husks remained in it, along with bits of chaff, splinters, and unidentifiable dirt which made one pause often in the chewing in order to stick into his mouth thumb and forefinger and pluck out the offending stuff. Also, they ate a sort of millet, and pickles of astounding variety and ungodly hot.
He did, however, discover a way to amuse himself that would help pass the time in the months that followed:
In some of these villages, I am the first white man, and a curiosity. I showed one old fellow my false teeth at midnight. He proceeded to rouse the house. Must have given him bad dreams, for he crept in to me at three in the morning and woke me in order to have another look.

We are under way this morning - for Chemulpo. I hope I don't drop dead when I finally arrive there. The land is covered with snow. The wind has just hauled ahead again. Our sail has come in, and the men are at the oars. If it blows up it'll be another run for shelter. O, this is a wild and bitter coast.
London arrived in Chemulpo on Tuesday, February 16, greeted by the wreck of the Variag, testament to the battle he had missed.

His comment, "I hope I don't drop dead when I finally arrive there" was apparently not just talk. As this site quotes him, Robert Dunn, who had come over to Japan with London on the Siberia, wrote:
When London arrived in Chemulpo I did not recognize him. He was a physical wreck. His ears were frozen; his fingers were frozen; his feet were frozen. He said that he didn't mind his condition so long as he got to the front. He said his physical collapse counted for nothing. He had been sent to the front to do newspaper work, and he wanted to do it. [...]
London wrote after he arrived, "War had been on for a week, though I learned it now for the first time. I had been badly poisoned with charcoal fumes, and my mind was in a daze." He would have little time to rest. Japanese troops were about to start marching north from Seoul towards Pyongyang and the Yalu, and London, Dunn and McKenzie were going to go with them.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Identify the background

James over at the Grand Narrative posted today's 'Naver's photo of the day' and also posted another photo (click here for full size) by the same photographer:

He went on to wonder out loud where it was taken, so I decided to try and see if I could come up with an answer. I could make out 3 towers in the far background, with the two of them closest to the center looking almost connected together. For a moment I thought of Richensia and the 63 building on Yeouido, but the building on the left was certainly not the 63 building. After considering the trade center building at Coex, I noticed that there were four towers visible in the background, and realized that the two on the right were likely the Mok-dong Hyperion tower.

When the first 'phase' (1 차) of the Hyperion towers was completed in 2003, Tower A was the tallest building in Korea (but that only lasted a few months until the Tower Palace in Dogok-dong was completed). The second phase Hyperion towers consist of two rows of three towers, making for a total of six. Viewed from the south, at the right angle, they could appear as two towers, while the three towers of the first phase Hyperion towers would appear as two.

And actually, now, to the north of the Hyperion phase 2 towers, is the Mok-dong Trapalace. Looked at from the right angle, you'd now see ten towers as two.

(Taken in December 2007)

Searching along the likely axis didn't turn up the apartments seen at the far right in the foreground, but the name 영풍 can be seen on one of the buildings. A search for 영풍 아파트 at naver turned up a set of Yeongpung apartments in Gwangmyeong City, just southwest of Seoul. As it turned out, the photo was indeed taken there. Knowing that, it becomes clear that the apartments seen beyond the low rise buildings are two kilometers away, while the Hyperion towers are around five kilometers away. All this makes clear that the photographer was really zooming in on the girl and the background.

The google map where the screenshot below came from can be found here.

I'm assuming the vantage point was where I marked it because there are several apartment (or other large buildings) built along the side of a mountain, which would explain the height the photo was taken from. Of course, you don't always need height, as flat land will suffice to see very far. Here are the Hyperion towers as seen from than Han River next to the Haengju Bridge, north of Gimpo Airport. It's about nine kilometers away from the towers, but is still within Seoul's boundaries.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Gaecheonjeol: 99 years young

Today (well, yesterday) is Gaecheonjeol, or the "day the heavens opened," which refers to the arrival on earth of Tangun, the founder of the Korean people, in 2333 B.C. The celebration of Gaecheonjeol does not, however, date back that far. As Andre Schmid relates in his book, Korea Between Empires, 1895-1919,
the earliest account of the Tangun myth appears in the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of Three Kingdoms), a compilation of tales and myths recorded by the Buddhist monk Iryon. Written in the thirteenth century... the Samguk Yusa relates how Tangun descended from heaven in the year 2333 B.C. and landed under a sandalwood tree on Mount Paektu.
Previously history in Korea was essentially the history of the court, and much prominence was given to the legendary Kija, who had fled China in 1122 B.C. and established a new kingdom on the Korean peninsula. After China was defeated by Japan in 1895, and newspapers were established in Korea, much discussion of how to look at Korea's past and move away from its links to China was undertaken. As Japan took over the Korean government, it became clear, as the court now lacked legitimacy, that court-based history could no longer be useful , so another focus was needed. That focus became the concept of the minjok, a concept that was becoming popular in Japan and China at that time as well. By focusing on the minjok, or ethnic nation, the court-based history could be side-stepped. At the same time, the focus on mythical progenitors shifted from Kija to Tangun.
The growing status of Tangun paralleled the increased use of the term minjok, as the two were often loosely tied together. The first person to join those two elements in an extended treatment of national history was Sin Chae-ho, an editorial writer for the Taehan maeil sinbo. The widespread use of the new term minjok, together with the heightened awareness of Tangun - two developments Sin himself had helped foster as a member of the Taehan maeil sinbo - offered him two powerful instruments for writing a new type of history in line with the period's intellectual shifts and answering the long-standing calls for a new national history. In a serialized article entitled "A New Reading of History" (Toksa sillon), published in 1908, Sin provided the first detailed historical treatment of minjok. This was a polemical piece, with no documentation, in which Sin organized the main issues with which all subsequent Korean historians would be concerned. Sin's work offered both a fundemental critique of conventional history and, by setting the minjok's bounds, began to create a vision of the nation as a historically defined ethnic entity.


Sin's move to position Tangun as the unrivaled source of national history was quickly taken up by his contemporaries. But whereas Sin presented the progenitor of the minjok as a historical figure, others were more eager to accept the claims made in the early myths that Tangun had descended from heaven. In the year after Sin published "A New Reading of History," a group lead by the nationalist Na Chol established a new religion that worshipped Tangun.
This religion was soon known as Taejonggyo (Great Ancestral religion).
Some of the earliest public espousals of Taejonggyo doctrine appeared in the Hwangsong Sinmun, the longtime promoter of decentering China and an early user of minjok. Shortly after the religion was founded, the paper began to run editorials embracing the teachings of the "divine progenitor." These were the earliest public forays into national history written from the perspective of the Taejonggyo. "A Divine and Sagely History of Our Minjok," as one piece was titled, started with Tangun and spoke of the importance of commemorating and revering this history for Korean self-respect and autonomy. Even though it was impossible to ascertain the precise date of Tangun's descent - a point it was willing to grant its critics - the Hwangsong Sinmun urged its readers to commemorate the birthday of the founding father on the third day of the tenth month of the lunar calendar - what was to become known as the Day Heaven Opened (Kaechjonjol). All civilized countries, they were told, remember their founders. For Koreans to do so "will forever preserve the national character of our minjok, lead to harmony and solidarity, and will display our qualities as a civilized people."
This Hwangsong Sinmun article was written in November, 1909, making the celebration of Gaecheongeol 99 years old.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Foreign correspondents in Korea during the Russo-Japanese War - Part 2

Part 1: From Japan to Korea

Part 2: In Seoul and Chemulpo

Namdaemun-ro, before the Russo-Japanese War

By February 1, 1904, Frederick McKenzie had arrived in Seoul and experienced his first impressions of the city.
Placed in a fertile, undulating valley, watered by a never failing stream, guarded by great lines of hills, with a climate at once bracing, temperate, and delightful, Seoul should be the crown of Asia. […] To judge Seoul entirely from a western standpoint is scarce to do it justice. At first one finds little save to condemn. From the hungry dogs that rake out the infant corpses and eat them on suburban burying-grounds, to the corrupt officials who have fattened off oppression in the many royal palaces for so long, all excites repulsion. The cowardice of the men, the subdued and half-concealed women, the hovels that shelter most of the people, the open and malodorous drainage, the dirt, the sordidness, the poverty, chill a stranger.

Seoul is, in truth, a strange combination of barbarism and modernity, of reform and of the grossest tyranny, of repulsion and of attraction.[…] Conjure up a city where the men ride on electric tramways, and the better class women are never allowed to walk the street or to show their faces in public; where the mayor is chosen because of his skill as a sorcerer, and where he uses the ordinary newest pattern Swedish telephone to help him transact business with his colleagues; where the king sits under the rays of an incandescent light while deciding the number of devils that shall be displayed, and magicians engaged, for his mother’s funeral. That is Seoul. [...] It was my good fortune to see the city in the last days before the Japanese secured a controlling voice in administration.
Describing Seoul as “a powder mine”, he said the foreigners there were afraid of a Boxer-style uprising, and that “few of us went abroad without seeing that our revolvers were ready in our hip pockets." The reason for this was explained by Lieutenant E.T. Witherspoon, who was commanding the Marine Guard at the U.S. legation in Seoul at the time. On January 14, 1904, he wrote
The situation here is a little more serious today, as the Corean newspaper yesterday came out with a very inflammatory article, calling on the people to murder all the foreigners, and mentioning us first. On account of the street railroad having killed one or two children, they have a special hatred for Americans. It is now a foregone conclusion that the railroad and its property will be the first place attacked.
Horace Allen at the U.S. Legation

U.S. Minister Horace Allen requested that the rest of the marines be sent from Chemulpo to Seoul to protect the Seoul Electric Co. plant.

U.S.S. Vicksburg

In his report to his superiors the next day, commander William Marshall of the U.S.S. Vicksburg, which was then moored in Chemulpo harbor, said that he had sent the troops and that there were, at that point, 800 foreign troops in Seoul; half were Japanese, 200 were Russian, 97 were American, and the rest were French, English, or Italian. As Witherspoon explains, an incident took place on January 24:
About 9:30 A.M., a trolley car just outside the south gate ran into a rickshaw man and killed him instantly, crushing him to death. The man ran, (or was pushed), directly in front of the car, so that it was not the fault of the motor-man at all, and the accident could not have been avoided as far as he was concerned. A mob immediately assaulted the car, overturned it, and dragged the motorman to the South Gate railway station, where they were beating him to death when our men rescued him. There is a guard of Corean soldiers at the gate who stood there and watched the whole proceedings, making no attempt to interfere. [...] I am inclined to think that the unfortunate ricksha man was deliberately pushed in front of the car by some of these people who are waiting for the first opportunity to get up a riot. Dr. Allen thinks so, too [...] The affair shows the Coreans what our men are here for, and may prove to be a very good thing. Dr. Allen thinks that, if our men had not been here, a general riot would have followed, with, possibly, a great deal of bloodshed.
McKenzie was not the only foreign reporter in Seoul. Besides Japanese reporters, there was, as Witherspoon described him,
a reporter here who is giving us more or less trouble…named Kingsley who, a short time ago, in Tokio, made a very bitter personal attack on Minister Griscom. He has come here under an assumed name, as a war correspondent for the London Mail. [...W]e decided to simply ignore him, in consequence of which, he has cabled to his paper the most outrageous falsehoods about the men, stating that they are all drunk, and going around the streets looking for a fight, and are wholly lacking in discipline. [...] He goes out with our men and tries to get them drunk in hopes of getting information.
McKenzie, along with an interpreter, met Yi Yong-ik, the “supreme minister” of Korea, who was in charge of the military and the public purse, and Yi asked him his opinion about whether war would come.

Yi Yong-ik (from here)
Yi spoke emphatically. “We believe there will be peace,” he said. There were be no war.” I gazed at him. Did he not know that but an hour before the Korean wires had been cut at Masampho [Masan] by Japanese troops landing there? Was he unaware that at this moment Japanese transports were stealing up from Tsushima, full of armed men, and that Russian transports were filling with soldiers at Port Arthur? I urged such points on him.

“But what matter these things to us? Let Russia and Japan fight; Korea will take no share in the fighting. Our Emperor had issued his declaration of neutrality. […T]here will be no need to appeal to the Powers if our neutrality is broken. They will come without being asked, and will protect us.”
Here Yi stood. He resorted to his old and well-known trick of shutting his eyes to unpleasant facts.
“The Emperor must grieve over the trouble in the East,” I remarked.
“Why should he grieve? It is not our people who are quarreling. If war did come, it would not concern us. Our Emperor does not grieve.”
The Russian minister to Korea Pavloff had also felt that war would not come, saying, "There will be no war. Even if there were, all that would happen could be that the Japanese would lose their fleet and then would have excuse for suing for peace."

McKenzie found it hard to know what might happen, as he explains:
We, in Seoul, knew less of the details of the diplomatic struggle than people in Europe or America. […] The telegraph wires from Fusan and Japan had conveniently broken down. The northern wire from China was not in working order. A strange paralysis seemed to have lain hold of merchant shipping, and the anxious faces of the ministers told us that the worst was now inevitable.

On Monday afternoon I was riding to the legations when a messenger ran up to me with word from my man at Chemulpo, that a strong Japanese fleet had appeared in the bay with many transports and warships. It did not take long to get first to the cable office and then down by rail to Chemulpo. Here a wonderful scene presented itself.

It was already dark. The streets were covered with snow, and the harbour had much floating ice. All along the front of the town log fires were lighted at short intervals […] and revealed the dark lines of landing boats in the water, full of troops, and long columns of soldiers already standing at attention on the shore.
Waiting at Chemulpo was Robert Dunn, who took several photos of the landings.

McKenzie continues:
That afternoon, the Russians, alarmed by the non-arrival of dispatches, had sent out the gunboat Korietz to make its way to Port Arthur. It left at ten past three, and at four o’clock the people on the shore saw it returning with a Japanese fleet behind and around it. […] The two Russian warships were caught like rats in a trap. All night long they had lain still, watching the movements of the Japanese troops, yet not daring to strike.[…]
According to the captain of the USS Vicksburg, William A. Marshall,
Part of the Japanese force, consisting of four cruisers, six torpedo boats, and destroyers convoying three transports, came to anchor here shortly after 5 o'clock [...] Disembarkation of soldiers was at once begun and by midnight three thousand men had been landed, fifteen hundred taking possession of Chemulpo and the others going to Seoul.
At 7:00 the next morning, Tuesday, February 9th, the Japanese Admiral sent formal notice to the Russian commander announcing a state of war, and declaring that if the Russian vessels did not leave the harbour by noon, the Japanese would attack them at 4:00.

The Russian captain met with the English, French and Italian (but not American) captains of the foreign ships in the harbor, but they refused to get involved, though they did send a formal protest to the Japanese against them attacking in the harbor.

The Variag and Korietz sail out to meet the Japanese

Both Russian ships, after throwing all burnable wooden items overboard, sailed out of the harbor before the noon deadline, and were fired on by the Japanese at 11:50.
The Russians maneuvered rapidly to avoid the fire, but five shells struck the Variag in rapid succession [. One shell] demolished the fore-bridge and set fire to the debris, compelling the Variag to cease firing for nearly five minutes while the crew went to the fire station. The bridge was torn to ribbons, as though it were paper, by a shell.
Also watching the battle was Robert Dunn, who was on board the USS Vicksburg in the harbor, and who took several photos.

McKenzie continues:
For the first time the new Japanese explosive, shimose, was brought into play. Its effects were amazing. The shells split and burst into innumerable minute fragments [.] One wounded man, alone, was afterwards found in the hospital to have over a hundred separate pieces of shell in him. The shell bursting on the ships side drilled myriad holes in the steel, as though a machine gun had played at close quarters on wood. Both bridges were wrecked, and the third funnel was shattered. The scene on board was indescribable. The ship was a living hell. [...]

The noise of the shot hitting the sides of the ship, the unceasing tearing of the shells through the air, the bursting of explosives on board the ship, the fires breaking out in various parts, all added to the horror. […] One Russian lieutenant describing it to me a few hours afterward, summed it up. “There was blood, blood everywhere,” he said, “severed limbs, torn bodies. Here was a head, there lay a leg, not far away my comrade of yesterday was now ripped in two. The smell of blood pervaded all.”
The Russian ships managed to turn around and return to the harbor, making it to safety at 12:40, when the foreign ships immediately dispatched surgeons and medical supplies. The battle lasted 50 minutes. On the Variag 33 men were killed and 97 were wounded out of a crew of 580. The Japanese suffered no casualties on their warships.
The Japanese now left the vessels alone, and the captain of the Variag prepared to destroy the ships. The men were accordingly removed to the foreign vessels. […] At 4:00, to the minute, the Korietz was blown up.

The burning Variag slowly began to sink after members of her crew opened the valves in the engine and fire rooms, and it rolled over and sank at 6 pm, while the Russian mail boat Sungari caught fire as well, “and for many hours, until past midnight, she lit up the harbor with her glow.”

Mckenzie's notes his reaction to the battle:
For myself, as I turned into the club house on the hill top, I felt sore at heart. The allies of my own country had won, but brave men had fallen, and for the moment the thought of their mortification blotted out all feelings of jubilation.
Most of the photos of the battle above were taken from the U.S.S. Vicksburg, but not by Dunn (more photos, as well as dozens of letters and documents, can be found in the collection of the captain here). This book relates the story of the other photographer:
There was a Lieutenant on the U. S. gunboat Vicksburg, from which some of Mr. Dunn's photographs were taken, who managed to get a small snap-shot of the blowing up of the Korietz. Mr. Dunn heard of this and offered the Lieutenant $100.00 for the use of the film to make a print for Collier's. The officer declined and took the film to a Japanese photographer on shore to be developed. The next day the Jap explained, with a melancholy face, that the light must have struck the film, for it had not come out in the developing.

"Two days later," wrote Mr. Dunn, "the young Lieutenant was offered a print of the sinking of the Korietz for the sum of twenty sen ten cents by the Japanese photographer to whom he took his film. The print was strangely familiar. It was the size of his film, the identical view he had seen in his finder. It was his view. He proceeded to lay down the law to the photographer, but the imperturbable Oriental only repeated that he was very sorry. The officer must be mistaken; he was very sorry. The officer was more than sorry. He swore for a short space. Then he went and found a policeman. He had the photographer arrested for theft, which was a mistake, for it gave the wardroom of the Vicksburg much munition for jests at his expense. There was a trial, an all too public trial. All the friends of the officer went, for it was great fun. The photographer swore it was not the film of the naval man from which he made the print; that film had been spoiled. He was very sorry. It might be that an employee had stolen the film and placed a fogged one in its place. Yes, that might be true; perhaps it was. He was very sorry. He could not find that employee. He had gone north with the army. He was very sorry. Finally the naval man was awarded damages totaling fifty yen twenty-five dollars. He had to spend that in refreshments for the laugh was on him. In his cabin some one had posted the legend: ' A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.' "
Those in Seoul did not just hear word of the battle; Witherspoon wrote later on the ninth that, "We have been listening to the sounds of the fight and heard all the heavy guns, and you can imagine the excitement up here." Speaking of the Japanese troops that were landed, he said “600…arrived here this morning, and the others are expected during the afternoon. The later arrivals are expected to occupy the hills, the troops this morning going to the Japanese barracks here in the city.”

Dunn took several photos of the Japanese troops being landed every day at Chemulpo:

He also followed them into Seoul...

Dunn travelling between Seoul and Yeongdeungpo

This was likely taken near what is now Gongdeok station, where an
incomplete Gyeong-Ui line met the Seodaemun-Mapo streetcar.

...where he photographed them marching in the streets near Namdaemun and Namdaemun (now Seoul) Station.

Troops at Namdaemun Station

It was at Namdaemun Station on February 12 that Russian Minister Pavlov and the other members of the Russian legation, accompanied by their marine guards, were escorted by the Japanese to take a train to Chemulpo. Many in the foreign community came to see them off.

Minister Pavlov escorted by Gen. Idiate at the train station

Mrs. Pavlov and Mr. Sans of New York at the train station

As McKenzie describes it,
At Chemulpo the scene was much the same. There was a line of Japanese guards from ship to boat. Craft were waiting to take soldiers and refugees to the French warship Pascal ready to receive them, and last of all there was a launch for the minister and his party. They would not hurry. They had a word for every one, a laugh, a joke, a reminiscence for all old friends. None was more gay than the Minister's wife. And yet when at last she got on her launch and turned for a final farewell, it took no special vision to see tears welling in those eyes.
Russians leaving Chemulpo

McKenzie and Dunn were both present at Chemulpo to record the departure of the Russians. Had they been able to contact their fellow correspondents in Tokyo, those in both locations might have asked a question: What had happened to Jack London?