Friday, October 01, 2010

More about Francis Schofield

The Korea Herald had an article about Francis Schofield, the "34th patriot" involved in the Samil movement, and a conference being held on the 40th anniversary of his death. It was nice to see a photo of him, as I'd only seen one or two smaller ones before:

What's interesting about the photo is that it appears to be a still from a film - I'd be curious to see that. In looking for some more information about him, I stumbled onto this very worthwhile essay about his time in Korea, which sifts through the letters between him and members of the Canadian Presbyterian mission board and sheds new light on his recall in 1920. It also has several interesting photos, most of which I'd seen (and posted about) before, but one which I had not, showing him with an interpreter (which one assumes is early on during his stay - he is later described as having an "exceptional facility in the language"):

In December 1919 the Governor-General of Korea stated “that Christian missionaries are behind the disturbances in Korea is an undeniable fact and a man named Schofield, belonging to the Severance Hospital at Seoul, is one of the most pronounced type of these agitators.” He went on to describe him as an “arch agitator” and “a most dangerous man, assiduously carrying on the independence agitation in Korea… even among the missionaries there are many who look askance at his vehement methods”.

One of the reasons for this was because of his often public stance against the Japanese treatment of Koreans during the Samil uprising, which involved both direct action (such as photographing the protests and their suppression, and intervening in arrests declaring the person to be arrested was his servant) and writing articles which both revealed Japanese atrocities and mocked the Japanese at the same time. One example would be a letter he wrote to the Seoul Press (which I've posted before here) after an article praising Seodaemun Prison was published there:
Dear Editor of the Seoul Press: I am very grateful to you for your article on the Sudaemoon Sanatorium (or the Sudaemoon Vocational School). A truly ignorant, mean person must have called it a prison.

In any case, we foreigners were very glad to read such a cheerful and beautiful picture of the prison, because we have always thought that there were many prisoners jammed into a small room, bitten by parasites, starved and in rags.

Contrary to our misconceptions, our Korean friends are said to have technical lessons, a cheerful atmosphere, and frequent baths.What a wonderful piece of news! But, may I make a small suggestion? Why don’t you translate the article into Korean and print it? Then, the families and friends of the prisoners will be so relieved of their worries.
An article in the Japan Advertiser in August 1919 saw him making comparisons which made him few friends at the British foreign office:
“It is to Japan’s interests to be magnanimous with Korea, for if Korea has to pay as heavily for all her reforms as she is paying for the present ones Korea will always be the deadly enemy of Japan, and a serious menace whether ‘assimilated’ or independent…. England some day will have to satisfy Ireland in most of her demands. It would have been a much wiser policy to have granted Ireland her demands earlier, and in so doing have retained the friendship of Ireland.”
A November 1919 letter to the Japan Advertiser read in part:
“Until the damnable policy of assimilation is changed, there will always be bayonets and bullets ready to silence the cry of Mansai, and pepper tea ready for the nostrils of the young patriot who defies the laws and publishes an Independence newspaper. Is there any morality in a policy which makes 17 millions of people hopeless, and at the best offers exile or jail for Korea’s noblest men and women?”
The article about Schofield goes on to describe the reaction to this:
According to historian Dae-Yeol Ku, it was his ‘damnation’ of Japan’s assimilation policy that sparked Governor-General Saito’s accusations against Schofield in December. Even the British Foreign Office viewed the statement as ‘very offensive’ and “admitted that the Japanese could hardly be expected to feel kindly towards Schofield”. Shortly after this, the British Foreign Office issued him a warning. His refusal to conform after this warning was likely the factor contributing to his abrupt recall in 1920.
While some Korean accounts incorrectly describe him as being expelled by the Japanese, and others had focused on his mentally ill wife, the essay details some of the debate going on within the Presbyterian mission which makes clear it was his refusal to stay 'politically neutral' which led to his recall (and which barred him from returning in the early 1920s). It wouldn't be until 1958 that he would return to Korea, where he would die in 1970, the only foreigner to be buried in the National Cemetery.

This website dedicated to Schofield has lots of information about him, including a chronology of his life and a great deal of other information, including the fact that Stephen Harper visited Schofield's grave at the National Cemetery on his visit here last December.

There are also videos on youtube about Schofield. This one in English is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but this one is interesting for the footage of his funeral (at 1:19). I hadn't thought about the fact that being buried in the National Cemetery would (of course) entail a state public funeral (as noted here, it was attended by the Prime Minister).

I'll have to visit his grave one of these days.


Douglas said...

Not to nitpick too much, but where did they find that Canadian flag? One would think that the embassy could have supplied one for the funeral.

kushibo said...

Interesting post, matt. This kind of thing is my favorite stuff here.

F5Waeg said...

I've been asked quite a bit about this, and actually plan to lead a group to visit his tomb. Many thanks for bringing this to a wider audience.