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[Audio Books]Ep. 4 - A Forbidden Land-Voyages to the Corea, Part 4

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http://www.podbbang.com/ch/1772880?e=23109316 

 

A Forbidden Land: Voyages to the Corea
by Ernest Oppert
New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1880

 

Part 4 

 

 

It may be taken for granted after this new finding that the widely known opinion until this day about the Coreans being Chinese descendant must be considered as mistaken. The biggest difference in the customs of the two peoples may serve as an additional proof for the last assertion, that those two are different branch of people. And, considering stubbornness, which is the general characteristic of Asians, and Chinese in particular, it is more natural to believe that the Coreans have abandoned Chinese heritage.

I have already mentioned that most of the Coreans claim that they don’t know about their origin and even seem to be not so curious where they came from. However, some declare quite seriously that their ancestors were born from a black cow on the shores of the Japan Sea, known as the East Sea in modern Korea. Other more important families claim they are from mysterious and supernatural root. These legends have been passed down to the people of these days, widely acknowledged to be legitimate and as recognition as the educated people assert. However, the lower classes, who do not believe in those legends, are considered disrespectful and unimaginative by other people.

One of these tales was introduced by Du Halde, which may follow here for curiosity’s sake.

“Prince Kaokiuli had a daughter of the god Hoangho in his power. He kept her in his house as a prisoner. One day, she was struck by the Sun and got pregnant. Soon, she laid an egg as big as a bushel. When the egg was finally broken, a boy was found within the broken shell of the egg. The boy was named Jumong, which means ‘a good marksman.’ in the language of the country. The king of Kaokiuli appointed Jumong a manger of his stables. But Jumong left the good horses to starve, while he fed the bad horses well. It was because Jumong knew well the King kept the fat horses for himself and gave him the bad ones. One day, the king gave permission to Jumong to kill the first animal Jumong sees with an arrow during their hunting. However, Jumong killed many wild beasts. Because of this, the king tied to get ried of him. Jumong, noticing this, left his mother behind and ran away with the Mata. Jumong came to a river, which was difficult to pass. Behind, he was being chased in full force. “What!” Jumong shouted. “I, son of the sun, and a grandson of the god Hoangho, am to be stuck here on the river bank, unable to overcome this obstacle?” Even before he finished his words, the fishes and turtles closed firmly together, forming a bridge so that he could pass safely. When he arrived on the opposite shore, he was greeted by three people.  One dressed in hempen clothes, the second in a knitted coat, and the third in water-plants. These united with him, and they arrived at the town of Ku’ching-kow. There he took the name of Kao as his family name, as a token that he was descended from Kaokiu-li.”

It may be added here that most of the noble Corean families claim that they are descendants of this Jumong or Kao, and it takes some imagination or leap of faith to understand their claim that the noble families originated from such a dubious character.

The present borders of the Corean peninsula extend to the north from the mouth of the Yalou, or Aprok River in modern days, which forms the border line to the neutral territory. And it divides Corea from the Chinese province of Leautong, in a north-easterly direction from the 40 degree to 42.19 north latitude, to the mouth of the Tumen River or Tsin-hing. As intervening link between these two streams, the large mountain ranges of the Petheu-shan, or Baekdu-san in modern days, or, White-headed Mountains, which Coreans believe to be the highest mountain in the world. The Baekdu-san separates Corea from the empire of China. The Tumen River is the southern border to the large tract of land on the east coast south of the Amoor, which formerly belonged to China, but has been transferred to Russia within the last twenty years. The Tumen River originates from the heights of Baekdu-san, just like the Yalou or Aprok River. To the west, Corea is bordered by the Hoang-hai, or Yellow Sea, and that part of it called the Corean Archipelago, to the east by the Sea of Japan or East Sea in modern Korea, and to the south and south-west by the Corean Straits. The southernmost point of the peninsula may be estimated, as nearly as possible, in 34.30 north latitude. The country’s northern part is the widest, from 127.00 to 133.00 longitude East on Greenwich standard. Then, the country’s shape narrows considerably towards the south, where it only extends from the 129.00 to 130.10 longitude East. Its length between the north and south is about 460 miles, its greatest width about 360 miles, its narrowest, at the south, about 60 miles.
A countless number of islands are on the west, south, and east coast are under the ruling of the Corean government. These islands, with few exceptions, are inhabited by a very numerous population, mostly fishermen and farmers. The islands on the west coast of the Corean and Imperatrice Eugenie Archipelago, which is near Vladivostok, and of the Prince Jerome Gulf, or Namyang-man(남양만) of modern days, are mostly very pretty and covered with fine woods. The rich resources seem to be enough to supply the people in those islands who do not keep in close touch with the mainland in terms of the daily necessities. I found the population peaceful and well disposed wherever I landed. They are kept by its officials who are deputed from the mainland. The islanders, same as other people on the continent, tend to be submissive and were afraid of the central government. Except the very large islands, many of these islands are very big with several thousands of people living in there. The islands groups to the north of the west coast are much less fertile, hard to grow anything. Their people had bad reputation of being less kind and hostile towards foreigners.
 

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