Lee Won-ki, an English school student, Do Kang-gi

Lee Won-ki, an English school student, Do Kang-gi

With the Eulmi Incident that occurred on October 8, 1895 (October 8 in the lunar calendar), the pro-Russian cabinet collapsed and a pro-Japanese cabinet was reestablished. Under the strong influence of Japan, they promoted the Eulmi Reform (the 3rd Reform of Gao). As a result of this reform, a single order was issued, a primary school was established, and postal service, which had been suspended due to the Gapsin Coup, was resumed.

Thus, November 17, 1895 in the lunar calendar was changed to January 1, 1896 in the solar calendar. At the same time, the era name was changed to a new era called ‘Geonyang (建阳)’ by abandoning the era name ‘Gaeguk (開國)’, which had been used since the time of the Gao Reformation. It means ‘to establish a new force’. November 17, 1895 on the lunar calendar would be January 1, 1896 on the solar calendar, so people couldn’t help but be confused. Suddenly, a month and a half had disappeared. It wasn’t just that the new calendar system was unfamiliar to them. From the point of view of those who have to perform ancestral rites from November 17 to the end of December, it was difficult for them to accept the yang energy as they suddenly became disobedient to the ancestral rites. The transition from 1895 to 1896 was a world full of flowering, whether it was a short haircut or a lift.

[사진] The French pictorial newspaper Le Journal Illustre, which reported on the Eulmi Incident, was published on the front page of October 27, 1895, with the title .

Some yangban Confucian scholars, including Yoo In-seok and Lee So-eung, who thought this kind of enlightenment was the road to ruin, raised anti-Japanese soldiers to protest against the Eulmi Incident and the Danbal Order. In the midst of this, King Gojong secretly withdrew from the Russian legation on February 11, 1896, and immediately withdrew the ban and ordered the disbandment of the volunteers. As the pro-Japanese cabinet collapsed and a new pro-Russian cabinet was established with this collapse of Agwan, the short period of reform in Eulmi, which lasted less than five months, was halted.

Gojong and the pro-Russian cabinet defined the existing ministers as ‘nationals’ and started arresting them. The angry crowd cursed and stoned Kim Hong-jip, who was Prime Minister at the time of the Eulmi Reform, in front of Gwanghwamun. The Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, who cut King Gojong’s hair himself during Danbalyeong, was also beaten to death by Jeong Byeong-ha along with Kim Hong-jip. Eo Yun-jung, the former minister of Takjibu, escaped to his hometown of Boeun, North Chungcheong Province, but was attacked and killed by residents in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do. Instead, Kim Yun-sik was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in Jeju Island.

There was no such thing as a country. The king had to live in a rented room on the second floor of a legation in another country (this domestic exile continued for the next year), the queen was slaughtered by the Japanese, and even her body was burned. ‘ It was a time when people were slaughtered by the people. Joseon has already lost its dignity as a nation.

Let’s go back to around June of the first year of Konyang in 1896 and meet a young man named ‘Won-gi Lee’. At that time, four months had passed since King Gojong’s resignation from the Russian legation. Lee Won-gi (李源綺) was a 16-year-old student attending a government English school in this chaotic atmosphere that led to the Eulmi Incident – Eulmi Reform – Danbalyeong – Agwan Pacheon. After the opening of the port, the Joseon government established Dongmunhak in 1883 and Yukyeong Park in 1884 to provide English education, but did not achieve great results. As part of the Gabo reform, English schools were established along with the Herring School, French School, and Japanese Language School. The English school was originally located on the site of Yukyeong Park in Dongdong (礴洞), but it was recently moved to the back of the Agricultural and Commerce Study on 6jo Street. Under Principal W. Hutchison, foreign instructors TE Halifax and R. Frampton, and Korean instructors Myeong-ho Ahn, Tae-heon Yoon, and In-beom Jeong were teaching English.

[사진] A class scene at a French school at the time. The English school Lee Won-ki attended would not have been much different.

He is currently a freshman, so he will have to study for another four and a half years before he can graduate from this school. As the son of a poor merchant, Won-gi finds it very difficult to learn this foreign language. The English school students all wore hanbok, hanbok, hanbok, and leather shoes, so they were envied by the people around them. Other things are going well, but I’m not very good at bookkeeping. ‘Searching’ is a subject that listens and dictates English. When a teacher from Halifax or Frampton speaks an English sentence, it is dictated in English. The English school has to complete various subjects over 5 years, including English (reading, grammar, translation, writing, geography, arithmetic, search and conversation), Korean geography and history, Analects, and gymnastics.

Won-gi did not feel much interest in attending school. The English school class was from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day, and she was often late and even absent several times. I told my father that he wanted to learn the business that her father was doing, but the seeds didn’t work. My father reassured me by urging me that foreign languages ​​are essential even if I run a business in the future. My father’s house near Byun’s father’s house had earned the envy of the people around him by earning a lot of money as a family of herring interpreters before. He told his son that he could not give up studying a foreign language even if he moved to New York. It is said that after the recent dismissal of the king as an Arasa Legation, the number of people who want to learn the language has increased as Arsa’s influence has grown. Foreign languages ​​are now survival.

[사진] Lee Won-ki, an English school student. It was issued on June 30, 1896. Through this crossing, you can see what subjects the English school students studied at the time. (Director Park Geon-ho)

Today, June 30, 1896, is the day that the spirits are given the summer solstice flag. Doganggi is a kind of report card written by instructors. Twice a year, they were supposed to receive the summer crossover in June and the winter crossover in December. The subjects studied and the grades received by the students are recorded here, and the grades were decided by the instructors of the English school in consultation. Won-gi receives the report card and returns to his seat, carefully examining it. A total of 648 points out of 900 points. The average score of about 20 students in the same class was 720, so it was not the lowest in the total score. However, the study subjects were serious. 34 out of 100! What would your father say when he saw this?

In addition, the students’ reviews written by the instructors were more serious.

“Not much work at home, very lazy, good conduct”

“I don’t study hard at home. I am very lazy to study.”

After writing this, the instructors thought that the spirit was a bit harsh, so they said, “Your conduct is modest.” added this:

Thinking it’s self-sufficient, he ends up playing with his friends after class and heads home tumbled. How do you show this crossover to his father?

While walking down the street with this thought in mind, I hear the slogans of soldiers in the distance.

“один (Ajin), два (Deva), три (Tri)!”

Arsa soldiers chant slogans and line up as they cross the 6-jo Street. Are you really going to switch to Ah (俄語) right now? It’s more difficult than English… . Or how about speaking Japanese at all?

Wongi’s brain is complicated. Whether he was aware of this situation or not, the recording was getting darker day by day. On the last day of June in 1896, the hot sun illuminating Gwanghwamun was slowly passing towards the foot of Inwangsan Mountain.

[사진] The picture on the left depicts a scene where the Russian military instructors train Korean soldiers, reflecting the situation in which Russia’s influence has greatly strengthened after the collapse of Agwan. the picture on the right [르 프티 파리지앙] (1904.2.7) shows the Russian army, the French army, and the US Marines marching one after another on Yukjo Street (present-day Sejong-ro) where Gwanghwamun can be seen in the distance. At the time Lee Won-gi was learning English, foreign powers were competing fiercely over Korea. At the same time, foreign languages ​​such as English, French, Russian, and Japanese were also fiercely competing with each other.

* The above article is a virtual reconstruction of the times of June 1896 through Lee Won-gi’s crossing of the English school. (author)

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