Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/1134

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Religion and Instruction.

The worship of ancestors is observed with as much punctiliousness as in 'Jhina, but, otherwise, religion holds a low place in the kingdom. The law forbidding temples and priests in the city of Seoul has been repealed ; in the country there are numerous Buddhist monasteries. Confucianism is held in highest esteem by the upper classes, and a knowledge of the classics of China is the first aim of Korean scholars and aspirants for oihcial station. There are about 20,000 Catholics and 300 Protestants. In 1890 an English Church mission was established, with a bishop and 20 other members. Two hospitals are attached to the mission with an English doctor, and trained nurses. The American missionaries have also two hospitals in Seoul. In 1895 there were about 80 Protestant missionaries (British and American), 30 Roman Catholic.

In Seoul there is a school for English with 2 English teachers and 100 pujiils. There are, besides, schools for teaching Japanese, French, Chinese, and Russian, an American Mission School, and 10 or 11 schools for little boys, where Chinese and Korean are taught. A school for German is about to be established. All these schools are subsidised by the Government.

Finance and Defence.

The revenue is derived chiefly from the land tax (about 2,000,000 dollars), the customs duties (1,110,000 dollars), the house tax (200,000 dollars), the ginseng tax (estimated at 150,000 dollars), and the tax on gold dust (40,000 dollars), amounting altogether to nearly 5,000,000 dollars. The expenditure for 1897 was estimated at 4,238,186 dollars, of which the House- hold Department absorbed 600,000 dollars, and the Home office and War office 1,225,655 and 1,251,745 dollars respectively. The privy purse of the King now stands at about 60,000/., of which 50,000/. (500,000 dollars) is given in place of the monopoly in ginseng formerly enjoyed by the palace. In 18 months of 1896-97 there was paid off 2,000,000 dollars of the Japanese loan of 1895. For several years a British official has been superintendent of Korean customs ; in December, 1897, a Russian colleague was appointed, but retired in April, 1898.

The standing army, which used to consist of about 5,000 men, badly armed, drilled, clothed and fed, and was practically useless, was in 1896 taken in hand by a Russian colonel with 3 commissioned and 10 non- commissioned officers. A Royal Body Guard of about 1,000 men has been formed and armed with Berdan rifles obtained from Russia. The Russian officers retired in April, 1898, but the guard has been drilled, and periodi- cally a draft of Avell-trained men is transferred from it to the other regiments of the standing army, of which there are 5, averaging about 900 men. There is thus a fair proportion of drilled troops in the ranks of this force. It is proposed to raise a small force of foreigners as a special body-guard for the Emperor. A police force of about 2,000 men has also been formed, and is under the control of a special department under the Home Office.

Production and Commerce.

Korea is a purely agricultural country, and the metliods of cultivation are of a backward and primitive type, the means of communication being few and difficult. In the south rice, wheat, beans, and grain of all kinds are grown, besides tobacco ; in the north the chief crops are barley, millet, and oats. Rice, beans, and ginseng, are now exported in large quantities. Gold, copper, iron, and coal abound. An American company is working a gold mine at Won San, to the North of Ping- Yang, under a concession granted in