[KS] Photos of Russian military instructors in Imperial Korea

Eugene Y. Park epa at sas.upenn.edu
Fri Oct 24 17:34:27 EDT 2014

Dear Brother Anthony, Frank [Hoffmann], Frank [Shulman], and Norman,

Thank you so much for all your insights and assistance.

On a related note: it's fascinating how Korea's modern army evolved, 
from the Byeolgigun (created in 1881) to a larger, better disciplined 
army abolished by the Japanese in1907. The three attached photos suggest 
that the overall capacity improved, at least as as we can tell from the 
postures and expressions of the soldiers. The army around 1900 looks far 
sharper than the Byeolgigun of the 1880s (just look at the bayonets 
pointing in different directions and the obviously low morale of the 
soldiers). Also, it's interesting how the the cadets around 1896 (from 
Isabella Bird Bishop's book) are wearing obviously German-style uniforms 
(as did Gojong at the time, looking quite similar to Frank Hoffmann's 
great uncle!) whereas by the 1900s they look more like Japanese troops.

Looking at the change from some 40 Byelgigun soldiers in 1881 to roughly 
8,000 troops by 1907, we can't say Korea didn't try. It's just that 
8,000 wasn't enough against 200,000 Japanese, their approximate troop 
strength during the Russo-Japanese War!


Eugene Y. Park
Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History
Director, James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies
University of Pennsylvania

On 10/24/2014 1:42 AM, Frank Hoffmann wrote:
> So, you did not like my Prussian uncles with their Russian friends?
> Never mind.
> Here is what you are looking for. (Ross King or German Kim might know
> of newer articles -- but this one you can access online and I think it
> is as detailed as it gets on your topic.)
> (1)
> http://www.rauk.ru/index.php?option=com_jdownloads&Itemid=4&task=view.download&catid=850&cid=4002
> This is a 10 pages article about Russian advisors and military
> involvement of that time by historian Sergei Volkov from 2003:
> Волков С.В. Русские офицеры – исследова
> тели Кореи конца XIX – начала XX века // Рос
> сийское корееведение. Альманах. Вып 3. М
> .: Муравей, 2003. С. 193-202.
> I am not sure, but I would wonder if this particular article was not
> translated into Korean. You may want to check.
> There is also a book by him that might well include the same:
> http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/004251421
> But for sure are there various pieces published by him in English also
> .... he is the expert on that area.
> (2)
> http://koryo-saram.ru/russkie-ofitsery-issledovateli-korei-kontsa-xix-nachala-xx-v-v/
> That is a quick overview.
> (3)
> For further information -- from a conference in Bonn Germany, 2004:
> T.M. Simbirtseva, "Russian Materials on the Pre-Modern (till 1920’s)
> history of Russian-Korean Relations: Diplomatic and Social Aspects" -->
> http://www.academia.edu/8131346/Russian_Materials_on_the_Pre-Modern_till_1920_s_history_of_Russian-Korean_Relations_Diplomatic_and_Social_Aspects
> Best,
> Frank
> --------------------------------------
> Frank Hoffmann
> http://koreanstudies.com

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