[KS] Photos of Russian military instructors in Imperial Korea

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreanstudies.com
Fri Oct 24 22:07:22 EDT 2014

A very brief reply to Gene's impressions here -- just because I fear 
those 'stick' with some.
Please do correct me if I am wrong ... unfortunately I have no Prussian 
uncles whose names were Fritz and no military ambitions either :::)

Okay, so, to make it simple:

(a) Until 1905 Japanese uniforms were an almost exact match of Prussian 
uniforms (and almost half of the higher Japanese officers, and later 
also those serving in colonial Korea, had been trained in Germany -- 
had partially even fought in the Prussian Army) ... but anyway, we have 
a full match there, of uniforms, and also of the entire military 
structure, the ranks, etc. (with some exceptions -- but MOS exceptions 
only come in after 1905). 

(b) The Korean uniforms were an almost exact match of Prussian uniforms 
-- until Japan took power in Korea as a result of the Russo-Japanese 
War of 1904-05.

IMAGES (at Wikipedia):
Japanese uniforms, 1900:

Korean soldiers, 1898:

As you see by looking at the KOREAN soldiers, there are no Prussian 
_Pickelhauben_ to be seen -- as in the photos I posted here last.
This is NOT because the Korean Army suddenly had some doubts about that 
fashion and wanted to look more Austo-Hungarian or Italian, also 
replacing the boring dark blue with flashy yellow and green colors .... 
I fear, it's just a different section (or what's the term here ... 
never been with the military) of the army. The same also applies to the 
more and more loved Korean kings and princes and what not ... when you 
see them in different uniforms it does not indicate they changed their 
allies or anything, it just means the Prussians had various uniforms 
and so had those who adapted them. One for the beach, one for the 
throne, and so on.

ABOVE, when you have a look at the "Japanese uniforms, 1900" image, 
look at the LOWER LEFT ... looks exactly like many of the images you 
see of common Korean soldiers around 1900 also, including the colors. 
-- In short, please correct me with details if I am wrong, I think 
nothing changed until 1905.


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On Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:34:27 -0400, Eugene Y. Park wrote:
> 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!
> Best,
> Gene
> Eugene Y. Park
> Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History
> Director, James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies
> University of Pennsylvania
> http://www.history.upenn.edu/people/faculty/eugene-y-park
> 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)
>> This is a 10 pages article about Russian advisors and military
>> involvement of that time by historian Sergei Volkov from 2003:
>> ?????? ?.?. ??????? ??????? ? ?????????
>> ???? ????? ????? XIX ? ?????? XX ???? // ???
>> ??????? ????????????. ????????. ??? 3. ?
>> .: ???????, 2003. ?. 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)
>> 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" -->
>> Best,
>> Frank
>> --------------------------------------
>> Frank Hoffmann
>> http://koreanstudies.com

Frank Hoffmann

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