[KS] Re: Old vase with history, anone has an answer?

Yong-ho Choe choeyh at hawaii.edu
Tue Aug 29 22:09:29 EDT 2000

REPLY sends your message to the whole list

Lee Hong Jang, who gave the vase to the Korean ambassador, is most likely Li Hung-chang (Li Hongzhang in Pinyin spelling), who as the governor of the metropolitan Chilih Province and the Superintendent for Trade for the North had the charge of China's foreign relations, especially with Korea.  As for Kim Sang Soon, his family name must be Kim, not Soon.  If one look into the records, he/she should be able to find out all the embassies sent to China from Korea without too much difficulty.  One prominent Korean dispatched to China to negotiate with Li Hung-chang was Kim Yun-shik.  To learn whether Kim Sang Soon is a descendant of Kim Yun-shik or not, one has to look into the Kim family genealogy, which shouldn't be too difficult in view of the prominent position Kim Yun-shik had occupied in Korean history.

I hope this much information is of some help.

At 09:37 PM 8/26/2000 -1000, you wrote:
>REPLY sends your message to the whole list
>Today I received a curious email, with the following content.
>>Dear Sirs:
>>My name is Judd Green.  I live in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
>>My father, of the same name, served as a United States Army officer in 
>>Korea during the Korean War.  One of his jobs was to hire Korean civilians 
>>for jobs.
>>One of the men he hired was named Kim Sang Soon.  Mr. Soon was hired as 
>>the head cook at the Entertainer's Hotel in, I think, Seoul, Korea.
>>My father died in 1981 but before his death he told me the story that went 
>>with a very old vase that was given to him on October 16, 1951 by Mr. Soon.
>>My father was due to rotate back to the US and fellow officers, enlisted 
>>men and all the civilians he gave jobs to threw a going away party for 
>>him.  A band that played at the party was called The Rhythm Kings.  After 
>>the party Mr. Soon approached my father and handed him a vase.  He told my 
>>father it was to thank my dad for saving his life and the lives of his 
>>family by giving him a job.
>>My father told me it would have been an insult not to take the vase so he 
>>packed it and brought it home with him.  When he unpacked it, he found a 
>>2-page letter inside written by Mr. Soon in his own hand.
>>The letter says, quote:
>>     Now I like to report to you about history of Chinese made flower base 
>> which I gave you on 16 Oct. 1951 at the party for you by the Rhythm 
>> King.  My grand grand father went to China by order of Korean King the 
>> Lee Dynasty as the ambassador to China, and the Chief Staff of the Army 
>> of China gave this flower base to my grand grand father.  The name of the 
>> General is Lee Hong Jang in Korean pronunciation who is very famous in 
>> history.  My father gave this flower base to me with this story and I 
>> took it to my best curio of my family keeping it with me all the 
>> time.  And I had to go down to Pusan as the refuge when the Chinese 
>> Communist pushed down to the Capital in month January 1951.  I show this 
>> one to a professional curio collector to find out how it is old and 
>> valuable.  And I found it is about 3 or 4 hundred years old and how and 
>> it is very expensive.  Now I'm very happy to present this one to you upon 
>> your kindness to me.  I'm no sure how it's valuable but that is the best
>>one I have.  Please take this to your home and put in your living room.
>>                                                     Kim Sang Soon
>>                                                     Head Cook of 
>> entertainers
>>My father kept this vase until he died and it was then passed on to me.  I 
>>have kept it for all these years along with the original letter from Mr. Soon.
>>The vase is approximately 6" high, 7' wide and has two small handles on 
>>the top, one on each side.  It is wrapped in brown leather that looks like 
>>it was indented all over.  It also has a very intricate design of inlaid 
>>mother-of-pearl all around the vase going about half way down.  It is a
>>striking piece and I have never seen anything close to it and I've been 
>>looking for 40 years.
>>A long time ago a curator from the Indianapolis Museum of Art looked at it 
>>and told me it appeared the vase was Chinese in origin and that the 
>>leather wrapping and inlaid mother-of-pearl design was most likely put on 
>>after it came back to Korea.  The curator said the design of the pearl 
>>indicates Korean royalty.
>>I am looking for a direction to go in authenticating the vase and 
>>determining its value.  Obviously, if General Jang can be located in the 
>>history books, I believe this vase would be of considerable interest to 
>>someone, possibly a Korean art collector or Chinese art collector.
>>I have photos that I could forward you along with a copy of the letter if 
>>that would help you assist me.
>>Any assistance you can be would be appreciated.
>>Thank you for your time.
>>Judd Green
>I will ask for the pictures and put them somewhere on my site and post the 
>URL, but I think it will be indeed of considerable interest for someone 
>with interest in Korean history, I was thinking about a museum, if anyone 
>is interested and can shed anymore light on this, I would be obliged. I am 
>afraid this will be too expensive for me, but I also think that this should 
>not be in any private collection.
>If anyone knows a contact, please contact me off the list.
>Henny (Lee Hae Kang)
>Feel free to discover Korea with Hendrick Hamel (1653-1666)
>http://www.henny-savenije.demon.nl (in English)
>In Korean
>In Dutch
>Frits Vos Article about Witsen and Eibokken and his first Korean-Dutch 
>Korea through Western Cartographic eyes
>http://www.crosswinds.net/~hennysavenije/ (in English)
Yong-ho Choe, Professor
Department of History
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Honolulu, HI  96822

Tel: 808 956-6762
Fax: 808 956-9600
E-mail: choeyh at hawaii.edu

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