[KS] Kanghwa Treaty diplomatic protocol

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreaweb.ws
Wed Nov 14 10:48:00 EST 2007

Hi Christine, hi Professor Sands:

Long time no see ... nice to hear from you this way.
I have something that comes at least close. The 
Treaty of Kanghwa was in 1876, and there sure 
must be some eyewitness reports of it, but I 
haven't seen any, nor looked in that time frame 
in any more detail. But here is a painting from 
seven years later that depicts the state banquet 
celebrating the Korean-Japanese Trade Agreement 
of 1883.
It has been painted by An Chung-sik (1861-1919) 
in that year, who was then a still very young 
court painter at the Chosôn Bureau of Painting 
(Tohwasô). He should become one of the three four 
most important painters marking the transition 
period from late Chosôn to early colonial Korea. 
I love to show this image as uri kyopo Paul Georg 
von Möllendorff (1847-1901) is depicted on it 
(upper left corner), and because it demonstrates 
the Korean effort to westernize (see the chairs, 
table, table cloth, candle holders, and other 
details), yet also shows how far behind Korea was 
in that respect if looking at the painting 
technique (e.g. comparing techniques of 
perspective with Hanekawa Tóei's 1719/20 colored 
wood print of a Korean delegation 
Interestingly, many Korean art histories point 
out that An Chung-sik was the first to introduce 
a "Western" (Renaissance) technique of 
perspective in a 1915 painting series -- but 
looking closer, he really doesn't, it still isn't.
Anyway, my general impression from reading 
through various foreigner's accounts of the 1880s 
-- which, of course is 5 to 10 years later than 
the Kanghwa Treaty -- is that Koreans made every 
effort to westernize even if just for the purpose 
of making foreign delegations feel welcome.

Frank Hoffmann
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