[KS] Chinese influence and communities in Korea

Kirk Larsen kwlarsen67 at gmail.com
Sat Jul 2 18:54:39 EDT 2011

Hello all,

A couple of quick thoughts on this very interesting thread:

A significant number of Ming “Chinese” came to the Chosôn kingdom,
particularly in the aftermath of the Hideyoshi invasions and were recognized
as “submitting foreigners” (along with some Jurchen and Japanese; Korea has
never been as homogeneous as the national myths might indicate) by the
Chosôn state. See Adam Bohnet’s excellent dissertation “Migrant and Border
Subjects in Late Chosôn Korea” (Toronto, 2008) for much more on this.

Don Baker and others have mentioned the Chinese influx of the late
19thcentury. I would add a couple of observations:

--first, the Chinese began arriving in Korea even before Yuan Shikai; they
were encouraged by the Qing state and by the presence of diplomatic and
consular representatives on the ground in Hansông (Seoul) and the treaty
ports, beginning with Chen Shutang in 1882. This is the era in which the
Inch’ôn and Hansông Chinatowns began (along with smaller versions in Pusan
and Wônsan and a sizable if not always legal Chinese presence along the
northwest coast).

--second, the origin and make-up of these early Chinese migrants was
remarkably diverse with merchants and migrants hailing from Guangdong,
Zhejiang, Shanghai, Tianjin and a host of other places. Their commercial
activities ranged in scale from individual peddlers wandering the
countryside with a pack of cloth, thread and matches to far-flung
conglomerates with offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Nagasaki. As the open
port period (1876-1910) and the subsequent period of Japanese colonial rule
wore on, however, this first wave of migrants was dwarfed by a much larger
influx of migrants from nearby Shandong who, rather than engage in
commercial activity, tended toward the “three knives” (cutting hair
(barbers), cutting cloth (tailors), cutting vegetables (restaurants) service
sector. It was mostly these later migrants that formed the core of the
Chinese community in Korea that experienced the aftermath of the Wanbaoshan
(Manbosan) incident that Don Clark writes of and that ran most of the
“Chinese” restaurants (Chunghwa yori) in Korea. Makes me pine for some


Kirk Larsen

On Sat, Jul 2, 2011 at 1:31 PM, Donald Clark <dclark at trinity.edu> wrote:

> I too remember the Chinese community in the streets of Myongdong in
> the fifties and sixties, and also the small "Chinatown" in Inch'on.
> But I want to call attention to the fact that there were many more
> Chinese resident in the various cities of Korea during the Japanese
> period, into the 1930s.  There were quite a few Chinese merchants in
> Korea, some of them famous suppliers of things to the Western expat
> community.  A Chinese known at "E.D. Steward" (name derived from
> former career as a steward on a  British ship) ran a store that
> supplied exotic Western foodstuffs, with a branch in Pyongyang and
> seasonal branches at the summer beach resorts at Sorai and Wonsan.  A
> Chinese tailor named "Taion" supplied suits and other clothing to the
> Western residents of Pyongyang.  And so forth.  Steward and Taion were
> Chinese residents; there were thousands of temporary Chinese migrant
> workers in Korea who came and went during spring and summer. Some of
> these stayed on and settled down. The Government General's annual
> report for 1930 shows as many as 67,000+ Chinese residents in Korea.
>     Many subscribers to this list know about the Wanpaoshan Incident
> in Manchuria in 1931 and its aftermath in Korea.  The situation in
> Korea was that Korean migrants--some of the people displaced by
> Japanese land grabs back home--became irritants to Chinese in
> Manchuria and there were clashes between them. It was typical for
> Chinese in Korea to suffer various kinds of abuses whenever reports
> came back about these clashes in Manchuria.  I did some work on this,
> relating to eyewitness accounts by missionaries in Korea of violent
> reprisals against Chinese residents by Koreans.  The Wanpaoshan
> Incident itself is better-known than the aftermath in Korea and the
> way the Japanese colonial authorities appear to have manipulated
> Korean anger there as a way of cleansing Korea of its Chinese
> population. The following paragraph is based on work I did for my book
> Living Dangerously in Korea (Eastbridge, 2003), p. 162 ff:
>     In July 1931, there was a climactic confrontation between Korean
> farmers in northern Manchuria and local Chinese over water rights and
> the building of an irrigation ditch near the town of Wanpaoshan
> [Korean: Manposan] in the vicinity of Changchun. The fields' owners
> had attacked Koreans digging the ditch across some neighboring fields
> without permission.  It seemed that Japanese intentionally exaggerated
> reports of the incident reaching Korea in an attempt to inflame the
> Koreans.  The news touched off a wave of reprisals against Chinese
> people and neighborhoods in towns within Korea.  In Pyongyang, a
> Korean mob laid waste the Chinese business quarter, burning and
> looting the shops and covering the street with Chinese belongings.
> Chinese truck farmers working little patches of land on the edges of
> the city were set upon and actually killed by rioters.  My grandfather
> Charles Allen Clark wrote in his diary about seeing Chinese houses set
> on fire by angry Koreans.  The Chinese manager of Taion's (the tailor)
> lost family members in the fracas and shortly left Korea.  The Taion
> store was stripped and bolts of Taion's best cloth were strung on
> telephone wires and lampposts.
>     A summary article in the Seoul Press on July 10, 1931 reported
> that an estimated 4,000 Chinese had fled across the Yalu into
> Manchuria during the preceding week, and that a thousand more had left
> Inch'on by ship. Accounts through the remainder of the year show a
> continual exodus of thousands of Chinese residents from Korea to China
> by rail and ship.
>     An interesting aspect of this is the way the Japanese manipulated
> the situation.  I always thought it was ironic that they seemed to
> support the Korean migrants' claims in Manchuria against the Chinese,
> and that they stood by as Korean rioters wrought violence on Chinese
> residents in Korea--at least according to missionary accounts.  The
> missionaries in Pyongyang employed Chinese as gardeners and were
> mainly sympathetic to their plight.
>     An elaborate account of the Wanpaoshan Incident and its aftermath
> in Korea is in the U.S. Consular archives for Seoul, in the National
> Archives.  I used this along with newspaper accounts and missionary
> archives to reconstruct the story of what happened inside Korea after
> Wanpaoshan.
> Don
> --
> Donald N. Clark, Ph.D.
> Murchison Professor of History and
>     Co-director of East Asian Studies at Trinity (EAST)
> Trinity University, One Trinity Place,  San Antonio, TX 78212 USA
> +1 (210) 999-7629;  Fax +1 (210) 999-8334
> http://www.trinity.edu/departments/history/html/faculty/donald_clark.htm

Kirk W. Larsen
Department of History
2151 JFSB
Provo, UT 84602-6707
(801) 422-3445
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://koreanstudies.com/pipermail/koreanstudies_koreanstudies.com/attachments/20110702/2c355686/attachment-0002.html>

More information about the Koreanstudies mailing list