[KS] Jews in Korea during the Second World War

Robert N robertneff103 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 30 17:56:26 EDT 2013

Prof. Hoffman..

Thank you very much for responding.  I appear to have misread your earlier
text and assumed that we were talking about two Austrians....one in Seoul
and one in Masampo.  For the life of me I can not imagine who the Austrian
residing in Seoul was.  The new information that you and some of others
have given in regards to the large expat community in korea is at odds with
the reported population of foreigners residing in korea at that time.  I
think that we are discovering more and more that the foreign community was
much larger than we have been lead to believe.  We now know that there were
more hotels that catered to Westerners...there were early restaurants that
served Western food,the introduction of the rickshaws in 1883 and even an
American naval deserter opening his own bar in Jemulpo.  There is yet a
great deal we need to learn about the 'small foreign communities' in Korea.

Again my apologies for the typos but I am traveling and using my phone to
type this....a tedious task for any but the nimbled fingered youth of Korea.

Robert Neff
On Jul 31, 2013 5:10 AM, "Frank Hoffmann" <hoffmann at koreanstudies.com>

> Just a detail:
> Robert Neff wrote:
> > The Austrian at Masampo whom Prof. Hoffman mentioned was most likely
> > H. J. Houben.
> That cannot be H.J. Houben. The 1902 article speaks of an Austrian in
> SEOUL, not Masampo, and the details do not fit otherwise either: Houben
> came in 1899 to Masampo while the person mentioned in that German
> Jewish paper is said to have come "12 years ago to Seoul"--that's
> around 1890 then.
> Still, your very own article from 2004 (quoted below) is very
> interesting, among other things because it shows that Japanese and
> Jewish community interests could well have been contradicting each
> other in Korea: other than in Japan, where Jewish immigrants were, e.g.
> in Kobe, appreciated and helped, around the Russo-Japanese War and in
> Korea (not Japan) I am not too sure about that, however much the Jewish
> community may have liked to see Japanese reform politics. All we talk
> about here are economic interests, and then it comes to Japanese
> settlers and businessmen in Korea vs. Jewish and other foreign
> businesses.
> ……. QUOTE ……
> (…)
> A later Austrian-Hungarian businessman was H.J. Houben. In 1899, he
> arrived in Pusan as an employee of the Russian owned Chinese Eastern
> Railway Company and worked as the ticket agent for the steamships
> operating out of that port. The following year he appears to have gone
> into business with the Masunga & Co.’s store in Pusan and at the same
> time established his own merchandise store at the newly opened port of
> Masampo. It is interesting to note that other than the Japanese, there
> were only a few Westerners living in Masampo, and they were all
> Russians. Houben was elected treasurer of the Masampo Municipal Council
> in 1900 through 1901, but with the poor business prospects at the port
> he eventually closed his shop there and sought other business
> opportunities. In late 1901 he was involved in a legal dispute with the
> Japanese and appealed to the German Consul for help. He alleged that
> the Japanese owned Seoul-Pusan Railroad laid track across some of his
> property _ how this dispute ended is unclear, but by 1902 H.J. Houben’
> s name had disappeared from the list of foreigners residing in Korea.
> (…)
> QUOTE from: Robert Neff, _The Korea Times_, October 22, 2004.
> C o r r e c t i o n :
> In my last posting I gave the architect Bruno Taut as a prominent
> example for intellectual Jewish émigrés in Japan. My mistake, he had
> no Jewish roots, he left Germany for mostly political and ethical
> reasons. Somehow I never questioned that he was Jewish. Apologies!
> Best,
> Frank
> --------------------------------------
> Frank Hoffmann
> http://koreanstudies.com
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