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Original pre-colonial document found

Posted November. 22, 2000 15:12,   


The original copy of the prospectus for a pan-national campaign to repay national debt to Japan in 1907 -- before the Japanese colonial rule of Korea from 1910 to 1945 -- has been found for the first time.

Cho Hung Bank reported Tuesday that it recently purchased the original copies of the prospectus, receipts, circular letter and other materials from a collector. The rare documents are being displayed at the Finance Museum in Taepyongno, Chung-ku, Seoul.

Contents of materials on the campaign had been known by reports of the newspapers of the time, such as Daehan Mailshinbo, Hwangsung Shinmun and Jeguk Shinmum, but it was the first time that the original copies were confirmed.

The prospectus reads, among other things, ¡°Let¡¯s restore national sovereignty and the people¡¯s rights by launching a campaign to repay the national debts in a total unity of the people without leaving the fate of the nation in the hands of the incompetent government.¡±

The prospectus, written in Chinese letters, is 25-by-144 centimeters, and some parts of the back side were damaged, making it impossible to confirm who wrote it.

The circular letter written in 1908 states the organization of the campaign headquarters in South Kyongsang Province and regulations, proving that the campaign was launched systematically also in rural areas.

An official letter written in 1907 is an official document in which the then lowest administrative units of ¡°dong¡± and ¡°ri¡± explained the campaign to their higher echelons in cities and counties. It shows how the lower structures for the campaign were organized.

The receipt found this time is the second of its kind, and it was made in April 1908. What is noteworthy is that the recipient was one of the promoters of the campaign.

Lee Kwang-Pyo kplee@donga.com