▲ Korean and Japanese children in Fusan, now Busan. Photo courtesy Robert Neff
True to his word, Chaille-Long spent the following morning sightseeing and photographing the capital. “Seen from an eminence,” he declared, “it presents the appearance of a Corean city, but the houses, though rude, are much more solidly constructed. The streets are wider as a rule than those of Seoul, dirty of course, but devoid of trenches, nor so horribly foul as the latter city.”
He also declared, “Bud-dhism, it is certain, obtained a footing in Quelpaert, for along the streets through which we made our entry I did not fail to remark four large statues of Buddha, hewn from solid black rock and worn and defaced by the hand of time ... All trace of Buddha has gone save the stone images which the Mongol conquerors had failed to destroy.”
He was in a foul mood, having slept badly the previous night due to the horrid smell, “the violent ringing of the city bell to frighten away the evil dragons, [and] the incessant raids made by an army of rats upon the debris of [their] unconsumed repast,” and was anxious to return to Pelto and the Bravo Maru. However, before he could do so, he had to pay a visit to the governor’s home.
The governor was surrounded by a large number of women and eunuchs. Chaille-Long remarked to the governor that the women “were much more robust and better developed than those seen in Seoul,” but in his report to the State Department he acknowl-edged that he had lied and that the women were “far from good looking, their principal excellence consisting in a wealth of black coarse hair.”
He also found fault with the gov-ernor’s eunuchs who he described as “a fat, feminine looking class, and apparently, quite happy and most vain of their gaudy robes. It is said their lot is a subject of much envy and jealous aspiration among the lower classes.” He further noted that “the Corean eunuch does not enjoy the full confidence or social status which is the privilege of the Egyptian eunuch, doubtless because his fidelity is not above suspicion, and because his neutralization is not so complete as that of the [Egyptian].” As a footnote he added that all Korean eunuchs were married.
According to Chaille-Long’s contem-poraries, eunuchs were often married and the more prosperous ones adopted young eunuch boys to act as their sons. The wives of the eunuchs lived exceptionally poor lives, probably due to frustration and humiliation, and often tried to run away. It was allegedly for this reason that a eunuch’s compound, unlike other nobles’ compounds, had only a single gate (instead of two) as a precaution so that the women could not sneak away.
Chaille-Long found the governor somewhat pretentious but acknowl-edged that because of the islanders’ unruliness, the governor was forced to maintain a display of much authority in order to retain control.
After a quick feast, Chaille-Long and his party were once again guided to Pelto and to the Bravo Maru - much to the relief of the Japanese crew who had feared the worst. They spent the night aboard the boat and the following day were visited by scores of islanders who believed Chaille-Long was a medicine man and beseeched him to treat their ills. Most of their complaints were “gastric fears, apthalmia, and syphilis” and he treated them with quinine, cathartic pills and castor oil but when his small supply was exhausted he resorted to using “primitive remedies.” He treated them with salt water that was colored and scented with cologne from his toiletry kit.
That evening, as they made preparations to leave, it occurred to Chaille-Long that their pilot, Yang, was in a perilous position. The people of Pelto were still enraged that he had guided the Westerner to Jeju and had threatened him with violence. Chaille-Long offered to land him a distance away from the city but Yang refused and ensured the Westerner that he could “run the gauntlet of the town at night” and return home safely. He was given a good sum of Korean copper coins (one U.S. dollar was equal to 1,300 coins) which he strung with cord and wound around his body. After a great many bows he disappeared into the darkness on his dangerous journey home.
At 3 a.m. on Oct. 3, the Bravo Maru, bathed in the bright moonlight, moved silently out of the port with not even the bark of the ever watchful dogs to signal its departure. On Oct. 8, at noon, they sailed into Fusan (now Busan) much to the amazement of the foreign community. The Japanese sailors were paid off, much to their great satisfaction, and Chaille-Long did some additional adventuring along the east coast of Korea before returning to Seoul on Nov. 4.
King Kojong soon heard of his arrival and invited him to the palace where Chaille-Long proudly recounted the adventures of his expedition and, in his own words, “added a page to the unwritten history of an island and people almost unknown to the sovereign himself.” Thus ended Chaille-Long’s “journey from Corea to Quelpaert in the footprints of Kublai Khan.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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