▲ Japanese fishing village, circa 1920. Photo from Robert Neff collection
Captain Taylor and two Chinese crew members, on horseback, were escorted by a “guard of about 100 men on horseback and foot, banners flying, trumpets blown, drums beating and a considerable quantity of other music.”
Word was sent ahead to all the villages along the route to the capital that the foreigners and their military escort would soon pass through and that fresh mounts and supplies were to be ready. Not all villages were ready when the procession arrived. The hapless headmen of these villages were seized by their top-knots and placed in a prone position upon their bellies and then “summary justice” was administered by the lash, the number determined by the Korean official. On several occasions the Korean in charge of administering the lash used it too sparingly and consequently “received punishment himself on account of leniency to the delinquents.”
It took nearly two days to travel from the shipwreck to the capital. Taylor reckoned the distance was about 50 miles and noted that there were no true roads; only “tracks through the fields and mountains.”
For some time they were kept waiting at the gate of the city before they were joined by another group of soldiers escorting five Japanese sailors who were crew members of two Japanese junks that had been wrecked in the same storm that had claimed the Barbara Taylor.
Finally the gates were opened and the shipwrecked victims were allowed to enter with their escorts. Taylor later noted that “the whole inhabitants of the city turned out in their best clothes” to watch him and the other ship-wrecked victims enter into the city “just the same as though a show of wild beasts had been on exhibition.” Armed with spears, soldiers lined the streets as the foreigners were escorted to the magistrate’s house, where they were ordered to dismount and “walk bowed half down to the ground for about 10 paces,” then were forced to bow three times and then “walk 10 more paces more and go through the same ceremony.”
At last they were led into the audience hall where Taylor found “the King [magistrate] sitting on his chair of state.” They were all then ordered to sit about 12 paces away from the magistrate, Taylor and his two Chinese sailors were seated on one side, and the Japanese on the other. While served vast amounts of cakes, fruits, and drinks, they were questioned by the Korean officials.
Taylor, “through a long rigmarole of writing backwards and forwards between the interpreters and the King [magistrate],” was able to explain the circumstances of his arrival on Jeju Island. He assured the Korean magistrate that if he were allowed to proceed to Japan he would be able to bring back assistance to remove the rest of his crew and the cargo of his ship. Naturally he would gladly pay with rice for all the effort and expense that the Koreans had incurred in saving the crew and cargo.
The magistrate listened politely to Taylor and the Japanese who pled their own case and then had them taken to a small house in the city where they were confined, but well taken care of, while the magistrate decided what to do with them.
There was no furniture to speak of in the house, and they were forced to sleep on the bare floor, the Japanese on one end, and Taylor and the Chinese on the other end. Each night they were visited by Korean officials who continued to gather information about them while the governor waited to hear from the government.
On Oct. 3, after two days of confinement, it was announced that Taylor and the Chinese were to be returned to their vessel. They were to gather what they needed and then Taylor and one Chinese crewman would be conveyed to the least-damaged Japanese junk in which they and the Japanese would sail to Nagasaki.
Accompanied by another large military escort, Taylor and his Chinese steward quickly gathered some clothing, reassured the rest of the crew that they would return as soon as possible, and then were taken nearly 25 miles to the Japanese junk where they departed “the island with a favorable breeze.”
The Japanese junk sailed first to the Goto island group and then to the small city of Hirado where Taylor and his steward walked the rest of the way to Nagasaki - arriving several days later. The news of their arrival was a great source of interest to the foreign community.
Within days the local English-language newspapers began to exaggerate the accounts.
The Japan Gazette reported that the shipwrecked survivors were “being held in durance vile on an uncivilized island” and that “the natives immediately locked up everyone on board in jail,” and had “roughly treated” them. The paper went on to note that Taylor had been summoned by, and then forced to crawl, in the presence of the high official of Jeju.
Taylor denied that his crew had been ill-treated and felt that they had been placed under a guard to protect them from the natives “who he saw were not an agreeable-looking lot and every man was armed.”
After informing the British Consul, Taylor began making preparations to return to Jeju Island and rescue his crew.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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