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Gonsuke Hayashi and Korea

伊藤政彦 1

1우송정보대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

In Secheon-dong, Dong-gu, Daejeon there is a portal to the old Jeungyak 1st tunnel of the Gyeongbu Railway (Seoul-Busan Railway). On the upper part of the portal is installed a stone plaque with the inscription ‘嶽神驚奔(Akshinkyungbun)’. It is the handwriting of Gonsuke Hayashi, who served as the Envoy Extraordinary of Japan to Korea from 1899 to 1906. The present study examined the role of Hayashi in Japanese invasion of Korea, and the significance of the plaque he left behind. While working as an Envoy Extraordinary, Hayashi played an important and decisive role in the conclusion of the ‘Japan-Korea Treaty of 1904’, the ‘Japan-Korea Agreement of August 1904’, and the ‘Japan-Korea Treaty of 1905.’ These treaties and agreement were needed during the process in which Japan deprived Korea of the functions as an independent country and extended its dominion. Hayashi had a very negative view of the Koreans and the government of the Korean Empire. In 1904, when he was in office as the Envoy Extraordinary to Korea, Japan started the rapid construction of the Gyeongbu Railway in preparation for the war with Russia. Yet the residents stood against the construction because the mountain, where the Jeungyak 1st tunnel was to be built, was deemed sacred. But their voice was ignored and the construction began. In the winter of 1904, a riot broke out at the construction site. The reason was that, compared to the Japanese laborers, Korean laborers had been receiving discriminatory treatment, and a Japanese supervisors beat the Korean laborers. But eventually the riot was suppressed by the military police. After the construction of the tunnel, someone in the legation asked Hayashi for writing an inscription for the plaque, and the result is aforementioned ‘嶽神驚奔(Akshinkyungbun)’, meaning “the mountain god took flight in fright.” Later in his memoirs, Hayashi said it was “a funny thing” to have enforced the construction. This shows that his attitude to Korean culture was that of derision. The plaque reflects his understanding of Korea. It was a pity that he had no mind to pay respect to the nation and culture in which he was working. The plaque extant tells us of the fact.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.