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D. D. Pokotilov’s perception on the Korean Rail Gauges and the acquisition of Gyeong-in railroad rights and Policy of the Russian Government (1896~1899)

Lee Hang Jun 1

1서울여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The Korean government granted the right to lay railroads to the various construction agencies on the King Kojong’s Flight to the Russian Legation. The railroad had the possibility to greatly reorganize not only economic structure but also political control according to the subject’s intention. Therefore, the officials of each country tried to carry out their own interests in the adoption of wide gauge and standard gauge which are railway tracks. Russia initially tolerated standard rail and insisted on wide gauge. The US claimed the standard gauge based on the Gyeong-in Railway. Japan supported the standard rail because it had no influence to claim its narrow gauge. D.D. Pokotilov visited Korea as a Russian financial agent and president of Sino-Russian Bank. In July 1896, Pokotilov put pressure on the Korean government through the Russian envoy K.I. Weber in order to change the standard gauge adopted by the Korean government. He wanted to establish the same railway line with Russia in Korea and settle trade relations between Korea and Russia through railroads in the future. Pokotilov was very similar to the political inclination of S.Y. Witte, the Russian Treasury Minister, who tried to rule Manchuria through the Dong-cheong Railway. He strongly criticized Weber, who did not oppose the Korean government’s adoption of the standard gauge, and demanded that Weber change the gauge of the Korean government through the Russian government. As a result, the Korean government changed the railroad tracks of the Korean railroad from standard gauge in November 1896. However, Japan forced the Korean government to adopt the same standard gauge as the Gyeong-in railroad in the process of signing the agreement on the Gyeong-bu Railway in 1898. The railroad of the Korean railroad was changed from the Wide gauge to the standard gauge in over two years. As a result, the Gyeongbu-rail was determined to the standard gauge according to Gyeong-in Railway. Finally, in 1898, S.Y. Witte, the Russian Treasury Minister, turned his stance on the Korean railroad problem. On January 18, 1898, Witte stopped negotiations with Morse and ordered him not to be involved in the acquisition of the Gyeong-in Railway. In addition, the Russians negatively judged Russia’s possession of Korean railroad interests, including those for the construction of Gyeong-in Railroad. It was concluded that Russia’s intervention in the Korean railroad problem only provided a cause for complicated relationship with Japan. This coincided with January 1898, when Russia even rebounded from China and acquired the right to lay the Southern Manchurian Railway.

Citation status

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