A New Look at Korea’s Chinese Decade

19th-century PusanThe Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies fall 2015 col­lo­qui­um series begins on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 28, with a reex­am­i­na­tion of inter­na­tion­al rival­ries in Korea in the late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry. His­to­ri­an Wayne Pat­ter­son will deliv­er an illus­trat­ed pre­sen­ta­tion titled “A New Look at Korea’s Chi­nese Decade: Mar­itime Cus­toms in the 1880s.” His talk begins at 4:00 p.m. in the Cen­ter con­fer­ence room.

When dis­cussing Korea’s so-called Chi­nese Decade, that is, rough­ly the dozen or so years pri­or to the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95, atten­tion in the past has focused most­ly on the heavy-handed activ­i­ties of Yuan Shikai in Seoul. Less well known is that part of this Chi­nese effort to bind Korea more close­ly to Chi­na involved the absorp­tion of Korea’s new­ly formed Mar­itime Cus­toms Ser­vice.

Maritime Customs agent William N. Lovatt

W.N. Lovatt

Using the recent­ly dis­cov­ered cor­re­spon­dence of William N. Lovatt, the first com­mis­sion­er of cus­toms in Pusan (1883–1886), Pat­ter­son will dis­cuss some hereto­fore unknown aspects of this attempt­ed takeover by Chi­na. Lovatt was an Eng­lish­man who had served in the British army and, after leav­ing the army, joined the Chi­nese Impe­r­i­al Mar­itime Cus­toms Ser­vice. When the Kore­an Cus­toms Ser­vice was estab­lished he took up the post in Pusan. Lovatt’s papers enable Pat­ter­son to add rich detail to our knowl­edge of events dur­ing that peri­od from a per­spec­tive away from the usu­al focus on Seoul and Yuan Shikai’s asser­tions of Chi­nese influ­ence on the gov­ern­ment of Korea.

Wayne PattersonWayne Pat­ter­son is pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry at St. Nor­bert Col­lege. He is the author of In the Ser­vice of His Kore­an Majesty: William Nel­son Lovatt, the Pusan Cus­toms, and Sino-Korean Rela­tions, 1876–1888 (Insti­tute of East Asian Stud­ies, Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, 2012) and of two books on the his­to­ry of Kore­ans in Hawai‘i—The Kore­an Fron­tier in Amer­i­ca: Immi­grants to Hawaii, 1896–1910 (1988) and The Ilse: First-Generation Kore­an Immi­grants in Hawai‘i, 1903–1973 (2000), pub­lished by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i Press.

The Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies is locat­ed at 1881 East-West Road on the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i Mānoa cam­pus. Cen­ter events are free and open to all. Pre­sen­ta­tion of this col­lo­qui­um is sup­port­ed by the Doo Wook and Helen Nahm Choy Fund. For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, includ­ing infor­ma­tion on access for the hand­i­capped, tele­phone (808) 956‑7041.