Sunday, May 25, 2008

Slave Girls in Korea


Their Sale a Considerable Source of Revenue to the Royal Treasury.

There are slave girls innumerable around the royal palaces of the Hermit Kingdom of Korea. It is difficult to find out how many there are. One official will say hundreds, another thousands. A consul who has had opportunity to learn the facts in the case says there are about 1,500.

It is equally difficult to learn where they come from. Their appearance shows that they are not from any one stock. Some are Koreans, and some are Tonghaks from Guing-Shang-do, in the south of the kingdom; some show Japanese blood, others Chinese and still others Mantachurian. They are of all sorts and types. All speak Korean, and nearly all have a smattering of Chinese. They are all well brought up and quiet, polite and industrious. They begin their career as domestic servants when mere children and are seldom found in the royal establishment after they are 25 years old. A few who are unusually good looking become royal concubines, and a large number are taken for the same purpose by the princes and lords of the realm, and it is said for a very large price. The rest are sold as commodities to the highest bidder and the proceeds paid into the royal treasury.

The latest available blue book of Korea — 1884 — in summarizing the royal income, includes these entries: "9,917 stone of best rice; 41,484 stone of beans; 172,713 nyang in money; 24,000 nyang from sale of slave girls."

A nyang is a string of 100 copper coins whose value in American money ranges from 500 to 2,000 to the dollar. The market value of a girl in Korea varies from $10 to $40. Upon these figures the monarch must raise and sell in the public market every year from 30 to 480 young women.

This trade in human beings is considered perfectly legitimate and has come down from time immemorial. It is not confined to the royal palace, but is practiced to a certain extent all over Korea. The custom is followed likewise in China and seems to characterize nearly every Mongolian race. — Philadelphia Press.

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