You Say Korea, They Say Corea

Corea – Korea: How do we spell thee?

In the 1870s,  it was spelled COREA.

EXPEDITION TO COREA.

A New York special of the 31st inst., says: The frigate Colorado, and the corvettes Alaska and Benicia, ordered to the Asiatic squadron, have been equipped with an extra supply of howitzers and regulation rifles and pistols for the special purpose of punishing the natives of Corea and Formossa for their depredations on American shipping. The English, French, American, Dutch and Russian squadrons will unite in an expedition which will land five or six thousand men to attack the principal cities in Corea and bring the authorities to terms.

Galveston Daily News (Galvestion, Texas) Apr 8, 1870

 

NEWS BY MAIL.
DOMESTIC.

WASHINGTON, June 16. — A Cabinet meeting was held to-day, at which Secretary Robeson read a dispatch from Admiral Rodgers, commander of the Asiatic squadron, giving an account of the fight between the Chinese on the Corea peninsula and the combined forces of Americans and Europeans connected with the squadrons in these waters. Although the dispatch has not yet been made public, it is understood that Admiral Rodgers was conveying to Corea a number of Coreans whom he had rescued from shipwreck, intending to illustrate the friendship of civilized nations as contrasted  with the acts  of the Coreans, who not long ago murdered a French crew wrecked on that coast. The boats’ crews from the French, English, Russian and American vessels on this mission were fired upon by the Chinese, who probably were not aware of the object of the expedition. A fight ensued, in which the Chinese were punished, and Admiral Rodgers intimates that the conflict would be renewed next day.

The dispatch from Admiral Rodgers, of which the following is the substance, was received at the Navy Department and dated at Borsee Island, Corea, June 3, and sent from Shang hai:

Our minister and the Corean Envoys exchanged professions of amicable intentions. The Coreans made no objection to a survey of their waters. The Monocacy, Palos and four steam launches, under Commander Blaker, were sent on June 1st to examine the river Sable at a point called Difficult Passage on French chart No.2750. At a point where the navigation was most perilous, masked batteries, manned by several thousand Coreans, were unmasked and opened a heavy fire, without warning, on our people. The French ship in advance fought gallantly, our vessels bearing up drove the enemy from their works. The tide swept all the boats past the batteries. They anchored and threw shells among the retreating enemy. Eight-inch shells were evidently not expected.

The Monocacy was slightly injured by knocking upon a sunken rock, but is now temporarily repaired. The vessels on returning received no fire, the enemy having been driven from the forts. Our people displayed great gallantry, and one or two were slightly hurt.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Jun 23, 1871

 

 

 

SPECK OF WAR.

The rencontre between the French and English squadrons on the one side, and the Coreans on the other, will probably teach the “Heathen Chinee” that both nations have a good deal of fight left in them.

The Coreans are a treacherous, false-hearted race. By profession pirates on the sea and assassins on the land.

Corea is a narrow strip of land on the northeast coast of Asia, jutting out into the water for a distance of four hundred miles. It separates the Yellow Sea from the Sea of Japan. Its coast is rugged and dangerous. Many vessels are annually wrecked thereon, and their crews are frequently murdered. With a view to lessening the dangers of the navigation, Christian nations have engaged in the survey of these coasts, with the consent of the Corean Government. As the squadrons entered the river Sable in the pursuit of this object, they were fired on from masked batteries. Of course they replied in a manner that sent the Celestials howling inland.

Corea is tributary to China. In fact, its relation to China is similar to that of Canada to England. The standing army amounts to half a million.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Jun 28, 1871

 

 

THE COREAN EXPEDITION — THE SECOND FIGHT.

NEW YORK, August 22. – The mails bring details of the second fight in Corea.

It appears that on the morning of June 10 the expedition started from the fleet. It consisted of about nine hundred men, of which seven hundred, including one hundred and five marines, were to operate on land, four hundred and twenty-five from the Colorado, and one hundred and twenty-five each from the Alaska and Benicia, all the crew of the Monterey and Palos being required to work the guns on board. The Monocacy took the lead, followed by the Palos, with all the smaller boats in tow, except the steam launches.

The main object of the attack is built on top of a small conical hill on a tongue of land that projects from the right and west bank of the river, and extending out into the water about half a mile. Its average width from north to south is about 400 years. The river makes a sharp bend around the points of this peninsula, and during the rise and fall of the tide the water rushes past it with fearful rapidity. About 300 years from the extreme point of this small conical hill arises about three hundred feet high.

The Coreans have fortified this in such a manner, that looking from the water the walls of the fort appear but a continuation of the extrusion upward of the steep sides, only approaching more nearly to a perpendicular, the sides of the hill forming an angle of about forty-five degrees with the horizon, and the fort so built on top as to occupy a whole level space of almost eighty feet in diameter, leaving no level ground.

Outside of the parapet wall the ground between this and the water’s edge is very rough, steep and rocky, and difficult for military operations. The Coreans had a water battery of twenty-four and thirty-two pounders, and a small old brass piece, commanding the channel past this point, and protecting the approaches to the fort from the water on the front. As this was the grand object of the attack it was determined to land several miles below and take it in the rear.

Accordingly, when the boats reached the first fort, about two miles below the point above mentioned, the Monocacy and Palos opened fire on it with vigor, but the Palos, unfortunately running on a rock, was held fast there, and her effectiveness impaired for a while. The Monocacy’s fire continued, silencing the fort and driving in its defenders, and under cover of this fire, the smaller boats which had been towed up by the Palos, cast off and rowed rapidly to the beach and landed a portion of the force designated to operate by land. The landing was effected in good order, and without difficulty, but the men had then to toil through some 200 years of mud, from one to two feet deep, and over sluices, in some parts much deeper, before reaching good firm dry land.

This done, the first fort was easily occupied, its defenders having been silenced by the fire from the Monocacy and Palos, and retreated on the approach of the skirmish line of marines, who were thrown out in advance of the attacking party, firing a few harmless shots as they fled. Night now coming on, the whole land force bivouacked till next morning, posting strong guards in advance.

On Sunday, the 11th inst., the whole expedition moved forward on the next fort, and took it without resistance. They then extended their line across the peninsula and advanced on the main fort, called by the French Fort de Condeoff (Fort of the Elbouaf,) from its being located in the bend or elbow of the river. This being a place of great strength, and the way of approach rough and difficult, some time was necessary to get the whole force up into position, when the order was given to charge.

About half-past 10 o’clock our whole line went with a rush and yell, which was responded to by the death-wail or war-whoop of the Coreans in the fort. The Coreans here made a firm stand and desperate resistance, firing their clumsy gongals with great coolness and deliberation at our men as they charged up the hill, then fighting hand to hand with long spears and swords.

When the fort had been stormed, and our men were inside the ramparts, Lieut. McKee, of Kentucky, who led the charge into the fort, was the first to enter, and fell, fighting bravely, being overwhelmed by superior numbers. Two hundred and forty-three dead Coreans were found in the fort, and several prisoners taken, among whom was the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, who was wounded.

Our own loss was Lieut. Hugh McKee, Seth Allen, ordinary seaman, of the Colorado, and private Houlahan, of the marine corps, killed. Seven were wounded, including Passed Assistant Surgeon, C.J.S. Wells, of the Colorado.

After the capture the destruction of the forts was immediately begun; the houses were fired, the works and guns destroyed and the magazines exploded.

The land force encamped in the neighborhood of the fort on the night of the 11th, and early next morning took up their line of march to the fleet, the object of the expedition having been fulfilled, namely, avenging the insult to the American flag on the 1st of June.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Aug 26, 1871

**********

JAPAN.

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 7. — The steamship China brings Yokohoma (Japan) dates to October 14th. The murderer of Mr. Haberth, the North German Consul, was beheaded on the 26th of September, and the government of Corea has promised to send to Japan the heads of all persons implicated in the insult to the Japanese the government.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Nov 8, 1874

**********

Fast forward to the 1880s, and things become muddled:

 

Daily Northwestern - Feb 20, 1885

 

Newspapers use both Corea and Korea… in the same articles!

 

Galveston Daily News - Apr 2, 1886

 

In 1891 we have new rules for spelling geographical names:

By a recent decision of the United States board f geographic names the letter “c.” whenever it has the sound of “k,” must be replaced by “k.” For instance, Congo must be spelled “Kongo,” and Corea becomes “Korea.” When we come square down to fact there is really no use for the letter “c” in the English language anyhow. It has no independent sound of its own. Give it the soft sound, as in “society,” and it steals the work of the letter “s.” Pronounce it hard, as in “Columbia,” and here it steals the sound of “k.” Why not abolish it altogether, and let young America have one less letter to learn?

The Daily News (Frederick, Maryland) Aug 5, 1891

**********

Let’s see how well the papers adhere to the new spelling rules:

THE real ruler of Korea is said to be the premier, whose name is Min Yung Jun. According to all accounts he must be the “boss” premier. A few years ago he was worth practically nothing, and now at the age of forty he is a millionaire, rides about town in a chair, seated on a leopard skin, accompanied by hundreds of cheering followers and nimble-footed dancing girls, and has a home containing scores of rooms. The “boss” does not seem to be confined to American politics.

Adams County Free Press (Corning, Iowa) Sep 27, 1894

**********

So far so good……….oops!

 

Nebraska State Journal - Jan 15, 1898

 

London appears to be a real spelling rebel, or maybe they just didn’t get the memo:

 

Lima News - Sep 15, 1898

 

Hmmm…copycat crime in Michigan?

Conspirators Are Hanged.

A dispatch from Seoul, Corea, says that Kim Hong Nuik and two other men who were the leaders of a conspiracy to poison the Emperor of Corea, were hanged. The populace secured the bodies of the conspirators, dragged them through the streets and mutilated them.

Bessemer Herald (Bessemer, Michigan) Oct 22, 1898

**********

Almost everywhere else, they seem to be playing it safe:

 

Daily Northwestern - Mar 31, 1900

 

Wisconsin

 

Nebraska State Journal - Jul 19, 1900

 

Nebraska

 

Atlanta Constitution - Mar 14, 1902

 

Georgia

 

Daily Review - May 31, 1902

 

Illinois

 

Atalanta Constitution - Sep 25, 1902

 

Massachusetts continues to defy Uncle Sam:

OPEN MARKET ASKED OF COREA.

Seoul, Corea, Dec. 5. — United States Minister Allen had a long interview with the emperor of Corea today on the subject of the request of the United States for the opening to the commerce of the world by Corea of Wiju on Yalu river. No definite decision was reached. The government is placed in a dilemma by the request of the United States.

The Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, Massachusetts) Dec 5, 1903

 

Reno Evening Gazette 0 Dec 26, 1903

 

Above are two articles printed side by side. The one coming out of Washington uses a “K,” while the one from Paris uses a “C.”

 

 

The Daily Northwestern Dec 28, 1903

 

My theory was going to be that the foreign papers continued to use  Corea, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. They seem just as confused as the American papers.

 

Reno Evening Gazette - Jan 14, 1904

 

The map below uses the  COREA spelling:

 

Richwood Gazette - Jan 21, 1904

 

Uncle Sam seems to notice not everyone is playing along. He makes another attempt to spell it out for us:

 

 

Washington Post - Jul 17, 1904

 

 

 

Washington Post - Jul 17, 1904

 

The prime object is to secure uniformity in the spelling of geographical names in all government publications. A board sitting in Washington takes up all place-names of more than one form that may be submitted to it, applies to them a code of rules formulated for the purpose, and then votes on the forms suggested by the members. The form receiving a majority vote becomes the official one, and, under the act of Congress creating the board, will thereafter be used in all government publications, including maps. to effect the desired reform, the board proceeds under the following rules:

1. The avoidance, so far as it seems practicable, of the possessive form of names.

2. The dropping of he final “h” in the termination “burgh.”

3. The abbreviation of “borough” to “boro.”

4. The spelling of the word “center” as here given.

5. The discontinuance of the use of hyphens in connecting parts of names.

6. The omission, wherever practicable, of the letters “C R” (Court House) after the names of county seats.

7. The simplification of names consisting of more than one word by their combination into one word.

8. The avoidance of the use of diacritic characters.

9. The dropping of the words “city” and “town” as parts of names.
…..

Washington Post, The (Washington, D.C.) Jul 17, 1904

 

Bessemer Herald - Sep 16, 1905

 

TITLES COMMAND PRICE IN MARRIAGE MARKET

ONE EXCEPTION.
There is one conspicuous exception, in the case of the wife of the heir apparent to the throne of Corea, who is an American girl, Emily Brown, daughter of a Presbyterian missionary from Wisconsin, long resident in that country. She brought practically no dowry to her royal husband.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Dec 28, 1905

 

Sheboygan Press - Jan 29, 1927

 

Old habits die hard:

 

Sheboygan Press - Jul 23, 1928

 

At The Marmot’s Hole, Robert Neff has a post wondering who is responsible for the spelling change: Corea or Korea – who is responsible? He includes links to other articles discussing the same topic.

Using the two spellings wasn’t unique to articles about Corea – Korea. Newspapers had the same problem with Pittsburgh and Galveston.

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2 Responses to “You Say Korea, They Say Corea”

  1. robert neff Says:

    Love your site – a lot of work and research here…..will be back – often!

    • mrstkdsd Says:

      Thanks, Robert!
      I always enjoy your historical articles at the Marmot’s Hole, so when I saw your post about Korea’s spelling, I thought I would take a look and see what I could find. I love reading all the old newspapers…and spend way too much time doing it, but it’s addictive, lol.

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