Eight articles were produced in court Six were comments on or descriptions of fighting then taking place in the interior. They were no stronger, if as strong, as many of the statements published in this book.
The Consul-General’s decision was as anticipated. He convicted the editor, and ordered him to enter into recognizances of L300 to be of good behaviour for six months. The Korea Daily News in commenting on the matter, said, “The effect of this judgment is that for a period of six months this newspaper will be gagged, and therefore no further reports of Japanese reverses can be published in our columns.”
In June, 1908, Mr. Bethell was again prosecuted at a specially convened court at Seoul, presided over by Judge Bourne of Shanghai. The charge, made by Yagoro Miura, Secretary to the Residency-General and Resident for Seoul, was of publishing various articles calculated to excite disorder and to stir up enmity between the Government of Korea and its subjects.
Mr. Bethell was represented by counsel and applied to have the case heard before a jury. The application was refused. He was convicted, sentenced to three weeks’ imprisonment and required to give security for good behaviour for six months. He did not very long survive his sentence.
The people of Korea cherish his memory, and the name of “Beth-ell,” as they call him, is already becoming traditional. “We are going to build a great statue to Beth-ell some day,” they say. “We will never forget the man who was our friend, and who went to prison for us.”
THE ABDICATION OF YI HYEUNG
The Court party was from the first the strongest opponent of the Japanese. Patriotism, tradition, and selfish interests all combined to intensify the resistance of its members. Some officials found their profits threatened, some mourned for perquisites that were cut off, some were ousted out of their places to make room for Japanese, and most felt a not unnatural anger to see men of another race quietly assume authority over their Emperor and their country. The Emperor led the opposition. Old perils had taught him cunning. He knew a hundred ways to feed the stream of discontent, without himself coming forward. Unfortunately there was a fatal strain of weakness in his character. He would support vigorous action in secret, and then, when men translated his speech into deeds, he would disavow them at the bidding of the Japanese. On one point he never wavered. All attempts to make him formally consent to the treaty of November, 1905, were in vain. “I would sooner die first!” he cried. “I would sooner take poison and end all!” In July, 1906, the Marquis Ito began to exercise stronger constraint on the personal life of the Emperor. One evening a number of Japanese police were brought into the palace. The old palace guards were withdrawn, and the Emperor was made virtually a prisoner.