geroge foulk korea


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Samuel Hawley is a writer. His books are highly eclectic. He has written about 16th-century East Asian history, 19th-century Korean-American relations, Olympic sprinting and land speed racing and a circus elephant named Topsy who was electrocuted in 1903. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.


These are images from a 16-page photo spread I prepared for "America's Man in Korea" that the publisher was unable to include in full in the book.

seoul kyongbok palace 1884
View from the US legation in Seoul (near Doksu Palace), Foulk's home during his time in Korea, looking north toward Kyongbok Palace. (University of Arkansas Libraries)

li hung-chang china 1880s
Viceroy Li Hung-chang, the Chinese official with power over Korea. "I am King of Corea,"  he told US minister to Korea Lucius Foote in 1883, " whenever I think the interests of China require me to assert that prerogative."

yuan shih-kai 1880s
Yuan Shih-kai, China's "resident" in Seoul. Foulk tried to stand up to China's interference in Korea as exercised through Yuan. He was seen in turn by the Chinese as an obstacle that needed removing.

inoue kaoru
Japanese ambassador to Korea Inoue Kaoru, a samurai's son. Following the 1884 coup attempt in which the Japanese legation was destroyed and several Japanese killed, Inoue was sent to Seoul to demand reparations, an apology, and punishment for the murderers.

thomas bayard secretary of state
US Secretary of State Thomas Bayard. His expedient approach to Korea - of not wanting to get the United States too deeply involved in a faraway kingdom of minimal value to American interests - resulted in a divide between the State Department and Foulk, Washington's deeply involved representative in Seoul. (Library of Congress)

paul georg von mollendorff
Paul Georg von Mollendorff, a German employed by the Korean government to set up and manage the customs service; connived during his tenure in office to pry Korea away from its China-centered orbit and make it a protectorate of Russia. Foulk despised him as a "tricky scoundrel" guilty of treason against Korea and was instrumental in getting him kicked out of the country.

korea choson dynasty taewongun
King Kojong's father, the Taewongun, who served as regent until Kojong came of age in 1873. Foulk's assessment of him: "He is sixty-eight years old, but looks only about fifty, is quite strong and as smart as a steel trap...If he is properly handled he may do much good for Korea, for he is the only firm, intelligent, active-minded Korean in the country."

korea dr. horace allen
Dr. Horace Allen, a Presbyterian medical missionary first to China and then to Korea. He arrived at Chemulpo in September 1884, ostensibly to work as attending physician to the US legation staff and other foreign residents to disguise his unofficial missionary status. He became a good friend of Foulk's.

korea henry appenzeller
Rev. Henry Appenzeller, who arrived in Korea with Rev. Horace G. Underwood in April 1885. Due to the politial instability then prevailing in Seoul, Appenzeller sailed back to Japan with his wife and waited there for two months before returning to Korea to settle. Underwood, who was unmarried at the time, remained in Seoul. Underwood may thus may be regarded as the first ordained protestant missionary to Korea and Appenzeller as the second. Foulk's blunt assessment: "All these missionaries are the greenest, most useless people in a way I have ever seen, though respectable and nice in most way."

george foulk photo seoul 1884
One of Foulk's photographs. His handwritten caption reads: "View S.E. from U.S. Legation, Seoul, Korea"

seoul 1884 george foulk photo
Another of Foulk's photos: "S.W. suburbs of Seoul and S.W. wall"

george foulk america's man in korea