Religion

Concerning religion, the temples, monks and religious practices, I think I have to draw the conclusion that the common civilian has more respect for the government, then for the many Gods. The well to do even show less religious respect. They seem to esteem themselves and their equals higher than their idols. When a Korean dies, regardless he was high or common, the monks come to say their prayers and bring offerings for the deceased, where family and acquaintances are present. If some highly placed person dies, his next of kin sometimes come from 30 to 40 miles away, to attend these ceremonies.
On official holidays some farmers and civilians come to honor the Gods. They light a fine smelling stick (incense) in a little pot with fire, which burns in front of the Idol's statue. They mumble there for a moment, make a few bows and leave again. They claim that he who does good, will be rewarded for that later and he who does evil, will be punished later. Preaching or teaching is not one of their religious practices. They also never discuss about religious affairs. They don't know a diversity of religions like we do. Throughout the whole country one honors the gods in the same way.
The monks pray twice a day in front of the statues, while bringing fragrant offerings. On official holidays a lot of people come to the temples and the monks make a lot of noise by beating on drums and gongs and the monks also make strange music with flutes and primitive string instruments.

There are many monasteries and temples in the country. These are almost all in the mountains, often at beautiful spots. In some of these monasteries there are sometimes 600 monks. But in the cities there are also small monasteries in which 10, 20, at the utmost 30 monks live. In each monastery the oldest monk is in charge. If one of the monks misbehaves, he can administer 20 to 30 blows on the buttocks. But with severe offenses the monk is handed to the governor of the city.
There's no lack of monks, but their doctrine doesn't represent much. Everyone who wants, can become a monk in an instance and stop again when he doesn't like it. Monks therefore are not highly esteemed in this country. 
There are however also very highly placed monks, who supervise a big number of monasteries. These are highly esteemed however. One respects their knowledge. They are considered to belong to the court of the king. They use the national stamp and have jurisdiction when they visit the monasteries. They ride on horseback and where they come they are welcomed with a lot of ceremony. 
 

Shin Yun Bok: Prominent Koreans in the company of some Kisengs. Hamel calls these ladies unashamed "whores". Sex however was only a part of their repertoire that included also singing, dance and music. Oil on silk (1758?), Chosôn.

All monks are vegetarians; they neither eat eggs. They shave their heads and chins smoothly. They are not allowed to speak with women. Offenders of these regulations get 80 blows on their buttocks and are expelled from the monastery. At their entrance they receive a brand on their right arm, so one can always see that a Korean has been a monk. Ordinary monks have to make a living with working, trading and begging.

In all monasteries there are a number of small boys who receive education in reading and writing and religious affairs. But they are allowed to leave the monastery as well. These boys consider the monks who have raised them as their fathers. They are in mourning if one of them dies. There are in Korea also other monks. These don't shave their heads and are allowed to marry. 

The monasteries are build with gifts which have been collected by the people. Anybody from highly placed persons to commoners contributes to this. On itself this, however, is not enough to live on. Many monks believe that all people used to speak the same language. But the big amount of languages originates when the people wanted to build a tower to climb to heaven.

The well to do often go to a monastery to spend their leisure time. These are pleasantly situated in the mountains and between the trees. They often take whores with them to amuse themselves, and drink often a lot of strong alcoholic drinks, so that many a monastery looks more like a brothel or a cheap joint then a place where one can repent.
In the capital there were two convents, one for noble women and one for common women. The women have also shaved their heads and perform ceremonies in the same way as the monks. They don't work nor beg, but live from an allowance from the king. Four or five years ago the present king disbanded these two convents and gave permission to the nuns to marry.

Public housing

Concerning public housing it can be established that the well to do live in very beautiful houses, but that the common man has to be satisfied with a slum. In general it is the Koreans not allowed to alter something to their houses. For a roofing with roof tiles they need permission from the governor. That's why the most ordinary houses are covered with cork, reed or straw. The properties are separated by each other by a wall or a fence. The houses are built on poles. The lower part of the walls is made of stone. The part above the walls are partly made of timbering with mud smeared in-between. On the inside the walls are covered with white paper.
Under the floors of the rooms they heat continuously, so that they are always warm like a baker's oven. The floors are covered with oiled paper. The houses only have one floor with on top of that a small loft, where they can store all kind of small things. Noble people have in front of the actual house an accommodation for guests where they can receive friends and acquaintances, who will stay there sometimes. They use this separate living space to relax and rest. This room usually looks out at an inner courtyard with a fountain and a fishpond, and a garden full of plants, rocks and some trees.
The women live in the back part of the house, so they can't be stared at by passersby. Merchants often have besides their house a warehouse, in which they store goods, have office and receive their relations, whom they treat most of the time with tobacco and arak (arak is actually an Indonesian drink, most likely Hamel means Soju) Their wives often join them too. Sometimes they visit others as well, but they are always close to each other or to their husbands. 
In general their houses are scarcely furnitured; only the most necessary things are there. In all cities there are many joints and brothels where men go to see the whores dancing and where music is made and singing is done. 

In summertime when the weather is beautiful, the Koreans sometimes go to the mountains to relax in the woods. They do not know inns, where travelers can stay. Fatigued travelers sit down in the inner courtyard of a private house, where they get food and something to drink. The guest rooms of the well to do are always open for travelers passing by as well. Alongside the main roads however there are stopping places where the ones who are on an official journey can stay overnight and eat on the expenses of the community.

Marital law

Blood relatives are not allowed to marry until the fourth degree. There is no engagement time, because marriages are arranged by the parents when the children are only 10 to twelve years old. The girl is then going to live in the house of her parents in law, unless her parents don't have sons. The girl and the young husband stay to live there until she learned to be a good housewife and he how to make a living. Then they move to a house of their own. Some days before the wedding the girl returns to her parental house. In the morning she will be picked up here by her husband, who is in the company of friends and relatives. These are given a warm welcome, after which the whole company goes on horseback in a festive parade to the new house. There the matrimony is celebrated.

A man can repudiate a wife, even if he begets several children by her. He then may marry again. A woman doesn't have these privileges unless a judge has granted her these.
A man may have as many wives as he can maintain and, if he desires, go to the whores. One woman stays in his house and does the housekeeping. The other women live somewhere else in separate houses. Noblemen usually have two to three women in their house, of which one is in charge of the housekeeping. Each of these women has her own apartment, where the lord of the house can visit them to his liking.
The Koreans treat their women as slaves, whom they can repudiate for a futility. If the man doesn't want the children, the repudiated woman has to take them with her. No wonder this country is so densely populated.

Education

Noblemen and well to do give their children a good education. They hire teachers to teach them reading and writing. The children do not receive education with strictness but with gentleness. They are told about the many wise men in their history and how they received an honorable position in the country. It is admirable to see how diligently these young children study the scriptures which are given to them to read and which form the main part of their learning program. 

In each city there is a house in which the ones who have given their lives for the country are remembered. In these houses old scriptures are kept. Youngsters study these scriptures. When they have fulfilled their study, the governor is informed who sends examiners to examine them. The names of the ones, who are found to be suitable to hold a administrator function, are passed on to the court of the king. Yearly meetings have been held, during which the candidates for government functions are examined. The successful candidates receive from the king a Letter of Promotion. This is a much wanted document. Many a young nobleman became a senior beggar before he finally succeeded to receive the document in the meantime. They have exhausted their means -which are often very modest - by high costs, donations and meals they had to give to achieve the intended goal. Many parents also have to grab deep into their wallet, to pay for the study of their children. Too many never get the high administrator post for which it all started in the first place. But the bare fact that their children succeeded in passing the exam, give the parents so much satisfaction that the sacrifices they had to do are highly compensated.
The parents love their children very much, as well as the children do their parents. If one of the parents committed a crime and he succeeded in avoiding the punishment which stands for it, then the children will have to take the blame. The reverse is also true.
Between parents and children of slaves is a much looser bond. This is because the owners take the children from their parents as soon as they are able to work.

Delivery of corpses.

For a deceased father the sons observe three, and for a deceased mother two years of mourning. During this time they use the same food as monks and they are not allowed to carry out any public duty. Who carries a public duty, has to resign immediately when his father or mother dies. During the period of mourning they are not allowed to have intercourse with their wife. Children fathered during that period, are considered to be illegitimate children.
During the period of mourning the Koreans are not allowed to argue, fight nor become drunk. They wear long skirts from rough linen, at the bottom no hem, and around it a belt of hemp, as thick as a cable of a ship or the arm of a grown up man. Around their heads they wear a somewhat thinner rope with a bamboo hat. In their hand they carry a thick stick or a thin bamboo stalk. Thus one can see if somebody mourns for his father or mother; the stick indicates that his father, the bamboo stalk that his mother has died. Mourning people wash themselves also little, so that they sometimes look like a scarecrow.
When somebody has died, his friends and relatives behave like madmen; they cry and shriek and pull their hair from their heads. To bury the dead, much care is taken. Fortune tellers determine what the most suitable burial place is. This is most of the time in the mountains, where no water can reach it. The body is placed in a double coffin. Each coffin is 2 or 3 thumbs thick. They fill the coffin with new clothes and other things which the deceased is supposed to need in the next world. The wealthier the relatives, the more they put into the coffin. Burials usually take place in spring and in fall when the harvesting has been done. Who dies in summertime usually is temporarily interned in a small house made of straw and which stands on high poles. The bearers do nothing else then dancing and singing, while the relatives fill the air with their wailing. The third day friends and acquaintances go to the grave to make their offerings. They make it a gay day. On the graves one finds normally a small hill of 3, 4 or 6 feet high, neatly planted with small ornamental bushes. Prominent deceased are interned in graves which are covered with stones on which some statues are put. The name of the deceased and the function he fulfilled is carved in the stones. 
On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, the grass on the graves is mowed and a rice offering is made. This is, except for New Year the most important holiday in the year. Their calendar is based on the cycle of the moon: after three years of each twelve months, follows always a year with thirteen months. There are female fortune tellers in the country, or witches who won't harm anybody. They examine whether a deceased died peacefully or not. And if he has been buried on the right spot. Is this not the case according to them, then the corps is exhumed and reburied somewhere else. So it happens sometimes that a corps is replaced three times. 
After the death of the parents and after the burial rites have been performed, the eldest son gets the house and the accessories. The remaining properties, lands and goods are being divided amongst the other sons. Daughters never inherit anything, not even if they don't have brothers. When an old father becomes 80 years old, he is obliged to hand over all his possessions to his sons, because at that age he is not considered to be able to take care of these in a proper way. Such an old man however is highly esteemed by his sons and is well taken care of.

 


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