Moral standards

With regard to the moral standards, it has to be said that the Koreans are not very strict when it comes to mine and thine, they lie and cheat and that's why they can't be trusted. They are proud if they have cheated somebody and they don't think that's a disgrace. That's why they can undo the buy of a horse or a cow even after four months if it becomes clear that the buyer has been cheated. But the sale of a parcel ground or other immovable goods can only be undone if the conveyance has not taken place yet.

On the other hand the Koreans are very gullible. We could fool them with anything. This was particularly true for the monks, who liked to listen to stories about foreign countries and their people. Furthermore they are very cowardly, as it seemed what we have heard from reliable people concerning their behavior during the Japanese invasion, when their king was killed and a great number of cities and villages were destroyed. From Jan Janse Weltevree we heard that when the Tartarians came over the ice and occupied the country, more soldiers hanged themselves in the wood, than had been killed during the battle against the invaders. The Koreans don't consider this to be unworthy. They think that these people who commit suicide are pitiful people, who came into an emergency situation, in which they only could escape by committing suicide.
So it happened quite a few times that when Dutch, English or Portuguese ships on their way to Japan came into Korean waters, Korean war junks who wanted to take possession of these ships returned empty-handed to their base, because the persons on board did it in their trousers out of fear.
They can't see any blood. If a Korean gets wounded during a battle, the others don't know how quickly to leave the battlefield. They also have fear for diseases, especially contagious ones. As soon as somebody gets seriously ill, they take him out of his house, to put him in a small hut of straw, outside the city or village he lives in. Here nobody else visits him other than his next of kin, who brings him food and something to drink. Who doesn't have any next of kin, runs the big risk, in the case of a disease, to be left completely unattended in a hut like that. When somewhere an epidemic breaks out, the entrance to the house of the sick persons is blocked with thorn branches. On top of that they put thorn branches on the roof of the houses to mark them as such.

Economy

The only people who have a trade post on Korean soil are the Japanese who own a factory on the southeast side of the city of Pusan. The Japanese who stay there come from the island Tsushima. They import pepper, sapwood, alum, buffalo horn, deer skins and more goods which are imported by us and the Chinese into Japan. Furthermore they have some trade with Peking (=Beijing) and the north of China. The trip to and fro takes three months, which is very costly. That's why only the greatest merchants can undertake these trips. At the foreign trade they usually use linen as a means of trade. The greater merchants use also silver as a means of trade, but the farmers and the common people use rice and grains.
Before the Tartarians took over this country this was a country full of bliss and friskiness. The people did nothing else but eating, drinking and making love. But now they have to pay so much tribute to Tartarians and the Japanese that they have hardly anything to eat in feeble years. It is especially the tribute to the Tartarians who usually personally come to claim it three times a year, which pressures heavily on the economy of the country.

World Orientation

The Koreans believe that there are only twelve countries or kingdoms in the world, which were all once subordinate to the emperor of China and had to pay tribute to him. But that all these countries have liberated themselves in the meantime, because the Tartarians couldn't conquer them. They call the Tartarians Tieckese (looks like the Chinese: Chong Kwo ) and Orankaij [barbarians], they call our country Nampankuk, [Southern Country] which is the name which the Japanese gave to Portugal. Because we look in their eyes the same as the Portuguese, the Koreans give us the same name. They learned the name from the Japanese already some 50 years ago, when they came to teach them how to grow tobacco. The Japanese claimed that the seed of the tobacco plant came from Nampankuk. That's why the Koreans usually call tobacco Nampankoy. In this country they smoke a lot, both men and women. And they start early with it. Many a time I saw a four-year-old toddler smoke a pipe.
In their old scriptures it is written that there are in total 84000 countries in the world. The Koreans consider this to be a fable. They say this number has to include all the islands, isles, cliffs and rocks, because it would be impossible for the sun to shine on all these countries in one twenty-four hour period. If we mentioned a number of countries they laughed and said this had to be the names of cities and villages. Because their maps didn't reach further than Siam (=Thailand)

Vegetable and mineral products

This country can maintain in it's own needs. It has an abundance of rice and other grain. Furthermore it produces cotton, hemp and flax. There are a lot of silkworms, though the Koreans don't know the art to spin silk yarns sufficiently to weave cloths of highest quality.
Also silver, iron and lead is taken from the soil. From the wild regions they get various kinds of fur and the ginseng root. There are enough medicinal herbs, though that's useless for the common man. They can't afford a doctor and that's why they go to a fortune teller or clairvoyant if they are sick. These advise normally to ask help from the Gods by bringing offerings on the mountains, alongside the rivers or on the rocks. They also call sometimes for the devil. The latter thing is not done so often lately, because the king has forbidden the devil worshipping in 1662.

Weights and measures

There exists one uniform system of measures and weights that counts for all of the country. But little merchants and hagglers often work with inaccurate weights and measures. It's true that in each province a strict control is being practiced, but obviously the deceit that is committed with counterfeit weights and measures, is never to be wiped out. They know of no other coined money then the "kassis" and this is only accepted as a legal currency in the area close to the Chinese border. In the rest of the country for the wholesale, small blocks of silver are being used as a means of payment. These exist in various weights. Retailers manage with rice and linen as a means of payment.

Fauna

In Korea there are many horses and cattle. The horses are used for the transportation of persons and goods. They use cattle to pull the plough, the cows as well as the bulls. In the north of the country there are tigers. The fur is exported to China and Japan. Furthermore there are bears, deer, pigs, boars, dogs, cats, all kind of snakes, swans, geese, chickens storks, herons, crane birds, eagles, falcons, magpies, crows, cuckoos, pigeons, snipes, pheasants, larks, finches, thrushes, lapwings, harriers and many other kind of birds.

Language and literature

Korean is very hard to learn. It doesn't look like any other language. Moreover, this language is pronounced in different ways. The important people and scholars usually speak slowly, little merchants on the contrary very fast. The common man is somewhat in between. The language is written in three different ways: in the first place there is the script, with which the books are being printed. This script looks like that of the Chinese and the Japanese. The second type looks more like our script. This is used by the governors and other high administrators, when they answer petitions or correspond with each other. The common man can't read this. And finally there is the third type. This is being used by women and simple men. It is very easy to learn and one can write something with it very easily. This is done with a small pencil and they are very handy at it.
The Koreans possess many very old books of which some are printed and some are written by hand. They value this very much, proven by the fact the brother of the king supervises this. In several cities and fortresses, copies and printing plates of these books are being kept, so that in case of fire they won't be lost completely. Their almanacs are made in the Chinese language, since they don't know the art to make them by themselves. Printing of a book is done with wooden plates. On both sides of a sheet a plate is placed.

Arithmetic

The Koreans count with wooden sticks. They have no knowledge of bookkeeping. If they buy something, they write down how much they paid for it. Underneath they write down the amount for which they sold it. By subtracting these numbers, they see how much profit or loss they have made.

The king takes a ride.

When the king takes a ride, he is surrounded by all his noblemen of the court. These are dressed in black silk garments, on which both on the front or back a coat of arms and emblems have been embroidered and over which they wear a wide sash. In front of the parade are the horsemen and infantry with a lot of flags and music, who receive a ration from the king, dressed in their most beautiful garments. Behind them follows the body guard of the king, selected from the most important civilians of the city. In their midst the king sits in his sedan chair which is beautifully decorated and gilded. If he passes by it becomes so silent that you only hear the stamping of the horses and foot steps of the soldiers.
Right in front of the king rides a secretary of state or an other high official. He carries a little chest in which one places the requests, which are handed over from the public on a long bamboo stem. There are also requests hanging on the walls where the king passes. All these requests the secretary puts in that little chest. These requests concern the injustice the requestant experienced by the government or other civilians, or punishments laid upon innocent friends or relatives and many other cases. When the king is back in his palace, the secretary hands him over the little chest with the requests. The king makes a verdict which is final and irrevocable. This verdict is executed immediately.
The streets, which the king passes, are closed at both ends. Nobody is allowed to open a door or window or look over a wall or fence. Highly placed and the military whom are passed by the king, have to stand with their backs turned to him and are not allowed to look around, or even allowed to cough. That's why the soldiers usually put a stick in their mouth, like the bit of a horse, to make no sound at all.

Visit of the Tartarian envoy

When the Tartarian envoy visits the country, the king personally has to ride toward him with all his noblemen to pledge the necessary honor. He accompanies him to his accommodation. Music is made during this, while clowns show their tricks. In fact the envoy is shown more respect than the king himself, when he rides out.

In the parade which accompanies the envoy, also old pieces of arts are carried along and during the stay of the envoy, the street from his residency to the court is closed off by soldiers. These are lined up in long rows, two or three fathoms apart from each other. There are also two or three men who do nothing else then bringing notes which come from the residency to their king, so he knows any moment what the envoy is doing. Furthermore they do everything in their power to please the envoy, so he takes favorable messages about them to the emperor in Peking.

 

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