Story of Baron G. de Gunzburg – Russian Government Official in Chosen

Old Korea

(On the relationship Between Chosŏn and Russia) On October 8, 1895, Queen Myung-Sung was assassinated by the Japanese force. King Go-Jong, who was also confined at the palace Kyung-Bok, fearing for his life, wanted to escape. On November 28, 1895, the King’s first try to flee to the legation of the United States failed because of a betrayal.

On February 11, 1896, his second try to flee, this time to the legation of Russia, was successful due to the conspiration between the pro-Russian cabinet members and the Russian minister to Chosŏn. When the pro-Japanese cabinet collapsed, all the governmental policies were handled by the pro-Russians, and for the next year the King stayed in Chosŏn.

It was during this time economical rights, such as the mining rights of Kyung-Won and Jong-Sung, the right of establishing coal storage on the Wol-Mi Island of Inchon, the deforestation right of River Ab-Rok and the Island of Ul-Rung, had been seized by Russia. In addition, Russia put K. Alexiev as the advisor for the department of the treasury of Chosŏn, and let him manage all matters as he saw fit.

For the crowning of the emperor of Russia, Young-Hwan Min, one of the highest members of the cabinet of Chosŏn, had been sent to Russia as a delegate, and had a secret conference with the Russian government. Russia promised the aid of 5 provisions, but removed 17 provisions of financial rights. After a one year sojourn at the legation of Russia, King Go-Jong returned to the palace Kyoung-Un, and proclaimed the nations’ new name as the Empire Dae(great)-Han, and had an enthronement ceremony.

After opening the ports to trade, the government of Chosŏn faced many financial problems. In 1897 Leigh S.J. Hunt, took over the Un-San gold mine from J. R. Mores, and asked the government of Chosŏn to take out a foreign loan so he could be paid for his mining rights in 1898. Horace Newton Allen, (the U.S.A. minister to Korea), also tried to get Hunt the concession of the mining rights by offering the foreign loan to the government of Chosŏn. (See: “A study of the aggressive offering for the foreign loan and approaching the mining rights by Japan during the period of the late Chosŏn” by Won-Dong Ryu)

In 1903 Hunt contracted with Baron G. de Gunzburg, a Russian government official, for his mining business, and thus Baron Gunzburg was the receiver for the following collections:

Fig. 1: Plum 3 chon stamp tied with “CHEMULPO 25 OCT 02 (1902) COREE” cancellation, and “漢城 光武 六年 十月 二十五日 丙遞 – Han-Sung, Kwang-Mu 6th year October 25, Byung-chae” cancellation on the envelope. The receiver: Baron Gunzburg, SEOUL
Fig. 2: Plum 3 chon stamp tied with “CHEMULPO 27 OCT 02 (1902) COREE” cancellation, and “漢城 光武 六年 十月 二十七日 丙遞 – Han-Sung, Kwang-Mu 6th year October 26, Byung Chae” cancellation on the envelope. The receiver: Baron Gunzburg, Seoul, Korea. Additions in Chinese “漢城 社稷洞 – Han-Sung Sa-Jik-dong”, and in Korean “사직골 – Sa-Jik-gol”.
Fig. 3: Chon unit 2nd edition 3 chon, “Tae-Geuk” 5 poon stamp, tied with “CHEMULPO 7 JUNE 02 (1902) COREE” cancellation on the envelope. The receiver: “Baron G. de Gunzburg, Sagicol, Seoul”. An addition in Korean “사직골 – Sa-Jik-gol”.
Fig. 4: Chon unit 4th edition 3 chon, “Tae-Geuk” 5 poon stamp,tied with “CHEMULPO 13 MAI 03 (1903) COREE” cancellation on the envelope. Receiver: “Baron G de Gunzburg, Sagicol, Seoul”. An addition in Korean “사직골 – Sa-Jik-gol”.

(All others collections of mine can be seen at: https://blog.naver.com/coree1884

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Dr. Joel Lee
Born in Korea, Vietnam war participation as ROK marine, Dr. of Ministry, Retired Presbyterian Pastor. 40 years collected for Korea stamps 1884-1905.
https://blog.naver.com/coree1884

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