SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Korea Bizwire) – Rare photos depicting Korean modern history have been found in the William Elliot Griffis Collection. A Korean professor is trying to release the photos, which were originally owned by a scholar in the United States.
According to professor Yang Sang-hyun of Soon Chun Hyang University in South Korea, 592 photographs portraying modern Korean society were discovered in the William Elliot Griffis Collection in 2008, 358 of which have never been viewed by Koreans. He plans to present his study on the unseen photos at a conference of the Association for Korean Modern and Contemporary History on December 13.
American scholar William Elliot Griffis was an orientalist. Although he never visited the country he dubbed “The Hermit Nation”, he actively collected materials about Korea and other Asian countries, which were later donated to Rutgers University in the state of New Jersey.
Experts said that among the pictures in the collection, photos showing the state funeral of Empress Myeongseong, who was also known as Queen Min, are particularly invaluable. The empress was assassinated by Japanese agents on October 8, 1895, although her funeral didn’t take place until November 1897. In the photos of the state funeral procession, her urn is located in front of her palanquin, which was believed to carry her soul. Considering the buildings visible in the images, it appears that the procession passed through Jongno, in what is now downtown Seoul.
A photograph showing her grave has never been disclosed as well. Her body was first buried in the Donggureung Royal Tombs for a year, right after the assassination. The photo reveals her first grave at Donggureung for the first time. On the back of the picture, Griffis wrote, “Queen Min is six feet under.”
“Griffis has been criticized for the fact that he looked at Korea from a Japanese perspective, but the voluminous materials that he collected are priceless,” said Yang.
By Veronica Huh (firstname.lastname@example.org)