Daedong River Slayers 1866/HD animated drawing/sound/01:05mins/2011
This animation investigates an 1866 event known as “The General Sherman Incident”13 and tries to create a historical fable based on the actual historical event through an animated drawing and voices. This event was the first battle between the Koreans and the U.S. Navy and marked the end of Korea’s isolationism. In this event, I saw the history of violence through the conflict of modern and ancient warfare technologies. When the General Sherman ship opened fire on the river bank of the Daedong river, many Korean rebels poured soy oil on the river to make a fire to burn the ship. The trajectory of the steel steamer's cannonballs transmits the notion of violence between civilizations. The encounter between two combat technologies represents the clash of civilizations and disparate world views as well
The General Sherman Incident 1866
In order to have a factual voice, I used text from a Wikipedia entry for the following script.
“Determined to open up Korea to trade, the British trading firm Meadows and Co., based in Tientsin (present day Tianjin), China, sent a former civil war battleship, the American merchant ship The General Sherman (named for William Tecumseh Sherman) into Korean waters in an attempt to meet with Korean officials to begin negotiations for a trade treaty. The 187-ton side-wheel steamer allegedly carried a cargo of cotton, tin, and glass and was heavily armed. The crew consisted of Captain Page, Chief Mate Wilson, and thirteen Chinese and three Malay sailors. Also on board was the ship's owner, W.B. Preston, and Robert Jermain Thomas, a Protestant missionary acting as an interpreter. They departed Chefoo (present day Yantai), China on August 6, August 16, or August 18, 1866, and entered the Taedong River on Korea's west coast sailing towards Pyongyang. The depth of the Taedong River changed frequently due to rains and the tides, but the ship was able to navigate it and stopped at the Keupsa Gate, lying at the border between Pyongan and Hwanghae provinces.
Local officials then met the crew and were able to communicate well enough to learn the ship was purportedly interested in trade. The Koreans refused all trade offers but agreed to provide the crew with some food and provisions. The ship was told to wait while higher level government officials could be consulted. However, the ship then departed again and went further up river, until it became stranded near Yangjak island near Pyongyang. Park Gyu-su (The governor of Pyongyang) then sent his deputy, Yi Hyun-Ik, with food and told the ship that it was supposed to stay at the Keupsa Gate and again to wait while the Korean ruler was consulted. At that time Korea was ruled by a Regent, the Heungseon Daewongun, in the name of his minor son King Gojong. The Daewongun sent orders that the ship was to leave immediately or all the crew would be killed.
There are several discrepancies as to what happened next, but one eyewitness noted that as troops were sent towards the ship, hostile actions followed. The crew abducted Yi who was attempting to pursue a small boat launched from the General Sherman containing six men attempting to reach shore. After Yi was not released, the Koreans opened fire but were unable to cause any damage. The ship then fired its cannons onto the spectators, hitting several and forcing the troops to retreat where they were ineffectual. Fighting continued for the next four days, with a Korean turtle ship dispatched, but causing no damage. The Koreans then tied several boats together filled with wood, sulfur, and saltpeter. The first two boats failed to inflict any damage, but the third boat set the General Sherman afire. At last, Park Gyu-su commanded to pour soy oil into the river and set it afire. Unable to stem the flames, the crew jumped into the water, where they were hacked to death.”
The Diary of Bob
August 20th, 1866
"in the morning, when I woke up, I heard the sounds coming from the riverside where many Korean people were watching us. they were shouting at us to leave because their regent hates us and we must leave his land. honestly, I want to go home and have a warm black bean skillet which is my mom's favorite. but I had bread instead, which was the last of my bread, and tea. then, my officer ordered that we have to get ready for battle. he saw many Korean rebels preparing for battle. they prepared tons of mortar flame cocktails. damn it, I don't want to die by being burnt with hot soy oil. after I had lunch, I went up to the wheelhouse to chat with James who is from Florida. yesterday, I shot a couple of Korean rebels who were throwing flame cocktails to our ship. and I took a shot at one naked Korean guy while he was apparently having fun with woman who seemed like not to want that happening. he could have been assaulting her. I saved the woman. two hours later, I saw that burning rafts were floating down to our ship. This situation is getting crazy. captain ordered us to prepare for fire on the ship. so, I had to bring a couple of buckets and pour water. the first raft was reaching our ship but we dodged it. and the second one slowly came and hit our ship. I saw a huge fire on the bow of our ship. it was awful burning our ship. captain shouted to get ready for abandoning the ship. and I realized that I'm not good at swimming. I didn't want to be drowned. at that time, James was jumping into the water. but the water was also burning because Korean Rebels poured soy oil on to the water to toast us. they such barbarians. finally, I had to jump into the water. I smelled soy oil and my hands and hair were covered with soy oil. I didn't like the slippery feeling on my hand. the river was warm because of the huge fire. I dived down to avoid the fire. I saw my mom's face and she was talking to me 'come to me, come to me' but I said ' not now', and then I swam until I had enough breath to dive under the water. at that time, James's half burnt face was passing into view."
-written by Sung Rok Choi-
The Diary of Kim
This story is written based on an actual story of Korean Prisoners who were abducted by the U.S. Marines during the 1871 battle between Korean rebels and the U.S. Navy. It is written in both Korean and English.
when I woke up in the morning, I smelled something like bean soup. big noses only eat damn bean soup, stinky bastards. the guy who has name 'James' doesn't like to wash his body. they also gave that bean soup to me. with a white wheat flour cake.although, a white rice, which is cooked by my mom, is glimmering in my eyes, I have to have it because I don't know when I 'm going to die. I was abducted two days ago while I was attempting to take their ship. bastards, they ruined and insulted our motherland and they refused our regent's order to leave our land. I believe my comrade Yi will save me. I was seated on the floor after having a breakfast. a curly haired guy showed up and chatted with James. I totally didn't understand what they were saying but I finally got that his name is 'BOB'. it’s a silly name. I told them 'you will die' but they didn't get it because I said it in Korean. from far out there, somebody shouted out 'Comrade Kim! we will get you out soon! please endure it'. it was really vague to hear but I got that. Bob came down and handling his rifle said .probably, it was about yesterday's happening. yesterday, I heard the sound of five gunshots and then clapping and cheeringI thought that somebody got shot and that some of my allies were shot. oh Please I prayed for Cheol Su not get shot. Cheol Su volunteered to fight on the frontline and he was throwing a mortar flame cocktail at big nose's ship near the riverbank. anyway, Bob looked so sharp and he could be a sharpshooter. and he has long hair. after lunch time, big noses looked busy and ran around in the ship carrying water buckets with both hands. I smelled something burning. It was this ship that was starting to burn. I assumed that our operation was started as we planned before. it's time to pour soy oil on the river to make them burn. smoke densely filled in this ship. my eyes met Bob's eyes who was carrying a water bucket. his eyes were full of fear. I felt a strong heat where I was. Comrade Yi showed up while I was thinking I would die standing so near the door. at that time, big noses were already abandoning their ship and jumped into the river or they were already burnt. the ship was almost burnt down. Yi and I jumped to water and started to swim. I felt that oily water seeping down my throat. beside me, Bob's half burnt face was passing before my eyes.
written by Sung Rok Choi-