Korean National Debt Repayment Movement (국채보상운동): Newspapers from 1907, Google Translate, and Digital (mini)Histories

To close out (hopefully) this thread of posts concerning 국채보상운동을, I leave you with a few newspaper images from the period (roughly 1907) that chronicle the National Debt Repayment Movement (and refer to my oft-mentioned in-law 서상돈 a bit). To see where these images were taken from, click on the image to go directly to their site(s). There are previous posts here, here, and here that will provide some background to all of this.

On a side note, I am absolutely in love with digital media, digital libraries, digital archives, and anything digital involving putting old documents, images, maps, or any sort of media online for all to see and use. It has been an absolute pleasure working through a family’s history (my wife’s) armed with nothing but a name, a few family stories, a location (대구, Daegu), and a whole lot of perseverance. If a job existed where I could sustain myself doing this type of small-scale history, I would gladly do so. What amazing happiness this type of activity brings.

Newspaper discussing the National Debt Repayment Movement (국채보상운동)
Further mention of the National Debt Repayment (국채보상운동)

Incidentally, the above image was taken from this site, a treasure trove of old media about Korea at the turn of the 20th century.

Further mention of the National Debt Repayment (국채보상운동)

The exact date of that the 국채보상운동 was launched, at least according to this document, was August 22, 1907. This puts it a few years before Korea was officially annexed as a colony of Japan (with the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, or한일병합조약, in 1910). One of the last grasps at some sort of nominal independence before colonization became official, although by any de facto standards by 1907 it had been for quite some time.

Further mention of 국채보상운동

So, that is all and hopefully that will conclude all my wanderings armed with the tools of my trade: a laptop, a nimble browser, a dozen or so open tabs,  Google Translate, image searches, and a picture of the man who started all the fuss. Digital history is an absolute joy so I encourage you all to dig deep, dig often, and let way lead on to hyperlinked way.

서상돈 contemplating far into the future, to the dawn of another century, indeed another millennium. He imagines a descendant of his, a great-great grand-daughter meeting a cool guy who likes to do a lot of research. He nods, he smiles, all is well in his world, with his progeny's future. More likely he is wondering if everyone knows how cool he looks in this photograph.
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About Author

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.


  1. http://www.kansascity.com/search/?q=therese+park
    Mr. Gallagher, your webpages on Seo Sang-don are fascinating. But some facts are confusing because on one place you wrote that your wife is Seo Sang-don’s great-great-granddaughter; on another, great-granddaughter, still another, granddaughter. It could be some digital errors. What’s your wife’s grandfather or great-grandfather’s name? Seo Sang Don had four sons, and one of them is my grandfather Seo Byung-jo, the founder of Taegon High School in Taegu, Korea, which still exists.
    Our family moved from Taegu to Pusan after Korea’s liberation from Japan in 1945. I too visited Seo Sang-don’s museum in Taegu in 2011 and was touched by his patriotism… I’m trying to find some documents about his childhood, which coincided with the Korean monarch’s severe persecution of Korean Catholics (1839–1866), during which young sang-don’s father died of illness in hiding, while his two uncles were captured, tortured, and were eventually starved to death in prison. Young Seo Sang-don visited his uncles in prison and saw them eating blood-soaked, filthy straw mats they were sitting on, and promised himself never to eat “white rice,” the quality rice in Korea, for the rest of his life and he kept his words. His devotion to feed hungry people has roots in his memories of seeing his uncles chewing straws in prison.
    It’s such a small world after all, Mr. Gallagher! Please say Hello to your “Seo” wife! Hope to hear from you!
    Therese Park

    1. Hello there, Therese,

      That is fantastic to hear and thanks so much for sharing that information with me. I will add you on Facebook as my wife and many of her cousins are on there as well. You might enjoy these photos as well. https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelgallagher/sets/72157623380555208/. In terms of finding information about his childhood, I am struggling to find information about that as well. I know there is some connection to Seoul and the beginnings of Catholicism there. I will let my wife know that you contacted me and perhaps you can add her on Facebook as well. A small world indeed. All of her family is in Canada (Toronto and Montreal), but she is from New York.

      1. Michael,
        I’m excited that, you, your wife, and I connected.I’ve been thinking that my next book should be about my Great, Grandfather and his expensive work in the Korean Catholic Church (and the national campaign to pay off our debt to Japan, too,) particularly in the Taegu Diocese. But I have not done anything about it. After seeing your photos of Seo Sangdon and my grandfather Seo Byung-jo, I’m rethinking about it. With your help, particularly in finding material and photo contributions, maybe I can make my dream come true? I have written an article about the history of the Korean Catholic Church called “The Korean Church–Church of Martyrs,” and was published in “Our Family” in Ontario, Canada, in 1984:
        http://www.theresepark.com/the_korean_church__church_of_martyrs_108727.htm So, I feel that I should be able to do it.
        First thing first! Would you be able to design my new website with annual fee of $99.99 as your website indicated? I’m not too happy with my Authorsguild website (www.theresepark.com). I had it since 1998, so it looks outdated. Also I must delete what I currently have in order to add a new one. Basically I want a larger space so that I could add the ones in the Kansas City Star website to my new website, which I want to create in the WorldPress.com. Please tell me what I need to do? May I look at your sample webpages? Can your technician move some of my stuff from my webpages to the new WorldPress.com? I’d really appreciate your help on this. If all is satisfactory I want to close my pages with the Authorsguild. Thank you for your help in advance!


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