Saturday, November 28, 2009

Burton Holmes Travel Film: Korea Early 1900s

In my book, Chemulpo to Songdo IBD: Korea's International Gateway, I include some of Burton Holmes photographs. Holmes visited Korea several times.
In the book, I note:

Elias Burton Holmes—America’s travel showman. At an early age Holmes became interested in photography. Building on this interest, for nearly 60 years, Holmes toured the world giving travel lectures. His lifetime achievements even earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

With the advent of motion pictures, Holmes included early films in his travel presentation. During his travels to Asia in 1901, he visited Korea and like many before commented on the port.

The ship threads her way towards Chemulpo, the chief port of Korea, through an enchanted archipelago—a constellation of shimmering islands set in the placid firmaments of a deep, calm, silent sea. Isle after isle glides by—some rocky, savage, and fantastic, some inviting, and luxuriant, but all apparently unpeopled; and the sea itself is a lonely desert;--no signs of life, no ships, no junks; and yet we are within an hour’s sail of Korea’s busiest and most important port.

…Chemulpo is not an ideal port. It is reached by devious and treacherous channels, thorough a confusing archipelago, where rapid current, due to the phenomenal tides, sweep to and fro twice daily rendering navigation most precarious. At low water scores of junks and even small islands are left stranded high and comparatively dry on mud flats.

The town is semi-European, semi-Japanese. There is a native quarter inconsiderable and unimportant, but lies far from the landing-pier, and its existent is not at first apparent. The so-called European hotel conducted by a Chinese, but we favor the Japanese yadoya, where we find the same attentive service as in Japan, the same dainty little diners served on tables six inches high, the same soft, matted floors and translucent paper walls.

…From Chemulpo, the port, to Seoul the capital, we go by rail. The line about twenty-five miles long. The equipment is markedly American, the stock owned by a Japanese company; but the passengers are unmistakably Korean.

Here is some amazing Burton Holmes film footage.

1 comment:

  1. the best part i think is when 2 kids r eating - does the boy steal from the girl?