Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Etiquette – East Met West in DC, Part 2

More on the wife the Corean Chargé d'Affaires in Washington D.C Society of the late- 19th Century 

This building in Washington, D.C., was once used as the legation building for the Korean Empire. In 1892, the first State Dinner was held there, to celebrate the 19th birthday of Corean Crown Prince Ye.  It was reacquired in 2012, by the Korean government, after 102 years.
The 19th birthday of Crown Prince Ye, the only son of his Chosun majesty, the King of Corea, was celebrated last night by the first state dinner ever given at the Corean legation. The Chargés d'Affaires and Mrs. Ye arranged the details of the banquet, which will long be remembered by the guests present as a notable one in the cleverness with which the national colors were carried out in the decorations of the rooms and table. 
In the dining-room the mantle was banked with smilax, which also twined the mirror. The green was studded with American Beauty roses. On either side of the fireplace were tall growing plants, among the branches of which were artificial birds of the vivid blue and red peculiar to Corea. The central lamp suspended from the ceiling was covered with a wide-spreading red silk shade garlanded with smilax. Down the center of the table, over a white damask cloth, were three squares of white silk, the borders bright with native embroidery. On the middle one was a circular centerpiece of American Beauty roses and ferns arranged to represent the middle figure of the Corean flag, and on either side the silver candelabra work with scarlet shades.

A pretty idea of Mrs. Ye, who honored the occasion by wearing a gown of the national colors, was to have at each place for the ladies, instead of a bouquet, a single American Beauty rose. Tied about the stem in a rich bow was a broad white satin ribbon, on one end of which in red lettering was the name of the guest. On the opposite end was the striking blue and red device of the Corean flag, beneath which with the letters "C. P.-19-B. A., "signifying the Crown Prince's 19th birthday anniversary." The letters were in blue and the numerals in red.

In addition to the decorations already described at the legation were two large screens of nearly a dozen sections, each resplendent with native embroidery, the gift of the King to Mr. Ye. On the west wall of the dining-room hung the great white flag of Corea with blue and red decorations. Mrs. Ye, wife of the Corean secretary has not been well for some months past and will leave the city September 5th for a visit to her home in Corea, to which country she will be accompanied by Miss Davis of Abingdon, Virginia, who will go as a missionary. They will sail September 17th from San Francisco, to which city they will be accompanied by Mr. Ye, who will return to Washington in time to celebrate His Majesty's birthday at the legation. Mr. Ye's official duties will not permit him to accompany his wife to Corea. Last month they visited the Natural Bridge and Luray Cave. The Washington Post, 1892
19th C. photo of a Corean baby, carried by his sister ~ The first Corean born in the United States was named after the American capital, Washington D.C. : On October 12, 1890, wife of Charge d’Affaires of the Korean legation, Ye Cha-yun,  gave birth to a son they named "Washon," in honor of the nation's capitol. Washon sadly lived for only a few months though. He died shortly before Christmas. It was reported that Ye never saw the two month old son, due to a Corean custom that prevents a father from seeing a child until three months after its birth. The American press and D.C. social circles were already quite taken with Mrs. Ye, and were sympathetic to her tremendous loss. Less than a month after Washon's death, the NY Times read: “Since the death of their infant son, the poor little woman has suffered greatly from loneliness, as in the absence of the Minister's wife she has no companion at the legation." Mr. and Mrs. Ye used black-edged cards, an American mourning tradition, after the death of their baby. But as they were in Court mourning for the Queen Dowager of Corea, Mrs. Ye wore a strip of plain white ribbon across the front of her gown on the left side, white being the color of mourning in Corea.
                         
On 'Corea' vs 'Korea' ~ Three Corean dignitaries visit Washington D.C. in the late 1880s. "SEOUL — Is alphabetical order destiny? Yes, say Korean scholars and politicians who have begun a drive to change the official English-language name of their country to "Corea." The seemingly arcane campaign is based on an increasingly prevalent belief that the original "C" was switched to a "K" by the Japanese at the start of their 1910-45 occupation of the peninsula so that their lowly colonials would not precede them in the English alphabetical hierarchy. The controversy used to be fodder only for linguists and historians, but lately the debate has seeped out of academia and into the realm of the political. Twenty-two South Korean legislators last month introduced a resolution in their parliament calling for the government to adopt the Corea spelling -- the first time such a proposal has been made in official quarters in South Korea. North and South Korean scholars, who rarely agree on much, also held an unusual joint conference last month in Pyongyang, the North's capital, and resolved to work together for a spelling change. They hope it can be accomplished in time for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, when the estranged countries intend to field a joint team." 2003, Los Angeles Times News



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