Problems of the Far East: Japan - Korea - China 1894
George Nathaniel Curzon
The true comicality, however, of the Korean
by military, of a species unique in the world. The infantry lined the roadway, and were for the most part lying asleep upon the ground. They had almost as many flags as men; and their muskets, which I examined as they stood piled together, were commonly destitute either of hammer, trigger, or plate, sometimes of all three, and were frequently
only held together by string ; while the bayonets were bent and rusty.
Infinitely more remarkable, however, were the cavalry. These were clad in uniforms probably some 300 years old, consisting of a battered helmet with a spike, and of a cuirass of black leather studded with brass bosses, and worn over a heavy jerkin of moth-eaten brocade.
Enormous jack-boots completed the costume, and rendered it difficult for the men to mount their steeds, even although these were rarely more than eleven hands high. Banners of yellow, red, and green, with a tuft of pheasant-feathers at the top, and stacks of arrows, were carried in front of the officers, who were with difficulty supported by squires upon their pyramidal saddles. The middle of the roadway was supposed to be kept clear, and was strewn with a riband of sand, about a foot and a half in breadth ; but this was trampled upon and scattered almost as soon as sprinkled.
Throughout the morning processions of ministers, courtiers, and officials passed along on their way to or from the Palace. The majority of these were borne by shouting retainers in open chairs, on the back of which rested a leopard-skin. In some cases the sedan was also supported by a single leg underneath, terminating in a wheel, which ran along the middle of the roadway, easing the burden and increasing
Compare the account of Hamel, 240 years ago : ' Their Horse wear Cuirasses, Headpieces, and Swords, as also Bows and Arrows, and Whips like ours, only that theirs have small iron Points.
Their Foot as well as they wear a Corselet, a Headpiece, a Sword,
and Musket or Half-pike.
The Officers carry nothing but Bows and Arrows.'