India House Foundation



Willard Straight in Korea


(General Kuroki and his Staff at Seoul, Collodion print, c 1904, Courtesy Willard Straight Papers, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University)

Willard Straight, embedded as a journalist during the Russo Japanese War, arrived in Seoul on March 16, 1904, less than a month after the Empire of Japan overthrew the Empire of Korea, to create a Japanese protectorate. Straight documented the Japanese takeover in his diaries, newspaper articles, U.S. State Department reports, drawings and photographs. This undated photograph shows General Kuroki Tamemoto, head of the Imperial Japanese Army and his staff 'occupying' the eighteenth-century 'Chuhapru', (Pavilion) of the Royal 'Changdokkung' (Palace) in Seoul. Straight, about 24 years old, placed himself in the center of the official photograph (hatless, to the right of the foremost pillar) and directly behind the General (The Order of the Rising Sun on his chest.) While Willard Straight was serving in the American Legation in Seoul during Alice Roosevelt's diplomatic visit to the defeated Korean Emperor in 1905, President Roosevelt brought Russian and Japanese decision makers to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to broker a Peace Treaty, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906.