Quelpart - Encyclopedia

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QUELPART (CHAI-Ju), an island to the south of Korea, used as a Korean penal settlement. In measures 40 m. from E. to W. and 1 7 from N. to S. It rises gradually from the seaboard, is heavily wooded and is cleared for cultivation to a height of 2000 ft. There are several crateriform hills, and Hali San (Mount Auckland) has an altitude of 6558 ft. The island is entirely volcanic, and the soil is finely disintegrated lava. Broken black lava forms the beach, and blocks of it are the universal building material. There is no good drinking water. The flora and fauna are scarcely investigated. Pines of three species, junipers, larches, oaks, maples, willows and the Thuja Orientalis have been identified. The known fauna comprise boars, bears, deer, swans, geese, pheasants and quail. The roads are scarcely passable bridle tracks. Quelpart was introduced to European notice by the Dutchman, Hendrik Hamil, who was shipwrecked there in 1653.

The estimated population is loo,000, Korean by race, language and costume. There are about ninety villages. The valleys and slopes are carefully cultivated in fields divided by stone walls, and produce beans, peas, sweet potatoes, "Russian turnip radish," barley, a little rice and millet, the last being the staple article of diet. Nuts, oranges, limes and plums are grown. Small but strong ponies are bred for export, and small cattle and pigs for home use. Apart from agriculture, the industries consist in the manufacture of fine bamboo hats and mats, and wooden combs for export and local use. For fishing the islanders use double-decked raft boats, similar to those of southern Formosa. Their lucrative pearl fisheries have been practically monopolized by the Japanese, who use proper diving apparatus. A valuable product is a species of clam, the shell of which furnishes a specially iridescent mothero'-pearl, which the natives barter with the Japanese for inlaying lacquer. European goods are not imported, but Japanese articles find ready barter. There are no markets, and only a few poor shops.

Chu-sung, the capital and seat of government, a few miles from Port Pelto, has a black lava wall 25 ft. high, with three gates and towers; an imposing audience-hall in Chinese style; and a great bell tower, with a fine bronze bell, sounded to drive off "evil dragons." Its population is estimated at 16,000. The governor has a hereditary army for coercive purposes. The uniform is a complete suit of mail, with a helmet, from which leather curtains fall over the shoulders. The weapons are equally antique.

There are no good harbours, and the only anchorage for large vessels is Tai-chung, or Yung-su, at the east end, with 9 to 13 fathoms of water. Pelto has ancient breakwaters for the protection of small boats, erected, as many believe, by the Mongol conqueror, Kublai Khan, who in 1273 built on Quelpart one hundred ships for the invasion of Japan.

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