4 The Incident at a Korean Village
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31 The Incident at a Korean Village Dersu Predicts the Weather. The Shootout. The Indifference of the Koreans. The Village of Kazakevichevo. Trip to the River Terraces. Dersu Settles in for the Night. The Trail to the Village of Lyalichi. Spending the Night near Lyalichi. That morning I woke later than the others. The first thing I noticed was the absence of sun—the sky was overcast. Dersu saw that the riflemen were packing their things as though to prepare for rain, and said: “No need to hurry. Good go our day, then evening will rain.” I asked him why he thought so. “Look for self,” answered the Gold, “You see little birds go here and there, play, eat. If rain soon, him then sit quiet, sleep.” Indeed, I recalled that there is always quiet and gloom in the forest before it rains. But now it was the opposite: the forest was full of life. The sounds of woodpeckers, jays, and nutcrackers resonated from all sides, and I could hear the cheerful whistles of nuthatches. After asking our Chinese hosts about the road ahead, we set off on our way. The Lefu River valley immediately widens from 1 to 3 kilometers afterTudinzaMountain,andwethenbegantoencounterhumanhabitations with greater frequency. At about two o’clock we reached Nikolayevka, a village of thirty-six houses. We rested there briefly, and then I asked Olentyev to buy some oats and feed our horses while I went on ahead with Dersu. I wanted to 4 32 The 1902 Expedition reach the next village of Kazakevichevo, which was inhabited by Koreans , as soon as possible in order to arrange a night’s lodging there for my companions.1 Twilight always comes early in autumn when it is overcast, and around five o’clock it started to rain. We moved faster and soon reached a fork in the road. One trail crossed the river and the other seemed to head into the mountains. We chose the latter. As we walked, other paths convergedwithours,andsomesplitoffindifferentdirections.Itwaswell after dark by the time we reached the Korean village.2 Right about this time the riflemen must have reached the fork in the road, and, unsure about which route to take, they fired two shots in the air. Worried that they might get lost, I responded in kind. Suddenly I heard shouting from the closest fanza, and immediately after that someone fired a rifle from its window. Then more shots from a second fanza, then from a third, and after a few minutes the entire village had erupted in gunfire. I had no idea what was going on: rain, shouting, shooting . . . why was there all this commotion? Suddenly there was a light coming fromoneofthewindows:aKoreanhadakerosenetorchinonehandand a rifle in the other. He ran out and was shouting something; we rushed over to meet him. The red, flickering flame from his torch danced across the puddles in the road and showed a face contorted by fear. When he saw us the Korean threw his torch on the ground, shot in Dersu’s direction , and ran off. Kerosene splashed on the ground, caught fire, and burned with a smoky flame. “Are you hit?” I asked Dersu. “No,” he replied, and went to pick up the torch. They were firing at him, and he stood there as tall as he could, waving his arms and shouting something in Korean. Olentyev could hear all the shooting, and was convinced that we were under attack from the Khunkhuz. Leaving two people behind with 1. Kazakevichevo was founded in 1872. 2. Koreans began emigrating north out of the Korean peninsula and into the Ussuri Kray in 1863, during a period of severe drought. By 1910, there were more than fifty thousand Koreans living in more than a hundred settlements throughout the region (Gelb 1995). The Incident at a Korean Village 33 thepackhorses,heandtheothersrushedtoourrescue.Finallythefiring fromtheclosestfanzaceased.DersutriedtonegotiatewiththeKoreans, butnomatterwhatwesaidtheywouldnotopentheirdoorsforanything. The Koreans swore at us and threatened to start shooting again. With no other option, we set up camp. We started a few campfires alongtheriverbankandwiththeirlightstartedtosetupourtents.There wasanabandonedfanzanearbywithalargepileoffirewoodstackednext toitthattheKoreanshadcollectedforwinter.Inthevillage,theshooting continued for some time. In fact, the fanzas on the far side of the village continued firing their rifles all night. Who were they shooting at? I don’t think even the Koreans knew. They shot, swore, and laughed. We took the next day off. I ordered the team to see to the saddles, to dryanythingthatwaswet,andtocleanourrifles.Therainhadstopped;a freshnorthwesternwindhaddispersedtheclouds,andthesuncameout. I got dressed and went to have a look around the village...


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Subject Headings

  • Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China) -- Description and travel.
  • Natural history -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
  • Dersu Uzala.
  • Arsenʹev, V. K. (Vladimir Klavdievich), 1872-1930 -- Travel -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
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