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Reacting to the Past: Korea: Korean Government

Korea at the Crossroads of Civilizations: Confucianism, Westernization, and the 1894 Kabo Reforms Resources

Japanese Influence

Project Muse has an article titled "Korean-Japanese Politics behind the Kabo-Ŭlmi Reform Movement, 1894 to 1896." You will have to login at the bottom of the page in order to view the PDF. Login info is the same as that of your Schreiner login.

Impact of Kabo Reforms

JSTOR has an article titled "The Impact of the Kabo Reforms upon Political Role Allocation in Late Yi Korea, 1884-1902." You will have to login to view the entire article. Login info is the same as that of your Schreiner login.


The Government and Religion

During the second half of the 19th century, foreign powers sought to increase their influence on Korea. These advances were rejected by the Koreans, who believed the society they had achieved under the Confucian system needed little or nothing from outsiders other than China. Christianity, quietly introduced from China in 1784, was slowly and covertly propagated by underground French Roman Catholic missionaries. The Korean government, however, attempted to stop the spread of Christianity because it was not compatible with Confucianism. In 1864 the Taewŏn’gun (meaning “Grand Prince”), father of the boy-king Kojong, seized power, outlawed Christianity, and sought to curb foreign contact. He then faced military interventions by France (1866) and the United States (1871), which were attempting to establish trade relations with Korea. These attacks were repulsed. At the same time the Taewŏn’gun tried to eliminate corruption and refurbish the prestige of the state. The political reaction triggered by these reforms, however, resulted in his downfall in 1873. In 1876 the Japanese forced Korea to establish diplomatic relations in order to begin trade between the countries, thus weakening Korea’s traditional ties to China. China then sought to neutralize Japan by promoting Korean ties with Western countries, beginning with the Korea-U.S. treaty of 1882. During the succeeding years, many Korean efforts were made toward modernization and reform, but these were frustrated by the continued influence of foreign powers. In 1895 Japan defeated China in the Sino-Japanese War, and ten years later Japan was victorious over Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. These victories cemented Japan’s power on the Korean Peninsula, leading to the formal Japanese annexation of Korea and the end of the Chosŏn dynasty in 1910.

Read more at Exploring Chinese

The First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895)

The First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) was Japan's first overseas war after she came out of isolation in the 1860s, and saw the rapidly modernized Japanese armed forces inflict an embarrassing defeat on less successfully modernized Chinese forces. Most of the fighting took place in Korea and Manchuria, although the Japanese also invaded Shantung province and several islands, and there were important battles at sea.