The Korean History after the Joseon-Dynastie


The Joseon-Dynastie (Choson, Chosun) (1392-1910) enormous strides were made in arts, science, and technology during the reign of the fourth monarch, King Sejong (1418-1450), a Buddhist. One of the most important development was the creation of the Korean script, known as han'gul, which became widely used in the twentieth century.

However, after the dead of King Sejong, the dynasty fell into the hands of lesser men. In the late fifteenth century the country began a long decline due to long and bitter struggles and corruption ran rampant. Farmers suffered from heavy tax burdens imposed by greedy officials and corrupt landlords. Even worse, Japanese forces attacked Korea in 1592 and 1597 and Manchu hordes ravaged in 1627 and 1636 the country's economy turning much of the farmland to waste for years to come.  The great Korean commander, Admiral Yi Sun-shin, of the late sixteenth century, one of the best of the military leaders in Korea history, destroyed the Japanese fleet with armed turtle ships.

Christianity and western ideas reached Korea through China in the seventeenth century. Western ships began to approach Korean shores after 1801 demanding trade rights. Korea, which suffered from a series of natural disaster including floods, famines, and epidemics was an easy target allowing Western powers in East Asia in the nineteenth century to follow their own interests. At the same time, Japan has been forced to open its ports by Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States Navy in 1853. In contrary, Korea remained dormant and closed itself to all outside contacts. 

After a Japanese provocation against Korea in 1875 the Japanese were the first foreign power in recent history to penetrate Korea's isolation. China failed to come to Korea's aid allowing the Japanese to force an unequal treaty on Korea in 1876. He Korean government split into rival pro-Japanese, pro-Chinese, and pro-Russian factions. Finally, in 1895, the Japanese minister to Korea arranged the assassination of the Korean queen causing the Korean king to turn for support to Russia. To avoid possible Japanese plots against him the king fled to the Russian legation in Seoul to conduct the nation's business from there.


Following the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), the victorious Japanese increased 1895 their influence over Korea via the Treaty of Shimonoseki. The Japanese government dictated to the Korean government various reforms, including the abolition of class distinctions and liberation of slaves, the abolition of the ritualistic civil service examination system. They also introduced a new tax system. 

The rivalry between Russia and Japan continued in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, which Japan won. Russia was forced to accept Japan's "paramount political, military, and economic interest" in Korea. As a consequence, some months later, Korea was obliged to become a Japanese protectorate and was finally annexed as a colony on August 22, 1910.


 

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