Opening of Korea
The General Sherman Incident July 1886
Opening the Hermit Kingdom -From History Today a must read
The Opening of Korea until 1876 -An accessible academic article
Timeline covering Korean relations with the West and Japan -Does not include the General Sherman incident
The General Sherman Incident
The French attempt October 1866
- The French send a squadron of 7 ships to attempt to open Korea
- The French are successful militarily against the Korean forces sent to expel them
- The French are not able to negotiate a trade treaty (the whole point of the expedition)
- Therefore, the mission was a failure
The American Incident 1871
- Americans send five ships, armed with 85 guns and manned by 1,230 sailors and marines with the intention of opening trade with Korea.
- Possibly due to a misunderstanding, conflict breaks out between the Koreans and the Americans
- Americans destroy Fort Choji at the north end of Kanghwa Island, Fort Tokchin and Fort Kwangsong
- The Americans leave on July 3rd 1871 without negotiating a treaty
- The Koreans end up even more suspicious of foreigners
The Japanese arrive
- In 1873 the twenty-one-year-old King Kojong, wanted friendship with Japan.
- Followers of Queen Min were opposed to this.
- In February 1876 the Japanese raided Pusan fired upon.
- Using this as an excuse, the Japanese soldiers overran the forts and terrorised people in the countryside.
- Japanese officials then forced Korea to sign the treaty of Kanghwa
The Kanghwa treaty
- Korean independence recognised
- Pusan, the seaport closest to Japan, was opened for trade immediately
- Wonsan and Inchon were opened soon after
- Japan was exempted from custom duties
- Japan was given extraterritoriality rights
- Japanese traders and officials were allowed to use Japanese money
- A Japanese consul was stationed in Seoul
GEOPOLITICAL Consequences of the opening of Korea
- Within Korea, opinion splits between conservatives who want a return to the Confucian past and modernizers
- The court is split: King Kojong supported the Japanese while the Queen preferred China
- Leads directly to the murder of Queen Min by the Japanese in October 1895
- In 1882, the Korean-American Treaty of Friendship and Trade is signed in Inchon, giving the United States the same rights as the Japanese
- Similar treaties with six other Western states soon followed.
- Korea becomes a key part of the growing tension between China and Japan.
- The Sino-Japanese conflict of 1894-95, leads to the Chinese being expelled
- By 1897, increasing Japanese demands leads to the King seeking protection of the Russians to balance the Japanese
- In 1897, the King proclaims himself emperor of a new Korean Empire, independent of both China and Japan.
- Korea is overrun by the Japanese in 1904-05 during the Russo-Japanese war
- Korea is annexed by Japan in 1910
- Korea remains a province of Japan until 1945
Historiography: PROFESSOR KYUNG MOON HWANG
- "The official North Korean historical view claims that Kim Il Sung’s own great grandfather led the people’s charge against the General Sherman that year (1886). In an odd way, this might as well have been true, for the “self-reliance” isolationism of North Korea brought to full circle the historical trajectory that began with these events."
Question: What does the author mean by this statement?