This entry is specially for KSJoshWhite
While I was reading comments posted by KSJoshWhite, I noticed Korean MA instructors are doing Anti-Japan propagations to students.
What surprised me was he thought there was a war between Japan and Korea before annexation.
If he has done a little bit of research, it's easy to find out what really happened.
This is a famous caricature drawn by French illustrator Bigot in 1887, the title is Une partie de pêche-A party of fishing.
Korea is a fish on the center, Japanese, Russian and Chinese are fishing.
At the time, Korea was actually China's subject country so China didn't have to fish Korea and Korean ruling class was very loyal to China.
However since Europe's invasion to Asia, China was much weakened.(ex.Opium War)
In Korea, there were Pro-China group and Pro-Japan group.
Kim Ok-gyun, a Pro-Japan activist, he wanted to modernize Korea like Japan's Meiji Restoration.
In 1884, He and his comrades toppled the corrupted governmet(Gapsin Coup) with a support of Japanese while China was busy to against France.(Sino–French War)
As a result of the war, China lost territory(Vietnam). So now China didn't want to lose anymore territory - Korean peninsula.
China sent troops, killed the activists and the Japanese.
Kim Ok-gyun was survived but later assassinated in Shanghai his body was sent to Korea for "Slow slicing".
China and Japan agreed to withdraw troops from Korea. But they both promised that they would infom each other when sending troops to Korea.(Convention of Tientsin)
In 1894, thousands of Korean peasants rose up against the government.(Donghak Peasant Revolution)
The Korean court called for help to China, China sent troops to supress the rebels and Japan sent troops to protect Japanese residents.
During Gapsin Coup, Japanese residents in Korea were raped and massacred by Koreans and Chinese. Korea paid 110000 yen compensation-Treaty of Seoul 1885.
The picture is a part of the treaty 漢城条約, the marked part indicates the compensation for the victims family.
The conflict became Sino-Japan War.
During the war, the Korean peasant rebels rose up against Japanese but was defeated by coalition forces of the Japanese and the Joseon Korean military.
"A few Corean soldiers accompanied Japanese troops by special orders of the King of Korea. Some fled but most of them fought with great bravery."
Japan won the war, Korea became indipendent country.(Shimonoseki Treaty 1895)
Japan used "Enlightenment Party" members for reform however corrupted Min family didn't want any change, they approached to Russia.(They just replaced China to Russia, this is traditional Korean Sadaejuui-serving-the-Great-ism)
The main reason why Japan wanted Korea to be modernized was fear of Russia.
Japan wanted Korea to be strong enough to block Russia's expansion.
But they were trying to give Korea away to Russia, the Japanese counselor Miura Goro assassinated King Kojong's wife Minbi.(There are some other conspiracy theories.)
Then some angry Korean people stood up against Japan.
This time, they were neo-Confucianists not Joseon Korean military.
King Kojong was hiding in Russian Embassy at the time which gave Russia a power over Korea.
Meanwhile, China was divided by France, Britain, Germany and Russia.
Historical Map of Imperialism in Asia 1840-1914
Japan had demanded Russia to back off from Manchu, Russia offered Japan to divide Korea in 2 and share each other instead.
But Russia was constructing fort near the border of Korea, Japan decided to go war.(Russo-Japan War 1904)
Japan immidiately occupied Seoul, Korea became under Japan's protectorate state substantially.
After Japan won the war, Japan made a treaty between Japan and America.(Taft–Katsura Agreement)
America recognized Japan to occupy Korea in exchange of Japan recognized America to occupy Phillippines.
In 1905, The second Japan-Korea treaty. Korea became Japan's protected country officially.
There were Anti-Japan guerilla attacks in some places since 1907.
The number of people who involved guerilla attacks in 1908 were about 70000, Japanese troops in Korea at the time was around 2000~3000 but the Japanese defeated all the attacks.
The Korean attacks were far from organized military tactics.
(It proves Korea didn't have militaristic culture unlike the Hwarang nationalists insist.)
In 1906, King Kojong begged the president of America to announce the treaty was void but was ignored.
In 1907, King Kojong sent emissaries to the second Hague Peace Convention but they were ignored.
In 1909, a Korean shot and killed Ito Hirobumi the first Japanese Resident-General of Korea in Halbin.
That resulted Japan to break down the guerrillas completelly, and annexed Korea finally.
Ironically Ito Hirobumi used to oppose annexation of Korea.
It is unhappy thing but that was the way in the Imperialism era.
Meanwhile, a new Pro-Japan group was born, it's called Iljinhoe by Enlightenment Party.
While some people were against the Japanese, some people were disenamored with the Korean leaders who were taking yangban style political faction feud.
Korean leaders were divided in Pro-Japan, Pro-China, Pro-Russia, Pro-America and Pro-Joseon court and playing power games.
The people who were sick of the leaders joined Iljinhoe, hoped to reform Korea by Japan's support.
The number of Iljinhoe members recorded in 1910 was about 140000.(Iljinhoe official announce was 1 million at most.)
That was remarkable number.
Gregory Henderson wrote that this was Korea’s first modern political organization, uniting leaders and led and mobilizing the masses. That generalization is a bit of a stretch, but so is the subsequent attempt by nationalist historians to pretend that the Ilchinhoe’s members were few, with each one devoted to selling Korea to Japan.
He also wrote the Koreans who wanted to reform Korea didn't count on China and Russia(China and Russia were anti-reform). America was not interested in Korea at all, only Japan was positively promoting Meiji restoration style reform. No wonder why they counted on Japan and Japan helped them.
That's the digestive explanation of how Korea was annexed to Japan.
You may wonder why Korean people didn't unite for the country.
Because Yangban the ruling class of Korea were corrurpted and hated by lower class people.
Yangban and Kisaeng.
Researchers of Joseon Korea history say North Korea is exaclly like Joseon Korea.(So now you understand why many people didn't support the court.)
If Korea had elite Ninjas like Chosonninja say, had richest military culture and history in the world like Hwarangdo say, they didn't have to depend on foreign powers all the time, Korea was suppose to have been independent since the three Kingdoms period.
CONFERENCE: "A Reconsideration of the Japanese Annexation of Korea from the Historical and International Law Perspectives"
On November 15-17, 2001, the Korea Institute hosted a conference, the third of a series of meetings, on "A Reconsideration of the Japanese Annexation of Korea from the Historical and International Law Perspectives." The Asia Center and the Reischauer Center for Japanese Studies provided generous logistical and other support.
The project had several matters to consider. First were the claims and counterclaims regarding the actual legality of the annexation itself. New documentary discoveries suggest that the agreement of annexation was reached under duress; that the Korean rule, Kojong, did in fact protest the annexation; and that agreements reached prior to the 1910 annexation were similarly flawed. International law might now reach a finding, on this basis, that all of the events and actions during the 1910-1945 occupation of Korea were illegal, and Japan therefore does owe some form of compensation, if not an apology, for what happened. But according to James Crawford, of the Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law, judgments must be reached according to the practices in effect at the time. There seemed, in the end, to be little ground for agreement regarding the issue of the legality of the annexation. Despite M.I.T. Professor John Dower’s moving exhortation, the conference participants did not pursue the issuance of a statement regarding the annexation and the aftermath.
Professor John Van Dyke, of the University of Hawaii, gave a paper on the current claims and counter-claims regarding the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands. The example was most instructive, and suggested that continuing negotiations between Korean and Japan, as between Hawaii and the United States, should be pursued.
Anthony Carty, University of Derby, offered archival materials from British government files of letters and reports from Korea during the period just before, during, and after the annexation. British embassy officials seemed to have reached the conclusion that the Japanese take-over was a fait accompli, and that there was little or nothing in the form of popular or other noticeable protest against it at the time. Professor Carty’s paper suggested to this observer, at least, that it would be worth the effort to pursue the issue of Korean popular feelings about the annexation, rather than continuing to worry the bone of official government records and archival materials.
The papers and materials from the conference will be published through a website at Seoul National University through Professor Yi Tae-jin’s good offices. What, then, had been accomplished? Perhaps most simply and significantly, scholars from Japan and Korea, and from both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, had engaged in productive discussions over the year-long course of the meetings, and that other such meetings and exchanges offered promise, on this and other issues. Even on such relatively well studied topics as this one, there are documentary materials yet to be discovered, assessed, and brought into the scholarly discourse; and there are many different types of materials, such as records of popular opinion as reflected in the British embassy records, that could be pursued as well. We might also reflect again on John Dower's call for reflections and statements from the scholarly academic community on subjects having political implications.