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What has divided the fate of Korea and Japan?

Posted December. 31, 2022 07:23,   

Updated December. 31, 2022 07:23


Gojong and Meiji, the leaders of Korea and Japan in the late 19th century, have a lot in common. Both were born in the same year, ascended to the throne at a young age in their early and mid-teens, and faced the task of opening a port. The author compares the two with Japan's Seikanron (Joseon invasion theory) wave and Korea's request for the dispatch of the Qing army. While Meiji vigorously drove out the Seikanron, which gained power in Japanese politics in 1873, and focused on modernization, King Gojong requested the dispatch of troops from the Qing army when the Donghak Peasant Movement broke out in 1894, providing a decisive opportunity to bring Japan to Korea.

What factors have contributed to the different paths that Korea and Japan have taken? The author, who has a background in law and has worked in finance and consulting for most of his career, has published a self-taught book exploring the modern history of Korea and Japan in an attempt to understand this. As an expert in economics and management, the author believes that "the lessons learned from history are insurance for future generations," which motivated him to publish the book. “If we do not eliminate the sense of complex we have in modern history, it will be impossible to understand it properly,” he said.

Without reserve, the author criticizes the leader who led Joseon to an unfortunate fate from 1850, when Cheoljong's reign began, to 1905, when the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905 was signed. The book also introduces 39 modern figures such as Choi Je-woo (1824-1864), who invented and spread the idea of equality, unlike Japan which returned to theocracy during the process of modernization, and Yoshida Shoin (1830-1859), a spiritual supporter of the far-right camp in Japan and a representative Seikanron theorist who emphasized the utilization of Western technology while keeping the spirit of Japan.