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4. Japan/Korea (1907-1948)

 

Conflict Phase (July 25, 1907-December 31, 1912): Korean nationalists began a movement for independence after the establishment of a Japanese protectorate over the Korean peninsula on July 25, 1907. Some 10,000 members of the Righteous Army commanded by Yi In-yong rebelled against the Japanese government. The Japanese government deployed some 20,000 troops to suppressed the rebellion. The Japanese government formally annexed Korea on August 22, 1910, and Japanese troops suppressed the rebellion in 1912. Some 17,700 Koreans and 150 Japanese government soldiers were killed during the conflict.

File:Korea map 1939.svg

Post-Conflict Phase (January 1, 1913-February 28, 1919): Ahn Chang Ho established the Korean Ressurection League (Hunh-sah-dang) in May 1913. Suh Sang Il established the Korean Independence League (KIL) in January 1915.

Conflict Phase (March 1, 1919-December 31, 1920): Korean nationalists formally declared Korea’s independence from the government of Japan on March 1, 1919. The Japanese government deployed 6,000 troops to suppressed the independence movement in Korea. Japanese government security personnel suppressed pro-independence demonstrations in Seoul and other cities. Korean nationalists convened the Korean People’s Congress in Manchuria on March 17, 1919, and elected Son Pyong-hi as president of a government-in-exile. Two other governments-in-exile were established in Shanghai, China and Seoul, Korea. Syngman Rhee, who had been chosen as prime minister in two of the three governments-in-exile, proclaimed the independence of the Republic of Korea in Washington DC on August 31, 1919. Representatives of the three competing governments-in-exile established a provisional government in Shanghai, China in September 1919. Korean nationalists unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Baron Saito, the Japanese governor-general of Korea, in Seoul on September 2, 1919. Japanese government troops and Korean rebels clashed in Manchuria and northern Korea in 1920. Some 10,000 individuals were killed during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (January 1, 1921-September 9, 1948): Korean communists established a Communist Party in Seoul on April 12, 1925. Government police suppressed student demonstrations in Kwangju and other cities from November 1929 to February 1930. China and the US jointly expressed their support for a “free and independent” Korea on December 1, 1943. Soviet troops intervened in northern Korea on August 13, 1945, and US troops intervened in southern Korea on September 8, 1945. Following the Japanese surrender to the Allies on August 15, 1945, the US and Soviet Union divided Korea at the 38th parallel into two occupation zones. On December 27, 1945, the US, Soviet Union, and Britain agreed in Moscow to establish a “four power trusteeship” (US, Soviet Union, China, and United Kingdom) to government Korea and to negotiate the independence of Korea.  Right-wing Koreans led by Syngman Rhee and left-wing (communist) Koreans led by Kim Il-Sung competed for control of the Korean peninsula beginning in 1946. US troops and Korean police suppressed peasant and laborer uprisings throughout southern Korea between October 1 and November 30, 1946, resulting in the deaths of some 1,200 individuals.  Syngman Rhee and Kim Koo established the Anti-Trusteeship Independence Struggle Committee (ATISC) on January 24, 1947.  The US established the South Korean Interim Government (SKIG) headed by Ahn Chai-hong in February 1947.  The US referred the Korean matter to the UN General Assembly on September 17, 1947.  On November 14, 1947, the UN General Assembly established the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK) chaired by K. P. S. Menon of India to supervise elections in Korea. UNTCOK, which consisted of eight representatives from Australia, Canada, China, El Salvador, France, India, Philippines, and Syria chaired by Miguel A. P. Valle of the Philippines, arrived in the US occupation zone (South Korea) on January 8, 1948.  Parliamentary elections were held in South Korea on May 10, 1948.  Some 38 UNTCOK observers monitored the elections from May 7 to May 11, 1948.  The US sent an election observation team consisting of some 400 military and civilian personnel to monitor the elections from May 9 to May 10, 1948.  Some 500 individuals were killed in election-related violence. The South Korean National Assembly adopted a constitution on July 17, 1948, and the National Assembly elected Syngman Rhee as president on July 20, 1948. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was formally established in South Korea on August 15, 1948, and the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (PDRK) led by Kim Il Sung was formally established in North Korea on September 9, 1948. UNTCOK was dissolved on December 12, 1948. Soviet troops withdrew from North Korea on December 25, 1948, and US troops withdrew from South Korea on June 19, 1949. Some 100,000 Koreans were killed in political violence between June 1921 and September 1948.

[Sources: Beigbeder, 1994, 120-125; Clodfelter, 1992, 651-652; International Organization, June 1948; Keesing’s Record of World Events, March 27-April 3, 1948; Langer, 1972, 1111-1114, 1347-1351.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Choy, Bong-youn. 1971. Korea: A History. Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company.

Cummings, Bruce. 1981. The Origins of the Korean War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Hatada, Takashi. 1969. A History of Korea. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc.

Lee, Ki-baik. 1984. A New History of Korea. Seoul, Korea: Ilchokak, Publishers.

Woo-keun, Han. 1970. The History of Korea. Honolulu, Hawaii: East-West Center Press.