The Ilchinhoe and the Japanese Colonization of Korea, 1896–1910
Publication Year: 2013
An empire invites local collaborators in the making and sustenance of its colonies. Between 1896 and 1910, Japan's project to colonize Korea was deeply intertwined with the movements of reform-minded Koreans to solve the crisis of the Choson dynasty (1392-1910). Among those reformers, it was the Ilchinhoe (Advance in Unity Society)-a unique group of reformers from various social origins-that most ardently embraced Japan's discourse of "civilizing Korea" and saw Japan's colonization as an opportunity to advance its own "populist agendas." The Ilchinhoe members called themselves "representatives of the people" and mobilized vibrant popular movements that claimed to protect the people's freedom, property, and lives. Neither modernist nor traditionalist, they were willing to sacrifice the sovereignty of the Korean monarchy if that would ensure the rights and equality of the people.
Both the Japanese colonizers and the Korean elites disliked the Ilchinhoe for its aggressive activism, which sought to control local tax administration and reverse the existing power relations between the people and government officials. Ultimately, the Ilchinhoe members faced visceral moral condemnation from their fellow Koreans when their language and actions resulted in nothing but assist the emergence of the Japanese colonial empire in Korea. In Populist Collaborators, Yumi Moon examines the vexed position of these Korean reformers in the final years of the Choson dynasty, and highlights the global significance of their case for revisiting the politics of local collaboration in the history of a colonial empire.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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A few choices, made without imagining their long- term results, have shaped my life. I wrote this book with deep sympathy for people who tried hard to change their lives but became bewildered by the progress of history. Luckily, many good people have helped me survive the results of my choices, whether made from in-nocence or from ignorance. I must fi rst thank my teachers. Carter Eckert, my ...
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Romanization of Korean follows the McCune- Reischauer system. The Royal Trea sury of Korea refers to the Naejangwon from 1895 and 1905 and to the Kyongniwon from March 1905 to December 1907. The title of Kojong changed from king to emperor after October 1897, the beginning of the Great Korean Empire. The rec ords of the Korean government followed the Gregorian calendar ...
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In March 2004, almost sixty years after the nation’s liberation in 1945, the South Korean national assembly passed a law, in the name of “purifi cation of the nation’s history” (kwagosa ch’ongsan), for the purpose of “investigating pro- Japanese acts” during colonial rule.1 Unexpectedly, the act provoked a series of scandals that shattered the po liti cal prospects of prominent ruling party leaders. ...
1. The Korean Reformers and the Late Chosŏn State
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The Choson dynasty (1392– 1910) was long and stable. Major pop u lar rebellions did not occur before its fi nal century. The dynasty suddenly encountered a series of pop u lar rebellions, the coup of elite offi cials, a palace mutiny, and successive foreign invasions in the nineteenth century. These challenges did not oust the old po liti cal frame of the Choson dynasty, until the 1894 Tonghak Rebellion ...
2. People and Foreigners: The Northwestern Provinces, 1896– 1904
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An Chung- gun (1879– 1910), a Catholic Korean youth, assassinated Ito Hiro-bumi (1841– 1909) in 1909 and became an icon of Korean patriotism and na-tionalism. He wrote in his memoir that he had killed Ito for the peace of East Asia (tongyang p’yonghwa) because Ito had broken his “promise” to protect Korean in de pen dence when Japan waged war against Rus sia. An recalled his ju-...
3. Sensational Campaigns: The Russo- Japanese War and the Ilchinhoe’s Rise, 1904– 1905
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When Japan launched the Russo- Japanese War in February 1904, Korean re-formists observed the military campaigns with wonder and suspicion. Yun Ch’i-ho, the leader of the In de pen dence Club, was one of the reformers who os-cillated between these two feelings. After Japan declared victory in the war, Yun wrote in his diary: “I am glad Japan has beaten Rus sia. The islanders have glori-...
4. Freedom and the New Look: The Culture and Rhetoric of the Ilchinhoe Movement
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In February 1905, Yi Min- hwa, a major in the Wonju defense army, was called into the military court of Wonju for a face- to- face examination with sixty mem-bers of the Ilchinhoe. The major had fi led a case against the or ga ni za tion, charg-ing that it had violated Korean imperial authority at one of its assemblies. He had dispatched two divisions of soldiers in civilian clothes to the assembly to ...
5. The Populist Contest: The Ilchinhoe’s Tax Resistance, 1904– 1907
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The elite rec ords of protectorate Korea, whether written in Korean or Japa nese, depict the Ilchinhoe’s movement with scorn, abhorrence, and anxiety. It is hard to grasp how the Ilchinhoe emerged as a strong pop u lar or ga ni za tion in a short period of time if we reference the portraits of the group in the rec ords of the Korean court, the media of the elite reformers, or even the documents of the ...
6. Subverting Local Society: Ilchinhoe Legal Disputes, 1904– 1907
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Landownership and its reform in agrarian society were burning issues that changed Korea’s historical course in the twentieth century. The cadastral survey of the Kwangmu government moved in the direction of clarifying the private own ership of landowners and streamlined complicated property rights in the lands affi liated with government agencies. This pro cess accompanied the Korean ...
7. The Authoritarian Resolution: The Ilchinhoe and the Japanese, 1904– 1910
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Historians of the Japa nese empire have long debated what exactly Japan in-tended when it installed protectorate rule in Korea and how and why it reached its fi nal decision to annex Korea. The crux of this debate is based on understand-ing the characteristics of the Japa nese protectorate as a form of government and identifying the factors that made Japan move from governing Korea through a ...
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Kim Myong- jun, once an Ilchinhoe member, said at one of Taehan Hyophoe’s assemblies that “the civilization of our generation is not other than that the rights of the people are consolidated, their freedoms are articulated in law, and they live life in comfort. The people in Korea do not have the freedom— even if they wish— to engage in civilized conduct in this civilized era. . . . Without free-...
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Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2013