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The Reform Efforts and Ideas of Pak Yöng-hyo, 1894-1895 Young I. Lew UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON KOREA achieved her first major breakthrough in modernization in the wake of the Sino-Iapanese War, 1894-1895. The reform movement, which introduced a flood of Western-style, lapanese-oriented modern institutions into the archaic body politic of Korea at this historic moment, has been celebrated as the Kabo Reform Movement (KRM) after the Chinese calendrical term kabo (Ch., chia-wu) for 1894. Despite its seminal importance in modern Korean and East Asian history, this movement has not been studied sufficiently. Most historians, Korean and foreign, still rely on a pre-1945 Japanese study as the main source for description and interpretation.1 Posited on the thesis that the reform movement was dictated by the Japanese, this Japanese study failed to provide a balanced and accurate picture of the movement by neglecting to shed light on the Korean side of the story in what was a joint Korean-Japanese endeavor .2 Consequently, the role of Korean reformist officials remains largely a cipher. My study is aimed at bringing the Korean aspect of the KRM into focus through a case study of Pak Yöng-hyo's role in the movement. 1.The representative pre-1945 Japanese study on this subject is Tabohashi Kiyoshi, "Kindai Chosen ni okeru seijiteki kaikaku" [Political reform in modern Korea], in Kindai Chösenshi kenkyü [Studies in the history of modern Korea]. Chösenshi Henshükai kenkyü isan, vol. 1 (Keijö: Chosen Sòtokufu, 1944), pp. 1-302. A list of post-1945 articles and books dealing with the KRM in line with Tabohashi's view is given in my article, Yu Yöngik , "Kabo kyöngjangül wiyohan Ilbonüi tae-Han chöngch'aek: kabo kyöngjang t'ayullon e taehan sujöngjök pip'an" [Japanese policy toward Korea during the kabo reform movement : a critical réévaluation of the Japanese impact on the so-called heteronomous Korean reforms in 1894], Yöksa hakpo 65 (March, 1975): 53-54, fn. 1. 2.This point is discussed in my paper dealing with the contents ofthe reforms undertaken during the early phase of the KRM. See Young I. Lew, "An Analysis of the Reform Documents of the Kabo Reform Movement, 1894," Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities (hereafter JSSH) 40 (December, 1974): 29-85. 21 22YOUNG I. LEW As one of the most important Korean reformist officials engaged in the KRM, Pak Yöng-hyo deserves special consideration. First of all, he was uniquely qualified to undertake leadership in the pro-Japanese and pro-Western reform movement because of his unrivaled reformist background, including his active involvement in the 1884 pro-Japanese coup d'état and a prolonged exposure to Western civilization from 1882 to 1894. Secondly, he played perhaps the most active role as a reformer during the most crucial phase of the KRM, that is, from late 1894 to mid-1895. Although Pak's tenure as the leading reformist official at this time was limited to about two hundred days, he gave maximum expression to the latent aspirations of the Korean reformist officials. By examining Pak's political behavior and ideas relevant to the KRM, therefore, we can obtain a picture of a typical Korean reformist official devoted to the cause of modernization at the conclusion of the SinoJapanese War. I. Background Pak Yöng-hyo (1861-1939) was preeminently qualified for a leadership role in the Korean reform movement of 1894-1895 because of his colorful reformist background. A gifted son of an obscure yangban scholar from Suwön, he became Prince Kúmnüng, one of the ranking nobles of the Yi dynasty, by being adopted as the spouse of Princess Yönghye (1831-1872), the only daughter of the heirless King Ch'ölchong (1831-1863; r. 1849-1863), in 1872. Pak's conjugal life with the princess lasted less than three months because of her premature death, but his marital tie with the royal family, once established, gave him a distinct advantage in his subsequent political career, while obligating him to remain loyal to the Yi dynasty. In his early youth, he...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1529
Print ISSN
0145-840X
Pages
pp. 21-61
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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