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Korean-Japanese Politics behind the Kabo-Ulmi Reform Movement, 1894 to 1896 YOUNG I. LEW lhe Japanese-sponsored reform movement in Korea during and after the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) has been referred to by historians as the Kabo (-Ulmi) Reform Movement, its appellation taken from the lunar calendrical names, kabo for 1894 and ulmi for 1895. Although the Kabo reforms are well known as a significant turning The author of this paper wishes to acknowledge the receipt of a generous grant from the Korean Traders Scholarship Foundation in 1980 and 1981 for preparation of this paper. Abbreviations in footnotes: H:HDP Yi Son-gun, Han'guksa: hyondae-p'yon (Seoul: Uryu munhwasa, 1963; HR: CKS Ito Hirobumi, comp., Hisho misan: Chösen köshö shiryO, 3 vols. (Tokyo: Hisho ruisan kankökai, 1936; JWM Japan Weekly Mail, Yokohama, 2 Jan. 1886-12 Feb., 1916; KHOM:I Asea munje yon- 'guso, Korea University, comp., Ku-Han'guk oegyo munsd: Il-an, 7 vols. (Seoul: Asea munje yon'guso, Korea University, 1965-70); KKR Mutsu Munemitsu, Kenkenroku (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1967); KS Kojong sillok (Seoul: T'amgudang , 1970; KSS Kuksa p'yonch'an wiwohhoe, ed., Kojong sidaesa, 6 vols. (Seoul: Kuksa p'yonch'an wiwohhoe, 1967-72); MZK Sugimura Fukashi, Meiji nijüshichi -hachi-nen zai-Kan kushinroku (Tokyo: Sugimura Yötarö, 1932); NGB Gaimusho chcsabu, comp., Nihon gaikO bunsho (Tokyo: Nihon kokusai rengó kyôkai , 1936-); NGSS Kim Chong-myong [Kin Shömei] , comp., Nikkan gaiko shiryo shüsei, 5 vols. (Tokyo: Gannandô, 1962-); TKR Kuksa p'yonch'an wiwohhoe, comp., Tonghaknan kirok, 2 vols. (Seoul: Kuksa p'yonch'an wiwohhoe, 1959); YK "Yi Chun-yong kongch'o," reprinted in Asea yon'gu 4, no. 2 (Dec. 1961): 243-88. 1. The ulmi year in the lunar calendar coincides with the period between January 26, 1895, and February 13, 1896, in the Gregorian calendar. The reform movement terminated on February 11, 1896, when the Korean king fled to the Russian legation. 39 40Journal ofKorean Studies point in modern Korean history, relatively little study has been conducted on the political factors surrounding them. Very little is known about the roles played by the reforms, which have been regarded as dominated by the Japanese, with little contribution, either positive or negative, from the Koreans. A close reading of relevant Japanese and Korean sources, however, reveals a strong Korean participation both for and against the reforms. One of the most intriguing cases was the Janus-like role played by the reigning king's father, the (Hüngsbn) Taewon'gun (personal name, Yi Ha-ung, 1820-98). The Taewon'gun was the central figure in the first phase of the Kabo reforms, first as the Japanese-supported puppet "regent" and then as the leader of a series of clandestine plots designed to drive the Japanese intruders from Korea and to thwart the Japanese-oriented reforms. He was forcibly ousted from the position of regent and his cohorts executed or purged after the plots were discovered. One of the more successful ones he set into motion was the Tonghak "righteous army" uprising that unsuccessfully fought the Japanese-led expeditionary army in late 1894. In other words, the Taewon'gun aided the cause of the reforms at their inception, only to change his mind shortly thereafter and led movements to undercut Japanese actions in Korea. His brief emergence into the limelight of power as an opportunistic statesman-reformer between July 23 and late November in 1894 illuminates the political struggle waged behind the facade of the reforms. In this essay, an attempt will be made to clarify the picture of the politics engaged in by the Korean politicians and populace vis-à-vis Japanese imperialists by focusing on the Taewôn'gun's role at the height of the reforms. This role had four major aspects: the unique situation of the Taewon'gun and his family prior to 1894; the background for his enlistment into the pro-Japanese regime on July 23, 1894; the reasons for his estrangement from his Japanese sponsors; the secret plots he promoted against the Japanese; and the retaliation the Japanese and pro-Japanese Korean collaborators meted out to him for his...