Korean Declaration of Independence

(1919)

Context

Following the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), both of which were fought in part over control of Korean territory, Japan's takeover of Korea began in earnest with the forced signing of a protectorate treaty in 1905. After the Korean royal military was disbanded in 1907, the Korean “righteous army”—irregular militias—bitterly fought the Japanese throughout the country until 1910, when the nation was formally colonized by Japan, effectively ending the Choson Dynasty (1392–1910). According to Japanese statistics, over 2,800 clashes between Koreans and the Japanese army occurred during the period 1907–1910. By 1910 at least 17,600 Korean soldiers had died, though the numbers may have been higher.

When World War I ended, America emerged as a global leader, setting the agenda for international peace. President Woodrow Wilson expressed his vision for the postwar settlement in his Fourteen Points speech to the U.S. Congress on...

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King Kojong (Library of Congress)

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