1905 (17th November)
Eulsa Treaty/ Japan-Korea Treaty
The Japanese presented this treaty to Emperor Gojong
but he refused to sign. However, five pro-Japanese ministers – Yi Wan-yong (Minister of Education), Yi Geun-taek (Army Minister), Yi Ji-yong (Interior Minister), Park Je-sun (Foreign Minister) and Gwon Jung-hyeon (Agriculture Minister) agreed to sign the treaty on Korea’s behalf. They are known collectively as the five Eulsa traitors. The treaty placed Korea under the protection of Japan.
1907 (19th July)
Emperor Gojong was forced to abdicate in favour of his son, Sunjong who became Yunghui Emperor, a puppet of the Japanese. Gojong was placed under house arrest at the Deoksu Palace.
1907 (24th July)
This treaty stipulated that Korea should be under the guidance of a Japanese resident general. This effectively handed the government of the Korean Empire to Japan.
1907 (1st August)
Battle of Namdaemun
The Korean army was disbanded. Colonel Park Seung-hwan committed suicide in protest at the order. Korean soldiers refused to give up their weapons and fought against the Japanese military. However, the inferior weapons of the Koreans meant they stood no chance of victory. 68 Korean soldiers were killed, 100 wounded and 516 captured. Many of those that escaped joined the Righteous Army.
Planned liberation of Hanseong (Seoul)
The Righteous Army planned an offensive to liberate Hanseong and defeat the Japanese army stationed there. They had trained 10,000 members and marched towards Hanseong. However, 12 km outside of the city they were met by 20,000 Japanese soldiers and forced to retreat.
More than 17,000 members of the Righteous Army had been killed and 37,000 injured. Despite these heavy losses they refused to give up their fight. They split into small bands and used guerilla warfare tactics to continue their struggle against Japan.
1910 (22nd August)
Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty
Japan annexed Korea and took full control of the country signalling the end of the Korean Empire. Gojong was given the title King Emeritus Yi of Deoksu and recognised as a member of the Imperial Japanese family.
1910 (after 22nd August)
Surviving members of the Righteous army fled to Manchuria which they used as a base to continue their fight for Korean independence.
1910 (after 22nd August)
The Japanese government began a policy of eradicating Korean culture. The education system was used to produce loyal Imperial citizens. Land was taken from any landholder that could not prove ownership. Former landholders were forced to become tenant farmers of their new Japanese overlords and hand over half their produce as rent, while others fled to Manchuria. Korean peasants were forced into labour to build irrigation systems and farm rice.
An edict was issued that prevented Koreans from taking Japanese names. Those that had already done so were forced to revert to their Korean names.
The Japanese Governor-General of Korea became owner of the Korean Royal Palace (Gyeongbok Palace) originally built in 1395. Many of the buildings that made up the palace were demolished.
Around 35% of farming land was owned by Japanese.
Riots broke out in Japan because the price of rice had risen significantly. To alleviate the situation, the Japanese government increased rice production in Korea but reduced the amount for the Korean population.
1919 (21st January)
Gojong, former King and Emperor of Korea, died suddenly and unexpectedly. Many people believed he had been poisoned by the Japanese.
1919 (1st March)
March 1st Movement
This was a protest movement against Japanese occupation and suppression of Korean culture. People protested in the streets calling for Korean independence. The riots were violently suppressed by the Japanese who killed around 7,500 protesters. 46,000 Koreans were arrested.
Following the March 1st uprising, the Japanese relaxed some rules over Korea. The press was given more freedom and a civilian police force replaced the military police.
1919 (13th April)
Koreans who had fled Korea to Shanghai formed the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.
Around 40% of farming land was owned by Japanese.
1920 (6th June)
Battle of Fengwudong
This was a battle fought between Korean independence fighters and Japanese forces in Manchuria. After two days of fighting the battle was won by the Koreans.
1920 (21st October)
Battle of Qingshanli
This six-day battle was fought between the Japanese army and Korean Independence forces. Both sides claimed victory.
Efforts were made to promote the Korean language and literature in Korea and in Japan.
The Korean History Compilation Committee was established by the Japanese government to compile the history of Korea. Although ancient sites were excavated and artifacts preserved, many were falsly named or placed out of original context.
The Korean Language Society named 9th October as Hangul Day. This was done in an attempt to maintain recognition of Korean heritage.
The Gwangju Student Independence Movement began a series of protests against the ongoing Japanese occupation and rule of Korea.
In response to the Student Independence Movement protests, the Japanese resumed military rule and curbed the freedom of the press. However, the level of violence used by the Japanese against suspected participants, deepened the resentment of Koreans towards Japan.
Around 50% of farming land was owned by Japanese.
1931 (2nd July)
The numbers of Koreans in Manchuria had increased steadily over the years of Japanese Occupation of Korea. Fighting broke out between local Chinese and Korean immigrants over a waterway construction permit in Wanpaoshan. It was reported in a Korean newspaper that many Koreans had died. This sparked a wave of anti-Chinese rioting on the Korean mainland and many Chinese were killed or wounded. The Chinese government protested to Japan that it had failed to protect Chinese people in Korea.
1931 (18th September)
Japan invaded Manchuria.
1932 (28th February)
Japan succeeded in taking Manchuria. It was renamed Manchukuo. The fall of Manchuria meant that those Korean Independence guerrilla groups that had formed a base there had to flee to China.
1937 (26th November)
Shanghai fell to the Japanese. The Korean Provisional Government moved to Chongqing in China.
Japan reversed its edict of 1911 on names and now forced Koreans to give up their traditional family names and take a new surname.
The outbreak of World War Two
meant that Japanese men were conscripted into the Japanese army. To fill labour shortages, Koreans were enticed and coerced into moving to Japan to fill vacancies. It is estimated that more than 5 million Koreans were conscripted under this law and more than 600,000 were taken to Japan. Many women were taken as ‘comfort women’ and forced into sexual slavery.
1940 (17th September)
Kim Gu, leader of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, organised Korean resistance members into the Korean Liberation Army in Chungking, China.
1941 (10th December)
The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, led by Kim Gu, declared war on Japan and Germany. Independent resistance fighters were organised into the Korean Restoration Army. The Korean Restoration Army fought with China against the Japanese for the rest of World War Two.
The Japanese government introduced conscription of Koreans to work in factories and mines in Korea and Japan.
To increase agricultural output, the Japanese government founded the Central Agricultural Association.
1943 (1st December)
The United States, United Kingdom and China agreed independence for Korea ‘in due course’. The Korean Provisional Government objected to the vague phrase and demanded clarification but it was not forthcoming.
As the war turned in the Allies’ favour, the Japanese military, desperate for more soldiers, began conscripting Koreans into the army.
Korea was discussed by Winston Churchill
, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin
. It was suggested that Korea be divided and governed by the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom and China. However, no formal agreement was reached.
Independence for Korea was agreed in principal but no details were discussed.
1945 (6th August)
The United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in a bid to end World War Two.
1945 (8th August)
Russia declared war on Japan.
1945 (9th August)
The United States dropped a second atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.
1945 (9th August)
Russian troops entered Manchuria and northern Korea.
1945 (10th August)
Fearing conflict with Communist Russia after the war, United States officials agreed that Korea should be divided at the 38th parallel.
1945 (15th August)
Japan surrendered ending the Second World War. South Korea was surrendered to America while North Korea was surrendered to Russia.
1945 (late August)
Koreans formed the Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence (CPKI) and quickly established 145 branches throughout the country.
1945 (late August)
Soviet troops moved into north Korea and soon established a communist regime. This was welcomed by many pro communist Koreans who were appointed to key government positions. They also isolated north Korea above the 38th parallel.
1945 (6th September)
The CPKI elected a government for the new Korean People’s Republic.
1945 (8th September)
American troops landed in southern Korea led by Major General John Hodge. Hodge set about forming a government and completely ignored the wishes of the CPKI.
Kim Il-sung, a Korean resistance fighter who had fought against the Japanese was elected first secretary of the North Korean Central Bureau of the Communist Party.
1945 (late December)
Representatives of the United States, Soviet Union and United Kingdom met in Moscow. They decided to establish a four-way interim governance of Korea as agreed at Potsdam. A Joint United States / Soviet Commission was established to work towards unification of Korea.
As news of the four-way division of Korea leaked there were waves of violent protests by Koreans who wanted independence.
The Representative Democratic Council, comprised of Koreans, was established to act as an advisory body to the military government in South Korea.
The Joint United States / Soviet Commission met in Seoul but were unable to reach any agreement.
The issue of Korean unification was discussed by the United Nations. It was proposed that free elections should be held under the supervision of a Temporary Commission and a National Assembly formed. The Soviet Union refused to allow the Temporary Commission entry to North Korea.
1947 (31st May)
Elections were held in South Korea and Syngman Rhee was elected speaker of the new National Assembly.
1947 (15th August)
The Republic of Korea was formed with Seoul as the capital city. It was recognised by the United Nations.
1947 (18th November)
The Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea drafted a constitution.
1948 (9th September)
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was proclaimed with Pyongyang as the capital city. It was recognised by the Soviet Union.