By Michael Finch
The diplomat and scholar-official Min Yông-hwan (1861-1905), defined via one modern Western observer as "undoubtably the 1st Korean after the emperor," is healthier remembered in Korean historiography for his pioneering international relations on the courts of Tsar Nicholas II and Queen Victoria within the overdue Nineties. in addition, he's thought of to be the key patriot of Korea's Taehan period (1897-1907). This pioneering examine of Min Yông-hwan is lengthy past due and gives us with a brand new point of view on a interval of Korean heritage that also casts its shadow over the area today.
This new biography of Min contributes considerably to our knowing of this era via having a look past the tested view of Korea as being polarized among reformists and reactionaries within the overdue Choson period. In doing so, it presents us with deeper perception into the complete variety of responses of the overdue Choson management to the twin demanding situations of inner stagnation and exterior intervention on the juncture of the 19th and 20th centuries. it will likely be crucial examining for someone attracted to the hot historical past of Korea, past due 19th century imperialism, and Russian, eastern, American, and British international coverage in northeast Asia.
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Additional info for Min Yong-Hwan: A Political Biography (Hawaii Studies on Korea)
The immediate cause of this revolt was that the regiment had received no wages for approximately thirteen months. This neglect was in stark contrast to the preferential treatment given to the Special Skills Force, which had been established by Min’s father as an élite detachment in the previous year under the direction of the Japanese military adviser Horimoto Reizo. When the Muwi Regiment was eventually paid in July, the soldiers received barely one month’s allowance of rice, half the weight of which was made up with sand and cha¤.
Kang argues that this also indicates that the essay must have been written around 1896–1897, after China’s defeat in the Sino-Japanese War. Although Kang is correct in his claim that Ch’ônilch’aek could not have been written after 1898, his argument is less convincing in setting an earliest date for the work. 3 Min argued, in fact, that Korea should maintain its traditional close relationship with China to defend itself from the dual threat posed by Russia and Japan, as the following passage clearly shows: Our country must always keep its long friendship of reliance, just like that between the lips and the teeth, with China.
He again declined the appointment because of the recent promotion of his father-in-law, Kim Myông-jin, to the post of sixth royal secretary (tongbusûng ji). 84 Perhaps as an illustration of the di‹culties faced by honest o‹cials in Kojong’s court, Hwang provided the following revealing anecdote about Kim Myôngjin and his son-in-law, Min Yông-hwan: On the occasion of the king’s birthday it was customary for governors (kamsa) and magistrates (suryông) to o¤er gifts, which would be sent to the palace by means of a relative of the royal family.
Min Yong-Hwan: A Political Biography (Hawaii Studies on Korea) by Michael Finch