The following is a timeline of the Gwangmu Reform , which was a reforms for modernize Korea from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. Although many people have the notion that this period was marked with the fight for power between Heungseon Daewongun (흥선대원군, 興宣大院君 - King Gojong's father) and Queen Min (King Gojong's wife), it was rather the era of great changes relevant to modernisation after the harsh oppressive years during the "Regency" of King Gojong's father. This reform also was one of the most successful for modernising in a short period of time during Korean history. Although the reform was mostly centred on the time period after the proclamation of the Korean Empire, it includes a number of other previous events that are closely related to the reform.
Phase one of the Gwangmu Reform began with the first Korean delegation to America, and opening up for modernisation. Because of recurring Chinese interventions led by Li Hongzhang (이홍장,李鴻章), there was relatively less development of Chosun compared to Phase Three. The main innovator in this phase is Queen Min.
This phase show much development within the Korean Peninsula. It is a brief period of an intense power struggle between Japan and Russia, competing to expand their influence in the peninsula.
Phase two of the Gwangmu Reform began with the proclamation of the Korean Empire on 4 October 1897. Efforts for modernisation were spurred with the coronation of Gojong as Emperor but were restrained by Japan after the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. The main innovator in this phase is Emperor Gojong.
This was the darkest period of the Gwangmu Reform, ending with the annexation of Korea by Japan on the 29th of August, 1910.
Gojong was the penultimate Korean monarch. He ruled Korea for 43 years, from 1864 to 1907, first as the last king of Joseon, and then as the first Emperor of the Korean Empire from 1897 until his forced abdication in 1907. He is also known as the Gwangmu Emperor, and was born Yi Myŏngbok (이명복). His wife, Queen Min, played an active role in politics until her death.
The Korean Empire, officially the Empire of Korea or Imperial Korea, was a Korean monarchical state proclaimed in October 1897 by King Gojong of the Joseon dynasty. The empire stood until Japan's annexation of Korea in August 1910.
Empress Myeongseong was the official wife of Gojong, the 26th king of Joseon and the first emperor of the Korean Empire. During her lifetime, she was known by the name Queen Min. After the founding of the Korean Empire, she was posthumously given the title of Myeongseong, the Great Empress.
The Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910, also known as the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty, was made by representatives of the Empire of Japan and the Korean Empire on 22 August 1910. In this treaty, Japan formally annexed Korea following the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905 and the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1907.
Yi Seok is a South Korean entrepreneur. He is a member of the House of Yi, the royal house of Joseon and Korean Empire. He is the 10th son of Prince Yi Kang, the fifth son of Emperor Gojong, and one of his consorts, Lady Hong Chŏng-sun.
Kim Jeong-hui, also known as Gim Jeong-hui, was one of the most celebrated practitioners of calligraphy, epigraphists, and scholars of Korea's later Joseon period. He was a member of the Gyeongju Kim clan. He used various art names: Wandang (阮堂), Chusa (秋史), Yedang (禮堂), Siam (詩庵), Gwapa (果坡), Nogwa (老果) etc.. He is especially celebrated for having transformed Korean epigraphy and for having created the "Chusa-che" inspired by his study of ancient Korean and Chinese epitaphs. His ink paintings, especially of orchids, are equally admired.
Yi Kang, Prince Imperial Ui, also known as Prince Uihwa, was the second son of Emperor Gojong of Korea and his concubine, Lady Jang, who was a court lady-in-waiting.
Yi Cheong is a member of the former Imperial Family of Korea and was a Korean-Japanese noble during Korea under Japanese rule in 1945–1947. He is a great-great-grandson of Heungseon Daewongun and the eldest son of Yi U and Park Chan-ju.
The House of Yi, also called the Yi dynasty, was the royal family of the Joseon dynasty and later the imperial family of the Korean Empire, descended from the Joseon founder Yi Seong-gye. All of his descendants are members of the Jeonju Yi clan.
The Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905, also known as the Eulsa Treaty, Eulsa Unwilling Treaty or Japan–Korea Protectorate Treaty, was made between the Empire of Japan and the Korean Empire in 1905. Negotiations were concluded on November 17, 1905. The treaty deprived Korea of its diplomatic sovereignty and made Korea a protectorate of Imperial Japan. It resulted from Imperial Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.
Kim Ok-gyun was a reformist activist during the late Joseon dynasty of Korea. He served under the national civil service under King Gojong, and actively participated to advance Western European ideas and sciences in Korea. The goal of the reform movement was to develop Korea in government, technology, and military by using foreign resources to help Korea become stable enough to withstand anticipated increases in foreign encroachment. Kim was assassinated in Shanghai, and later was given the posthumous title "Chungdal".
Lee Wan-yong, also spelled Yi Wan-yong or Ye Wan-yong, was a Korean politician who served as the 7th Prime Minister of Korea. He was pro-Japanese and is best remembered for signing the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty, which placed Korea under Japanese rule in 1910.
Min Yeong-hwan was a politician, diplomat, and general of the Korean Empire and known as a conservative proponent for reform. He was born in Seoul into the powerful Yeoheung Min clan which Heungseon Daewongun hated, and committed suicide as an act of resistance against the Eulsa Treaty imposed by Japan on Korea. He is remembered today for his efforts on behalf of Korean independence in the waning days of the Joseon dynasty and a statue to his memory now stands on a traffic island near Chungjeongno Intersection, his namesake, after having previously been located at Anguk Intersection in 1957, before being moved due to road widening to near Donhwa Gate of Changdeok Palace in 1970 where it was criticized for not matching the surroundings, and then near the General Post Office next to Jogye Temple in 2003, where it was reportedly neglected until 2022.
The Gwangmu Reform was a collection of reforms that were aimed at modernizing and westernizing the Korean Empire as it felt held back from what other countries had achieved in their own process of industrial revolutions. It takes its name from Gojong, also known as the Gwangmu Emperor. The reforms that took place during the Gwangmu Era from 1897 to 1907 showed, in the long term, Korean potential for starting and achieving modernisation. This sort of development was unseen until the Chang Myon-era of the 1960s and 1970s. The Gwangmu reform later staged the fundamental background for future Korean development in infrastructure, reforming the economy and creating the nucleus of the modern bureaucracy and military.
Yu Gil-chun was a Korean independence activist and scholar.
Queen Sinjeong, of the Pungyang Jo clan, was the only wife of Crown Prince Hyomyeong and mother of Heonjong of Joseon. She was never formally a Queen but was known as Queen Dowager Jo (조대비) during the reign of her son before Cheoljong of Joseon granted her a proper title, Queen Dowager Hyoyu (효유왕대비).
Yi Yong-ik was an official, and politician of the Korean Empire. As an official, Yi was very interested in education. He established Bosung College, which later becomes Korea University. As an officer he was also a lieutenant general of the Imperial Korean Army.
Han Kyu-seol was a prime minister of Korean Empire when Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905 was signed. Han opposed the treaty, but failed to prevent it from being signed.
O Se-chang, pen name Wichang, was a Korean government official, politician, writer, calligrapher-painter, and independent activist who was active throughout the late Joseon period, Korean Empire period, and the colonial period.
The following is a family tree of Korean monarchs.