Korea’s involvement with Japan and the west at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries

Today, Korea had made its own footprints in history. This country had gone through different types of struggles, revolutions, and battle. As time goes by, Korea has become strong country to the fact that it can raise its economy and it can also contribute to the economic stability of Asia.

The purpose of this paper is to show Korea as part of the world history and its involvement to Japan and west in late 19th century and early 20th century.During the late 19th century and early 20th century, Korea become strong not only its external forces but also on its internal forces. Japan and West attempted to ‘open’ Korea. Their meaning of ‘opening’ is not just a simple opening of the country to grow and developed but there is always an internal intention within this issue. Koreans thought their country was as open as they wanted it to be-which, from the Western standpoint, was not very open.[1] Korea thought that they could embrace other cultures aside from their own; they knew that there are parts of them that were coming from other countries. However, they come to realized that they have started to close their backdoors and soon they will close their front doors to other nations but it doesn’t mean that they will not have a connection with other countries – there will still be a form of partnership between Korea and other nations but all of these will only be for business purposes.

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In short, Korea’s goal is to have their own kind of living as one country – having their own sets of beliefs, traditions, and cultures.In the modern era “opening” has been the implicit or explicit goal of every Japanese and American leader when thinking about Korea. But “opening” was the beginning of the end for old Korea, for the Sinic universe it inhabited, for a way of thinking about the relations between nations, for a way of thought. [2]Korea is a kind of nation that would truly love its tradition and culture. The purpose of the West and Japan to open Korea is to make it a modern country and leave the old Korea. In this case, Korea needs to have a make-over in terms of modernity.

But Korea refused this kind of ‘opening’. They insisted to have their own life. If ever they would like to modernize their country, it will be their choice and freedom. Therefore, no other country should make some move for them to change what they have as a country.Korea also saw Japan as a threat or a “virus” that will harm their country as it continue to rise. That this virus came first in the form of a newly rising Japan made Korean choices all the harder.[3] Because Japan continued to knock on Korea’s door to unite with them and change their country’s perspective and make some change in terms of modernity.

          On the other hand, West wanted Korea to be part of their subordinate. The Western system that Korea encountered, however, was one of fictive equality and real subordination.[4] The West wanted Korea to be part of them but not as partner or a team but to be their inferior, which will be unfair to Korea or to any other country to be in this kind of situation even if it came from a first world or a third world country. This offering was totally the opposite of what British was imposing to the world – propelling the sovereign of equality in the whole world.Korea worked on anti-foreign policy. In this view, we can see that other countries wanted Korea to open not because for its own benefit but for the benefit of the countries who wanted Korea but the attempts of these countries did not succeed because Korea make its own policy that build a gap within foreigners and natives. Korea also saw foreign countries as opportunists and they don’t want to tolerate these things, so they put up a barricade so that foreign opportunists could not make some move against them.

West wanted to invade Korea like the way they did in different parts of the world especially the Philippines. They tried to bring Christianity to Korea but Korea refused to accept this because they knew that it will be the start of colonialism of the West. The West attempted so many times but it did not succeed because all of their attempts have a purpose of evil.Like the Western powers, including the United States, the Japanese chose gunboats and the by now perennial target Kanghwa Island to make their point.[5] The West, Japan, as well as United States wanted Korea so much to be one of their colonies. They attempted to enter in different parts of Korea to invade Korea but they did not succeed. Korea was then prepared to these kinds of attacks and that is why they were not being inhabited by these countries.The early nineteenth century witnessed a period of sharp decline in Korea’s fortunes.

Agricultural production suffered, with many peasants escaping into slash-and-burn agriculture in the mountains.[6] The Korea has its ups and downs, there are times when it succeeds but it also falls. But through it all, they still continue to fight for their freedom and belief – to be what they are and to have they have.Personally, I can see that their response to the attempts of Japan and West are appropriate. Why? Because with what they have shown is not a form of hypocrisy or selfishness but it was a form of safeguarding. They want their nation to be the same form what it is.

They don’t want to abandon their tradition and culture. Korea saw that Japan and West are not good kinds of colonizers. They knew that these countries wanted them not for the development of their country but for further development of Japan and West. They also saw the struggles and pains of other countries that have been colonized by these two countries and they don’t want to experience those things.As a conclusion, the success of Korea in these struggles is a big achievement. However, the consequences follows as Korea continue to live. Their refusal to the invasion of three big countries will cause a lot of pain in their economy.

Through these situations from the past, I have realized that Korea was not just a simple country who has a simple living. Their footprints will live from the past up to the future. As they continue to strive for their own identity without any attachment from other countries, the struggle will also continue.