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A Damocles sword?: Korean hopes betrayed

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Chapter Summary

Westerners considered Korea on an uninterrupted, unreformed, and unaltered course of decay, totally ignorant of international developments in East Asia which ultimately would threaten, like a Damocles sword, their country's independence. This chapter examines how the Koreans perceived, and reacted to, the international environment at the time of the Russo-Japanese War along with the consequences of Japan's victory on the peninsula. Most Koreans understood what was at stake when a group of Japanese ronin murdered Queen Min in October 1895. Reports on developments over Korea and Manchuria had been conveyed in detail to Koreans via their own newspapers such as the Hwangsong Sinmun and Chejuk Sinmun. Examining the reaction of Korean society to the Russo-Japanese War reveals that the "lost decade" thesis is only partially correct.

Keywords: Damocles sword; East Asia; Korean; Manchuria; Queen Min; Russo-Japanese War



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