An Unfulfilled Expectation: Britain’s Response to the Question of Korean Independence, 1903-1905

An Unfulfilled Expectation: Britain’s Response to the Question of Korean Independence, 1903-1905


  • Journal title: International Journal of Korean History
  • ISSN: 1598-2041 (print) 2508-5921 (online)
  • Publisher: Korea University, Center for Korean History
  • Country of publisher: korea, republic of
  • Date added to EuroPub: 2018/May/12

Subject and more

  • LCC Subject Category: History
  • Publisher's keywords: Anglo-Korean Relations, Kojong, Korea, Britain, British Foreign Policy, Korean Foreign Policy, Anglo-Japanese Alliance, Russo-Japanese War, Korean Independence, Korean Neutrality
  • Language of fulltext: english
  • Full-text formats available: PDF


    Euy Suk Kwon



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This article examines Britain’s response to the question of Korean independence amid Russo-Japanese rivalry between 1903 and 1905. Russo-Japanese tension reached its peak when Russians unilaterally seized and fortified Yongampo in 1903. Britain expected Korea to check the Russian penetration by opening Yongampo and the Yalu River to foreign commerce, but Korea delayed the opening until the country fell under Japanese occupation in March 1904. Korea’s reluctance to open the river also made Britain suspect Korea’s declaration of neutrality. Therefore, when the Russo-Japanese War broke out, Britain acted in cooperation with Japan when they forced Korea to accept Japanese control. Furthermore, since Korea failed to modernise the government, Britain believed that the country should be placed under the control of Japan. Although Kojong and the Korean government were seeking Britain’s support for the integrity of Korea, Britain approved Japan’s plan to make Korea a protectorate and tried to secure their commercial interest in the country.

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