Gojong – the first emperor of the Korean Empire

Gojong – the first emperor of the Korean Empire

On this day in 1919, Gojong, the first Korean emperor, died. He was born in 1852 in a palace in what is now Seoul, as a member of a royal dynasty that has ruled Korea since the 14th century. Prior to Gojong, Korean rulers were generally addressed in Western literature with the title King, and it was at this time that the Korean Empire was proclaimed. The purpose of this uplift was to emphasize the complete independence of Korea from the neighboring Chinese Empire, a much larger area and population. Taking the imperial title meant that Korea was equal to the Chinese Empire and no longer required to pay its tribute. Gojong became king (lower title) as early as age 11, and was proclaimed emperor in 1897, when he was in his mid-30s. Previously, the title of emperor was in principle reserved only to Chinese rulers, and the Korean kings had for centuries acknowledged a kind of vassal subjection to them. The Korean Empire had not been around for a long time as Japan quickly subjugated Korea with its powerful expansionist policies. Emperor Gojonga forced the Japanese to abdicate as early as 1907. Then his son Sunjong came to the throne for a short time, and as early as 1910, Japan annexed Korea (annexed it to its territory). An overthrown Gojong passed away at Deoksugung Palace in what is now Seoul at the age of 67.

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