Korea royal refuge at the Russian legation

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Korea royal refuge at the Russian legation
Hangul 아관파천
Hanja
Revised Romanization A Gwan Pa Cheon
McCune–Reischauer A Kwan P'a Ch'ŏn
The part of the old Russian legation building in Seoul

Korea royal refuge at the Russian legation also called Agwan Pacheon in Korean, occurred after the First Sino-Japanese War during a period of factional confrontation within the Korean royal court. King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty and his crown prince took refuge from the Gyeongbok Palace at the Russian legation in Seoul, from which they controlled the Korean government for about one year from February 11, 1896 to February 20, 1897. Their escape took place in secrecy; it was arranged by the pro-Russian official Yi Beom-jin, the Russian consul Karl Ivanovich Weber, and others.

The event, which was triggered in part by the king's fear of a coup d'état and his reaction to the murder of his wife Empress Myeongseong by the Japanese, marked a shift in Joseon politics away from the pro-Japanese reform faction and toward to the conservative faction which had been aligned with the Queen. This led to the general repeal of the Gabo Reforms.

Members of the old cabinet were killed or forced to flee, including Kim Hong-jip, Eo Yun-jung, and Yu Gil-jun. Pro-Russian and pro-American figures came to power, with Yi Beom-jin and Lee Wan-yong named to the new cabinet. Trade and resource concessions were granted to Russia, and to a lesser degree to other Western powers including the United States. Japan remained Korea's most important trading partner.

The move and associated concessions were greeted with widespread outrage within Korea, led by the Independence Club. This reaction eventually spurred the king to return to Deoksugung after slightly more than a year at the Russian embassy. Russian guards continued to guard the king upon his return to the palace. This may have contributed to the declaration of the Korean Empire later in 1897, affirming Korea's independence. Ironically, this increase in Russian influence led to the end of Korean independence. After the Russo-Japanese war, Japan decided Korea was too weak to defend its independence and made Korea a protectorate to block any other foreign power from having domination over Korea.

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