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|Empress consort of Korea (posthumously)|
|Queen consort of Joseon|
|Tenure||20 March 1866 – 1 November 1873|
|Tenure||1 July 1894 - 6 July 1895|
|Queen regent of Joseon|
|Tenure||1 November 1873 - 1 July 1894|
|Predecessor||Heungseon Daewongun / Queen Shinjeong|
|Tenure||6 July 1895 - 8 October 1895|
|Born||17 November 1851|
Seomrak-ri, Geundong-myeon, Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, Korea
|Died||8 October 1895 (aged 43)|
Okhoru Pavilion, Geoncheong Palace, Gyeongbok Palace, Korea
|Father||Min Chi-rok, Internal Prince Yeoseong|
|Mother||Hanchang, Princess Consort to the Internal Prince|
|Revised Romanization||Myeongseong Hwanghu|
|Revised Romanization||Min Ja-yeong|
Empress Myeongseong or Empress Myung-Sung (17 November 1851 – 8 October 1895), known informally as Queen Min, was the first official wife of Gojong, the twenty-sixth king of Joseon and the first emperor of the Korean Empire.
The government of Meiji Japan (明治政府) considered Empress Myeongseong (明成皇后) an obstacle to its overseas expansion. Efforts to remove her from the political arena, orchestrated through failed rebellions prompted by the father of King Gojong, the Heungseon Daewongun (an influential regent working with the Japanese), compelled her to take a harsher stand against Japanese influence.
After Japan's victory in the First Sino-Japanese War, Joseon Korea came under the Japanese sphere of influence. The Empress advocated stronger ties between Korea and Russia in an attempt to block Japanese influence in Korea. Miura Gorō, the Japanese Minister to Korea at that time and a retired army lieutenant-general, backed the faction headed by the Daewongun, whom he considered to be more sympathetic to Japanese interests.
In the early morning of 8 October 1895, the Hullyeondae Regiment, loyal to the Daewongun, attacked the Gyeongbokgung, overpowering its Royal Guards. Hullyeondae officers, led by Major Woo Beomseon, then allowed a group of Former Samurais, specifically recruited for this purpose to infiltrate and assassinate the Empress in the palace, under orders from Miura Gorō. The assassination of the Empress ignited outrage among other foreign powers.
Domestically, the assassination prompted anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea with the "Short Hair Act Order" (단발령, 斷髮令), and some Koreans created the Eulmi Righteous Army and actively set up protests nationwide. Following the Empress's assassination, Emperor Gojong and the crown prince (later Emperor Sunjong of Korea) fled to the Russian legation in 1896. This led to the general repeal of the Gabo Reform, which was controlled by Japanese influence. In October 1897, King Gojong returned to Gyeongungung (modern-day Deoksugung). There, he proclaimed the founding of the Korean Empire.
End of an era
In 1864, Cheoljong of Joseon died suddenly as the result of suspected foul play by the Andong Kim clan, an aristocratic and influential clan of the 19th century. Cheoljong was childless and had not appointed an heir. The Andong Kim clan had risen to power through intermarriage with the royal House of Yi. Queen Cheorin, Cheoljong's consort and a member of the Andong Kim clan, claimed the right to choose the next king, although traditionally the most senior Queen Dowager had the official authority to select the new king. Cheoljong's cousin, Grand Royal Dowager Sinjeong, the widow of Heonjong of Joseon's father of the Pungyang Jo clan, who too had risen to prominence by intermarriage with the Yi family, currently held this title.
Queen Sinjeong saw an opportunity to advance the cause of the Pungyang Jo clan, the only true rival of the Andong Kim clan in Korean politics. As Cheoljong succumbed to his illness, the Grand Royal Dowager Queen was approached by Yi Ha-eung, a distant descendant of King Injo (r.1623–1649), whose father was made an adoptive son of Prince Eunsin, a nephew of King Yeongjo (r.1724–1776).
The branch that Yi Ha-eung's family belonged to was an obscure line of descendants of the Yi clan, which survived the often deadly political intrigue that frequently embroiled the Joseon court by forming no affiliation with any factions. Yi Ha-eung himself was ineligible for the throne due to a law that dictated that any possible heir had to be part of the generation after the most recent incumbent of the throne, but his second son Yi Myeongbok was a possible successor to the throne.
The Pungyang Jo clan saw that Yi Myeongbok was only 12 years old and would not be able to rule in his own name until he came of age, and that they could easily influence Yi Ha-eung, who would be acting as regent for his son. As soon as news of Cheoljong's death reached Yi Ha-eung through his intricate network of spies in the palace, he and the Pungyang Jo clan took the hereditary royal seal (considered necessary for a legitimate reign to take place and aristocratic recognition to be received), effectively giving Queen Sinjeong absolute power to select the successor to the throne. By the time Cheoljong's death became a known fact, the Andong Kim clan was powerless to act according to law because the seal already lay in the hands of Grand Royal Dowager Queen Shinjeong.
The strongly Confucian Heungseon Daewongun proved to be a capable and calculating leader in the early years of Gojong's reign. He abolished the old government institutions that had become corrupt under the rule of various clans, revised the law codes along with the household laws of the royal court and the rules of court ritual, and heavily reformed the military techniques of the royal armies. Within a few short years he was able to secure complete control of the court, and eventually receive the submission of the Pungyang Jo's while successfully disposing of the last of the Andong Kim's, whose corruption, he believed, was responsible for the country's decline in the 19th century.
A new queen
When Min Chi-rok was young, he studied under scholar Oh Hui-sang (Hangul: 오희상, Hanja: 吳熙常), and eventually married his daughter and first wife, Lady Haeryeong of the Haeju Oh clan (Hangul: 해령부부인 해주 오씨, Hanja: 海寧府夫人 海州 吳氏) (1798 - 15 March 1833). But she died at the age of 36 in 1833 with no heirs. So after mourning for 3 years, he married Yi Gyu-nyeon's daughter, Lady Hanchang of the Hansan Yi clan in 1836. Before the Empress was born, she had an older brother, and two older sisters, but they all died prematurely.
The Yeoheung Mins were a noble clan boasting many highly positioned bureaucrats in its illustrious past, princess consorts, as well as two queen consorts, Queen Wongyeong, the wife of Taejong of Joseon, and Queen Inhyeon, the wife of Sukjong of Joseon.
Before her marriage, the Empress was known as the daughter of Min Chi-rok (Korean: 민치록; Hanja: 閔致祿), Lady Min, or Min Jayeong (Hangul: 민자영, Hanja: 閔玆暎). At the age of seven, she had lost her father to an illness while he was in Sado city on 17 September 1858. The Empress and her mother moved from Seomark-ri, Geundong-myeon, Yeoju to the House of Gamgodang (Hangul: 감고당, Hanja: 感古堂), where she was raised by her mother for 8 years, and Min relatives, until she moved to the palace, and became Queen. Since her father wasn't able to decide on an heir before he died, Jayeong worked with her mother while in living in Gamgodang for 3 years. In 1861, it was decided, during King Cheoljong's 12th year of reign, that Min Seung-ho, her mother-in-law's younger brother, would become his heir. Then, her mother died from a bombing assassination in 1874, along with her adoptive older brother, Min Seung-ho.
When Lady Min became Queen Consort in 1866, her mother was given the royal title of "Lady Hanchang, Princess Consort to the Internal Prince" (Hangul: 한창부부인, Hanja: 韓昌府夫人). While her father was given the royal title of "Internal Prince Yeoseong, Min Chi-rok" (Hangul: 여성부원군 민치록, Hanja: 驪城府院君 閔致祿), and after he died he was appointed as "Yeonguijeong".
When Gojong reached the age of 15, his father decided it was time for him to be married. The Daewongun was diligent in his search for a queen who would serve his purposes: she must have no close relatives who would harbor political ambitions, yet come from a noble lineage so as to justify his choice to the court and the people. Candidates were rejected one by one, until both the Daewongun's wife, Grand Internal Princess Consort Sunmok (Yeoheung Budaebuin; 여흥부대부인, 驪興府大夫人) and his mother, Princess Consort Min, proposed a bride from their own clan, the Yeoheung Min. The two women described the girl persuasively: she was orphaned and possessed beautiful features, a healthy body, and an ordinary level of education.
The bride underwent a strict selection process, culminating in a meeting with the Daewongun on 6 March, and a marriage ceremony on 20 March 1866. There are supposedly two ways, on how the Daewongun chose Jayeong. The first being that he did not realize the Empress' tiger-like spirit and politically ambitious nature in the meeting he held as she would be his rival in the future. The second being that Jayeong held a gentleness to her. It might have been because he was afraid that the Andong Kim clan and Pyungyang Jo clan would raise again in power that he chose Jayeong, since she had no father or brother by blood, throughout the duration of the meeting which left the Daewongun satisfied. But it was said that after meeting with Jayeong, he felt slightly disturbed by her presence. Saying that she "...was a woman of great determination and poise“ but paid no mind to it and allowed her to marry his son.
Min, barely 16, married the 15-year-old king and was invested in a ceremony (책비, chaekbi) as the Queen Consort of Joseon. Two places assert claims on the marriage and ascension: both Injeong Hall (인정전) at Changdeok Palace and Norak Hall (노락당) at Unhyeon Palace. The wig typically worn by brides at royal weddings was so heavy for the slight 16-year-old bride that a tall court lady was specially assigned to support it from the back. Directly following the wedding was the three-day ceremony for the reverencing of the ancestors.
The first impression of Jayeong at the palace was that she was in fact gentle and docile, and tried to be a good daughter-in-law but as she got older, the queen became resigned due to the Heungseon Daewongun. By the time the queen did enter the palace, the 15-year-old Gojong had already favored concubine Yi Gwi-in of the Gyeongju Yi clan (Gwi-in being the first junior rank of concubine). On the day of their marriage ceremony, Gojong did not go to Queen Min's quarters but to concubine Yi Gwi-in's quarters. This would later on get the favor of the Heungseon Daewongun.
Older officials soon noticed that the new queen consort was an assertive and ambitious woman, unlike other queens preceding her. She did not participate in lavish parties, rarely commissioned extravagant fashions from the royal ateliers, and almost never hosted afternoon tea parties with the various princesses of the royal family or powerful aristocratic ladies unless politics required her to do so. While she was expected to act as an icon for Korea's high society, the queen rejected this role. Instead, she devoted time to reading books generally reserved for men (such as Spring and Autumn Annals and its accompanying Zuo Zhuan,) and furthered her own education in history, science, politics, philosophy, and religion.
By the age of twenty, the queen consort had begun to wander outside her apartments at Changgyeong Palace and to play an active part in politics in spite of the Daewongun and various high officials, who viewed her as becoming meddlesome. The political struggle between the queen consort and the Heungseon Daewongun became public when the son she bore died prematurely four days after birth. The Heungseon Daewongun publicly accused her of being unable to bear a healthy male child, while she suspected her father-in-law of foul play through the ginseng emetic treatment he had brought her. It was probably likely from then on that the Empress started to hold a strong hatred for her father-in-law. The Daewongun then directed Gojong to conceive through concubine Yi Gwi-in from the Yeongbo Hall (영보당귀인 이씨), and on 16 April 1868, she gave birth to Prince Wanhwa (완화군), to whom the Daewongun gave the title of crown prince. It was said that the Heungseon Daewongun was so overwhelmed with joy with Gojong's first born son that the Empress wasn't acknowledged as much.
However, the queen consort had begun to secretly form a powerful faction against the Heungseon Daewongun, once she reached adulthood; now, with the backing of high officials, scholars, and members of her clan, she sought to remove the Heungseon Daewongun from power. Min Seung-ho, the queen consort's adoptive older brother, along with court scholar Choe Ik-hyeon, devised a formal impeachment of the Heungseon Daewongun to be presented to the Royal Council of Administration, arguing that Gojong, now 22, should rule in his own right. In 1873, with the approval of Gojong and the Royal Council, the Heungseon Daewongun was forced to retire to Unhyeongung, his estate at Yangju. The queen consort then banished the royal concubine along with her child to a village outside the capital, stripped of royal titles. The child died on 12 January 1880.
With these expulsions, the queen consort gained complete control over her court, and placed family members in high court positions. Finally, she was a queen consort who ruled along with her husband; moreover she was recognized as being distinctly more politically active than Gojong.
The "Hermit Kingdom" emerges
After Korean refusal to receive Japanese envoys announcing the Meiji Restoration, some Japanese aristocrats favored an immediate invasion of Korea, but the idea was quickly dropped upon the return of the Iwakura Mission on the grounds that the new Japanese government was neither politically nor fiscally stable enough to start a war. When Heungseon Daewongun was ousted from politics, Japan renewed efforts to establish ties with Korea, but the Imperial envoy arriving at Dongnae in 1873 was turned away.
The Japanese government, which sought to emulate the empires of Europe in their tradition of enforcing so-called Unequal Treaties, responded by sending the Japanese gunboat Unyō towards Busan and another warship to the Bay of Yeongheung on the pretext of surveying sea routes, meaning to pressure Korea into opening its doors. The Unyō ventured into restricted waters off Ganghwa Island, provoking an attack from Korean shore batteries. The Unyō fled but the Japanese used the incident as a pretext to force a treaty on the Korean government. In 1876 six naval vessels and an imperial Japanese envoy were sent to Ganghwa Island to enforce this command.
A majority of the royal court favored absolute isolationism, but Japan had demonstrated its willingness to use force. After numerous meetings, officials were sent to sign the Ganghwa Treaty, a treaty that had been modeled after treaties imposed on Japan by the United States. The treaty was signed on 15 February 1876, thus opening Korea to Japan and the world.
Various ports were forced to open to Japanese trade, and Japanese now had rights to buy land in designated areas. The treaty also permitted the opening of the major ports, Incheon and Wonsan to Japanese merchants. For the first few years, Japan enjoyed a near total monopoly of trade, while Korean merchants suffered serious losses.
In 1877, a mission headed by Kim Gi-su was commissioned by Gojong and Min to study Japanese westernization and its intentions for Korea.
In 1881 another mission, this one under Kim Hongjip went to Japan. Kim and his team were shocked at how large the Japanese cities had become. He noted that only 50 years before, Seoul and Busan of Korea were metropolitan centers of East Asia, dominant over underdeveloped Japanese cities; but now, in 1877, with Tokyo and Osaka westernized throughout the Meiji Restoration, Seoul and Busan looked like vestiges of the ancient past.
When they were in Japan, Kim met with the Chinese ambassador to Tokyo, Ho Ju-chang and the councilor Huang Tsun-hsien. They discussed the international situation of Qing China and Joseon's place in the rapidly changing world. Huang Tsu-hsien presented to Kim a book he had written called Korean Strategy.
China was no longer the hegemonic power of East Asia, and Korea no longer enjoyed military superiority over Japan. In addition, the Russian Empire began expansion into Asia. Huang advised that Korea should adopt a pro-Chinese policy, while retaining close ties with Japan for the time being. He also advised an alliance with the United States for protection against Russia. He advised opening trade relations with Western nations and adopting Western technology. He noted that China had tried but failed due to its size, but Korea was smaller than Japan. He viewed Korea as a barrier to Japanese expansion into mainland Asia. He suggested Korean youths be sent to China and Japan to study, and Western teachers of technical and scientific subjects be invited to Korea.
When Kim returned to Seoul, Queen Min took special interest in Huang's book and commissioned copies be sent out to all the ministers. She had hoped to win yangban (aristocratic) approval to invite Western nations into Korea, to open up trade with and keep Japan in check. She wanted to first allow Japan to help in the modernization process but towards completion of certain projects, have them be driven out by Western powers.
However, the yangban aristocracy still opposed opening the country to the West. Choi Ik-hyun, who had helped with the impeachment of Heungseon Daewongun, sided with the isolationists, saying that the Japanese were just like the "Western barbarians" who would spread subversive notions like Catholicism (which had been a major issue during Heungseon Daewongun's reign and had been quashed by massive persecutions).
To the socially conservative yangban, Queen Min's plan meant the destruction of social order. The response to the distribution of "Korean Strategy" was a joint memorandum to the throne from scholars in every province of the kingdom. They stated that the ideas in the book were mere abstract theories, unrealizable in practice, and that the adoption of Western technology was not the only way to enrich the country. They demanded that the number of envoys exchanged, ships engaged in trade and articles of trade be strictly limited, and that all foreign books in Korea should be destroyed.
Despite these objections, in 1881, a large fact-finding mission was sent to Japan to stay for seventy days observing Japanese government offices, factories, military and police organizations, and business practices. They also obtained information about innovations in the Japanese government copied from the West, especially the proposed constitution.
On the basis of these reports, the Queen Consort began the reorganization of the government. Twelve new bureaus were established that dealt with foreign relations with the West, China, and Japan. Other bureaus were established to effectively deal with commerce. A bureau of the military was created to modernize weapons and techniques. Civilian departments were also established to import Western technology.
In the same year, the Queen Consort signed documents, arranging for top military students to be sent to Qing China. The Japanese quickly volunteered to supply military students with rifles and train a unit of the Korean army to use them. She agreed but reminded the Japanese that the students would still be sent to China for further education on Western military technologies.
The modernization of the military was met with opposition. The special treatment of the new training unit caused resentment among the other troops. In September 1881, a plot was uncovered to overthrow the Queen Consort's faction, depose the King, and place Heungseon Daewongun's illegitimate (third) son, Yi Jae-seon on the throne. The plot was frustrated by the Queen Consort but Heungseon Daewongun was kept safe from persecution because he was still the father of the King.
The insurrection of 1882
In June 1882, members of the old military became resentful of the special treatment of the new units and so they destroyed the house of Min Gyeom-ho and killed him, her mother-in-law's younger brother, who was the administrative head of the training units; Lee Choi-eung and Kim Bo-hyun were also killed. These soldiers then fled to the protection of the Heungseon Daewongun, who publicly rebuked but privately encouraged them. The Heungseon Daewongun then took control of the old units.
He ordered an attack on the administrative district of Seoul that housed the Gyeongbokgung, the diplomatic quarter, military centers, and science institutions. The soldiers attacked police stations to free comrades who had been arrested and then began ransacking private estates and mansions belonging to relatives of the Queen Consort. These units then stole rifles and began to kill Japanese training officers, and narrowly missed killing the Japanese ambassador to Seoul, who quickly escaped to Incheon. The military rebellion then headed towards the palace but both Queen Consort and the King escaped in disguise and fled to her relative's villa in Cheongju, where they remained in hiding.
It was also said that when Grand Internal Princess Consort Sunmok had entered the palace, she hid Empress Myseongseong, in what was probably a wooden litter she was riding on, but was seen by a court officer who then told the soldiers that were invading the palace. Her mother-in-law then tried to persuade the Heungseon Daewongun to stop chasing after the queen which gave him suspicions. The Heungseon Daewongun became resentful towards his wife after the ordeal, and kept her away from his affairs.
When the Daewongun could not find the queen, he announced "The queen is dead". Numerous supporters of the Queen Consort were put to death as soon as the Daewongun arrived and took administrative control of Gyeongbokgung Palace. He immediately dismantled the reform measures implemented by the Queen Consort and relieved the new units of their duties. Foreign policy quickly returned to isolationism, and Chinese and Japanese envoys were forced out of the capital.
Li Hongzhang, with the consent of Korean envoys in Beijing, sent 4,500 Chinese troops to restore order, as well as to secure Chinese interests in the country. The troops arrested the Heungseon Daewongun, who was then taken to China to be tried for treason. The royal couple returned and overturned all of the Daewongun's actions.
The Japanese forced King Gojong privately, without Queen Min's knowledge, to sign the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1882 on 10 August 1882, to pay 550,000 yen for lives and property that the Japanese had lost during the insurrection, and permit Japanese troops to guard the Japanese embassy in Seoul. When the Queen Consort learned of the treaty, she proposed to China a new trade agreement, granting the Chinese special privileges and rights to ports inaccessible to the Japanese. She also requested that a Chinese commander take control of the new military units and a German adviser named Paul Georg von Möllendorff to head the Maritime Customs Service.
Mission to North America
In September 1883, the Queen Consort established English language schools with U.S. instructors. She sent a special mission in July 1883 to the United States, headed by Min Yeong-ik, her adoptive nephew. The mission arrived at San Francisco carrying the newly created Korean national flag, visited many U.S. historical sites, heard lectures on U.S. history, and attended a gala event in their honor given by the mayor of San Francisco and other U.S. officials. The mission dined with President Chester A. Arthur, and discussed the growing threat of Japanese and U.S. investment in Korea. At the end of September, Min Yeong-ik returned to Seoul and reported to the Queen Consort:
I was born in the dark. I went out into the light, and, your Majesty, it is my displeasure to inform you that I have returned to the dark. I envision a Seoul of towering buildings filled with Western establishments that will place herself back above the Japanese barbarians. Great things lie ahead for this Kingdom, great things. We must take action, your Majesty, without hesitation, to further modernize this still ancient kingdom.
The reformist vs. the conservatives
The Progressives were founded during the late 1870s by a group of yangban who fully supported Westernization of Joseon. However, they wanted immediate Westernization, including a complete cut-off of ties with Qing China. Unaware of their anti-Chinese sentiments, the Queen Consort granted frequent audiences and meetings with them to discuss progressivism and nationalism. They advocated for educational and social reforms, including the equality of the sexes by granting women full rights, issues that were not even acknowledged in their already Westernized neighbor of Japan. The Queen Consort was completely enamored by the Progressives in the beginning, but when she learned that they were deeply anti-Chinese, she quickly turned her back on them. Cutting ties with China immediately was not in her gradual plan of Westernization. She saw the consequences Joseon would have to face if she did not play China and Japan off by the West gradually, especially since she was a strong advocate of the Sadae faction who were pro-China and pro-gradual Westernization.
However, in 1884, the conflict between the Progressives and the Sadaes intensified. When American legation officials, particularly Naval Attaché George C. Foulk, heard about the growing problem, they were outraged and reported directly to the Queen Consort. The Americans attempted to bring the two groups to peace with each other in order to aid the Queen Consort in a peaceful transformation of Joseon into a modern nation. After all, she liked the ideas and plans of both parties. As a matter of fact, she was in support of many of the Progressive's ideas, except for severing relations with China.
However, the Progressives, fed up with the Sadaes and the growing influence of the Chinese, sought the aid of the Japanese legation guards and staged a bloody palace coup on 4 December 1884. The Progressives killed numerous high Sadaes and secured key government positions vacated by the Sadaes who had fled the capital or had been killed.
The refreshed administration began to issue various edicts in both the King and Queen Consort's names and they were eager to implement political, economic, social, and cultural reforms. However, the Empress was horrified by the bellicosity of the Progressives and refused to support their actions and declared any documents signed in her name to be null and void. After only two days of new influence over the administration, they were crushed by Chinese troops under Yuan Shih-kai's command. A handful of Progressive leaders were killed. Once again, the Japanese government saw the opportunity to extort money out of the Joseon government by forcing Gojong, again without the knowledge of his wife, to sign a treaty. The Treaty of Hanseong forced Joseon to pay a large sum of indemnity for damages inflicted on Japanese lives and property during the coup.
On 18 April 1885 the Li-Ito Agreement was made in Tianjin, China, between the Japanese and the Chinese. In it, they both agreed to pull troops out of Joseon and that either party would send troops only if their property was endangered and that each would inform the other before doing so. Both nations also agreed to pull out their military instructors to allow the newly arrived Americans to take full control of that duty. The Japanese withdrew troops from Korea, leaving a small number of legation guards, but the Queen Consort was ahead of the Japanese in their game. She summoned Chinese envoys and through persuasion, convinced them to keep 2,000 soldiers disguised as Joseon police or merchants to guard the borders from any suspicious Japanese actions and to continue to train Korean troops.
Peace finally settled upon the once-renowned "Land of the Morning Calm." With the majority of Japanese troops out of Joseon and Chinese protection readily available, the plans for further, drastic modernization were continued. Plans to establish a palace school to educate children of the elite had been in the making since 1880 but were finally executed in May 1885 with the approval of the Queen Consort. A palace school named "Yugyoung Kung-won" (육영공원, 育英公院, Royal English School) was established, with an American missionary, Homer B. Hulbert, and three other missionaries to lead the development of the curriculum. The school had two departments, liberal education and military education. Courses were taught exclusively in English using English textbooks. However, due to low attendance, the school was closed shortly after the last English teacher, Bunker, resigned in late 1893.
The Queen Consort also gave her patronage to the first all-girls' educational institution, Ewha Academy, established in Seoul, 1886 by American missionary, Mary F. Scranton (later became the Ewha University). In reality, as Louisa Rothweiler, a founding teacher of Ewha Academy observed, the school was, at its early stage, more of a place for poor girls to be fed and clothed than a place of education. This was a significant social change. The institution survives to this day as the Ewha Woman's University - one of the Republic of Korea's top private universities and still an all-girl's school.
The Protestant missionaries contributed much to the development of Western education in Joseon Korea. The Queen Consort, unlike her father-in-law, who had oppressed Christians, invited different missionaries to enter Joseon. She knew and valued their knowledge of Western history, science, and mathematics, and was aware of the advantage of having them within the nation. Unlike the Isolationists, she saw no threat to the Confucian morals of Korean society in the advent of Christianity. Religious tolerance was another one of her goals.
The first newspaper to be published in Joseon was the "Hanseong Sunbo", an all-Hanja newspaper. It was published as a thrice monthly official government gazette by the Bakmun-guk (Publishing house), an agency of the Foreign Ministry. It included contemporary news of the day, essays and articles about Westernization, and news of further modernization of Joseon.
In January 1886, the Bakmun-guk published a new newspaper named the Hanseong Jubo (The Seoul Weekly). The publication of a Korean-language newspaper was a significant development, and the paper itself played an important role as a communication media to the masses until it was abolished in 1888 under pressure from the Chinese government.
A newspaper entirely in Hangul, making no use of the Korean Hanja script, was not published again until 1894. Ganjo Sinbo (The Seoul News) was published as a weekly newspaper under the patronage of both Gojong and the Queen Consort, it was written half in Korean and half in Japanese.
Medicine, religion, and music
The arrival of Horace Newton Allen under invitation of the Queen Consort in September 1884 marked the formal introduction of Christianity, which spread rapidly in Joseon. He was able, with the Queen Consort's permission and official sanction, to arrange for the appointment of other missionaries as government employees. He also introduced modern medicine in Korea by establishing the first western Royal Medical Clinic of Gwanghyewon in February 1885.
In April 1885, a horde of Protestant missionaries began to flood into Joseon. The Isolationists were horrified and realized they had finally been defeated by the Queen Consort. The doors to Korea were not only open to ideas, technology, and culture but also to other religions. Having lost immense power with Heungseon Daewongun (still captive in China), the Isolationists could do nothing but simply watch. Horace Grant Underwood, Lilias Underwood (née Horton), William B. Scranton and his mother, Mary Scranton, made Korea their new home in May 1885. They established churches within Seoul and began to establish centers in the countrysides. Catholic missionaries arrived soon afterwards, reviving Catholicism which had witnessed massive persecution in 1866 under Heungseon Daewongun's rule.
While winning many converts, Christian missionaries made significant contributions towards the modernization of the country. Concepts of equality, human rights and freedom, and the participation of both men and women in religious activities were all new to Joseon. The Queen Consort was ecstatic at the prospect of integrating these values within the government. She had wanted the literacy rate to rise, and with the aid of Christian educational programs, it did so significantly within a matter of a few years.
Drastic changes were made to music as well. Western music theory partly displaced the traditional Eastern concepts. The Protestant missions introduced Christian hymns and other Western songs that created a strong impetus to modernize Korean ideas about music. The organ and other Western musical instruments were introduced in 1890, and a Christian hymnal was published in the Korean language in 1893 under the commission of the Queen Consort. She herself, however, never became a Christian, but remained a devout Buddhist with influences from shamanism and Confucianism; her religious beliefs would become the model, indirectly, for those of many modern Koreans, who share her belief in pluralism and religious tolerance.
Modern weapons were imported from Japan and the United States in 1883. The first military factories were established and new military uniforms were created in 1884. Under joint patronage of Gojong & his Queen Consort, a request was made to the United States for more American military instructors to speed up the military modernization of Korea. Out of all the projects that were going on simultaneously, the military project took the longest.
In October 1883, American minister Lucius Foote arrived to take command of the modernization of Joseon's older army units that had not started Westernizing. In April 1888, General William McEntyre Dye and two other military instructors arrived from the United States, followed in May by a fourth instructor. They brought about rapid military development.
A new military school was created called "Yeonmu Gongwon", and an officers training program began. However, despite armies becoming more and more on par with the Chinese and the Japanese, the idea of a navy was neglected. As a result, it became one of the few failures of the modernization project. Due to the neglect of developing naval defence, Joseon's long sea borders were open to invasion. It was an ironic mistake since nearly 300 years earlier, Joseon's navy was the strongest in all of East Asia. Now, the Korean navy was nothing but ancient ships that could barely defend themselves from the advanced ships of modern navies.
However, for a short while, hope for the Korean military could be seen. With rapidly growing armies, Japan itself was becoming fearful of the impact of Korean troops if her government did not interfere soon to stall the process.
Following the opening of all Korean ports to the Japanese and Western merchants in 1888, contact and involvement with outsiders increased foreign trade rapidly. In 1883, the Maritime Customs Service was established under the patronage of the Queen Consort and the supervision of Sir Robert Hart, 1st Baronet of the United Kingdom. The Maritime Customs Service administered the business of foreign trade and collection of tariffs.
By 1883, the economy was now no longer in a state of monopoly conducted by Japanese merchants as it had been only a few years ago. The majority was in control by the Koreans while portions were distributed between Western nations, Japan and China. In 1884, the first Korean commercial firms such as the Daedong and the Changdong Company emerged. The Bureau of Mint also produced a new coin called "tangojeon" in 1884, securing a stable Korean currency at the time. Western investment began to take hold as well in 1886.
The German A.H. Maeterns, with the aid of the United States Department of Agriculture, created a new project called "American Farm" on a large plot of land donated by the Queen Consort to promote modern agriculture. Farm implements, seeds, and milk cows were imported from the United States. In June 1883, the Bureau of Machines was established and steam engines were imported. However, despite the fact that Gojong and his Queen Consort brought the Korean economy to an acceptable level to the West, modern manufacturing facilities did not emerge due to a political interruption: the assassination of the Queen Consort. Be that as it may, telegraph lines between Joseon, China, and Japan were laid between 1883 and 1885, facilitating communication.
Detailed descriptions of Min can be found in both The National Assembly Library of Korea and records kept by Lilias Underwood (1851 - 1921), a close and trusted American friend of Min who came to Korea in 1888 as a missionary and was appointed as her doctor.
Both sources describe the Empress' appearance, voice, and public manner. She was said to have had a soft face with strong features—a classic beauty contrasting with the king's preference for "sultry" women. Her personal speaking voice was soft and warm, but when conducting affairs of the state, she asserted her points with strength. Her public manner was formal, and she heavily adhered to court etiquette and traditional law. Underwood described the Empress in the following:
I wish I could give the public a true picture of the queen as she appeared at her best, but this would be impossible, even had she permitted a photograph to be taken, for her charming play of expression while in conversation, the character and intellect which were then revealed, were only half seen when the face was in repose. She wore her hair like all Korean ladies, parted in the center, drawn tightly and very smoothly away from the face and knotted rather low at the back of the head. A small ornament...was worn on the top of the head fastened by a narrow black band...
Her majesty seemed to care little for ornaments, and wore very few. No Korean women wear earrings, and the queen was no exception, nor have I ever seen her wear a necklace, a brooch, or a bracelet. She must have had many rings, but I never saw her wear more than one or two of European manufacture...
According to Korean custom, she carried a number of filigree gold ornaments decorated with long silk tassels fastened at her side. So simple, so perfectly refined were all her tastes in dress, it is difficult to think of her as belonging to a nation called half civilized...
Slightly pale and quite thin, with somewhat sharp features and brilliant piercing eyes, she did not strike me at first sight as being beautiful, but no one could help reading force, intellect and strength of character in that face...
Isabella Bird Bishop, a British woman who was a member of the Royal Geographical Society, had described the Empress' appearance to be that of "...a very nice-looking slender woman, with glossy raven-black hair and a very pale skin, the pallor enhanced by the use of pearl powder" while meeting with her when Bishop traveled to Korea. Bishop had also mentioned Empress Myeongseong in her book, Korea and Her Neighbours, in detail:
Her Majesty, who was then past forty, was a very nice-looking slender woman, with glossy raven-black hair and a very pale skin, the pallor enhanced by the use of pearl powder. The eyes were cold and keen, and the general expression one of brilliant expression. She wore a very handsome, very full, and very long skirt of mazarine blue brocade, heavily pleated, with the waist under the arms, and a full sleeved bodice of crimson and blue brocade, clasped at the throat by a coral rosette, and girdled by six crimson and blue cords, each one clasped with a coral rosette, with a crimson silk tassel hanging from it. Her headdress was a crownless black silk cap edged with fur, pointed over the brow, with a coral rose and full red tassel in front, and jewelled aigrettes on either side. Her shoes were of the same brocade of her dress. As soon as she began to speak, and especially when she became interested in conversation, her face lighted up into something very like beauty.— Isabella Bird Bishop (1897), Korea and Her Neighbours, Pg. 252-253
On each occasion I was impressed with the grace and charming manner of the Queen, her thoughtful kindness, her singular intelligence and force, and her remarkable conversational power even through the medium of an interpreter. I was not surprised at her singular political influence, or her sway over the King and many others. She was surrounded by enemies, chief among them being Tai-Won-Gun (Daewongun), the King's father, all embittered against her because by her talent and force she had succeeded in placing members of her family in nearly all the chief offices of State. Her life was a battle. She fought with all her charm, shrewdness, and sagacity for power, for the dignity and safety of her husband and son, and for the downfall of Ta-Won-Gun.— Isabella Bird Bishop, Korea and Her Neighbours (1897), Pg. 255
William Franklin Sands, a United States diplomat who came to Korea during Japan's colonization, had also spoke about Empress Myeongseong:
She was a politician and diplomat who overtaken the times, striving for the independence of Joseon, possessing outstanding academics, strong intellectual personality, and unbending willpower
The young queen consort and her husband were incompatible in the beginning of their marriage. Both found the other's ways repulsive; she preferred to stay in her chambers studying, while he enjoyed spending his days and nights drinking and attending banquets and royal parties. The queen, who was genuinely concerned with the affairs of the state and immersed herself in philosophy, history, and science books normally reserved for yangban men, once remarked to a close friend, "He disgusts me."
Court officials noted that the queen consort was exclusive in choosing who she associated with and confided in. She chose to not consummate her marriage on her wedding night as court tradition dictated her to, but later had immense difficulty in conceiving a healthy heir. Her first pregnancy came five years after marriage, at the age of 21, and ended in despair and humiliation when her infant son died shortly after birth. This was followed with losing her first infant daughter at the age of 23, her third infant son at the age of 25, and her fourth infant son at the age of 28; leaving her with Yi Cheok, her only living child, born when she was 24. The queen's failed pregnancies were probably because of the constant conflicts she and her husband faced with the Heungseon Daewongun and other countries during the modernization of the Joseon Dynasty.
When the Royal couple married in 1866, there was already a skirmish with France occurring and during 1876, the process of the Treaty of Ganghwa had made the relationship of the Heungseon Daewongun and Gojong unbearable. As their relationship deteriorated, this led to the king's father making death threats against her, and it was most noticeable during The Insurrection of 1882, in the 1884 coup where her relatives were killed, and in 1874 when her mother died. As a result, she stopped having children as she was always exposed to danger; which was considered a bit early since royal women stopped giving birth around their early thirties.
Her second son, Sunjong, was never a healthy child, often catching illnesses and convalescing in bed for weeks. This led to the Empress to care for the Crown Prince and being anxious that a son of a concubine would replace her son, and prompted her to go after the help of shamans and giving monks beneficial positions to ask for their blessing. The Crown Prince and the Empress shared a close mother and son relationship despite her domineering personality. While Min was unable to truly connect with Gojong in the early years, trials during their later marriage brought them together.
Both the Gojong and his Queen began to grow affections for each other during their later years. Gojong was pressured by his advisers to take control of the government and administer his nation. However, one has to remember that Gojong was not chosen to become King because of his acumen (which he lacked because he was never formally educated) or because of his bloodline (which was mixed with courtesan and common blood), but because the Pungyang Jo clan had falsely assumed they could control the boy through his father. When it was actually time for Gojong to assume his responsibilities of the state, he often needed the aid of his wife to conduct international and domestic affairs. In this, Gojong grew an admiration for his wife's wit, intelligence, and ability to learn quickly. As the problems of the kingdom grew bigger and bigger, Gojong relied even more on his wife, she becoming his rock during times of frustration.
During the years of modernization of Joseon, it is safe to assume that Gojong was finally in love with his wife. They began to spend much time with each other, privately and officially. They shared each other's problems, celebrated each other's joys, and felt each other's pains. They finally became husband and wife.
His affection for her was undying, and it has been noted that after the death of his Queen Consort, Gojong locked himself up in his chambers for several weeks, refusing to assume his duties. Two days after the assassination, and under the pressure of the Japanese, Emperor Gojong lowered the Empress' position to "Bin" (Hangul: 빈, Hanja: 嬪); the title being the first rank of Women of the Internal Court.
When he finally came out of his chambers, he lost the will to even try and signed treaty after treaty that was proposed by the Japanese, giving the Japanese immense power. When his father regained political power after the death of his daughter-in-law, he presented a proposal with the aid of certain Japanese officials to lower his daughter-in-law's status as Queen Consort all the way to commoner posthumously. Gojong, a man who had always been used by others and never used his own voice for his own causes, was noted by scholars as having said, "I would rather slit my wrists and let them bleed than disgrace the woman who saved this kingdom." In an act of defiance, he refused to sign his father's and the Japanese proposal, and turned them away.
The Empress' assassination, known in Korea as the Eulmi Incident (을미사변, 乙未事變), occurred in the early hours of 8 October 1895 at Okho-ru (옥호루, 玉壺樓) in the Geoncheonggung (건청궁, 乾淸宮), which was the rear private royal residence (the king's quarters) inside Gyeongbokgung Palace.
In the early hours of 8 October, the assassination was carried out by Heungseon Daewongun's guide, which was in conflict with Empress Myeongseong. Japanese agents under Miura Goro carried out the assassination. Miura had orchestrated this incident with Okamoto Ryūnosuke (岡本柳之助), Sugimura Fukashi (杉村 濬), Kunitomo Shigeaki (國友重章), Sase Kumatetsu (佐瀨熊鐵), Nakamura Tateo (中村楯雄), Hirayama Iwahiko (平山岩彦), and over fifty other Japanese men. Said to have collaborated in this were the pro-Japanese officers Major Woo Beom-seon (우범선, 禹範善) and Major Yi Du-hwang (이두황, 李斗璜) both battalion commanders in the "Hullyeondae," a Japanese trained Regiment of the Royal Guards. The 1,000 Korean soldiers of the Hullyeondae, led by Major Woo Beom-seon[unreliable source] and Major Yi Du-hwang had surrounded and opened the gates of the palace, allowing a group of Japanese ronin to enter the inner sanctum.
Upon hearing the cry of Royal Guard Hong Gye-hoon, the Queen changed into court lady attire to disguise herself among the rest of the court ladies, and hide before the Japanese arrived at Okhoru. It is said that the empress had asked the Crown Prince if he was safe before she was killed.
As the Japanese soldiers were coming in, Gojong tried to divert their attention away from the Queen, to have her escape the palace, by putting himself in front of their search but this led them to beat the court ladies, and threatening the Crown Prince at sword point to make him talk on the whereabouts of his mother. But her son did not disclose her location, and made it safely to where his father stood to which he watched the queen run as a Japanese soldier followed her down a path with a sword. The wife of the Crown Prince, Crown Princess Consort Min (later Empress Sunmyeong), was dragged downstairs while she was with a few court ladies, had her hair cut, and was beaten by the soldiers.
In front of Gwanghwamun, the Hullyeondae soldiers led by Woo Beom-seon[unreliable source] battled the Korean Royal Guards led by Hullyeondae commander Lieutenant Colonel Hong Gye-hun (홍계훈, 洪啓薰) and An Gyeong-su (안경수, 安駉壽) incidentally. Hong Gye-hoon and Minister Yi Gyeong-jik (이경직, 李耕稙) were subsequently killed in firefight, allowing the Former samurai assassins to proceed to Okhoru (옥호루, 玉壺樓), within Geoncheonggung, and kill the Empress brutally. It was said that Yi Gyeong-ik outstretched his arms in attempt to protect the queen but it only gave away the clue as to who she was, leading to his death and queen's. It is said that Empress Sunmyeong, the empress' daughter-in-law, was a witness to her assassination as she stood in front attempting to protect her. She later died due to her depression because of it.
The corpse of the Empress, and the two court ladies that followed her ill-fate, was moved to the Daeguk Pine Tree Forest where her body was violated and then drenched in oil to be burned and buried. As news reached that Japan was involved in the assassination, an investigation was conducted in October; only a single finger bone was found within the ash and sand so it made identifying body parts hard when a eunuch reported, and gave them back to Emperor Gojong. The title of the queen was also given back.
Historian of Japan Peter Duus has called this assassination a "hideous event, crudely conceived and brutally executed." Donald Keene, who calls the queen "an arrogant and corrupt woman", says that the way in which she was murdered was nonetheless "unspeakably barbaric."
Gojong's The Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty do not have a Japanese name. The names written are: Jeong Zun (2nd Battalion Officer), Lee Doo (1st Battalion Officer), Lee Chung (Senior 2nd Battalion), Lee Chun (Deputy Commander), Gong Yu Zhen (at that time police officer).
An eye-witness account
Crown Prince Sunjong reported that he saw Korean troops led by Woo Beom-seon at the site of the assassination, and accused Woo as the "Foe of Mother". In addition to his accusation, Sunjong sent two assassins to kill Woo, an effort that succeeded in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1903. By then, Woo had married a Japanese woman, and had sired Woo Jang-choon (禹長春 우장춘), later to become an acclaimed botanist and agricultural scientist.
In 2005, professor Kim Rekho (김려춘; 金麗春) of the Russian Academy of Sciences came across a written account of the incident by a Russian architect Afanasy Seredin-Sabatin (Афанасий Иванович Середин-Сабатин) in the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire (Архив внешней политики Российской империи; AVPRI). Seredin-Sabatin was in the service of the Korean government, working with the American general William McEntyre Dye who was also under contract to the Korean government. In April, Kim made a request to the Myongji University (명지대학교; 明知大學校) Library LG Collection to make the document public. On 11 May 2005 the document was made public.
Almost five years before the document's release in South Korea, a translated copy was in circulation in the United States, having been released by the Center for Korean Research of Columbia University on 6 October 1995 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Eulmi Incident.
In the account, Seredin-Sabatin recorded:
The courtyard where the Queen (Consort)'s wing was located was filled with Japanese, perhaps as many as 20 or 25 men. They were dressed in peculiar gowns and were armed with sabres, some of which were openly visible. ... While some Japanese troops were rummaging around in every corner of the palace and in the various annexes, others burst into the queen's wing and threw themselves upon the women they found there. ... I ... continued to observe the Japanese turning things inside out in the queen's wing. Two Japanese grabbed one of the court ladies, pulled her out of the house, and ran down the stairs dragging her along behind them. ... Moreover one of the Japanese repeatedly asked me in English, "Where is the queen? Point the queen out to us!" ... While passing by the main Throne Hall, I noticed that it was surrounded shoulder to shoulder by a wall of Japanese soldiers and officers, and Korean mandarins, but what was happening there was unknown to me.
- Japanese Legation Security Group(公使館守備隊), a Joint military unit(Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy) whose provide security at Japanese Legation. commanded by legation minister Miura Gorō. the Japanese Legation Security Group were chosen as backup for assassins(Former samurais) during the Eulmi Incident, and they exchange fierce gunfire with Royal Guards commanded by General William McEntyre Dye. after the Assassination, Lieutenant Commander Niiro Tokisuke(新納時亮), a IJN Officer of the Japanese Legation Security Group write a report on the Assassination. "the King is Safe And Secure, the Queen has been Eliminated(国王無事王妃殺害)" 
- Japanese Legation Security Police Officers, commanded by legation minister Miura Gorō and led by MOFA Police Chief Inspector(外務省警部) Hagiwara Hidejiro(萩原秀次郎) at the scene. the Japanese Legation Security Police Officers wear plainclothes during the Eulmi Incident.
- 3 battalions of the Hullyeondae, commanded by Major Woo Beomseon(1st battalion), Major Yi Doohwang(2nd battalion), and Major Yi Jinho(3rd battalion). Hullyeondae commander Lieutenant Colonel Hong Gye-hun didn't notice about the betrayal of his officers and he Killed in Action by his own men.
- at least 4 Imperial Japanese Army Keijō Garrison (京城守備隊) Officers who served as Military Adviser and Instructor of the Hullyeondae including Second Lieutenant Miyamoto Taketaro (宮本竹太郞). the IJA Keijō Garrison commanded by Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office, but Second Lieutenant Miyamoto's crew joined in the Eulmi Incident without any permission from IJA General Staff Office.
- more than four dozen Former samurais including Adachi Kenzō. took the role of a vanguard. according to secret report of Ishizuka Eizo, most of them comes originally from Kumamoto Prefecture and armed with Katanas and Handguns. (in 3 December 1965, Japanese Politician Kuroyanagi Akira (黒柳明) mentioned about some part of Ishizuka Eizo's secret report in The Special Committee on Japan-Korea Treaty(日韓条約等特別委員会), House of Councillors)
- Viscount Miura Gorō, Japanese Legation minister.
- Okamoto Ryūnosuke (岡本柳之助), a legation official and former Japanese Army officer
- Hozumi Torakurō(穂積寅九郎), businessman
- Kokubun Shōtarō, Japanese legation officials
- Chief Inspector Hagiwara Hidejiro, Officer Watanabe Takajiro (渡辺 鷹次郎), Officer Oda Toshimitsu(小田俊光), Officer Naruse Kishiro(成瀬 喜四郎), Officer Yokoo Yujiro (横尾 勇次郎), Officer Sakai Masutaro(境 益太郎), Officer Shiraishi Yoshitaro(白石 由太郎), Officer Kinowaki Yoshinori (木脇祐則), Japanese legation officials(Japanese Legation Security Police)
- Sugimura Fukashi (杉村 濬), a second Secretary of the Japanese legation, Legation minister Miura's inner circle. In his autobiography "Meiji 17~18 Year, The Record of the torment in Korea(明治廿七八年在韓苦心録)", he unilaterally claims that Eulmi Incident was his own Scheme, not a Miura.
- Adachi Kenzo, Former Samurai, editor of Japanese newspaper in Korea, Kanjō Shimpō (漢城新報, also called Hanseong Shinbo in Korean)
- Lieutenant Colonel Kusunose Yukihiko, a Artillery Officer of Imperial Japanese Army and Military Attaché at the Japanese Legation in Korea, Legation minister Miura's inner circle.
- Kunitomo Shigeaki (國友重章), one of the original Seikyōsha (Society for Political Education) members
- Shiba Shirō (柴四朗), Former Samurai, private secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce of Japan, and writer who studied political economy at the Wharton School and Harvard University. he had a close connection with Japanese Legation minister Miura Gorō because Shiba contributed to make Miura as a resident Legation minister in Korea.
- Sase Kumatetsu (佐瀨熊鐵), a physician
- Terasaki Yasukichi (寺崎泰吉), a medicine peddler
- Nakamura Tateo (中村楯雄)
- Horiguchi Kumaichi (堀口 九萬一)
- Ieiri Kakitsu (家入嘉吉)
- Kikuchi Kenjō (菊池 謙讓)
- Hirayama Iwahiko (平山岩彦)
- Ogihara Hidejiro (荻原秀次郎)
- Kobayakawa Hideo (小早川秀雄), editor in chief of Kanjō Shimpō
- Sasaki Masayuki
- Isujuka Eijoh[full citation needed]
In Korea, King Gojong declared that the following were the Eulmi Four Traitors on 11 February 1896:
The Gabo Reform and the assassination of Empress Myeongseong generated backlash against Japanese presence in Korea; it caused some Confucian scholars, as well as farmers, to form over 60 successive righteous armies to fight for Korean freedom on the Korean peninsula. The assassination is also credited as a significant event in the life of Syngman Rhee, the future first president of South Korea.
The assassination of Empress Myeongseong, and the subsequent backlash, played a role in the assassination of influential statesman and Prince Itō Hirobumi. Itō Hirobumi was a four-time Prime Minister of Japan, former Resident-General of Korea, and then President of the Privy Council of Japan. Empress Myeongseong's assassination was the first of 15 reasons given by the Korean-independence assassin An Jung-geun, who is regarded as a hero in Korea, in defense of his actions.
After the assassination, King Gojong and the Crown Prince (later Emperor Sunjong) fled for refuge to the Russian legation on 11 February 1896. Also, Gojong declared the Eulmi Four Traitors. However, In 1897, Gojong, yielding to rising pressure from both overseas and the demands of the Independence Association-led public opinion, returned to Gyeongungung (modern-day Deoksugung). There, he proclaimed the founding of the Korean Empire.
On 6 January 1897, Gojong changed Queen Min's title to "Queen Moonseong"; changing her Neungho (funeral) location to "Hongneung". But after some discussions with officials on how it was similar to King Jeongjo's "Moonseong" Siho title, Gojong changed the name to "Queen Myeongseong" on 2 March 1897 (not to be confused with Queen Myeongseong of the Cheongpung Kim clan, King Hyeonjong's wife). As Gojong proclaimed a new reign and became Emperor Gwangmu on 13 October 1897, the queen's title was also changed to "Empress Myeongseong" (Hangul: 명성태황후, Hanja: 明成太皇后); adding "Tae" (Hangul: 태, Hanja: 太) to her posthumous title in 1897.
However, after Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War and the aforementioned Hirobumi assassination in 1909, Korea succumbed to Japanese colonial rule. Prime Minister Ye Wanyong signed the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, without the knowledge of the Emperor, that would last from 29 August 1910 to 15 August 1945.
Funeral procession and tomb
On 13 October 1897, King Gojong, with Russian support, had regained his throne, and spent "a fortune" to have his beloved Queen Min's remains properly honored and entombed. On 22 November 1897, her mourning procession included 5,000 soldiers, 650 police, 4,000 lanterns, hundreds of scrolls honoring her, and giant wooden horses intended for her use in the afterlife. The honors King Gojong placed on Queen Min for her funeral was meant as a statement to her diplomatic and heroic endeavors for Korea against the Japanese, as well as a statement of his own undying love for her. Queen Min's recovered remains are in her tomb located in Namyangju, Gyeonggi, South Korea.[full citation needed].
In May 2005, 84-year-old Tatsumi Kawano (川野 龍巳), the grandson of Kunitomo Shigeaki, paid his respects to Empress Myeongseong at her tomb in Namyangju, Gyeonggi, South Korea. He apologized to Empress Myeongseong's tomb on behalf of his grandfather, however, the apology was not well received as the descendants of Empress Myeongseong pointed out that the apology had to be made on a governmental level.
Since 2009, Korean organizations have been trying to sue the Japanese government for their documented complicity in the murder of Queen Min. "Japan has not made an official apology or repentance 100 years after it obliterated the Korean people for 35 years through the 1910 Korea-Japan Annexation Treaty," the statement said. The lawsuit will be filed if the Japanese government does not accept their demands that the Japanese government issue a special statement on 15 August offering the emperor's apology and mentioning whether it will release related documents on the murder case.
- Min Hyo-son (Hangul: 민효손, Hanja: 閔孝孫)
- Lady Yun of the Papyeong Yun clan (본관: 파평 윤씨); daughter of Yun Ji-kang (윤지강의 딸)
- Min Se-ryu (Hangul: 민세류, Hanja: 閔世瑠)
- Lady Lee of the Jeonui Lee clan (본관: 전의 이씨); (이인석의 딸) daughter of Lee In-seok (이인석, 李仁錫)
- Min Gi (Hangul: 민기, Hanja: 閔機) (1504-18 January 1568)
- Lady Kim of the (old) Andong Kim clan (본관: 구 안동 김씨, 舊 安東 金氏); (김택의 딸) daughter of Kim Taek (김택, 金澤)
- Min Yu-jung (민유중, 閔維重) (1630–1687).
- Lady Yi of the Yeonan Yi clan (본관: 연안 이씨); daughter of Yi Deok-ro (이덕로, 李德老), Min Jin-hu’s second wife
- Min Ik-su (민익수, 閔翼洙) (1690–1742).
- Min Baek-bun (민백분, 閔百奮) (1723–?).
- Min Gi-hyeon (민기현, 閔耆顯) (1751 – 1 August 1811); was appointed to Kaeseong Ministry
- Lady Jeong of the Yeonil Jeong clan (본관: 연일 정씨, 延日 鄭氏) (1773 - 9 March 1838); Min Gi-hyeon’s third wife
- Min Chi-rok (민치록, 閔致祿) (1799 – 17 September 1858).
- Lady Hanchang of the Hansan Yi clan (한창부부인 이씨, 韓昌府夫人 李氏) (1818 - 30 November 1874); Min Chi-rok's second wife, (본관: 한산 이씨)
- Adoptive older brother: Min Seung-ho (민승호, 閔升鎬) (1830-30 November 1874); son of Min Chi-gu (1795-1874)
- Adoptive sister-in-law: Lady Kim of the Gwangsan Kim clan (본관: 광산 김씨, 光山 金氏) (? - ? 23 April); Min Seung-ho's first wife
- Adoptive sister-in-law: Lady Kim of the Yeonan Kim clan (본관: 연안 김씨, 延安 金氏) (? - ? 11 February); Min Seung-ho’s second wife
- Adoptive sister-in-law: Lady Yi of the Deoksu Yi clan (본관: 덕수 이씨, 德水 李氏) (? - ? 1 July); Min Seung-ho’s third wife
- Unnamed adoptive nephew (?-1874)
- Adoptive nephew: Min Yeong-ik (민영익, 閔泳翊) (1860-1914); eldest son of Min Tae-ho (1834-1884)
- Unnamed older brother; premature death
- Unnamed older sister; premature death
- Unnamed older sister; premature death
- Adoptive older brother: Min Seung-ho (민승호, 閔升鎬) (1830-30 November 1874); son of Min Chi-gu (1795-1874)
- King Gojong (later Emperor Gojong) (고종 광무제) (9 September 1852 - 21 January 1919)
- Father-in-law: Heungseon Daewongun (흥선대원군) (21 December 1820 – 22 February 1898)
- Legal father-in-law: King Munjo of Joseon (조선 문조) (18 September 1809 – 25 June 1830)
- Mother-in-law: Grand Internal Princess Consort Sunmok (순목부대부인 민씨) (3 February 1818 - 8 January 1898)
- Legal mother-in-law: Queen Shinjeong of the Pungyang Jo clan (신정왕후 조씨) (21 January 1809 - 4 June 1890)
- Father-in-law: Heungseon Daewongun (흥선대원군) (21 December 1820 – 22 February 1898)
- King Gojong (later Emperor Gojong) (고종 광무제) (9 September 1852 - 21 January 1919)
- Unnamed son (born 4 November 1871 - 8 November 1871)
- Unnamed daughter (born 13 February 1873 - 28 September 1873)
- Son: Emperor Sunjong (25 March 1874 – 24 April 1926)
- Daughter-in-law: Empress Sunmyeong of the Yeoheung Min clan (순명황후 민씨) (20 November 1872 – 5 November 1904) – daughter of Min Tae-ho, leader of the Yeoheung Min clan
- Daughter-in-law: Empress Sunjeong of the Haepyeong Yun clan (순정황후 윤씨) (19 September 1894 – 3 February 1966) – daughter of Marquis Yun Taek-yeong
- Unnamed son (born 5 April 1875 - 18 April 1875)
- Unnamed son (born 18 February 1878 - 5 June 1878)
Photographs and illustrations
Documents note that she was in an official royal family photograph. A royal family photograph does exist, but it was taken after her death, consisting of Gojong, Sunjong, and Sunjong's wife the Princess Consort of the Crown Prince. Shin Byong-ryong, a professor at Konkuk University, said that the reason why there are not many photos of Empress Myeongseong was because she lived in constant fear of being known to the public. Others believe that there is in fact a photo of her since she was politically active, and suspects that Japan had removed any traces of the Empress after her assassination, or has kept a photo of her.
Another photograph surfaces
There was a report by KBS News in 2003 that a photograph allegedly of the Empress had been disclosed to the public. The photograph was supposedly purchased for a large sum by the grandfather of Min Su-gyeong that was to be passed down as a family treasure. In the photo, the woman is accompanied by a retinue at her rear. Some experts have stated that the woman was clearly of high-rank, and possibly a wife of a bureaucrat. The woman's clothing appears to be that is worn only by the royal family however, her outfit lacked the embroideries that decorates the apparel of the empress and so some dismissed that the woman is the Empress' servant.
Alleged portraits of Empress Myeongseong
There was an original European oil painting done by an Italian artist named Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766) that was allegedly the portrait of the Empress. But it was soon found out that the painting was a portrait of Xiang Fei; a concubine of Emperor Qianlong during 18th century Qing Dynasty.
In August 2017, an antique gallery exhibition held by Daboseong Ancient Art Museum in Central Seoul, had a portrait of a woman that was assumed to be Empress Myeongseong. The woman is seen wearing a white hanbok, a white hemp hat, and leather shoes sitting on a western style chair. Kim Jong-chun, director of Daboseong Gallery, has said that upon inspection of the portrait, there were letters "Min clan" written on top and "portrait of a Madame" on the back. But due to infraring the portrait, it was damaged. Scholars and an art professor say that it is not the Empress.
On 13 January 2005, history professor Lee Tae-jin (이태진, 李泰鎭) of Seoul National University unveiled an illustration from an old Japanese magazine he had found at an antique bookstore in Tokyo. The 84th edition of the Japanese magazine Fūzokugahō (風俗畫報) published on 25 January 1895 has a Japanese illustration of Gojong and the then-Queen Consort receiving Inoue Kaoru, the Japanese chargé d'affaires. The illustration is marked 24 December 1894 and signed by the artist Ishizuka (石塚) with a legend "The [Korean] King and Queen, moved by our honest advice, realize the need for resolute reform for the first time." Lee said that the depiction of the clothes and background are very detailed and suggests that it was drawn at the scene as it happened. Both the King and Inoue were looking at the then-Queen Consort as though the conversation were taking place between the Queen and Inoue with the King listening.
In popular culture
Film and television
- Portrayed by Hwang Jeong-sun in the 1959 film Daewongun and Minbi
- Portrayed by Choi Eun-hee in the 1964 film The Sino-Japanese War and Queen Min the Heroine
- Portrayed by Do Geum-bong in the 1969 film Destiny of My Load
- Portrayed by Yoon Jeong-hee in the 1971 film The Women of Gyeongbokgung
- Portrayed by Kim Yeong-ae in the 1973 MBC TV series Queen Min
- Portrayed by Do Geum-bong in the 1973 film Three Days of Their Reign
- Portrayed by Kang Soo-yeon and Kim Yeong-ae in the 1982 KBS1 TV series Wind and Cloud
- Portrayed by Kim Ji-sook in the 1989-1990 KBS2 TV series Wind, Clouds, and Rain
- Portrayed by Kim Hee-ae in the 1990 MBC TV series 500 Years of Joseon: Daewongun
- Portrayed by Ha Hee-ra in the 1995-1996 KBS1 TV series Dazzling Dawn
- Portrayed by Moon Geun-young, Lee Mi-yeon and Choi Myung-gil in the 2001-2002 KBS2 TV series Empress Myeongseong.
- Portrayed by Soo Ae in the 2009 film The Sword With No Name.
- Portrayed by Kang Soo-yeon in the 2006 film Hanbando
- Portrayed by Seo Yi-sook in the 2010 SBS TV series Jejungwon.
- Portrayed by Ha Ji-eun in the 2014 KBS2 TV series Gunman in Joseon.
- Portrayed by Choi Ji-na in the 2015 KBS2 TV series The Merchant: Gaekju 2015
- Portrayed by Lee Yoon-jeong in the 2015 film The Sound of a Flower
- Portrayed by Kim Ji-hyeon in the 2019 SBS TV series Nokdu Flower
- Portrayed by Park Jung-yeon in the 2020 TV Chosun TV series Kingmaker: The Change of Destiny
- Empress Myeongseong (TV drama)
- The Last Empress (Musical)
- List of Korea-related topics
- History of Korea
- Joseon Dynasty
- Heungseon Daewongun
- Emperor Gojong of the Korean Empire
- Korea royal refuge at the Russian legation
- Afanasy Ivanovich Seredin-Sabatin
- Queen Wongyeong - Myeongseong's ascendant through her father
- Queen Inhyeon – Myeongseong's ascendant through her father (Min Chi-rok).
- Park, Jong-hyo (박종효) (1 January 2002). "일본인 폭도가 가슴을 세 번 짓밟고 일본도로 난자했다" [Japanese mob tramped down her breast three times and violently stabbed her with a katana]. Sindonga 新東亞. pp. 472–485.
- "Korean Women in Resistance to the Japanese". Archived from the original on 8 March 2002.
- S.C.M. Paine, The Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895: Perceptions, Power, and Primacy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 316.
- 아관파천 (in Korean). Naver/Doosan Encyclopedia.
- Kim, Wook-Dong (2019). Global Perspectives on Korean Literature. Ulsan: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 36. ISBN 9789811387272.
- Quinones, C. Kenneth (December 1980). "The Kunse Chosŏn Chŏnggam and Modern Korean Historiography". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. 40 (2): 511. doi:10.2307/2718991. JSTOR 2718991.
- Some sources say that she was born 25 September; the date discrepancy is due to the difference in the calendar systems. "Queen Min". Archived from the original on 17 February 2006.
- The house she was born in was built in 1687, in the 13th year of King Sukjong, and was rebuilt in 1975 and 1976. In 1904, a stone monument inscribed with the handwriting of her husband Gojong (called the Tangangguribi) was erected on the alleged site used by her for study. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 23 July 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- The house is that in which she lived from her birth until she was eight. In 1687, a hut for the emperor's father-in-law, the father of Queen Inhyeon, Min Yu-jung was built. Only the main building remains today, but the building was restored to its natural state in 1995. In the room where the empress studied as a child, a monument was erected inscribed with the words "Empress Myeongseong Tangangguri" (the village where Empress Myeongseong was born) to commemorate her birth. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 February 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- The inscription, measuring 250 by 64 by 45 cm3, which her husband Gojong erected in 1904 (The Gwangmu Emperor's 8th year (Gapjin), 5th month, 1st day), read 明成皇后誕降舊里碑 명성황후탄강구리비 Myeongseong Hwanghu Tangangguribi The Stone Tablet for The Empress Myeongseong's Birthplace, her Former Village. http://www.minc.kr/rhmin/queen/myungsung/11_tomb.htm#tangang
- Queen Min of Korea: Coming to Power "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 February 2006. Retrieved 19 February 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "민치록", 위키백과, 우리 모두의 백과사전 (in Korean), 12 April 2017, retrieved 10 August 2020
- 《명성황후와 대한제국》, 18~20쪽
- In Kim Dong-in's historical novel 《Spring of Unhyeongung》, Empress Myeongseong is said to be a filial child when her father Min Chi-rok was lying in bed due to illness.
- 한영우, 22쪽 ~ 23쪽에서
- 아버지가 죽은 뒤 섬락리 사저에서 한양 감고당으로 옮겨 홀어머니와 함께 지냈다
- Oh, Yeong-Seop (2007). 《한국 근현대사를 수놓은 인물들(1)》. p. 315.
- Min Seung-ho, Min Seung-ho's son, and his adoptive mother, Gamgodang Hansan Yi, all died on the spot.
- Bird Bishop, Isabella. Korea and Her Neighbours. Revell. p. 255.
She had cut many lives short, but in doing so she had not violated Korean tradition and custom, and some excuse for her lies in the fact that soon after the King's accession his father sent to the house of Her Majesty's brother an infernal machine in a shape of a beautiful box, which on being opened exploded, killing her mother, brother, and nephew, as well as some others. Since then he plotted against her own life, and the feud between them was usually at fever heat.
- 음서로 벼슬에 올라 장악원과 사도시의 첨정을 지냈으며, 딸이 왕비로 간택되면서 영의정에 추증되고 여성부원군(驪城府院君)에 추봉되었다. 
- 한영우, 24쪽 ~ 27쪽에서
- 지두환, 241쪽
- The Daewongun's wife is the Princess Consort to the Prince of the Great Court.
- Based on the existing (lunar) calendar of the time. See "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 February 2006. Retrieved 19 February 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- 이경재, 한양이야기(가람기획, 2003) 234페이지
- Cumings, Bruce. Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2005.
- Styled as "Her Majesty, the Central Hall" (jungjeon mama, 중전마마, 中殿媽媽).
- History Resources Queen Min Archived 17 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- 임중웅, 370 ~ 371쪽에서
- 한영우, 28쪽에서
- Szczepanski, Kallie, "Queen Min of Joseon Korea". http://asianhistory.about.com/od/southkorea/p/Queen-Min-of-Korea.htm
- It was said that the Empress Myeongseong disguised herself in advance by acting as Hong Gye-hoon's sister, and was carried on the back of Hong Gye-hun. She was able to escape the city and go to Yeoju to hide.
- 황현, 《매천야록》 (정동호 역, 일문서적, 2011) 55페이지
- 황현, 《매천야록》 (정동호 역, 일문서적, 2011) 56페이지
- 중궁전이 승하하여 거애하는 절차를 마련하도록 하다 조선왕조실록, 고종 19권, 19년(1882 임오 / 청 광서(光緖) 8년) 6월 10일(갑자) 7번째 기사에서.
- 임중웅, 374 ~ 375쪽
- 지두환, 245쪽
- Joseon's international relations implemented Korean Neo-Confucian ideal of "serving the great" (sadae) to Chinese Ming dynasty and later Manchu Qing dynasty.
- Neff, Robert (30 May 2010). "Korea's modernization through English in the 1880s". The Korea Times. Seoul, Korea: The Korea Times Co. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- 이화학당 梨花學堂 [Ewha Hankdang (Ewha Academy)] (in Korean). Nate/ Encyclopedia of Korean Culture. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011.
1887년 학생이 7명으로 늘어났을 때, 명성황후는 스크랜튼 부인의 노고(勞苦)를 알고 친히 '이화학당(梨花學堂)'이라는 교명을 지어주고 외무독판(外務督辦) 김윤식(金允植)을 통해 편액(扁額)을 보내와 그 앞날을 격려했다. 당초에 스크랜튼 부인은 교명(校名)을 전신학교(專信學校, Entire Trust School)라 지으려 했으나, 명성황후의 은총에 화답하는 마음으로 '이화’로 택하였다.이는 당시에 황실을 상징하는 꽃이 순결한 배꽃〔梨花〕이었는데, 여성의 순결성과 명랑성을 상징하는 이름이었기때문이다.
- The hospital was renamed "Jejungwon" on 23 April 1885. Currently, this would be the future Yonsei University & Severance Hospital.
- The former Lilias Horton, wife of Horace Grant Underwood, (1851–1921).
- Underwood, Lillias Horton (1904). Fifteen Years Among the Top-knots: Or, Life in Korea. pp. 24, 89–90.
- Neff, Robert (10 May 2020). "Beholding Queen Min". The Korea Times.
- Isabella Bird Bishop talked about serving dinner with a Western-style dining table. It was said that he was so meticulous enough to let the Sanggung attend the service. When visiting Gyeonghoeru, the court ladies and the guards followed, and he wrote that he was impressed by saying that England and Joseon were neighbors.
- Lucy Bird, Isabella (1898). Korea and Her Neighbours: A Narrative of Travel, with an Account of the Vicissitudes and Position of the Country, Volume 1. John Murray, 1905. pp. 48–49.
- “The Queen spoke of Queen Victoria, and said, “She has everything she can wish—greatness, wealth, and power. Her sons and grandsons are kings and emperors, and her daughters empresses. Does she ever in her glory think of poor Korea? She does so much good in the world, her life is good. We wish her long life and prosperity”; to which the king added, “England is our best friend”. It was really touching to hear the occupants of that ancient but shaky throne peaking in this fashion.” “The king and queen rose when I took my leave, and the Queen shook hands. They both spoke most kindly, and expressed the wish that I should return and see more of Korea.” Pg. 48-49
- Kim Jiyoung; Fertility and Childbirth among Royal Women in Nineteenth-Century Korea, Pg. 93
- Kim Jiyoung; Fertility and Childbirth among Royal Women in Nineteenth-Century Korea, Pg. 94
- Kim Jiyoung; Fertility and Childbirth among Royal Women in Nineteenth-Century Korea, Pg. 92
- Bird Bishop, Isabella. Korea and Her Neighbours. Revell. p. 253.
He was the only son and the idol of his mother, who lived in ceaseless anxiety about his health, and in dread lest the son of a concubine should be declared heir to the throne. To this cause must be attributed several of her unscrupulous acts, her invoking the continual aid of sorcerers, her always increasing benefactions to the Buddhist monks. During much of the audience mother and son sat with clasped hands.
- Lim Jong-eung, Pg. 385-387
- "민왕후를 서인으로 강등시키다". 조선왕조실록, 고종 32년. 33. 22 August 1895.
- "민왕후에게 빈의 호칭을 특사하다". 조선왕조실록, 고종 32년. 33. 23 August 1895.
- 우리곁에 살아 있는 역사의 맥박과 숨결 월간조선 2001년 3월호
- Na Gak-soon, Seung Sang-bae, Lee Chang-hoon, 《Unhyeongung Palace and Heungseon Daewon County》 (Jongno Cultural Center, 2000) Pg. 207 (나각순, 승상배, 이창훈, 《운현궁과 흥선대원군》 (종로문화원, 2000) 207페이지)
- At that time, Japan had called Empress Myeongseong a “Vixen” (Hangul: 메기쓰네, Japanese: 女狐), and the code name for the operation was called “Fox Hunting” (Hangul: 기쓰네가리, Japanese: 狐狩り)
- (in Korean) 을미사변 乙未事變 (in Korean) Naver Encyclopedia
- Hwang Won-gab, Pg. 616-617
- Lucy Bird, Isabella (1898). Korea and Her Neighbours: A Narrative of Travel, with an Account of the Vicissitudes and Position of the Country, Volume 1. John Murray, 1905. pp. 65–66.
- Ph. D., History; J. D., University of Washington School of Law; B. A., History. "Biography of Queen Min, Korean Empress". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
- Kim, Tae-ik (25 August 2009). "The Sobering Truth of Empress Myeongseong's Killing". english.chosun.com. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
- The allegation that Empress Myeongseong's dead body was humiliated by the Japanese is mentioned in the secret report of Ezo Ishizuka in Kim Jin-myeong's, "The Kidnapping Case of the Crown Princess". Also mentioned on page 385 of Lim Joong-ung's book.
- "왕후가 곤녕합에서 묘시에 붕서하다". 조선왕조실록, 고종 32년. 33: Artice 1. 20 August 1895.
- Ph. D., History; J. D., University of Washington School of Law; B. A., History. "Biography of Queen Min, Korean Empress". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
- 《Empress Myeongseong and the Korean Empire》, Pg. 58-60
- 윤, 덕한 (19 August 1999). ""민비는 외세 끌어들인 장본인"". 《뉴스플러스》: 64-65. Check date values in:
- 민왕후의 위호를 회복시키고 조령을 격소하다 조선왕조실록, 고종 33권, 32년(1895 을미 / 청 광서(光緖) 21년) 10월 10일(정축) 1번째 기사에서
- Peter Duus, The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese Penetration of Korea, 1895–1910 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995), p. 111.
- Donald Keene, Emperor of Japan: Meiji and his World, 1852–1912 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), p. 517.
- "Account Describes Empress Myongsong's Assassination". The Korea Times. 12 May 2005.
- Aleksey Seredin-Sabatin (1895). "Testimony of the Russian citizen Seredin-Sabatin, in the service of the Korean court, who was on duty the night of 26 September". Columbia University. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Reconsideration on the Murder case of the Korea's Queen(朝鮮王妃殺害事件の再考)" (PDF). January 2007. Cite journal requires
- Jeong Ji-Hwan (3 June 2002). "명성황후, 시해 전 '능욕'당했다" 한일월드컵과 107년전 '을미사변' (in Korean). OhmyNews.
- "憲政史編纂会収集文書目録". 五四六、 朝鮮王妃事件関係資料. 9 October 1895.
- "第50回国会 参議院 日韓条約等特別委員会 第9号 昭和40年12月3日". 3 December 1965. Archived from the original on 6 April 2021.
- "Descendants of Korean Queen's Assassins Apologize". The Chosun Ilbo. 9 May 2005. Archived from the original on 21 June 2006.
- Han Young-woo (한영우) (20 October 2001). Empress Myeongseong and Korean Empire (명성황후와 대한제국) (in Korean). Hyohyeong Publishing (효형출판). ISBN 89-86361-57-4.
- Peter Duus, The Abacus and the Sword, p.76
- Donald Keene, Emperor of Japan, p.520
- Donald Keene, Emperor of Japan, p.59
- Donald Keene, Emperor of Japan, p.515
- Peter Duus, The Abacus and the Sword, p.111
- Kenneth B. Pyle (1969). The New Generation in Meiji Japan: Problems of Cultural Identity, 1885–1895. Stanford University Press. p. 65. ISBN 0804706972.
- Kim Gi-cheol; Yu Seok-jae (9 May 2005). 명성황후 시해범 110년만의 사죄 (in Korean). The Chosun Ilbo.
- Donald Keene, Emperor of Japan: Meiji and his World, 1852–1912 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), p. 516.
- Han Young-woo, Empress Myeongseon and Korean Empire, p 47~50
- Joseph Cummins. History's Great Untold Stories.
- Franklin, Rausch (1 December 2013). "The Harbin An Jung-Geun Statue: A Korea/China-Japan Historical Memory Controversy". The Asia-Pacific Journal. 11 (48).
- 왕후 대행에게 문성의 시호를, 홍릉의 능호를, 경효의 전호를 주기로 의논하여 정하다 조선왕조실록, 고종 35권, 34년(1897 정유 / 대한 건양(建陽) 2년) 1월 6일(양력) 1번째 기사에서
- 시호의 문성(文成)이 정조의 시호와 같다 하여 여러 논의 끝에 음력 3월 2일 명성왕후로 개칭됐다. 왕후 대행에게 명성의 시호를 주다 조선왕조실록, 고종 35권, 34년(1897 정유 / 대한 건양(建陽) 2년) 3월 2일(양력) 5번째 기사에서.
- 고종 황제의 행장 조선왕조실록, 순종부록 10권, 12년(1919 기미 / 일 대정(大正) 8년) 3월 4일(양력) 4번째 기사에서.
- 고종이 황제의 자리에 오르고, 민왕후를 민황후로, 왕태자를 황태자로 책봉하고 산호만세 등을 창하다 조선왕조실록, 고종 36권, 34년(1897 정유 / 대한 광무(光武) 1년) 10월 12일(양력) 1번째 기사에서.
- "Assassin's Grandson Speaks of Emotional Journey". The Chosun Ilbo. 10 May 2005. Archived from the original on 14 March 2009.
- Korean Legal.org, http://www.koreaexpertwitness.com/blog/Korea,%20Don%20Southerton%20expert%20witness,%20Don%20Southerton%20Korea%20expert,%20Korea%20consulting,%20Korea%20consultant/empress-myeongseong/ Archived 13 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- His daughter became a concubine for King Yeonsangun
- Royal Consort Suk-ui of the Yeoheung Min clan is his sister who became a concubine for King Yeonsangun
- Younger brother of her mother-in-law, Grand Internal Princess Consort Sunmok (Gojong's mother)
- Empress Sunmyeong was the younger sister of Min Yeong-ik and the paternal niece of Grand Internal Princess Consort Sunmok. She is also the cousin of Gojong, Min Yeong-hwan, and Min Yeong-chan.
- "Photo of the Last Empress". KBS News. 28 December 2003. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 6 July 2006.
- "Japanese Illustration of Last Korean Queen Discovered". The Chosun Ilbo. 13 January 2005. Archived from the original on 21 June 2006.
- Kim, Ji-myung (14 December 2018). "Portraits of Queen Min and Xiang Fei". The Korea Times.
- Kwon, Mee-Yoo (15 August 2017). "1st portrait of Empress Myeongseong?".
- Bird, Isabella. (1898). Korea and her Neighbours. London: Murray. OCLC 501671063. Reprinted 1987: ISBN 9780804814898; OCLC 15109843
- Dechler, Martina. (1999). Culture and the State in Late Choson Korea. ISBN 0-674-00774-3
- Duus, Peter. (1998). The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese Penetration of Korea, 1895–1910. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520086142/ISBN 9780520213616; OCLC 232346524
- Han, Young-woo, Empress Myeongseong and Korean Empire (명성황후와 대한제국)(2001). Hyohyeong Publishing ISBN 89-86361-57-4
- Hann, Woo-Keun. (1996). The History of Korea. ISBN 0-8248-0334-5
- Keene, Donald. (2002). Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852–1912. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231123402; OCLC 46731178
- Lewis, James Bryant. (2003). Frontier Contact between Choson Korea and Tokugawa Japan. ISBN 0-7007-1301-8
- MacKensie, Frederick Arthur. (1920). Korea's Fight for Freedom. Chicago: Fleming H. Revell. OCLC 3124752 Revised 2006: ISBN 1-4280-1207-9 (See also Project Gutenberg.)
- __________. (1908). The Tragedy of Korea. London: Hodder and Stoughton. OCLC 2008452 Reprinted 2006: ISBN 1-901903-09-5
- Nahm, Andrew C. (1996). A History of the Korean People: Tradition and Transformation. (1996) ISBN 0-930878-56-6
- _________. (1997). Introduction to Korean History and Culture. ISBN 0-930878-08-6
- Schmid, Andre. (2002). Korea between Empires, 1895–1919. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231125383; ISBN 9780231125390; OCLC 48618117
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Empress Myeongseong.|
- Making of an Asian hit: A Korean royal tragedy in the Broadway style by Ricardo Saludo, Asia Week (18 December 1998)
- Characteristics of Queen of Corea, The New York Times, 10 November 1895.
- Japanese Document Sheds New Light on Korean Queen's Murder by Yoo Seok-jae, The Chosun Ilbo (12 January 2005)
- on YouTube