Five Eulsa Traitors

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Five Eulsa Traitors
Hangul 을사 오적
Hanja 乙巳五賊
Revised Romanization Eulsa ojeok
McCune–Reischauer Ŭlsa ojŏk

The Five Eulsa Traitors refers to those officials serving under Emperor Gojong who signed the Eulsa Treaty of 1905 making Korea a protectorate of Japan. The five officials were Education Minister Yi Wan-yong, Army Minister Yi Geun-taek (ko), Interior Minister Yi Ji-yong (ko), Foreign Affairs Minister Park Je-sun (ko), and Agriculture, Commerce, and Industry Minister Gwon Jung-hyeon (ko).

Opposition to the Treaty was made by Prime Minister Han Gyu-seol and by the ministers of finance and justice, but they and the politically weakened Gojong were unable to effectively resist the Five, even though the Emperor refused to sign the treaty himself, an act required to bring the treaty to conclusion under Korean law. The Japanese government forced Prime Minister Han to step down and installed Park in his place.

Widespread public dissatisfaction at the treaty was also directed at the five ministers, and an "assassination group" was formed targeting the five. Yi Ji-yong's house was burned in the same year. Gwon Jung-hyeon was injured in an attack in 1907, and Yi Wan-yong was seriously injured in an assassination attempt in 1909.

In 2005, the Research Center for National Issues (민족문제연구소) identified the names of the five officials responsible for the Eulsa Treaty, as part of its efforts to compile a directory of individual Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese before and during its colonial rule.

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