Donghak Peasant Revolution

The Rise of Japan

East Asia 1894.0609

Donghak Peasant Revolution

The Rise of Japan, the Spanish-American War, and the Boxer Rebellion (9 June 1894)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

In 1894, peasants and followers of the Donghak religious movement revolted against corrupt government officials in Korea. Alarmed, the Korean government appealed to China to intervene. China did so, but so did Japan, leading both countries to land troops in Korea the same day.

Notes

Treaty Ports

Treaty ports - the small unlabelled circles on the map - were towns opened to foreign trade by unequal treaties in China, Japan, and Korea. Foreigners operating within treaty ports enjoyed extraterritoriality, being subject to their home country's laws. Unlike concessions such as Hong Kong, these territories were not directly leased by the foreign powers and did not have sizable foreign garrisons.

Only treaty ports that were opened by treaty and used are shown on the maps. Treaty ports are also not generally shown in places which are already covered by concessions or under occupation. Treaty ports are not shown after the 1911 Chinese Revolution, although they continued on into the 1940s.

Yangtze River

By the terms of the Treaty of Tientsin (1858), foreign vessels including warships had the right to free navigation on the Yangtze River. In practical terms, this right extended only as far as Yichang until 1900, when advances in steam navigation allowed access as far inland as Chongqing.

Main Events

Franco-Siamese Treaty

The French Third Republic signed the Franco-Siamese Treaty with the Kingdom of Siam, bringing an end to the Franco-Siamese War. By the terms of the treaty, Siam ceded Laos to France, which added this new protectorate to French Indochina. The French continued to occupy Chanthaburi and Trat up until 1907, when Siam agreed to cede further provinces to them.

First Donghak Revolt

In March 1894, aggravated peasants and followers of the pantheistic Donghak religion rose up in southwest Korea under the leadership of Jeon Bongjun and Kim Gaenam. Defeating government forces in Hwangto Pass and the Hwangryong River, the rebels advanced to capture Jeonju Fortress - the political center of the region - in May, threatening to march on Seoul.

Japanese landing in Incheon

Suspecting that the Chinese may be asked to send forces to Korea to suppress the Donghak rebellion, Japan dispatched its own contingent of troops on 2 June 1894. These arrived in Incheon some days later and, between 10 and 12 June, were followed up by reinforcements bringing the Japanese total up to over 8,000 - significantly more than the Chinese had in the region. On 7 June, in accordance with the 1885 Treaty of Tientsin, both China and Japan notified each other that they were deploying troops to Korea.

Chinese landing in Asan

On 3 June 1894, the Korean government requested Chinese support in suppressing the Donghak peasant rebellion. In response, China dispatched armed forces to Korea, with two warships reaching Incheon on 5 June and 2,000 troops arriving in Asan between 8 and 12 June.

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