top of page





Kapsin Coup:   Occurred on 4 December 1884; led primarily by Kim Ok-kyim. Korean reformers, with Japanese backing, killed several members of the Korean royal family and took control of the palace. On 5 December, a new government was declared. However, Chinese troops ousted the rebels from the palace; the rebels retreated under Japanese protection. The Chinese restored the old government, and the coup ended in failure. Still, the coup led to further tensions between China and Japan over the issue of Korea; these tensions were temporarily resolved by the 1885 Convention of Tianjin.


King Kojong: 1852-1919; reigned 1864-1907. Kojong is the posthumous name of Yi Myong-bok, the twenty-sixth king of the Yi house of Korea. A regency ruled for Kojong until his marriage to Queen Min in 1866, but Kojong's power was limited until the fall of the Taewon'gun in 1873. Kojong sought to bring Korea to the modern world, and the pinnacle of his foreign policy was the signing of the Treaty of Kanghwa. However, Kojong was a conservative traditionalist, and he abandoned many of the reforms instituted by his father, the Taewon'gun. Kojong was reduced to a figurehead in 1884. Forced to abdicate by the Japanese in 1907, Kojong was succeeded by his son, Sunjong, and lived out his life in retirement.


Sohak: Literally, "Western Learning." Used from the late eighteenth century to refer to Roman Catholicism; Sohak can also refer to Western science. Although Sohak and Western books were banned, there were more than 20,000 Korean Catholics by 1860.


Taewon'gun: (tehwahn goon) "Grand Prince." Although Taewon'gun is a royal title for the father of a king, the term is commonly used for a specific person, namely Yi Ha-ung, father of King Kojong. The Taewm'gun ruled Korea from 1864 to 1873.


Tonghak: "Eastern Learning." Tonghak was a religious movement, founded in 1860 by Ch'oe Che-u, that grew into a political movement.


Yangban: (yahng bahn) The educated ruling class of Yi Korea.

Glossary    Chapter 3 


bottom of page