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“Kill the fox!” Controversy over the murder of Queen Min

About a week ago (I just noticed it today) a documentary about the murder of Queen Min aired – unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see it and was wondering if anyone did.  This documentary was also discussed in The Chosun Ilbo.  I know this is a subject that comes up a lot, especially in late September and early October, but I am doing some research on this particular subject and am always looking for more information and opinions.

According to the article:  “The motivation behind the showing of the program (the original 2005 documentary) was to let people know the buried history between Korea and Japan at a time when Japanese interest in Korea is high due to the influence of the Korean Wave.”  The new documentary includes apologies from the descendants of some of the assassins and  according to Kim Yong-woon, the head of the Korea-Japan Cultural Exchange Council:  “The film will cause enormous repercussions in Japan because it squarely deals with a historical event that is regarded in Japan as something that never happened, and portrays descendents of the assassins visiting Korea and apologising.”

Not only was she murdered but, according to some historians, she was sexually violated even as she lay mortally wounded.  According to a Japanese historian, Fusako Tsunoda, writes:  “After many years, one of the assailants confessed that they violently slashed and committed unspeakable atrocities on the body of the empress.”  What were these unspeakable atrocities?  Henny Savenije, translated part of Prof.  Choe Mun-hyung’s book depicting the attack:

“Meanwhile the masterless samurai (Nangin pae), forcing court ladies and Crown Prince Yi, reconfirmed the identity of the dead body of the queen, and just before doing this, under the influence of alcohol, they did not hesitate to perform barbaric deeds that appear to be raping the dead body.”

I found it interesting that the Choson Ilbo pointed to Kaoru Inoue as one of the planners of this violent assassination.  I don’t have my notes with me but if memory serves me he was replaced by Goro Miura (who was part of the plot) as Minister to Korea about a month before the attack.  The material I am working on seems to indicate that Inoue had nothing to do with it - in fact, most of the books I have read seem to point to Miura as the main instigator of the attack and that the Japanese government had little knowledge of what he was planning.  I am surprised that Inoue Kakugoro (spelling?) does not get more notorioty for his role in not only Queen Min’s assassination but also the Kapsin Coup attempt.  Inoue Kakugoro was one of the early designers and writers for the oldest Korean newspapers, “Hanseong Shinbo” established by Pak Yong-ho.  He was also an advisor for the Korean Foreign Office.

It seems that this first Korean newspaper and its past is not exactly viewed by the Choson Ilbo in favorable light.  According to its article some of the men responsible for Queen Min’s murder were “a group of men with ties to the Hanseong Shinbo, the de facto organ of the then Japanese colonial government in Korea…”  The Japanese colonial government in 1895?

  • exit86

    I’d like to see a much more honest approach to this incident discussing the Korean part of the plot and murder.

  • http://adamsawry.wordpress.com Adams-awry

    Yeah. I read somewhere that the Korean guards were paid to look the other way on the night of the attack. Is that true?

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    I’d like to see a much more honest approach to this incident discussing the Korean part of the plot and murder.

    don’t hold your breath!

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    The most stunning – well, potentially stunning – claim made in connection with the release of this documentary is that the plot to assassinate Min reached into the upper echelon of the Japanese government, including in particular Ito Hirabumi. Even as ostensibly distinguished a Korean historian as Yi Tae-Jin was reported in one account I read in a Korean newspaper as saying that the evidence suggested as much. Frankly, the quoted evidence didn’t do anything of the sort, but it goes to show how judgment can be warped by mob opinion, e.g., the report today about the head of the H1N1 clinic at Incheon Hospital who claims to have been intimidated from stating his professional opinion about the danger of the flu virus being overstated: “I was shocked to see even doctors express fear about the new flu,” said Kim after participating in a meeting of 360 hospital officials to discuss government designation of hospitals capable of treating A(H1N1). “I wanted to share my opinions but I couldn’t say anything due to the grave atmosphere at the meeting.”

  • Mizar5

    By now everybody trusts the integrity of Korean scholarship, which has shown itself to be interested in a strictly dispassionate exploration of the facts, accompanied by a principled rejection of any tribumphalist, sensationalist distortions aimed at fomenting populist antipathy toward foreign nations.

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi

    King Kojong of Korea blamed his father, who finally succeeded in killing minbi after failed previous attempts. Modern Koreans blame the Japanese. Who do you suppose is correct?

  • NewYorkTom

    Why do these dipshits want to get apologies from the descendants? Retards.

  • exit86

    Gotta love how Korean “historians” come up with the brilliant, career-making idea of taking modern-day ultra-nationalism and projecting it back onto the past, so that it appears that this has always been Korea’s united stance. Anything less might make the Korean people seem like a loose, rag-tag collection of very different, very unhappy, very disconnected dark-skinned farmers and working people. (We all know that all Koreans ran around in silk traditional clothes [of course they called them "Hanbok" hundreds of years ago] and wrote Chinese poetry and ate bulgogi and
    all were respectful to their elders and enjoyed being locked into a social rank and viewed all Koreans as “one blood” and China, Japan, and those poor beggars in SE Asia always admired Korean ingenuity, warfare tactics, and aesthetics. Of course!)
    For those interested in a more clear and honest view of Koreans and their view of the Japanese during the Occupation, I strongly recommend
    Hildi Kang’s book “Under the Black Umbrella–Voices from Colonial Korea”
    where she interviews older Koreans who lived through the Occupation;
    very fresh and unfamiliar perspectives straight from the times.

  • xenomorph42

    shakuhachi September 1, 2009 at 12:29 am

    King Kojong of Korea blamed his father, who finally succeeded in killing minbi after failed previous attempts. Modern Koreans blame the Japanese. Who do you suppose is correct?

    Yea, but talking about this, most Japanese are:
    A) Unaware of that part of history, well…The young ones at least.
    B)Deny, deny, deny! The Japanese that do know about it calls these allegations media fabrication, untrue(I have constant conversations about WWII and Japan’s role and surprisingly enough, a big portion of Japan have selective memory about the issue, but boooy will they give you an ear full of Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Some people conveniently forget the many revolutions that sought to overthrow the Joseon Dynasty in the 19th century. They confuse nationalism with monarchism (correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe that Kim Gu, the former Donghak commander, nationalist, independance fighter, and the avenger of the Queen’s murder, was most certainly not a monarchist).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donghak_Peasant_Revolution

  • yuna

    Yes, but nationalism is also about letting us kill our own queen, though?

  • yuna

    xenomorph, could you comment more often especially when Shaku is about and is telling us that we don’t know about Japan because we don’t speak the language fluently or that we’ve never lived in Japan?

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi

    xenomorph42, I would say that the vast majority of Japanese are completely unaware of the assassination of Queen Min. However, rather than impute any ill will on the Japanese part for not knowing it, I would say that it is a small detail that gets into Korean specialization.

    How many Koreans know that King Kojong blamed his own father for the assassination of his wife? Once you factor in King Kojongs father, it becomes a much richer and realistic conspiracy that the reflexive assignment of total blame on the Japanese participants (and even the Japanese central government). Given that this is Korean history, shouldn’t Koreans know it?

  • yuna

    Shaku, I knew about 흥선대원군, I am sure most Koreans who know anything about MinBi knows about it. You’re right the story definitely isn’t complete without him.

  • inkevitch

    Yuna – do not take his toys away, that is just cruel. In one thread you try to start something, then the next you callously (but with ruthless efficiency) cut the argument off at the knees. Please be more consistent like Krz.

  • xenomorph42

    yuna September 1, 2009 at 11:19 am

    xenomorph, could you comment more often especially when Shaku is about and is telling us that we don’t know about Japan because we don’t speak the language fluently or that we’ve never lived in Japan?

    Sure, be more than happy to.

    shakuhachi September 1, 2009 at 11:37 am
    xenomorph42, I would say that the vast majority of Japanese are completely unaware of the assassination of Queen Min. However, rather than impute any ill will on the Japanese part for not knowing it, I would say that it is a small detail that gets into Korean specialization.

    How many Koreans know that King Kojong blamed his own father for the assassination of his wife? Once you factor in King Kojongs father, it becomes a much richer and realistic conspiracy that the reflexive assignment of total blame on the Japanese participants (and even the Japanese central government). Given that this is Korean history, shouldn’t Koreans know it?

    I agree with you Shak, I was just merely stating that one point that quite often Koreans have told me on numerous occasions that they blamed the Japanese for the demise of the former Royal Family.

  • Apollo

    this first hand account of some what happen that night
    http://koreanstudies.com/ks/ksr/queenmin.txt