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?