Min Yŏnghwan: The Selected Writings of a Late Chosŏn Diplomat

Min Yŏnghwan: The Selected Writings of a Late Chosŏn Diplomat

Min Yŏnghwan: The Selected Writings of a Late Chosŏn Diplomat

Min Yŏnghwan: The Selected Writings of a Late Chosŏn Diplomat

Excerpt

Min Yŏnghwan is well-known in Korea for his suicide in protest against the Japanese-Korean Treaty of Protection of 1905. The facts of his life, and in particular his contribution to Korea’s early efforts to foster diplomatic relations with the West through his mission to Russia in 1896 and to the United Kingdom in 1897 and his subsequent support for the reform platform of the Independence Club, however, are relatively less well known. As 30 November 2005 was the hundredth anniversary of Min Yŏnghwan’s death, it is hoped that this collection of translations of his major works—namely, his major policy essay of c. 1894, Ch’ŏnilch’aek (One policy out of a thousand), the diary of his mission to Russia in 1896, Haech’ŏnch’ubŏm (Sea, sky, autumn voyage), the diary of his mission to the United Kingdom in 1897, Sagusokch’o (Additional notes of an envoy to Europe), as well as a contemporary account of his protest against the 1905 Japan-Korea treaty of protection, Min Ch’ungjŏnggong sillok (Veritable account of Min Yŏnghwan)—will serve as a small commemoration of the efforts he made to ensure the continuing independence of Korea in the face of imperialist rivalry for control of the Korean Peninsula at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. The following introduction provides a brief overview of his life and the historical background of the translated documents in this collection.

Min Yŏnghwan’s Family Background

As a scion of the Yŏhŭng Min clan, Min Yŏnghwan’s ancestry may be traced back to the late-Koryŏ official Min Ch’ingdo. The line of descent continues through the early Chosŏn officials Min Sim’ŏn and Min Kwanghun, the founder of the so-called three-branch line of the Yŏhŭng Min clan, a term that derives from the fact that Min Kwanghun had three sons: Min Sijung, Min Chŏngjung, and Min . . .

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