The Japanese Occupation of Korea
Japanese troops marching through Seoul
During the 19th century, Korea became a geopolitical pawn as its strategic location made it attractive target for the neighbouring nations of Japan, China and Russia. After defeating China in the Sino-Japanese War in 1895 and Russia in the 1905 Russo-Japanese War, Japan became the dominant military power in North East Asia. In 1905, Japan assumed control of Korea and by 1910 it had formerly annexed the country making it Japan’s first colony, bringing an end to the Joseon dynasty. This marked the beginning of a period of Japanese rule that would last over 30 years and is seen as being the darkest period in Korea’s history.
During this time Japanese became the official language and Koreans were not allowed to speak or write in their native tongue. Government functions and industries were taken over by the Japanese and the economy was geared to towards providing Japan with the materials and food to continue its imperialistic expansion.
Korean culture was suppressed and those who protested against colonial rule were either killed or put in prison. The exploitation and oppression of the Korean people continued up until the end of the Second World War, when Korea was finally liberated by the Allied forces.