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Photos of Korea's Imperial Family

1897-1910 CE

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The First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 was fought in part over control of Korea. Joseon Korea and Qing China had a long-established tributary relationship. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, China was a frail shadow of its former self, while Japan grew ever more powerful.

After Japan's crushing victory in the Sino-Japanese War, it sought to sever ties between Korea and China. The Japanese government encouraged King Gojong of Korea to declare himself emperor, in order to mark Korea's independence from China. Gojong did so in 1897.

Japan went from strength to strength, though. A few years after defeating the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), Japan formally annexed the Korean Peninsula as a colony in 1910. The Korean imperial family was deposed by its former sponsors after just 13 years.

Images 1-10 of 10
Emperor Gojong was the last king of the Joseon DynastyThe Gwangmu Emperor, Founder of the Korean EmpireEmperor Gojong and Prince Imperial Yi Wang, undated photoEmperor Gojong and Prince Imperial Yi WangQueen Min is a national hero in KoreaFuneral Procession for Empress MyeongseongIto Hirobumi and the Korean Crown Prince
Yi Eun was taken to Japan at the age of 10, and married to a Japanese princessCrown Prince EuiminSunjong was the last Emperor of KoreaEmperor Sunjong of KoreaThe empress would have been a teenager when this photo was taken.Empress Sunjeong of KoreaThe date on this photo is listed as 1910-1920, but the Korean Empire ended in 1910.Empress Sunjeong's Servant
This photo of the royal tombs was taken in the old stereographic formatKorea's Royal TombsThis gisaeng girl poses in front of a bonsai palm tree, appropriately enough. Gisaeng at the Imperial Palace
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