In 1897, the Korean Empire was established. This resulted from the Donghak Peasant Revolution that lasted from 1894 to 1895. It was part of the Gabo Reforms. These reforms were put in place across Korea from 1894 to 1896, A member of the Korean royal family named King Gojong went to Deoksugung, Korea and proclaimed the creation of the Great Korean Empire. This ended Korea’s ties with China that had been in place since 1636. King Gojong became Emperor, and the head of state for the new Korean Empire. According to the Treaty of Shimonoseki signed in 1895, Korea had full and complete independence. Emperor Gojong was deposed in 1907 because of coercion from Japan. A member of the Korean family named Sunjong was then made Korea’s emperor.


Three Years Rule

Emperor Sunjong was only in power for three years. During his time as emperor, the Japanese government increased its military intervention in Korea. This intervention forced Emperor Sunjong to enter into the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1907. It was a treaty designed to permit the government of Japan to intervene and directly administer its governance of Korea. It permitted the appointment of ministers from Japan within the Korean government.


Japanese Control

During the time Korea was under Japanese supervision the Korean army was dismantled. The reason given was insufficient public funding regulations necessary to maintain a military. In 1909, implementation of the Japan-Korea Protocol was completed. This removed Korea’s judicial power over its own people. Certain key Korean politicians, such as Lee Wan-Yong and Song Byung-jun, defected to Japan. This was used to produce the false belief that Korea was willing to create the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty. It was signed on August 29, 1910.


Emperor Sunjong Rule Ends

After the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty was signed, the reign of Emperor Sunjong over the Korean Empire only existed on paper. Sunjong had no power over his country after ruling it for three years. The Korean Empire was officially abolished after having existed for over hundreds of years.


Post Abdication

The ousted Emperor Sunjong and his wife Empress Sunjeong lived like prisoners. Both of them were imprisoned in the Changdeokgung Palace located in Seoul. Emperor Sunjeong was unable to perform any duties associated with being an emperor. The Korean government at this time only had politicians who were pro-Japanese. With the ending of the Korean Empire, Emperor Sunjong was demoted. He went from being an emperor to only being a king. The Japanese did permit Sunjong to have the title of King Yi of Changdeok Palace. They also made it possible for this title to be inherited.


Empress Sunjeong

She became the wife of Emperor Sunjeong in 1904. Prior to her marriage, she was known as Lady Yun. She was born in 1893 and was 10 years old when married to Emperor Sunjong. When Korea was freed from the Japanese after World War II, Empress Sunjeong was barred from Changdeok Palace by Syngman Rhee Barred. He was the president of Korea. Empress Sunjeong was forced to live in a little cottage located on the grounds of the palace. Five years prior to her death, she was permitted to return to Changdeok Palace. She died there in 1966 at the age of 71.


Death Of Emperor Sunjong

On April 24, 1926, Emperor Sunjong died in Changdeokgung. It is believed he was the victim of poisoning. Emperor Sunjong is buried at the Imperial Tomb of Yureung. This is located in the city of Namyangju. Emperor Sunjong was given a state funeral for his burial on June 10, 1926.


Emperor Sunjong was the fourth son of Empress Myeongseong and Emperor Gojong. At the age of two, he was proclaimed to be a crown prince. He married his first wife in 1882. Her name was Princess Min Crown who became Empress Summyeonghyo. She was assassinated by the Japanese in 1895. The former Emperor Sunjong and his two wives are buried together at Imperial Tomb of Yureung.


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