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Empress Myeongseong of Joseon
Empress Myeongseong of Joseon (명성황후, 明成皇后, 1851-1895), more commonly known as Queen Min (閔妃), was the last empress of Korea. She is recognized by the Korean people as a heroine, equivalent to France's Joan of Arc.
Empress Myeongseong was the wife of Emperor Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty of the Daehan Empire. During her life as empress, she strived diplomatically and politically to keep Korea independent of foreign influence. She is credited for introducing new Western technologies, such as trains, telephones, streetcars, and electrical lights. She also proved herself brilliant when handling foreign affairs, as shown when she summoned the help of Russia and the Qing Dynasty of China to block the Japanese from taking over Korea, which was within considerable influence of Tokyo's imperialistic ambitions.
The Japanese, Emperor Meiji in particular, viewed her as an obstacle. However, efforts to neutralize her or to remove her from Korea's government continuously failed due to Emperor Gojong's devotion.
The Japanese resorted to sending ambassadors to Korea's royal court, but such efforts were eventually repelled, again by Empress Myeongseong. As a result, the Japanese minister to Korea, Miura Goro , faced with losing Korea, allegedly hired assassins to invade the Korean imperial residence and kill the empress in 1895. Other figures as well were involved as increasingly is coming to light.
The mercenary killers raped then slaughtered three women suspected of being Queen Min, and when they verified which was the Queen they raped her and they desecrated her body, displayed it to a small circle, cut it to pieces, and then burned the corpse. Other witness accounts indicate she was raped then burned alive.
These criminal acts were witnessed by Russian architects and one of the guards named Sabatin and other foreign officials, protested heavily.
Emperor Gojong, enraged over the event, posthumously awarded his late wife the title Myeongseong (bright or shining star) and enshrined her in Jongmyo , Korea's state shrine. She is the only empress enshrined in Jongmyo; all other females are queens.
There is some uncertainty about the date of Queen Min's assassination.
- List of Korea-related topics
- Queen Min of Korea - The "Last Empress"
- Queen Min of Korea: Coming to Power
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