Ch‘ao-hsien, or Chosen, or Dai Han
  • J. Scott Keltie
Part of the The Statesman’s Yearbook book series (SYBK)


The reigning monarch, whose surname is Yi and name Heui, succeeded his predecessor—now known under his posthumous title of Ch‘yelchyong—in 1864. On October 15, 1897, he assumed the title of Emperor. He is reckoned as the thirtieth in succession since the founding of the present dynasty in 1392; but four of the so-called Kings were Crown Princes who never ascended the throne. Up to July, 1894, when war was declared by Japan against China, the monarchy, which is hereditary, was practically absolute. The constitution, the penal code, and the system of official administration were framed on the Chinese model, except that the government was in the hands of a hereditary aristocracy, exclusive and corrupt. Since early times Korea had acknowledged the suzerainty of China, a suzerainty which was denied by Japan and which was one of the alleged causes of the war between China and Japan, 1894. By the treaty of Shimonoseki, May, 1895, China renounced her claim, and under Japanese influence, with the aid of money borrowed from Japan, many reforms were introduced, such as the payment of taxes in money instead of in kind; fixed salaries for government officials; a reduction in the number of useless hangers on, and an effort towards order in the departments of State. There exists, however, a strong reactionary tendency, especially in the Household Department, and various abuses have recently revived. The constitution as it at present exists may be briefly described as follows:—The Emperor is an independent sovereign, but his power is to a certain extent modified by the Cabinet, which passes resolution. and frames laws which must be submitted to the Emperor for ratifications The privileges of the aristocracy have been abolished, and the selection of officers for government posts is made by the Ministers and officials of the first order, subject to the Emperor’s approval. The central government consists of 10 departments or ministries of state. The departments are those of (1) the Cabinet, presided over by the Premier, (2) the Home Office, (3) the Foreign Office, (4) the Treasury, (5) the War Office, (6) Education, (7) Justice, (8) Agriculture, Trade and Industry, (9) Household, and (10) Police. All Ministers have a seat in the Cabinet.


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Books of Reference concerning Korea

  1. Foreign Office Reports on the Trade of Korea. Annual Series. London.Google Scholar
  2. Bibliographie Coreenne. 3 vols. Paris, 1897.Google Scholar
  3. Description of Korea (in Russian). Compiled at the Office of the Minister of Finance, 3 vols. St. Petersburg, 1900.Google Scholar
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1904

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  • J. Scott Keltie

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