To start our Japanese week we will look at some of the history behind relations between South Korea and Japan as well as the current situation.

Relations between the countries date back up to 2,000 years with the migration of Chinese writing which happened via Korea. In early Korean history there were many diplomatic exchanges between the two nations as well as trade. In the 14th Century relations became more strained partly due to Japanese pirates attacking Korean ships.

The most famous conflict between Korea and Japan came during the Joseon Dynasty with the Japanese invasions of Korea or the 7 year war (1592–1598). The war was lead by Toyotomi Hideyoshi who famously unified Japan. The war ended in death to Hideyoshi and defeat of the Japanese army by a combined Chinese and Korea resistance.

Not long after Korea became part of the Chinese Qing Dynasty this lasted until the end of the 19th century when the Japanese Empire defeated them during the First Sino-Japanese War. After this Queen Min (명성황후) was killed by Japanese assassins (Ninjas) and the defeat of Imperial Russia, Korea quickly feel and became part of the Japanese Empire in 1910.

The next 35years Korea was under the rule of the Japanese Empire, during this time there were many examples of resistance. The most famous was during the March 1st Movement in 1919; the Japanese report that 553 people were killed with over 12,000 arrested during the peaceful protest (numbers in reality were likely to be much higher). Japanese rule ended in 1945 at the end of World War 2, at which point Korea was split into North Korea and South Korea.

Positive relations started again in the 1960’s and have contained to grow and develop slowly over the past 50years.

The only current area of conflict is over Dokdo Island which is controlled by Korea but claimed by Japan. Some older Koreans still harbor resentment toward Japan due to their past occupation of South Korea.

Thank you for your time today and please check back all this week as we continue with our Japanese Week.