The new historical materials related to the “Otomi Incident” were exposed after research. The author of the letter Horiguchi Jiwani was working at the Japanese Consulate in North Korea at that time.
A personal letter written by a Japanese diplomat in North Korea 126 years ago was exposed by the Japanese media and caused an uproar in South Korean public opinion.
The diplomat’s name was Horiguchi Niuwan. He revealed to his friends that he had participated in the assassination of Queen Mingcheng of North Korea (ie, Concubine Min, the concubine of King Gojong of North Korea). The Korean academic circles believe that this is a new clue from the Japanese high-level officials involved in the “Yiwei Incident” (also known as the “Minfei murder incident”), especially the content of the letter “(Assassination) is simpler than expected”, which stings a lot more The hearts of the Korean people. South Korean public opinion said that this incident has always been an unhealed wound of the people of the peninsula, but Japan regards it as “a history that has never happened at all.”
Assassinating the princess is “easier than imagined”
”We killed the princess” “It is my task to invade the palace. Over the wall (slightly omitted) and barely enter the Oku Palace, kill the princess” “(Assassination) is simpler than expected, but it is very surprising”…This It is the relevant content disclosed in the November 16 report of Japan’s “Asahi Shimbun”. According to the report, Horiguchi Jiwanyi (1865-1945), a former consular assistant in the Korean Embassy, wrote a letter to a friend in Niigata Prefecture on the day after Concubine Min was killed (October 9, 1895). The murder was recorded in detail. The passing of Concubine Min. At that time, he was a member of the assassination team composed of Japanese diplomats, police and civilians. The Okugoden in the letter was the palace of the royal concubine of the Joseon Dynasty.
In the early morning of October 8th that year, the assassination team assassinated Concubine Min and burned her body. At that time, North Korea had no jurisdiction due to the extraterritoriality clause in the unequal treaty signed with Japan. A 48-person assassination team was sent back to Japan. In the end, the Hiroshima court released everyone on the grounds of “insufficient evidence”.
In the 1930s, Horiguchi Jiwanyi reviewed the incident. At that time, he claimed that King Lee of the Heungsun Dayuan, the father of King Gaozong of North Korea, should have sent him three “uprising poems” on the eve of the incident, revealing his coup attempt. However, in the newly discovered letter, Horiguchi Jiwanyi confirmed that although there are poems, it is “obscure and difficult to understand, I don’t know what he is talking about.”
Left: Lee Hee (1852-1919), namely Gaozong of North Korea. Right: Gaozong’s biological father, Xingxuan compound monarch Li Shiying.
It is reported that a total of 8 letters retained by Horiguchi 90,000 were discovered this time, spanning from November 17, 1894 to October 18, 1895 after the “Otomi Incident” occurred. The recipient is Sadamatsu Takeshi, a friend of Horiguchi Ninetyone. This batch of letters was passed around and was accidentally discovered by Steve Hasegawa, a Japanese-American living in Nagoya, Japan in the antique market. The “Asahi Shimbun” stated that considering the content, postmark, and sealing method of the letter, it should be Horiguchi’s handwritten letter without error. The Korean historian Jin Wenzi who once authored the book “The Murder of the Queen of Joseon and the Japanese” verified the contents of the letter, saying that “it is indeed the handwriting and seal of Horiguchi 90,000, and the content is quite credible.” Jin Wenzi said that the direct involvement of diplomats in killing the princesses stationed in the country is shocking. Horiguchi Jiwanyi’s statement more than 40 years after the incident was completely different from the statement in the letter.
Women in North Korea
In South Korea, historians have mixed opinions on Concubine Min, but no one will deny that the murder of a concubine by a foreigner who broke into the palace was an unprecedented tragedy.
On November 17, 1851, Min was born in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province. She belonged to the Liheungmin clan who became a prominent family in the Goryeo Dynasty, and has risen and fallen several times in the Joseon Dynasty. In the family, there were royal officials such as King Taejong’s princess Won Kyung, Sukjong’s princess Inhyun, and Min Weizhong. Concubine Min’s family was in the line of Min Zhenhou, Renxian’s elder brother. Concubine Min’s grandfather Min Qixian served as the second-ranking official in the judgement, and his father Min Zhilu was the fourth-ranking Dechuan county guard. In 1858, Min Zhilu died, and the Min family fell in love. In 1864, Zhezong had no heirs, and Li Xi, a 12-year-old branch of the clan, was established as Gaozong. Two years later, Min was selected as Gaozong’s concubine and married in 1866. As the regent, Li should consider that his wife and mother were both from the Lixing Min clan, and the Min clan’s father died young and the family power was weak, so he should support marrying him as a daughter-in-law.
Li Shiying did not expect that Concubine Min would become his strongest opponent in the future. At that time, North Korea had internal and external troubles. After the Meiji Restoration of Japan, North Korea put pressure on North Korea to open its ports, but failed because Lee was supposed to adopt a country-locking policy. In 1873, Concubine Min launched a coup d’etat on the grounds that “the king is pro-government”, and Li should be forced to step down. The foreign relatives group with Min at the core ruled North Korea and advertised its opening to the outside world.
In 1875, the Japanese warship “Unyang” invaded the area around Ganghwa Island and exchanged fire with the North Korean army. The Japanese army captured Yeongjong Town, forcing North Korea to sign the unequal “Ganghwa Island Treaty,” which opened the door to North Korea. Anti-Japanese sentiment among North Korean people continues to rise. In 1882, North Korea’s old-style army launched an uprising because it had not received military payments for a long time, and it also disliked the new-style army trained by the Japanese. The people joined in, burned down the Japanese embassy, overthrew the rule of the Min Fei clique, and pushed Dai Li to power again.
This incident was called the “Renwu Mutiny”, which eventually triggered simultaneous military intervention by China and Japan. More than a month later, the Min Fei Group returned to power. Since then, Japan forced North Korea to sign an unequal treaty and was able to station troops in North Korea. In 1884, North Korea took place in the “Jiashen Coup” aimed at breaking away from the Qing Dynasty and reforming its internal affairs. Concubine Min asked the Qing army to quell the coup. Japan started negotiations with North Korea and China on the grounds that the minister was attacked and the embassy was burned, and signed the “Seoul Treaty” with North Korea, and the aggressive forces went deeper into North Korea. In 1894, North Korea broke out in a peasant uprising led by Dongxuedao leader Quan Yongjun. The Joseon king turned to the Qing Dynasty to beg for aid. After the Qing army landed in Asan, Chungcheongnam-do in preparation to suppress the uprising, a large number of Japanese troops landed in Incheon under the pretext of protecting the embassy and overseas Chinese. Taking into account the complex situation at home and abroad, Quan Jingzhun agreed to negotiate with the imperial court and finally disbanded the insurgents. The imperial court agreed to the maladministrative reform proposed by him, known as the “Jonju Peace Discussion” in history. The Qing army did not come into contact with the uprising army, and the uprising died down.
The North Korean government and the Qing government suggested that China and Japan withdraw their troops at the same time. Japan not only did not agree, but also increased its troops to North Korea, attacked Gyeongbokgung Palace, put Gaozong under house arrest, disbanded the government controlled by the Min Fei clique, and supported the pro-Japanese regime headed by Li Shiying. On July 25, Japan provoked the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. With the defeat of the Qing army, China and Japan signed the Shimonoseki Treaty, and Japan completely controlled North Korea.
Japan’s expansion in North Korea and Northeast China has made Tsarist Russia unhappy. Tsarist Russia increased its penetration of North Korea through its minister to North Korea, Weber, and the confrontation between Japan and Russia in North Korea gradually intensified. The lost concubine Min turned to Russia, relied on the power of Tsarist Russia to contain Japan, and regained power.
However, the fierce internal struggle of the ruling class in North Korea is only a front-line scene for Japan and Russia to compete for North Korea. The real situation on the peninsula can be described as undercurrent and unprecedentedly complicated. In the early morning of October 8, 1895, the Japanese assassination team rushed into Gyeongbokgung Palace, took control of Gaozong, and brutally killed Concubine Min and burned his body. This woman, who once dominated North Korea, spent her life in this way.
In 1897, Gaozong changed his country name to the “Emperor of Korea”, proclaimed himself emperor, and pursued his posthumous concubine Min as “Queen of Mingcheng”.
Let the historical tragedy never repeat itself
Who actually planned this assassination? Who is involved? How exactly was Empress Mingcheng assassinated? Many details about the “Yiwei Incident” are still a mystery.
Regarding this incident, Japan and the Korean peninsula have had huge differences for a long time, especially the mastermind. “Encyclopedia of Korean National Culture Dictionary” records: “The Otsumi Incident” was commanded by the Japanese Minister in North Korea, Miura Oro, who had only been in office for 37 days, and was stationed in Seoul (now called Seoul). An action team composed of police, journalists, ronin, etc. executed. They followed the instructions of Mipo Wulou and attacked Gyeongbokgung Palace and killed the Min family. The incident was carried out in secret from the beginning, and afterwards the Japanese completely destroyed historical data and distorted the facts. Miura Wulou claimed that “the king of the Heungsuan compound should be the mastermind of the incident, and it was the Korean army training team that killed Empress Mingcheng.” But the real criminal was acquitted by Japanese officials on insufficient evidence. The Japanese journalists who had witnessed the incident also exaggerated the contradictions between Li Shiying and Empress Mingcheng in their writings, and arbitrarily fabricated the modern history of the peninsula…
Koreans generally believe that the “Umi Incident” was done by Japan. The Korean middle school history textbook explained the incident as follows: “Empress Ming Sung was considered to be a figure hindering Japan’s invasion of North Korea, so the Japanese minister mobilized Japanese troops and Japanese villains to invade the palace and committed the brutal act of killing Empress Ming Sung.” Democratic People’s Republic of Korea The views on the “Yiwu Incident” are basically the same as those of South Korea. Japan has long avoided this issue, neglecting how to engage in the internal struggle of the Joseon dynasty and then launch the assassination.
In recent years, South Korea has been searching for and disclosing evidence of Japan’s planning of assassinations, such as the “Memoirs of the Place of Post” written by the first-class consul of the Japanese Embassy in North Korea, Uchida Sadazu, and the report of Kensumi Suematsu. “The Records of North Korea” by the American missionary Mrs. Underwood and the “Fat Front Knife” that was used to assassinate Empress Mingcheng and the scabbard was written with the words “a flash of lightning stabbing the old fox”…
With the disclosure of Horiguchi’s 90,000 letter, people used this as a clue to try again to open the door of historical truth. Lee Tae-jin, a professor at Seoul University who served as the chairman of the Korean National History Compilation Committee, said that the Japanese government had always emphasized that the “Umi Incident” should be led by Lee, and the Japanese Ronin and others only played a supporting role. However, the content of the letter discovered this time shows that the then Japanese diplomat in North Korea was on the scene and recorded the incident in detail, which is sufficient to prove that this was a crime at the national level of Japan. South Korea’s “Han Minzu Daily” reported that in the past, many people believed that the assassination of Empress Mingcheng was led by the Japanese Ronin, but recent facts have proved that Japanese officials, including diplomats such as Horiguchi Jiwanyi, played an important role in the case. main effect.
Top left: 1930 “Dong Ya Daily” report on Empress Mingcheng. Top right: A photo of Empress Mingcheng published in the French magazine “La Coree” in 1975. Bottom: The artwork showing the assassination of Empress Mingcheng.
This matter aroused heated discussion in South Korean public opinion. South Korea’s “Dong-A Ilbo” pointed out that it hopes to use the discovery of the letter as an opportunity to thoroughly investigate the whole story of the assassination 126 years ago, especially how the Japanese government intervened. Some media pointed out that even though it was a world where the weak and the flesh were eaten by the strong at the time, breaking into his palace to brutally kill the princess was an anti-civilization barbaric act. The war of aggression launched by Japan has brought indelible pain to Asia and is an intolerable criminal act. Some netizens said: “Japanese diplomats killed the mother of other countries like thieves. Japan must reflect and reflect again”; “Whether it is in the past or now, only a country can get rid of humiliation when it becomes prosperous and strong. This period of history must be used for education. Descendants”…
In Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, where Empress Ming Sung lived until she was 8 years old, it is now restored and converted into the former residence and memorial hall of Empress Ming Sung, attracting many tourists every year. Since its premiere in 1995, South Korea’s large-scale original musical “Myeongseong Queen” has been performing unfailingly, becoming the first Korean musical to appear on Broadway in New York, the United States, and the West End of London, United Kingdom. People recall history in various ways, no matter what they think of Empress Mingcheng, so that the tragedy of history will not repeat itself, it is what people expect in their hearts.