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Today in Korean history

All News 14:00 July 19, 2016

July 20

1907 -- King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty abdicates in favor of his son under pressure from the Japanese colonial regime. The king was a thorn in Japan's side, as he made several diplomatic efforts to counter its colonial policies.

From the time he became king at age 12 in 1864, he constantly faced partisan strife from the inside and colonial threats from the outside. His father, promoting a policy of isolation, clashed with Gojong's wife, Queen Myeongseong, who said Joseon should open its trade and commerce to foreign countries for modernization. Gojong initially followed his wife's advice, building relations with other countries, but later turned his back on Japan, seeing it move aggressively to colonize the Korean Peninsula.

He turned to Russia for help and fired pro-Japan officials, which led to the assassination of his wife by Japanese officials in 1895.

He also secretly sent a delegation to the Hague conference of nations to protest the legitimacy of a treaty with Japan that deprived Korea of diplomatic sovereignty. Lee Jun, one of the three emissaries, killed himself in protest in the Hague.

1948 -- The National Assembly of South Korea names Syngman Rhee as the nation's first president.

1989 -- The government begins to allow citizens to make proposals to visit North Korea under the Inter-Korean Cooperation and Exchange Act.

2005 -- The divided Koreas agree to resume dismantling propaganda facilities along their heavily-fortified border as part of tension-easing measures following the historic inter-Korean summit in 2000. The Koreas had initially agreed to dismantle the loudspeaker facilities in June 2004, but the dismantlement was halted shortly after the agreement amid a prolonged hiatus in military talks.

2007 -- Taliban insurgents kidnap 18 South Koreans, including 15 women, in Afghanistan, threatening to kill them if Seoul doesn't withdraw its troops from the war-torn country. South Korea had stationed about 210 army engineers and medics in Afghanistan for noncombat, reconstruction missions as part of U.S.-led coalition forces. Two of the captives -- both male -- were killed in the early stages of negotiations to free them, and the rest returned home safely after Seoul pledged to withdraw the troops by the end of the year as planned.

2013 -- South Korea's western port city of Incheon is chosen to be the World Book Capital for 2015 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
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