The Chinese Interregnum of Corea

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Treaty of Ximonosequi
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In Taixò 15 (1920), China, seeking to regain their lost territories of Taiwan and Corea, invaded. The Japanese sent troops to Corea to try to keep the Chinese out, but to no avail. The Chinese quickly overran Corea and removed the king, declaring the end of the Chosen (Txosen) dynasty. In his place, China placed a relative of their Emperor on the throne.

Contents

Invasion

A multi-pronged invasion crossed the Tumen and Yalu Rivers, seizing rail lines, and beginning a lightning invasion of the country. The Corean defenders were ill prepared for the onslaught, and the volume of soldiers pouring into Corea from land and sea prevented a coherent response. By the time a defense was mustered in Mokhpho and Busan, it was nearly too late. Japanese reinforcements succeeded for a time in defending the regions around the two cities.

The Mokhpho Margin

A perimeter, roughly 280 miles along was eventually secured around Mokhpho, and held for roughly three weeks in the face of repeated battering by Chinese forces. In that time, the Corean regulars were able to secure and otherwise remove any materiel that could help the Chinese army. With the arrival of Japanese forces, the Margin was enlarged, causing the Chinese to retreat, buying Corea a few months more of freedom.

The Busan Boundary

While their counterparts repelled the Chinese forces, the Corean regulars waged a battle back and forth across twenty to thirty kilometers of territory roughly 170 miles outside of Busan. The scorched earth between the two opposing forces remains to this day a memorial park, with constant research to ensure that all the war dead are appropriately remembered.

Betrayal From Within

When the Mokhpho Margin was enlarged, the soldiers fighting in Busan were able to join up with the rest of the Corean army, but as they rallied to move on Kieñseñ in mid-August of 1920, their position was betrayed by Corean collaborators, and they were routed by the majority of the Chinese Army. All their efforts were wasted, and their betrayal remains a national day of mourning, August 26th.

The First Years of Interregnum

King Balhaijoñ was the uncle of the child-emperor, and had studied the military arts in Europe, thus proving a valuable ally and advisor in the courts. While the Regency continued, he managed the affairs of Corea with an equitable hand. He tried to continue the government programs that had been in place during King Sunjoñ's reign, but as a resistance movement, backed by Japan, became increasingly better-organized, he was forced to abandon his pretense of status quo ante.

In his first official act, he declared Kieñseñ renamed, Hanseñ, seeking to evoke the sense of the Han river, and to imply that the Corean and Chinese were one people in heritage.

When his efforts were rebuffed by the people, he took harsher steps, Corean in public settings was banned, Japanese became in imprisoning offense. Accession to Manchurian styles and standards became a way to garner favor. Government officials found to not be compliant with the new rules were exiled to Japan on often unseaworthy boats. Records available to modern researchers suggest that King Balhaijoñ had only intended these changes to be temporary, but by the time he would have reduced the strictures, his attentions were diverted elsewhere.

In 1933, after the invasion of Japan, the resistance was broken. With Xòwa on the Chrysanthemum Throne, China faced renewed animosity from a wider array of foes. With the full onset of the Great Oriental War, Balhaijoñ's attention was terminally sapped from his kingdom.

By imperial decree, the King's attention was diverted to strategizing the war. Lesser functionaries carried out his prior orders, embroidering practices and policies that seemed to continue in his directions. When they were brought to his attention by his ministers, the King often trusted them carte blanche, and thus many atrocities against the Corean people were carried out in his name.

Siniticization Programmes

With the minimal direction from the King, lesser functionaries, from the ministers and down through the national government began broadening the siniticization programmes already established. These initiatives were quickly deemed successful, and were exported to Taiwan and Japan. The programmes focused on three points: language, culture, and eugenics.

Language

Balhaijoñ's injunction against use of Corean in public was broadened, banning teaching and use of Corean in schools, as well as in any public setting. Formerly discouraged, use of Corean became a punishable offence. Use resulted in sentences at forced labour camps of varying lengths based on prior offences. Hangul was banned on account of being "decadent" and being too much like cana, although in reality the system had developed completely independently from the ironically Chinese-inspired cana.

Culture

Public buildings of a clear western or Corean style were refurbished or razed to be constructed in a more clearly Chinese style.

Modes of dress were adjusted to reflect more typical Chinese styles. Official uniforms were standardized to match those in China.

Typical Corean foods such as kimchi and pipim paph were banned. Any Japanese food styles were banned. Great show was made of gathering and destroying good and restaurants that refused compliance.

Eugenics

Corean women of ethnic Chinese ancestry, and later of Chinese appearance were encouraged to marry Chinese men. Those that refused by the end of 1940 were placed into "arranged" marriages with Bannermen, which often amounted to little more than state-sanctioned rape.

Men of obvious Japanese descent were sent in increasing numbers to the labour camps over minor infractions.

Those men who looked Chinese or were of partial Chinese dissent were allowed one child, only. True Chinese were encouraged to have as many children as possible.

These practices lead to an increased birth rate, however many of those born to mixed parentage were often terribly ostracized in the 1950's. These descendants and their parents were the chief immigrants to Yanbian.

Resistance

The Siniticization programs begun in Corea were exported to Japan, but tempered because the Chinese didn't install a Chinese King in Japan. Historians suggest had they placed another member of the Imperial Family on the Chrysanthemum Throne the efforts would have been as strident or worse. As history had played out, resistance movements were strong in both countries, and their acts against the occupiers mounted until the start of the Japanese Civil War of Xòwa 10-19 (1942-1951).

Australasian Invasion

In late spring of 1938, Australasia launched a retaliatory invasion force against the Chinese. Having done extensive reconnaissance, they determined that a water landing near Mokhpho would allow them quickest access to Kieñseñ, and to strike a crippling blow against the Chinese. Unfortunately, they had not considered the troop movements the Chinese were making, having tracked their arrival path along the Yellow Sea. The Australasians arrived and defeated the few troops that were already deployed around Mokhpho, and for about a week, they made progress toward the capital before being routed at Doñtan by arriving Chinese forces. The battles that continued to remove the Australasians from the peninsula continued throughout the summer and into the fall, with the last troops managing their escape as the first snows fell.

Those who had cooperated with the Australasians during their abortive invasion were systematically ferreted out, and if not convicted of collaboration sufficient to warrant a death sentence, were forcibly relocated with their family to Yanbian. Few families returned after the war. This has left a great scar on the psyche of the region.

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