Emperor Sun Jong's Sad, Short-lived Reign

published by Devon Furbush
Born on February 8th, 1874, Sun Jong was the son of King Go Jong, former and drafted as the crown prince of the Korean Empire in 1897. In 1907, King Go Jong was removed from the throne after he made an attempt to push for the international community’s sentiment at an International Peace Conference in the Netherlands. Japan didn’t want their image tarnished, so they obstructed his trip. Next in line for enthronement was none other than Sun Jong.

Emperor Sun Jong embarked on a historical trip on January 7th, 1909 that took him from Seoul to Daegu, Busan, and Masan. At the time, Ito Hirobumi was the Supreme Commander of the Japanese government in Korea. By the way, this trip happened one year before Japan would completely take over the Korean peninsula. Ito Hirobumi and the Japanese government had intense responsibility for planning this trip because anti-Japanese military uprisings were already intensifying across the country. On top of that, the push to recover the national rights was bubbling after former King Go Jong was dethroned. This event resulted in a dissolving army under Japanese supervision. In the midst of this, the Japanese government wanted to show how legit they were in terms of politics by promoting the young, new emperor.

As he brought with him faith and will that would rejuvenate the nation’s suffering, everyone openly welcomed him by waving the national flag to greet him at Daegu station. Little did the Japanese government know that their plan to swoop the nation off of their feet would only result in a public display of patriotism and Korean unity.

Unfortunately, he came into power at the wrong time because that same year the country entered the Japan-Korea Treaty. This put immense restrictions on the Korean Empire as well as leaving the new emperor with minimum power and basically no influence. It is safe to say that his short-lived, 3-year reign was deemed futile. After Japan completely annexed Korea in 1910, he was virtually incapable of anything because only pro-Japanese officials were allowed to exercise political powers.
When a new Japanese emperor took over his position, he was left out to dry and stripped of his legacy. This situation is quite unfortunate since he became the emperor only because his father was dethroned for displaying devotion to his country. Sun Jong wanted to fight for the same national rights as his father did, but unfortunately, he was forced to operate under Japanese rule during his time as emperor. After passing away, his funeral on June 10th, 1926 was the inspiration for the 6.10 anti-Japanese movement.
You can see tributes to Emperor Sun Jong at Dalseong Park, Bukseong-ro, and Daegu Station.

Address: Dalseong-dong, Dalseonggongwon-ro, 35 Dalseong Park

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