Tonghak Uprising


Tonghak Uprising

(1894) Korean peasant rebellion that sparked the Sino-Japanese War. Despite being persecuted for it, impoverished peasants turned increasingly to Tonghak (“Eastern Learning”; see Ch'ondogyo), a syncretic, nationalistic religion that opposed Western culture and espoused equality of all people. When demonstrations staged by Tonghak followers calling for social reform met with a negative government response, the peasantry united with them in a rebellion that succeeded in defeating government troops in southern Korea. The government called on China for aid; Japan sent in troops without being asked, and China and Japan clashed. The rebels laid down their arms to defuse tensions; nevertheless, the Sino-Japanese War ensued. The leaders of the uprising, including Ch'oe Si-hyong, were executed.

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