cially set prices, and the
mistreatment of slaves was forbidden.
focused system started to change in the late 17th century
as political, economic and social changes came into place. By the 19th
century, new commercial groups emerged, and the active social
mobility caused the
class to expand, resulting in the
weakening of the old class system. The Korea government ordered the
freedom of government slaves in 1801. The class system of Korea was
completely banned in 1894.
Korea dealt with a pair of Japanese invasions from
1592 to 1598 (
Prior to the war, Korea sent two ambassadors to
scout for signs of Japan's intentions of invading
Korea. However, they came back with two di
reports, and while the politicians split into sides,
few proactive measures were taken.
ict brought prominence to Admiral Yi
Sun-sin as he contributed to eventually repelling
the Japanese forces with the innovative use of his
turtle ship, a massive, yet swift, ramming/cannon ship
tted with iron spikes.
use of the hwacha was also highly e
ective in repelling the Japanese invaders from the land.
Subsequently, Korea was invaded in 1627 and again in 1636 by the Manchus, who went on to
conquer China and establish the Qing dynasty, after which the Joseon dynasty recognized Qing
suzerainty. Though Joseon respected its traditional subservient position to China, there was
persistent loyalty for the perished Ming and disdain for the Manchus, who were regarded as
During the 19th century, Joseon tried to control foreign in
uence by closing its borders to all
nations but China. In 1853 the USS South America, an American gunboat, visited Busan for 10
days and had amiable contact with local o
cials. Several Americans shipwrecked on Korea in
1855 and 1865 were also treated well and sent to China for repatriation. The Joseon court was
aware of the foreign invasions and treaties involving Qing China, as well as the First and
Second Opium Wars, and followed a cautious policy of slow exchange with the West.
In 1866, reacting to greater numbers of Korean converts to Catholicism despite several waves
of persecutions, the Joseon court clamped down on them, massacring French Catholic
missionaries and Korean converts alike. Later in the year France invaded and occupied portions
of Ganghwa Island. The Korean army lost heavily, but the French abandoned the island.