"After I spent my time with KanMusus inside Jungmyeongjeon Hall of Deoksu Palace, Seoul Jung-gu, I have finalized the five main reasons on why Eulsa Treaty was null and void. Jungmyeongjeon inside Deoksugung was an Imperial Library of Korean Empire. However, this hall was a venue for signing a nullified treaty of Eulsa Neug-yak in November 1905. The protectorate treaty between Korea and Japan resulted the suffering to the Korean land and Korea's diplomatic rights were robbed in this hall as well."
The Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905, also known as the Eulsa Treaty or Japan–Korea Protectorate Treaty, was made between the Empire of Japan and the Korean Empire in 1905. Negotiations were concluded on November 17, 1905. The treaty deprived Korea of its diplomatic sovereignty and made Korea a protectorate of Japan. It was influenced by Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.
In the metonymy "Eulsa Treaty," the word Eulsa derives the Sexagenary Cycle's 42nd year of the Korean calendar, in which the treaty was signed. The treaty is identified by several names including Second Japan-Korea Convention (Japanese: 第二次日韓協約, Korean: 제2차한일협약/ 第二次韓日協約), Eulsa Restriction Treaty (Korean: 을사늑약/乙巳勒約), Eulsa Protection Treaty (Japanese: 乙巳保護条約, Korean: 을사보호조약), and Korea Protection Treaty (Japanese: 韓国保護条約).
Following Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War, with its subsequent withdrawal of Russian influence, and the Taft–Katsura Agreement, in which the United States allegedly agreed not to interfere with Japan in matters concerning Korea, the Japanese government sought to formalize its sphere of influence over the Korean Peninsula.
Delegates of both Empires met in Seoul to resolve differences in matters pertaining to Korea’s future foreign policy; however, with the Korean Imperial palace under occupation by Japanese troops, and the Imperial Japanese Army stationed at strategic locations throughout Korea, the Korean side was at a distinct disadvantage in the discussions.
On November 9, 1905, Itō Hirobumi arrived in Seoul and gave a letter from the Emperor of Japan to Gojong, Emperor of Korea, asking him to sign the treaty. On November 15, 1905, he ordered Japanese troops to encircle the Korean imperial palace and threatened the emperor in order to force him to agree to the treaty.
On November 17, 1905, Hasegawa and Ito entered the Jungmyeongjeon Hall, a European-style building that was once part of Deoksu Palace, to persuade Gojong to agree, but he refused. Ito pressured the cabinet with the implied, and later stated, threat of physical bodily harm, to sign the treaty. According to Han Gye-ok (한계옥), Korean Prime minister Han Gyu-seol disagreed, shouting loudly. Ito ordered the guards to lock him in a room and said if he continued screaming, they could kill him. The Korean cabinet signed an agreement that had been prepared by Ito in the Jungmyeongjeon. The Agreement gave Japan complete responsibility for Korea's foreign affairs, and placed all trade through Korean ports under Japanese supervision.
This treaty deprived Korea of its diplomatic sovereignty, in effect making Korea a protectorate of Japan. The provisions of the treaty took effect on November 17, 1905, and it laid the foundation for the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1907, and subsequent annexation of Korea in 1910.
The treaty was deemed to have gone into effect after it received the signature of five Korean ministers who are known as Eulsa FIVE Traitors/을사오적:
- Minister of Education Lee Wan-yong (이완용/李完用)
- Minister of Army Yi Geun-taek (이근택/李根澤)
- Minister of Interior Yi Ji-yong (이지용/李址鎔)
- Representative for the Korean Empire - Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Je-sun (박제순/朴齊純)
- Minister of Agriculture, Commerce and Industry Kwon Jung-hyeon (권중현/權重顯)
Emperor Gojong of Korea did not assent or sign the treaty. Other officials who disputed the treaty included:
- Prime Minister Han Gyu-seol (한규설; 韓圭卨)
- Minister of Finance Min Yeong-gi (민영기; 閔泳綺)
- Minister of Justice Yi Ha-yeong (이하영; 李夏榮, Later, however, he turned from opposing to agreement of the treaty)
Emperor Gojong sent personal letters to major heads of state to appeal for their support against the illegal signing. As of February 21, 1908, he had sent 17 letters bearing his imperial seal, including to the following eight rulers:
- King Edward VII of the United Kingdom
- President Armand Fallières of France
- Emperor Nicholas II of Russia
- Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary
- King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy
- King Léopold II of Belgium
- Emperor Kuang-hsu of China
- Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany which was personally handwritten by Gojong
In 1907, Emperor Gojong sent three secret emissaries to the second international Hague Peace Convention to protest the unfairness of the Eulsa Treaty. But the great powers of the world refused to allow Korea to take part in the conference.
Not only the Emperor but the other Koreans protested against the Treaty. Jo Byeong-se and Min Yeong-hwan, who were high officials and led resistance against Eulsa treaty, killed themselves as resistance. Local yangbans and commoners joined Righteous Armies. They were called "Eulsa Uibyeong" (을사의병, 乙巳義兵) meaning "Righteous army against Eulsa Treaty".
The contents of the Treaty as shown below in three versions - English/Korean/Japanese:
The Government of Japan and Korea, desiring to strengthen the principle of solidarity which unites the two Empires, have with that object in view agreed upon and concluded the following stipulations to serve until the moment arrives when it is recognized that Korea has attained national strength/일본국 정부와 한국 정부의 공통의 이해를 위해 한국이 부강해질 때까지’라는 형식상의 명목과 조건이 붙어 있다/日本國政府及韓國政府ハ兩帝國ヲ結合スル利害共通ノ主義ヲ鞏固ナラシメムコトヲ欲シ韓國ノ富強ノ實ヲ認ムル時ニ至ル迄此目的ヲ以テ左ノ條款ヲ約定セリ:Article 1. The Government of Japan, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Tokyo, will hereafter have control and direction of the external relations and affairs of Korea, and the diplomatic and consular representatives of Japan will have the charge of the subjects and interests of Korea in foreign countries/일본국 정부는 재동경 외무성을 경유하여 한국의 외국에 대한 관계 및 사무를 감리, 지휘하며, 일본국의 외교대표자 및 영사가 외국에 재류하는 한국인과 이익을 보호한다/日本國政府ハ在東京外務省ニ由リ今後韓國ノ外國ニ對スル關係及事務ヲ監理指揮スヘク日本國ノ外交代表者及領事ハ外國ニ於ケル韓國ノ臣民及利益ヲ保護スヘシ.Article 2. The Government of Japan shall undertake to see to the execution of the treaties actually existing between Korea and the other Powers, and the Government of Korea shall not engage to conclude hereafter any act or engagement having an international character, except through the medium of the Government of Japan/일본국 정부는 한국과 타국 사이에 현존하는 조약의 실행을 완수하고 한국정부는 일본국정부의 중개를 거치지 않고 국제적 성질을 가진 조약을 절대로 맺을 수 없다/日本國政府ハ韓國ト他國トノ間ニ現存スル條約ノ實行ヲ全フスルノ任ニ當リ韓國政府ハ今後日本國政府ノ仲介ニ由ラスシテ國際的性質ヲ有スル何等ノ條約若ハ約束ヲナササルコトヲ約ス.Article 3. The Government of Japan shall be represented at the Court of His Majesty the Emperor of Korea by a Resident-General, who shall reside at Seoul, primarily for the purpose of taking charge of and directing matters relating to diplomatic affairs. He shall have the right of private and personal audience of His Majesty the Emperor of Korea. The Japanese Government shall also have the right to station Residents at the several open ports and such other places in Korea as they may deem necessary. Such Residents shall, under the direction of the Resident-General, exercise the powers and functions hitherto appertaining to Japanese Consuls in Korea and shall perform such duties as may be necessary in order to carry into full effect the provisions of this agreement/일본국정부는 한국 황제의 궐하에 1명의 통감을 두어 외교에 관한 사항을 관리하고 한국 황제를 친히 만날 권리를 갖고, 일본국정부는 한국의 각 개항장과 필요한 지역에 이사관을 둘 권리를 갖고, 이사관은 통감의 지휘하에 종래 재한국 일본영사에게 속하던 일체의 직권을 집행하고 협약의 실행에 필요한 일체의 사무를 맡는다/日本國政府ハ其代表者トシテ韓國皇帝陛下ノ闕下ニ一名ノ統監(レヂデントゼネラル)ヲ置ク統監ハ專ラ外交ニ關スル事項ヲ管理スル爲京城ニ駐在シ親シク韓國皇帝陛下ニ内謁スルノ權利ヲ有ス日本國政府ハ又韓國ノ各開港場及其他日本國政府ノ必要ト認ムル地ニ理事官(レヂデント)ヲ置クノ權利ヲ有ス理事官ハ統監ノ指揮ノ下ニ從來在韓國日本領事ニ屬シタル一切ノ職權ヲ執行シ並ニ本協約ノ條款ヲ完全ニ實行スル爲必要トスヘキ一切ノ事務ヲ掌理スヘシ.Article 4. The stipulations of all treaties and agreements existing between Japan and Korea not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement shall continue in force/일본국과 한국 사이의 조약 및 약속은 본 협약에 저촉되지 않는 한 그 효력이 계속된다/日本國ト韓國トノ間ニ現存スル條約及約束ハ本協約ノ條款ニ抵觸セサル限總テ其效力ヲ繼續スルモノトス.Article 5. The Government of Japan shall undertake to maintain the welfare and dignity of the Imperial House of Korea/일본국정부는 한국 황실의 안녕과 존엄의 유지를 보증한다는 것을 주요 내용으로 한다/日本國政府ハ韓國皇室ノ安寧ト尊嚴ヲ維持スルコトヲ保証ス.In faith whereof, the Undersigned duly authorized by their Government have signed this Agreement and affixed their seals:HAYASHI Konsuke (Seal)Envoy Extraordinary and Minister PlenipotentiaryThe 17th day of the 11th month of the 39th year of MeijiPARK Je-sun (Seal)The 17th day of the 11th month of the 9th year of Gwangmu
This treaty, later, was confirmed to be "already null and void" by Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea concluded in 1965. In a joint statement on June 23, 2005, officials of South Korea and North Korea reiterated their stance that the Eulsa treaty be null and void on a claim of coercion by the Japanese. As of 2010, South Korea was seizing property and other assets from the descendants of people who have been identified as Japanese collaborators at the time of the treaty.