King Taejong’s mortal reign ended with rain

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion at Gyeongbok Palace. A photograph taken by Percival Lowell in early 1884. Robert Neff Collection.

In late 19th century, weather was often a catalyst for political unrest in Korea. Perhaps one of the most infamous examples was in the summer of 1882 when the Korean peninsula was on the precipice of change. The country was suffering from severe drought, the wells were dry and the crops were failing. Since early spring, sacrifices were made at the main city shrines and along the Han River beseeching gods for rain. Food became scarce and prices rose and thefts and robberies became widespread. Whispers amongst the superstitious claimed the kingdom’s woes were signs of the gods’ displeasure that foreigners were being allowed to enter the country.

In July, the unrest eventually evolved into a general revolt targeting corrupt government officials and the small Japanese community. A large Korean mob – armed with stones, muskets, spears and bows and arrows and spears – attacked the Japanese legation, and, surprisingly, it immediately began to rain. It started out as a light drizzle but soon developed into a driving rain – further strengthening the belief amongst the superstitious rioters that the gods were aligned with their efforts to remove the foreigners from Korean soil. Blood and rain transformed the once parched land into a muddy mire.

The revolt was soon crushed and the leaders executed. The uneasy peace was threatened a year later on the anniversary of the attack on the Japanese legation. Whispered in the streets of Seoul was a tale of vengeance that was to be orchestrated by the Japanese for the previous year. 카지노 According to the rumors, a number of Koreans were to be sacrificed to appease the restless spirts of the murdered Japanese. There were other dark rumors circulating – including a tale that blood was to be harvested from unmarried Korean women and children so that medicines could be made. According to one account, this so alarmed the population that young maidens were quickly married while others fled to the mountains.

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