Gojong's internal exile to the Russian legation

King Gojong's internal exile to the Russian legation, also called the Agwan Pacheon incident (Korean: 아관파천, Hanja: 俄館播遷), occurred in 1896 in Korea when King Gojong and his crown prince left the Gyeongbokgung palace to take refuge at the Russian legation in Seoul. The incident resulted in a temporary decline of Japan's influence in Korea and corresponding rise in Russia's influence.

Gojong's internal exile to the Russian legation
Former Russia legation of Korea 02.JPG
The part of the old Russian legation building in Seoul
Korean name
Agwan Pacheon incident
Revised RomanizationA Gwan Pa Cheon
McCune–ReischauerA Kwan P'a Ch'ŏn


The incident occurred after the First Sino-Japanese War during a period of factional confrontation within the Korean royal court. King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty and his crown prince took refuge from the Gyeongbok Palace at the Russian legation in Seoul, from which they controlled the Korean government for about one year from February 11, 1896, to February 20, 1897. Their escape took place in secrecy; it was arranged by the pro-Russian official Yi Beom-jin, the Russian consul Karl Ivanovich Weber, and others.

The event, which was triggered in part by the king's fear of a coup d'état and his reaction to the murder of his wife Empress Myeongseong by the Japanese, marked a shift in Joseon politics away from the pro-Japanese reform faction and toward to the conservative faction which had been aligned with Queen Min (later given the title Empress Myeongseong). This led to the general repeal of the Gabo Reforms.

Members of the old cabinet were killed or forced to flee, including Kim Hong-jip, Eo Yun-jung, and Yu Gil-jun. Pro-Russian and pro-U.S. figures came to power, with Yi Beom-jin and Lee Wan-yong named to the new cabinet. Trade and resource concessions were granted to Russia, and to a lesser degree to other Western powers including the United States. Japan remained Korea's most important trading partner.

The move and associated concessions were greeted with widespread outrage within Korea, led by the Independence Club. This reaction eventually spurred the king to return to Deoksugung after slightly more than a year at the Russian embassy. Russian guards continued to guard the king upon his return to the palace. This may have contributed to the declaration of the Korean Empire later in 1897, affirming Korea's independence. Ironically, this increase in Russian influence led to the end of Korean independence. After the Russo-Japanese war, Japan decided Korea was too weak to defend its independence and made Korea a protectorate to block any other foreign power from having domination over Korea.


  • 아관파천 (in Korean). Naver/ Doosan Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-05-20.
  • Eckert, Carter J.; et al. (1990). Korea old and new: A history. Seoul: Ilchokak. ISBN 0-9627713-0-9., pp. 230–232.
  • (in Korean)Diary, National Institute of Korean History[dead link]
  • (in Korean)A report, National Institute of Korean History[dead link]

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