Do Not Follow the Joseon

My name is Daniel. I was an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea, and am now a writer who has
published four books including South Korea: Our Story by Daniel Nardini.
                                 Recently the former Joseon Kingdom legation was re-opened as a
museum. While it is fascinating place, and full of history on the Kingdom of Korea’s first official
contact with the West, it must also serve as a reminder that the Joseon Kingdom failed the Korean
people. If the Kingdom of Korea had fully westernized as Japan did, then Korea could have dealt
with Japan on equal terms. I have seen old photos of the Joseon Kingdom, and my wife has told
me more than enough of what it was like during the time of her great-grandparents. To put it
mildly it was terrible, and the ordinary people got little to nothing from the royal family. Not only
did the Korean Kingdom not truly modernize, but it depended too heavily on its alliance with China 
and then on one with the Russian Empire. When all these failed, Korea turned to countries in the
West which clearly had no interest and no stake to fight against Japan. More than that, the imperial
Korean government failed to make the lives of its people better. Outside of Seoul, people did not
have electricity or running water. There was barely any rail transportation in the country, and medical
care was a joke. The average life expectancy was 35 to 40, and the fact that the royal Korean
bureaucracy failed to modernize whole regions of the country, it is not surprising that eventually
the country fell under the control of Japan little by little. This is why my wife appreciates the
Republic of Korea, which has done more for the Korean people than the whole of the Joseon
in its long history. If there is any lesson that should be learned about the newly renovated Joseon
legation is that Korea should never repeat history.