Russo-Corean War

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Russo-Corean War
Part of The Great War

The ramifications of the war (1936)
Date1932 – 1935
East Asia
  • Sjakwang Corea
  • Netherlands (until 1934)
  • Tauland (support, until 1933)
  • Russia
  • First Chinese Republic
  • Japan
  • Qing
    Casualties and losses
    Killed: 510,000
    Missing/Deserted: 240,000
    Total Casualties: 760,000
    Civilians: 670,000
    Military: 1,819,910
    A pair of Dutch soldiers fighting somewhere in the region

    The Russo-Corean War (Corean: 서광붕맹, Dutch: De Slag naar Corea, Russian: Русско-Kорейская Bойна), also known in the Sinosphere as the Chinese Unification War (統一戰爭; Cantonese: tung'it zinzang; Mandarin: tung'i chancheng) was a military conflict fought between 1932 and 1936. It was a punitive war launched by and Russia, supported by Japan and the China, against Corea in response to the empire's expansionism.

    Overview and context

    Prior to the conflict, the Russian Civil War (1925-1928) gave rise to the national republican government of Russia. The Corean military assumed that Russia's turmoil would prevent them from entering the war, an assumption which was eventually proved wrong. Russia was joined by Japan, who also had territorial claims in Corea. In turn, Corea calls upon its trusted ally, the Netherlands. Russia, China, and Japan joined in a coalition to defeat the Corean empire and to annex their claimed territories.

    Second Sino-Corean War (1931)

    The monarchy of Canton had been overthrown in 1931 by the Huaxia National Reform Party, who established the First Chinese Republic. This threatened Corea's dominance in Northeast Asia. Fearing that the First Republic would seek to reunify China and invade the waning Qing dynasty, Corea pre-emptively invaded the Great Chinese Plainson the 8th of February, 1931, violating the Treaty of Peking of 1888.

    After three months of fighting, the city and Qing capital of Peking fell to Corean forces. The Kingdom of Haboek was established as a Corean puppet state, with a member of the Ki dynasty chosen to serve as king.

    Progression of the war

    The Russians declare war on Corea in 1932. Their first strike came from the air, as a fleet of 95 bombers on the ninth of May conducted the first successful strategic bombing mission. The city of Sjimjang was razed to the ground by a firebombing campaign and many of the city's wooden houses were burned to the ground, foreshadowing the horrible tactics that the belligerents would employ in the war.

    More Russian air raids occurred in Poeja and in the Corean peninsula itself. Japan assisted the war effort by blockading the Dutch ports of Desjima and Poesjan. The Netherlands, in turn, used Tauland as a naval base during the course of the war to support Corea.

    Tauland was considered an unwilling participant of the war. The Netherlands had employed a controversial naval agreement they made with Tauland in 1895. This strained the Netherlands' relations with the Taulanders. The island suffered numerous air raids launched from China and civilian casualties were high. This turned Tauland's public opinion against the war and pressured the government to exit the war and expel the Dutch navy.

    To further undermine the position of Corea, Russia began talks with the Chinese First Republic, convincing them to join the war. China's role in the war was a lot larger than the Russians had anticipated, diminishing the war efforts by Japan which were mostly limited to naval warfare and blockading of Dutch and Corean ports.

    Soldiers with a Beest armoured personal carrier, somewhere in Poeja.

    After the Great War erupted in Europe in May 1935, Russia entered an alliance with Great Britain. Afraid that the Russo-Corean conflict would merge with the Great War and invite possible British intervention in the war, the Netherlands exited the war. Neither Russia and Corea expected the move. Their withdrawal in the war was immediately recognized by Russia, and the Netherlands started pulling their troops out of Corea. This destroyed Dutch-Corean relations, with the Coreans viewing it as a betrayal. The Dutch had previously betrayed their Qing allies in First Sino-Corean War. During the withdrawal, there were reports of violence among Corean and Dutch soldiers, but these reports were mostly unconfirmed.

    In September 1935, the Corean Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Mjang and French diplomat Jacques-Yves Lavigne met privately, recognizing their mutual geopolitical interests in Asia. Lavigne's promise of French aid in the event of Corea joining the war led them to do so not long after.

    However, France did not fulfill this promise. In the November of 1935, Russian and Chinese forces captured the Poejan city of Kirim and continued to march southwards toward peninsular Corea. However, they could not make it past the Tsjangbek Mountains, which were well-fortified. In December 1935, Russian forces were able to land in the formerly Dutch-controlled port of Poesjan.

    Conclusion and aftermath

    Dutch soldiers surrendering after the Russian military's Siege of Sartu.

    Russia was eventually able to occupy Hansjang, the Corean capital, in 1935. Outside of the Kyanggi region, several Corean guerrilla armies continued fighting against the Russians and Japanese. Later in that year, the imperial family of Corea fled to Vietnam. This demoralised the Corean resistance. Eventually, republican activists and intellectuals in the upper echelons of Corean society decided to end the war by pre-emptively surrending to their opponents.

    Treaty of Hansjang (1936)

    The Coreans finally surrendered on April 1936 with the signing of the Treaty of Hansjang. Under the treaty, Corea ceded Poeja to Russia and Haboek to China. The monarchy was abolished and a nominally sovereign national republic was established.


    See also