Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Timothy B. Weston

Second Advisor

Sungyun Lim

Third Advisor

Miriam Kingsberg


Kim Ok-kyun stands at the center of two major events in East Asian history, the first being the 1884 coup against the Korean government, and the second being the First Sino-Japanese War, as his assassination was one contributing factor to the outbreak of hostilities. Despite the importance of Kim in late-nineteenth-century East Asian history, he has been underrepresented in scholarship. In this study, I challenge the characterization of Kim’s reform program as one that was simply pro-Japanese and argue for a close reading of his extant articles to illuminate the syncretic nature of his intellectual and political programs and how they changed over time. I examine this program by focusing on four aspects: the constitutive elements of Kim’s intellectual program, his reform program for Korea, the methods he pursued to achieve these programs, and finally the change in his thought over time as he went from government official to revolutionary to refuge. I conclude with suggestions for future research based on my argument that his life and death reflect a regional history of modernity in East Asia.

Included in

Asian History Commons