Ganghwa Island Shinmiyangyo Excursion

Saturday, November 9, 2019 -
8:45am to 7:00pm
55,000won for members and 66,000won for non-members
Tour Leader: 
Dr. Thomas Duvernay

Ganghwa Island Sinmiyangyo Excursion


Meeting Point:  In front of the Yongsan Post Office, near Exit 1, Sinyongsan subway station (신용산역) (Blue line/Line 4, #429). At 8:40 am. 

Please RSVP by Tuesday, November 5, 2019 by clicking here.  

In the spring of 1871, five US warships entered Korean waters with the stated goal of securing a treaty for the safety of shipwrecked mariners. At the time, Korea still had very negative feelings from several bad interactions with Westerners in the five preceding years. Through cultural misunderstandings and the mishandling of the situation between the Korean and US governments, hostilities broke out. In the end, Korean forces reportedly lost more than three hundred troops, while the US lost only three. It was a so-called "weekend war" that changed the course of relations between the two countries, and continues to be a historic point of contention with many people on both sides.

Our tour will begin at the Choji fort where the US landing party first arrived on Korean shores. Although the first shot took place on June 1, 1871 up the straits from Choji, and the first shot of the June 10-12 battles took place on a small island just south of the fort, this place is where the main action started on the morning of June 10, 1871. We will tour the fort and surrounding areas, including the landing area that used to be mud flats, but has since been reclaimed for farming, along with the area that was the overnight tenting spot for the US forces.

We will advance up the road, passing the hill where Marines posted a picket overnight on June 10 and joined up with sailors as they marched along towards their next objective of the Deokjin fort. While no fighting took place at that fort—Korean troops had left suddenly before US troops arrived—it was the site where Marines took a famous photograph on top of the fort's walls, which are still extant. It was from this point that the arduous "line of march" across a stretch of hills, in the hot June sun, was taken up by the US troops on their way to the stronghold of Korean forces, the Sondolmok fort, which is attached to the main fortress of Gwangseongbo.

From there, we will head to the small village of "Bonggolmaeul", which is in a valley surrounded by parallel hills that US and Korean forces traversed in opposition to each other. It is where much of the fighting took place between Korean and US forces, but is almost unknown as such to most people, historian and villager alike. We will hike around the hills where US artillery was positioned while troops pushed on towards their objective, along with opposite hills where Korean forces struggled to gain an advantage over their foes.

At this point, we will then conclude our own "line of march" at the same place US and Korean forces did: Gwangseongbo/Sondolmok fort. This is where the fighting drew to its conclusion with Koreans making a last stand in the small, thirty-meter diameter fort. It is where, against overwhelming firepower, General Eo Jae-yeon and at least a couple hundred of his troops met their end without surrender. We will not only tour around the reconstructed forts, but also the hills south and west of the Sondolmok fort where the main attack happened nearly one and a half centuries ago. Depending upon time, we might be able to travel a few kilometers away to the Ganghwa Historical Museum, which houses the general's flag that was returned to Korea on long-term loan by the US Naval Academy Museum.


Please click the link below and download and read the article about 1871 Shinmiyangyo. 

'The Shinmiyangyo'  by Dr. Thomas Duvernay, in Transactions, Vol (89). 2014. pp1-50.


** It will be a whirlwind tour, but well-worth your time! It will, obviously, involve a fair amount of walking, so please come wearing suitable shoes and clothes. Please bring a packed lunch that can be eaten anywhere along the way, and water. We will eat supper at a local restaurant at the end of our tour, the cost of that is not included in the price of the excursion.


Thomas Duvernay, PhD (Korean studies), is an associate professor in the College of Basic Studies at Yeungnam University in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbukdo, where he teaches Korean history and English. His main historical focus is on the late Joseon dynasty, with his main interest being the 1871 Shinmiyangyo. He campaigned for years for the return of the flag of the Korean general, Eo Jae-yeon, and, in cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, was successful with it coming back on long-term loan in 2007. He has a comprehensive book on the 1871 action coming out in the not-too-distant future. His other interest is Korean traditional archery, which he has practiced since 1993. His wife, Moon-ok Lee, is an English teacher in a Korean high school, and his son, Nick, is an assistant professor at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

Please register your RSVP for the Ganghwa Island Excursion
by Tuesday, November 5, 2019 by clicking here.
Please register one RSVP at a time.

                 ☞Payment to be remitted to the following account:
         SHINHAN BANK ACCOUNT # 100-026-383501 (RAS-KB)


Contact Us

Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is normally open as follows:

Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays:
                                   10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesdays & Thursdays: 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Please call before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796

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