What is happening in Korea in 1871CE
Korea has succeeded in keeping westerners at arms length more successfully than either China or Japan. Internally, however, the country has been experiencing instability. A succession of child kings have led to factionalism at court, which in turn has weakened provincial government and allowed corruption and oppression to spread. Popular unrest has become widespread, and in the 1860’s, many Korean peasants, harshly oppressed, turn to a new religion, Tonghak, which combines elements from various other religions and whose aim is to establish a truly just society on Earth.
In 1864, the Regent Yi Ha-ung starts to introduce some much-needed reforms in the administration, and tries to suppress factionalism. He also seeks to follow a policy of seclusion from the west, rebuffing western overtures for trade treaties. There is a massacre of Catholic converts, which leads to a brief French invasion (1866). However, even at this date, Korea remains largely secluded from the westernising forces swirling round the Far East.