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By Seung-young Kim (auth.)
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Extra resources for American Diplomacy and Strategy toward Korea and Northeast Asia, 1882–1950 and After: Perception of Polarity and US Commitment to a Periphery
Since its acquisition of the Philippines, Guam, and its annexation of Hawaii in 1898, US policy was not merely based on the pursuit of commercial interest any longer. Moreover, with the help of many innovations in its Navy and Army by the turn of the century, 15 the US military had acquired a capability to support its diplomacy toward the Far East. The United States, however, remained only one of the great powers in the Far East and did not have enough capability to impose its own plans unilaterally.
But the United States made it clear that it did not want to be involved in such a move. For the Korean government, the discussion of spheres of influence between Japan and Russia meant a partition of its territory. Faced with such a dangerous development, two policies were considered in Seoul as countermeasures: allying with Japan or pursuing permanent neutrality. 81 In this setting, the Korean government asked the United States to lead a diplomatic effort to secure its neutrality. But the US diplomats made it clear that their country had no intention of leading such a diplomatic effort to secure Korean independence through international guarantee.
Pavlov did this service because Korean telegraphic services, under Japan’s control, were interrupted from mid-January onward. 75 In this way, France and Russia assisted Korea’s declaration of neutrality, and Britain, among others, agreed to this declaration. But the United States did not show support, to the disappointment of the Korean government, despite the Korean government’s expectation based upon the good office clause of the US-Korean treaty of 1882. Still, until three days before the Japanese attack on the Chemulpo (Inchon) harbor, Yi Yong-ik, the Minister of Defense and a leading pro-Russian figure, showed a high expectation of US assistance to preserve Korean neutrality.