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Did France ever control Korea?


France has been an influential player in world history, with its colonial empire spanning across the globe. However, its reach did not extend to the Korean peninsula. In this article, we will explore whether France ever controlled Korea and the reasons behind it.

Early French presence in Korea

Although France never officially controlled Korea, it did have an early presence on the peninsula. In the late 19th century, French missionaries arrived in Korea to spread Christianity. They established schools, hospitals, and churches, and played a significant role in modernizing the country.

The French-Korean Treaty of 1886

In 1886, France signed a treaty with Korea that granted French citizens extraterritorial rights and allowed them to conduct business in the country. However, this treaty did not give France any control over Korea’s internal affairs or territory.

French interest in Korea during World War II

During World War II, Japan occupied Korea and used it as a base for its military operations. France was also under Nazi occupation at the time and had limited influence in Asia. However, some French officials expressed interest in Korea’s future after the war.

The division of Korea after World War II

After Japan’s defeat in WWII, the Korean peninsula was divided into two zones of occupation – one controlled by the Soviet Union and the other by the United States. France was not involved in the division or subsequent control of either zone.

French involvement in Korean War

France did not participate in the Korean War (1950-1953), which was fought between North and South Korea with support from various countries including the United States, China, and Soviet Union.

French diplomatic relations with North and South Korea

France established diplomatic relations with both North and South Korea in the 1960s. However, its relationship with North Korea has been strained due to the country’s nuclear weapons program and human rights abuses.

French economic relations with South Korea

France has had strong economic ties with South Korea since the 1970s, with major French companies such as Renault and Total operating in the country. France has also supported South Korea’s democratization and modernization efforts.

French cultural influence in Korea

France has had a significant cultural influence on Korea, particularly in the areas of fashion, cuisine, and art. French fashion brands such as Chanel and Dior are popular in Korea, and French cuisine is widely available in restaurants across the country.

The impact of Korean culture in France

Korean culture has also gained popularity in France in recent years. Korean films, music, and cuisine have all become increasingly popular among French consumers. This cultural exchange highlights the growing relationship between the two countries.


In conclusion, France never controlled Korea despite its early presence on the peninsula and later diplomatic relations with both North and South Korea. However, France has had a significant cultural and economic impact on Korea, while Korean culture has also gained popularity in France. The relationship between the two countries continues to evolve and strengthen over time.


– “The French Presence in Korea” by Jocelyn Bouquillard
– “France-Korea Relations: A New Era” by Jean-Pierre Cabestan
– “The Korean War: An International History” by William Stueck

When did France control Korea?

The French assault on Korea in 1866, called Byeonginyangyo or the Western Disturbance of the byeong-in year (1866) in Korean, was when the French took control of Ganghwa Island in response to the killings of French Jesuit priests and many of their followers.

Who originally controlled Korea?

Korea was governed as a territory of the Empire of Japan from 1910 until 1945.

What countries conquered Korea?

In 1910, Japan took control of Korea through the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, effectively making it part of the Japanese empire.

Who ruled Korea for almost 400 years?

The Joseon Dynasty was in power for over five centuries, from 1392 when the Goryeo Dynasty fell until the Japanese Occupation in 1910. Today, the cultural advancements and successes of Korea’s final dynasty still have an impact on modern Korean society.

Who ruled Korea for 400 years?

In the late 14th century, the Goryeo dynasty, which had been established by Wang Geon around 400 years earlier, was in decline due to a series of wars and occupation by the disintegrating Mongol Empire.

Was Korea ever a European colony?

While many Asian countries were colonized by Western imperialist powers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Korea was instead colonized by Japan, an Asian imperialist power, in the first half of the twentieth century.

France’s role in Korean reunification efforts

In recent years, there have been efforts to reunify North and South Korea, and France has played a role in these discussions. In 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for the peace talks between North and South Korea and offered to host a summit between the two countries in Paris. France has also been a member of the Six-Party Talks, which aim to resolve the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

French support for Korean democracy

France has been a supporter of democracy in Korea, particularly in South Korea. During the 1980s, France provided asylum to several South Korean activists who were persecuted by the government for their democratic beliefs. France has also worked with South Korea on issues related to human rights and political freedom.

The impact of Korean immigrants in France

There is a growing community of Korean immigrants in France, with estimates suggesting that there are around 30,000 Koreans living in the country. This community has had an impact on French culture, with Korean restaurants and shops becoming increasingly common in major cities such as Paris.

Collaboration between French and Korean companies

French and Korean companies have collaborated on several projects over the years. For example, French carmaker Renault has partnered with Korean automaker Samsung Motors to produce cars for both domestic and international markets. French energy company Total has also worked with Korean companies on oil and gas exploration projects.

The future of French-Korean relations

As both countries continue to grow and develop, it is likely that their relationship will become even stronger. With increasing trade and cultural exchange, as well as ongoing cooperation on issues such as reunification and nuclear disarmament, France and Korea are poised to continue their productive partnership well into the future.

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