On Aug. 29, 100 years ago, the treaty annexing Korea to Japan was promulgated, a week after its signing. It was not a treaty between equal partners. The 1905 Korea-Japan Convention had already made Korea a protectorate of Japan. Under the annexation treaty, the Korean emperor handed sovereign power over his country to the Japanese emperor "completely and forever." Thus Korea became a colony of Japan.

The government general of Korea, set up to rule colonial Korea, was an unusual entity. Its head (governor general) was a Japanese general or admiral under the direct control of the Japanese emperor — the sovereign of the Japanese empire.

An unfortunate fact about the Japan-Korea relationship after the Meiji Restoration is that Japan emulated the United States' "black ship diplomacy." To open Korea for trade with Japan, Japan sent seven naval and nonmilitary vessels in 1876 and forced an unequal treaty on Korea — as the U.S. and other Western powers had done to Japan — to make that country open two ports, with extraterritorial jurisdiction provided for Japanese.