Rare Japanese Medal: Korean Emperor Gojong’s 40-Year Reign

The last of the Korean medals made under Japanese rule that I’d like to show you is the 40-Year Reign Commemorative Medal. It was established in 1902 to celebrate the fortieth year of Emperor Gojong’s (the Gwangmu Emperor) reign. Gojong was later forced to abdicate by the Japanese and some say the Japanese poisoned him in prison. He died in 1919.

Anyway, perhaps 1901 was a better year for this emperor. He had an official medal made to celebrate his rule, and no doubt plenty of parties to celebrate his reign. This medal was issued in both silver and bronze, but I have never seen the latter. Both medals are exceedingly rare. The silver was probably awarded to nobility and the bronze to officials and others who qualified for the medal. Here is the silver medal:

Korean empire emperor medal japanese badge

The design has the famous Hall of Benevolent Administration, which is is the Duksoo Palace in Seoul.

Korean empire emperor medal japanese badge

The Korean crown is at the top. The inscription here is entirely in Korean, which I cannot read. I will use the translation given in Peterson’s excellent book Orders and Medals of Japan and Associated States:

‘Imperial Korea, His Majesty the Emperor, In Commemoration of the Forty-Year Reign, And to Pray for Sixty Additional Years of His Majesty’s Life, Commemorative Silver Medal, Kwangmu 5 [1902], 10th Month 18th Day.’


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have a Korean Annexation Commerative Medal my Uncle found in Korea in 1953. It has crossed flowering branches of pawlonia & plum leaves with the Chrysanthemum crest above. Can you give me any history of this medal-the date, who were these given to Etc…


    • Hello James. I’m not exactly sure who received that medal, but I imagine that those who were government officials, bureaucrats, and related personnel would have been awarded that medal. In addition, some of the award documents I have seen were inscribed to Japanese Army officers. So, really, a broad range of people got this medal. Still, it is highly regarded by collectors and usually sells for $200 to $300 USD.

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