The Kabo Reform is a bourgeois reform which took place in 1894 during the Feudal Joson Dynasty. It is so called because that is the year of Kabo.
At that time the political situation of the country was very complicated. The feudal system was faced with severe crisis and the danger of national colonization by Japan was increasing all the more.
Just at the time farmers in Jolla Province raised a riot against the maladministration of the feudal rulers, which gradually developed to a peasant war shaking the whole country. This opened up a favourable phase for the activities of those in direct charge of the Kabo Reform.
Pak Hak Chol, Teacher of the History Faculty of Kim Il Sung University, says:
“When the feudal government was in crisis of ruin due to the fierce resistance of farmers, its officials began to make an open assertion that any reform should be made to save the situation.
Such assertion became stronger after the feudal government accepted the ‘misgovernment reform bill’ of the peasant forces.
As a result, the reformist officials began to promote the reform of the state affairs in the favourable situation created by the Kabo Peasant War.”
At that time a monarchal secret affairs bureau, an organ of bourgeois reform, was set up and a reformist government established by the reformist officials including Kim Hong Jip and O Yun Jung who were major officials of the feudal government.
The reformist government adopted different reform bills for modern development of the country and further intensified the work to reform all spheres of politics, economy, military affairs and social and cultural life along with the reform of the central political structure. Especially, it enforced various reforms to defend independence of the country, elementarily recognize the bourgeois political freedom and do away with the feudal identity.
However, it failed to raise the agrarian problem, a fundamental issue in the bourgeois reform and negate the feudal system fundamentally. With such limitations the Kabo Reform was made in a noncommittal way and in the end, failed without frustrating the vicious moves of the Japanese imperialists to interfere in the internal affairs of the country and the traitorous act of the pro-Japanese lackeys.
But it was of great significance in defending the sovereignty of the nation and realizing social modernization; it played a certain role in promoting the bourgeois national movement in Korea.