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Once known as the 'Hermit Kingdom', Korea was first pried open by Japan in 1876; it opened to the West in 1883, and even today it remains a little-known country. Yet its distinct culture and history could not be more colorful or fascinating. Photographs from key private collections and museum archives in Europe, America and Russia are collected in this volume, forming a unique anthology and giving insight into the cultural heritage of Korea. The book includes the very first photographs ever taken on Korean soil, by the famous war photographer Felice Beato. He accompanied the American squadron of five ships that landed in 1871 to attempt to open Korea to trade. His photographs show the subsequent fighting and the Korean people the Americans encountered. Other early photographs include royal portraits taken in the 1890s. Queen Min, the last queen of Korea, was assassinated by the Japanese in 1895 and the striking image presented here is the only known photograph of her. With a wide range of pictures by the photographic pioneers who first travelled to the country, including stereoscopes, glass slides and albumen prints ' all reproduced in duotone ' plus hand-tinted photographs reproduced in color, readers will for the first time be able to see the people, the landscape, the town-life and the traditional crafts and costumes of Korea at the turn of the last century.