Byeongin Yangyo, the French expedition against Korea of 1866


March 1866, 9 French missionaries are arrested and executed by the Korean authorities.
July 11, Admiral Roze, after a trip to Beijing, arrives back at Tientsin. News of the killing of the 9 French Catholic missionaries in Korea reaches him there, together with the report that one missionary, Fr. Felix Ridel, has escaped and arrived in China. A few days later Ridel arrives at Tientsin, still wearing Korean dress.


September 18, Admiral Roze sails from Chefoo to make an initial survey of the Korean coast and the river leading to the capital on the Primauguet, accompanied by the Déroulède and Tardif.

October 3, the 3 ships return to Chefoo, the 2 smaller ones having reached a point on the Han River (Yanghwajin / Hapjeong-dong) from where the walls surrounding Seoul were visible.


October 11, the full expedition sets sail from Chefoo.

October 13, the ships anchor close to Woody Island (l’île Boisée, today known as Jakyak-do?), to the South of Ganghwa Island, just off the coast to the south of Incheon.

October 14, Admiral Roze with 5 ships sails up the “Salt River” (the strait separating Ganghwa Island from the mainland) and arrives at Gapgotjin, the village on the island’s coast from where a road leads to Ganghwa city. The French force lands there, and occupies the houses of the village for their lodgings, the inhabitants having fled.


October 16, the French forces enter Ganghwa city after a brief skirmish; the garison and population flee. The following days are taken up with a search through the government store rooms, where a large quantity of silver is found. The Royal Uigwe books and other precious objects are chosen to be sent back to France. Then a systematic destruction of weapons and stocks of gunpowder in the various nearby forts is undertaken.

October 21, a survey of the northern shore of Ganghwa is made.

October 26, a reconnaissance party lands on the mainland side, close to the South Gate in the wall of the Munsusanseong fortress, which marked the start of the road leading to Seoul. They are fired on by soldiers hiding in ambush on the gate and three French sailors are killed. A brief exchange of fire kills a number of the Koreans, the others flee. The French open fire with cannon at Korean forces seen emerging from behind hills a mile or two away. They burn the pavilion topping the gate and the houses around it.


November 8, there are reports of large numbers of Korean troops crossing onto Ganghwa at the level of Gwanseong fort.

November 9, a lightly-armed force of about 120 French set off on foot to reconnoiter the fortified temple of Cheondeung-sa. It seems deserted but as they approach the main gate they come under heavy musket fire. Many are wounded, though none are killed, and they return to camp that evening.


November 11, the French withdraw from Ganghwa Island after burning the palace and official buildings. All the ships are now anchored near Woody Island (near Incheon).

November 16, Fathers Féron and Calais (the other 2 surviving priests of the Korean mission) arrive on a French ship from China, having sailed across to China from Korea in October.

November 18, the planned departure is delayed by a storm.

November 21, the French ships set sail in different directions, some headed for Japan, others for China.



Henri Zuber's record of the expedition and other images.

Aged 22, Henri Zuber was a junior officer on the expedition with a gift for drawing. In addition to published engravings made from his drawings, he left 2 reports of the expedition, which he did not approve of. Returning to France, he resigned from the navy and became a professional artist, especially celebrated for his watercolors.

1. Life and family history of Jean Henri Zuber

2.  English translation of the letter written by Henri Zuber (to his mother?) preserved by Jeanne Frey and transcribed by Henri Ernest Zuber (also a PDF file of the transcript) (1901-1967), about the events on Ganghwa Island, based on his journal.

3. English translation of an account of the expedition written by Henri Zuber some years later and  published in
Le Tour du monde illustré, 1873, T. XXV, p. 401 – 416.

4. The illustrations used in the article in Le Tour du Monde

5. Engravings of drawings by Henri Zuber published in other reviews, almost all in 1867.

6. A series of other images related to the 1866 expedition.