The story of the ‘opening’ of Korea presents us with a peculiar problem of its own. For, when Westerners arrived on the shores of Korea in the nineteenth century, they found a country that was shielded in the shadow of China. Korea, so it seemed to Westerners, would not open the country without Chinese approval, but China would not interfere in Korea on Western countries' behalf or, at times, even on her own behalf. And both Korea and China professed that they were acting according to the dictates of the traditional relationship which had bound the two countries for many centuries in peace and harmony. To Western observers this traditional Sino-Korean relationship seemed to offer nothing but a diplomatic cul-de-sac. Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that Western diplomats concluded that this relationship was merely ceremonial and largely dismissed it as having little political consequence.