Today in Korean history

Jan. 18

1898 -- Daehanjeguk, or the Korean Empire, issues a permit to two Americans, whom historic records identify as H. Collbron and R. Bostwick, to lay railroads and build electric and telephone lines in Seoul. The American businessmen built a five-mile-long track and began operating electric cars the following year. Electric cars were first operated in Busan in 1915 and in Pyongyang, the current capital of North Korea, in 1923.

1905 -- The royal authorities announce currency regulations that officially acknowledge the Japanese currency on the peninsula.

1949 -- South Korea establishes diplomatic relations with Britain.

1954 -- The South Korean government establishes a territorial marker on Dokdo, a group of uninhabited islets located in the East Sea.

1955 -- Lee Jung-seop, whose oil paintings were still new in his war-torn homeland, holds his first exhibition in a hall of the Midopa Department Store in Seoul.

Born in Pyongyang in 1916 and educated in Tokyo, Lee's work depicts the indefatigable spirit of the Korean people through such images as a cow laboring tirelessly for farmers.

1974 - Then-President Park Chung-hee proposes a pact of mutual non-aggression with North Korea.

2001 -- South Korea and the U.S. sign a revised Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to limit environmental degradation by American military forces stationed here.

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