Imjin

image One of the recent searches in Thomo’s Hole was the word “imjin”. There are two Imjins I can think of, both military (well three really, there is that Korean river, the Imjin river too, of course).

The first I can recall is the Battle of Imjin River in the Korean War. This was a battle principally between Chinese forces and British and Belgian troops, with support later from Philippine and US troops. Perhaps the most famous incident of this battle was the defence of the “Glosters”, the 1st Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment, and in particular their defence when surrounded on Hill 235. One company of the Glosters, Company D, eventually escaped, the others being killed or captured.

The other Imjin I can recall refers to the Imjin War. These refer particularly to two Japanese invasions of Korea. The first was when Toyotomi Hideyoshi decided to conquer Korea, Ming Dynasty China, the Jurchens and India – just a small easily completed task. This was in 1592 and 1593.

The second invasion of Korea was in 1594 and lasted until 1596. In this second effort Hideyoshi’s expectations had been managed somewhat and his target was only Korea. These invasions finally finished in 1598 so this was Korea’s 7 Year War. The Imjin War is the name this is principally known as (in Korean, 임진왜란).

The part of the Imjin war that interests me the most is the naval aspect, especially in that the Imjin War saw the introduction of then famous Turtle Ship under the control of Admiral Yi SunSin. Perhaps the most significant battle of this was the last battle, the Battle of Noryang Point. In this battle, the Korean fleet under Admiral YiSunSin was joined by a Chinese fleet un Chen Lin. They caught the Japanese with about 500 ships anchored in the narrow straits of Noryang. At about 2:00 am, the Korean and Chinese fleets attacked.

The battle ended with an allied victory. The Japanese lost nearly 300 warships out of the original 500. Unfortunately, at his moment of truimph, Admiral Yi SunSin was mortally wounded and died before the battle and his victory was complete.

Admiral Yi SunSin's crane formation

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One thought on “Imjin

  1. RollingWave 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    A couple of correction, the second war was mostly 1597-98 not 94-96. From the second half of 93-the first half of 97 were all (failed) peace talk period with almost no clashes. with the Japanese retaining a hold on the south eastern corners of Korea.

    Also, Noryang point was basically the final slaughter, if you have to choose there were several obviously more important naval battles where the outcome was not quite as determined (the Japanese objective at Noryang was to sail back to Japan, so even if they won the result would have been the same minus fewer dead Japanese), namely the battle of Hansan island in August of 1592, and the battle of Myeongnyan in September of 97 were both much more important as they really set the tone of both of the invasion attempt.

    This war is a very good example of how logistics was the determining factor of a war. both sides were struggling with the issue throughout the time of conflict.

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