The Bunroku-Keicho War (文禄・慶長の役)

The Bunroku-Keicho War was a war conducted during the period from 1592 (Japan: Bunroku one; Ming and Yi Dynasty Korea: Banreki twenty) to 1598 (Japan: Keicho three; Ming and Yi Dynasty Korea: Banreki twenty-six). An expeditionary force from Japan headed by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and military forces of the Yi Dynasty Korea and Ming fought each other on the Korean Peninsula carrying out intermittent negotiations in parallel.

Regarding the name

From the time of the Toyotomi Government to the late Edo period, as Japan carried out this war on the Korean Peninsula on the way to conquer Ming, it was called "karairi" (literally, entering China), "karagojin" (literally, China war), or "Korai jin" (the Goryeio war), and "Chosen jin" (literally, Korea wa). From the end of the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji period, it was called "chosen seibatsu" (punitive expedition to Korea) or "seikan" (punitive expedition to Korea). Since the Japanese Annexation of Korea in 1910, because Koreans became Japanese citizens, the expression of chosen seibatsu was avoided. Instead, names like "the Bunroku War" for the first war and "the Keicho War" for the second war and "the Bunroku-Keicho War" for both have come to stay (Furthermore, there are name "chosen shuppei" (literally dispatching troops to Korea), "chosen eki" (literally, Korea war), and "seikan no eki" (war for punitive expedition to Korea). In recent years, in certain cases, it has been called chosen shinryaku (literally, invasion into Korea) by people centering on researchers who are interested in damage the Korean side suffered because the Korean Peninsula was the battlefield. However, Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI absolutely aimed to conquer Ming and invasion into Korea itself was not the purpose and, therefore, it was a war on the way to sending military forces to Ming.

The Bunroku War began in 1592 and it was suspended during the next year, 1593. The Keicho War began in 1597 because of the collapse of peace negotiations and ended in 1598 with the retreat of Japanese force because of Hideyoshi's death. In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, the Bunroku War is called Imjin Waeran (It is also used as the generic name of the Wars), and the Keicho War is called Chonyu Ueran or Chonyu Jeran (In the North Korea, in certain cases it is also called Imjin chogukuchonjen). In the People's Republic of China, it is called "万历朝鲜战争" or "朝鲜壬辰卫国战争."

As the name of era changed to "Bunroku" on December 8 (January 10, 1593 by the Gregorian calendar), almost all events in 1592, the first year of the War, that began with landing at Busan on April 12, occurred in Tensho 20 as far as name of the era is concerned.

Situation before the war

Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI who had intended to conquer Ming required through So clan who was the feudal lord of Tsushima and rendered homage and service to Hideyoshi on the occasion of the Kyushu Conquest in 1587, 'Yi Dynasty Korea's yielding allegiance to Hideyoshi and guidance for expedition to Ming.'
The So clan had basically been dependent upon trade with Korea and they racked their brains on how to cope with the situation. It did not convey these requirements directly to the Yi Dynasty in Korea and tried to settle the situation peacefully by requiring dispatch of Chosen Tsushinshi (the Korean Emissary) to celebrate the unification of Japan. The Yi Dynasty Korea, which had been Sakuho-koku (countries to confer a peerage with a Saku paper) of Ming, did not have the intention of leading troops to conquer Ming and Hideyoshi decided to conquer Korea at first in order to make a successful expedition to Ming and a large army of 160,000 were sent in May 1592 (according to the traditional Japanese calendar).

During the Yi Dynasty Korea, delegates dispatched to Japan returned and the Seijinha group (黄允吉, who was seishi (senior envoy), warned that war would occur in the near future) and the Tojinha group (金誠一, who was the vice envoy, denied saying that invasion by Japan would not be in the near future) made different reports and the Tojinha group, the fraction in power, ignored the warning about the potential of war.

Hideyoshi still maintained the intention that, if Yi Dynasty Korea would surrender, he would accept it and make it a stepping stone for an expedition to Ming. The First Division of the Japanese army of Yukinaga KONISHI and Yoshitomo SO, who acted as the spearhead and negotiators by changing Hideyoshi's idea 'subjection of Yi Dynasty Korea and guiding expedition to Ming' to 'to borrow roads to Ming from Korea' and asked Yi Dynasty Korea to negotiate to accept the requests.

The Japanese army, confident of their war potential, tried, even after their landing, to subjugate Yi Dynasty Korea by negotiation in accordance with common sense in the Warring States period and, therefore, it is wrong to conclude that subjugation of Korea by military power was the predetermined policy. In tactics, a choice to surrender was given before starting a siege and just before fall of the castle and negotiations were carried out for a bloodless surrender which enabled them to minimize the damage to their own troops. As it was a war between different cultures, however, commanders of Ming and Korea devoted themselves to the tact of holding the castle involving common people and, in many cases, they chose the fall of the castle involving common people rather than bloodless surrender of a defense general.

The Bunroku War

The Japanese army landed in Busan on May 23 and commenced attack from the next day, on May 24. The Korean army, which was late to cope with invasion, repeated a succession of defeats and bloodless retreats fleeing in every direction. The Japanese army won victory after victory in the Battle of Busanjin (Chonparu died in the war), the Battle of Tonne castle (Son Sanhyon died in the war), the Battle of Sangju (Yi Iru took to flight), the Battle of Tangumdae (Shin Ritsu died in the war) and so on. They made a rapid advance by dividing themselves into three ways having the First Division (Yukinaga KONISHI and others), the Second Division (Kiyomasa KATO and others) and the Third Division (Nagamasa KURODA and others) as spearheads. As the Japanese army approached Seoul, Sonjo, who was the emperor of Yi Dynasty Korea, transferred the capital and fled to Pyongyang. In the next month, June, the Japanese army occupied the capital, Hancheng (Hanyang; present Seoul Special City).

After Hancheong, which had been the capital of Yi Dynasty Korea, fell easily, Japanese commanders held a war council in June in Hancheong and determined targets of subjugation called Hachidokuniwari (literally, dividing the country into eight routes) by each corps (the First Division of Yukinaga KONISHI and others from Pyeongan Province, the Second Division of Kiyomasa KATO and others from Hangyong Province, the Third Division of Nagamasa KURODA and others from Hwanghae Province, the Forth Division of Yoshinari MORI and others from Gangwon Province; the Fifth Division of Masanori FUKUSHIMA and others from Chungcheong Province; the Sixth Division by Takakage KOBAYAKAWA and others from Jeolla Province, the Seventh Division by Terumoto MORI and others from Gyeongsang Province, and the Eighth Division of Hideie UKITA and others from Gyeonggi Province). As the Japanese army marched close to Pyongyang, Sonjo fled to Uiju in Pyeongan Province located at the north end and on the border of Liaodong and asked Ming for help based on sakuho (homage by Chinese emperors). In the mean time, the First and Third Divisions marched further to the north and occupied Pyongyang and suspended their marching. The Second Division, acting with them until the attack on Kaesong, switched their course to Hamgyong Province and the Japanese army occupied all of Korea excluding part of Pyeongan Province in the northwestern area to the north of Pyongyang and Jeolla Province. Kiyomasa KATO and his troops invaded Orangkai in Ming's territory surpassing the border for the purpose of reconnaissance in force.

According to "the record for May of the 25th year of Sonjo in 'Senso Jitsuroku' (literally, factual stories in the era of Sonjo)," The Korean people had already given up on Sonjo and many persons who cooperated with the Japanese army appeared one after another.

We can guess this by '人心怨叛,與倭同心耳' and '我民亦曰:倭亦人也,吾等何必棄家而避也?' in Senso Jitsuroku.

It was written that, when the Ming army supporting Korea rushed forward and arrived, almost all heads which were scattered were those of Korean people. It has been described that three palaces, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung, had been reduced to ashes before the Japanese army entered the castle and nuhi (a type of slave) welcomed the Japanese army as liberation forces and set fire to changnye won in which status ledgers for nuhi had been kept.

Although Yi Dynasty Korea had been beaten by the Japanese army, the Korean navy headed by Yi Sun-sin attacked, twice in May and June, actively fleet of ships that had been moving along the coast among troops at the rear of the Japanese army that had been expanding the area under its control based at Busan, and the Japanese fleet of ships that had not prepared for the damages suffered.

The Japanese army that did not have a navy for fighting on the sea nor a plan to proceed to the west along the coast of Korea, they hastily organized a navy with troops for land combat and troops that had been engulfed in transportation in the rear to cope with the Korean navy.

With respect to a navy organized in such a way, stealing a march by Yasuharu WAKISAKA, it was defeated in the Battle of Hansan Island. Then, the navy headed by Yoshiakira KATO and Yoshitaka KUKI, that debouched to back up, retreated as they could not stand up against attacks on their mooring places by Yi Sun-sin. The Japanese army woke up their disadvantages in naval battles and switched their methods from positive sally tactics to passive joint defense by navy and army. This was because direct naval battles were unfavorable to the Japanese navy because of the differences in equipment and tactics between the Korean navy that was oriented to distant combat (battles with missiles) to break the vessel's body because of their experiences over a long period in coping with wako (Japanese pirates) and the Japanese navy that was oriented to close combat to suppress sailors. However, as vessels at that time were immature both in capability for navigation and combat power and they were dependent to support from the land, the joint defense by navy and army worked effectively and, after that, attacks by Yi Sun-sin could not achieve good results in battle and became lackluster and the number of sorties decreased.

In August, the army of Ming from Liaodong headed by Zu Chengxun, sent as reinforcements made an assault on Pyongyang at the forefront. This assault was beaten back by Yukinaga KONISHI, but, because of assistance from Ming, the situations changed to prioritize negotiation and war situation got stuck.

Commanders dispatched to Korea conquered strategic points in accordance with Hachidokuniwari strategy. As described above, Yukinaga KONISHI put priority on peace talks with Yi Dynasty Korea, at first, and, then, with Ming and stopped any further movements north, stopping at Pyongyang. Takakage KOBAYAKAWA invaded Jeolla Province from Chungcheong Province, but his advance was blocked off by a counterattack by Gwon Yul and, as he moved out immediately after that to Hancheng in order to cope with attack by the Ming army that moved down to the south, the attempt at conquering Jeolla Province did not progress.

Intending to conquer the area west of Busan, the Japanese army caused the first Siege of Jinju (in September 1592, the Japanese army commanded by Tadaoki HOSOKAWA versus the Korean army commanded by Kim Si-min) and, after hard battles, failed in attack on the castle. By the way, this battle are called in the Republic of Korea 'three major victories in Imjin Waeran' together with the Naval Battle of Hansan Island (July 1592, the Japanese army commanded by Yasuharu WAKISAKA versus the Korean army commanded by Yi Sun-sin) and the Battle of Henju-Sanson (the Battle of Haengju) (the Japanese army commanded by Hideie UKITA versus the Korean army commanded by Gwon Yul).

In February during the next year (1593), the Ming Army of 43,000 soldiers headed by Li Ru-song attacked Pyongyang. The Japanese army, however, won the Battle of Byeokjegwan in the suburbs of Hancheng. At this stage, the battle lines for the both parties seemed fixed, and peace talks commenced.

In various occupied areas, volunteer soldiers arose and they suffered from insufficient weapons and provisions. Such volunteer soldiers included many displaced persons and sometimes attacked Korean people or the army. The Japanese army that had assembled in Hancheng and commenced peace talks, maintained the route for supplies by sea from Japan to Busan, but the security of the land route from Busan to Hancheng had deteriorated and, therefore, supplies of food etc. were stacking up. Therefore, they moved their camps to the southern areas around Busan by May in exchange of two princes (Prince Imhaegun and Prince Sunhwagun) of Yi Dynasty Korea who had been captured by Kiyomasa KATO.

Thus, as they could gain some leeway both in troop strength and supplies, in order to control southern Korea an established fact, commanders camped in southern Korea were called up to attack Jinju Castle (the second Siege of Jinju).
(At the beginning, it was planned to use the new troops from Japan while maintaining the front line at Hancheng.)
Furthermore, although they tried to advance to Jeolla Province, the front got stuck and there was a long-lasting truce period.

Peace talks during the truce period

During this period, Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI received a report of the surrender of Ming and, to the contrary, the court of the Ming Dynasty received a report of the surrender of Japan. This was because the persons in charge of peace talk of both Japan and Ming made false reports in order to smoothly realize peace. Therefore, while negotiating peace, Hideyoshi proposed conditions of peace unacceptable to Ming, such that a princess of Ming marry the emperor of Japan and the cession of the southern part of Korea and required the dispatch of an envoy to surrender from Ming. On the other hand, the court of Ming Dynasty required proof of surrender of Japan and this was not acceptable to Hideyoshi.

At last, the person in charge of negotiations for Japan prepared a false instrument of surrender titled 'Kanpaku kohyo' (literally, letter of surrender by Kanpaku) and it was reported to Ming that Hideyoshi's only condition for peace was 'restart of the tally trade' (between Japan and the Ming Dynasty). After confirming 'Hideyoshi's surrender,' Ming decided by deliberation of the court that 'Ho is allowed but Ko is not allowed' (It is allowed to join the sakuho (homage by Chinese emperors) system of Ming, but tally trade is not allowed), and dispatched an envoy to Japan to confer the title of the king of Japan and a gold seal on Hideyoshi. In October 1596, Hideyoshi had an audience with the envoy of Ming who visited Japan. He found that his requests were totally refused and he got very angry. He sent the envoy back and was determined to send troops again to Korea.

The Keicho War

In March 1597, Hideyoshi sent 140,000 troops to Korea with a pretext to achieve by force the cession of southern Korea which was ignored in the peace talks. Although Yi Dynasty Korea ordered the Korean navy to attack the Japanese army that had assembled in Busan, Yi Sun-sin, who was the Naval Commander of the Three Provinces, was removed from his post because of repeatedly ignoring orders and Won Gyun was appointed the successor.

Won Gyun, who succeeded the Korean navy, was also reluctant to attacked but, finally in August he did attack. However, the attack failed and, when they anchored at Geoje Island on their way back, they were attacked both from the land and sea and the Korean navy suffered catastrophic damage including deaths of senior commanders, Won Gyun, Lee Eokgi, and 崔湖 (the Naval Battle of Chilcheollyang).

During the next month, September, the Japanese army was separated into two groups, the Right group and Left group (and navy) and started marching from Gyeongsang Province to Jeolla Province. To cope with this attack the troops of Ming and Korea built up defenses at Hwangsoksan and Namwon Castles near the border of the Provinces. The Right group of Japan attacked Hwangsoksan Castle while the Left attacked Namwon Castle and they immediately took both castles in the assaults and advanced to and occupied without blood Jeonju Castle, because the Ming army that had been defending the castle fled when they came close to it.

Japanese commanders held a council of war in Jeonju and divided themselves into the Right, Middle, and Left groups and the Navy and allocated marching routes and districts to conquer, and determined which troops were in charge of defense and immediately occupied Jeolla Province after marching from Chungcheong. Because of the Japanese army marching north, the Ming army once considered to give up Hanchen, but they finally decided to resist going down south. In September, advancing troops of kaisei, the commander of Ming and Nagamasa KURODA's army had an encounter in Cheonan City and both retreated.

During October also, Yi Sun-sin, who returned to the Naval Commander of the Three Provinces, defeated the advancing Japanese navy, which at first moved to the south from the Namwon Castle and then moved west, in the Naval Battle at Meiryo. However, the Korean navy lost naval supremacy after the west coast of Jeolla Province was conquered and Yi Sun-sin also retreated to the northern border of Jeolla Province and the Japanese navy advanced to the west coast of Jeolla Province.

Before winter, taking into consideration the difficulty of crossing Han-gang during the cold season, the Japanese army, which advanced to Gyeonggi Province, retreated from Gyeongsang Province to the coastal area of Jeolla Province and tried to build a permanent camp by constructing a number of new castles on the outer border of the area of castles constructed during Bunroku war (ranging from Ulsan in the east to Suncheon-si in the west). The plan was after the completion of the castles, the troops other than those staying to defend each castle, would return to Japan and no attacks would be conducted during the next year, 1598.

The Ming and Korea armies attacked the Japanese army which had been busy constructing the castles. On January 29, 1598, allied forces of Ming and Korea consisting of 56,900 soldiers attacked Ulsan Waeseong (Japanese style castle), just before its completion, and began a siege. But, the allied forces suffered a large casualties and faced an uphill battle because of the strong defense by the Japanese army including Kiyomasa KATO who hurried to enter the castle. Accordingly, the allied forces of Ming and Korea gave up the attack and switched to a battle of encirclement. At that time, the Ulsan Castle had not yet been completed and therefore the Japanese army was put in a difficult position trying to hold the castle with insufficient food supplies. During February the following year (1598), Ulsan Castle was run down to just about to fall because of starvation. On February 8, however, rescue forces headed by Hidemoto MORI and so on arrived and, on the next day, February 9, attacked and routed the allied Ming and Korean forces and caused 20,000 casualties and won the battle (the Battle of Ulsan). After this battle, thirteen commanders including Hideie UKITA submitted a proposal to Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI on their plan to give up three castles, Ulsan, Suncheon, and Yangsan, located in projecting positions, because of the difficulty in sending a rescue force, but Hideyoshi rejected this proposal and scolded those who made the proposal.

Although Hideyoshi announced the plan of attack during the next year, 1599, Hideyoshi died on October 7 and the significance of continuing the war disappeared. Under this situation, preparations for retreat from Korea were commenced in secrecy by the Gotairo (Five Elders) and Gobugyo (five major magistrates). However, Hideyoshi's death was kept secret and it was not even informed to the Japanese army which had been dispatched to Korea.

In October, the Ming and Korean allied forces began all-out attacks to Ulsan, Sacheon and Suncheon. The intercepting Japanese army was helped by the strong defense with castles constructed in the coastal area and, in the second Battle of Ulsan, succeeded by beating back the Ming and Korean forces. In the Battle of Suncheon, the troops of the Shimazu clan made a rush by taking a chance in the confusion caused by an accidental burst of gun powder on the Ming side and inflicted large scale damage sending the Ming and Korean forces flying.

Yukinaga KONISHI was in charge of defense of Suncheon. Since it was located in the extreme left wing of the Japanese camp, it was attacked fiercely both from sea and land, but he succeeded in defending their position and forced the Ming and Korean forces to retreat (the Battle of Suncheon Castle). The Ming and Korean forces changed their tactics to just watch Suncheon Waeseong without getting too close.

The Japanese army repulsed attacks to Ulsan, Sacheon, and Suncheon, but, since Hideyoshi had already died in October, the significance of continuing the war had been lost. Finally, on December 2, a withdrawal order in the name of Gotairo was issued keeping Hideyoshi's death a secret. Having received the withdrawal order, Yukinaga KONISHI succeeded in December to obtain a promise of bloodless withdrawal through negotiations with and by bribing the Ming and Korean commanders of the army and navy. Actually, the Ming and Korean navy did not retreat, but continued the naval blockage and obstructed withdrawal by sea.

After confirming the Konishi clan troops were obstructed, Yoshihiro SHIMAZU, who had retreated from Sacheon, and other commanders such as Muneshige TACHIBANA, Hirotaka TERASAWA and Yoshitomo SO organized the naval troops and made an attack to rescue the Konishi clan troops. Knowing that Yoshihiro SHIMAZU's rescue forces were approaching, the Ming and Korean navy lifted their naval blockade of Suncheon and intercepted them.

Shimazu clan's navy had a hard time in the Naval Battle of Noryang, but on the side of Ming and Korea, multiple top officials including the adjutant general of the navy of Ming and Yi Sun-sin, who was the Naval Commander of Three Provinces of the navy of Korea died in this war. Knowing that naval blockade of Suncheon was lifted because of the sorties of the Ming and Korean navies, Yukinaga KONISHI succeeded to escape by sea avoiding the area of the on-going naval battle.

Thus, the daimyo that went to war from Japan withdrew and returned to Japan and the expedition to Ming and the conquest of Korea intended by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI was not achieved and was ended by Hideyoshi's death.

Peace talks after the war

Peace talks were carried out between the So clan in Tsushima, who was entrusted by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, and the government of Korea. It began with the approach to restore diplomatic relations with the Yi Dynasty in Korea from Japan to Korea for sounding out the dispatch of Tsushinshi (Emissary). It was in 1604, six years after the withdrawal of the Japanese army, that an interview of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA took place, who was seii taishogun (literally, great general who subdues the barbarians), with an envoy from Korea. It was in 1607 that Chosen Tsushinshi to Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) was dispatched and formal peace was made. Ming was ruined without having diplomatic relations with Japan and Qing, which began to control China after Ming, because Japan adopted a national isolation policy, conducted only trade, but had no official diplomatic relations.


The war which lasted for six years including a cease-fire period, made a serious impact on Korea, Japan, and Ming.

Impact on the Korean Peninsula

On Korean Peninsula, which was the battle field, public safety deteriorate because of disorderly governance in addition to battles between troops of Japan, Korea, and Ming as well as their presence there. Therefore, revolts and uprising of discontented yangban (traditional ruling class or nobles of dynastic Korea), discriminated classes, impoverished farmers, and thieves occurred and got suppression by the Korean army during their cleanup and executions occurred out of struggles for power in the Korean court were conducted and the such turmoil created further misery in the midst of the war damage.

Productivity of governance by Yi Dynasty Korea was so low that such situations called shunkyu (literally, poverty in springtime) in which farmers starved in the spring time because of class discrimination and exploitation and national land development was neglected. In addition, as distribution economy had not developed, selling and buying using currency such as silver did not exist and procurement of food had to be conducted by barter exchange with Korean people who had been living by self-sufficient economy.

After the war began, because of the consumption of food locally procured by troops of Japan, Ming, and Korea and the deteriorated safety, farmers gave up cultivation and roaming people created further roaming people, and starved people tried to keep hunger at bay by robbing both from enemies and by obtaining favors. As it was decided in negotiations between the armies of Ming and Yi Dynasty Korea thet, with respect to supply of provisions to the area on the Korea side from the Yalu River, Yi Dynasty Korea was responsible for procurement and transportation, Yi Dynasty Korea cruelly conducted confiscation of goods and services from common people including maintenance of both their own army and the government. Therefore, together with despoliation by troops of Ming, even Pyeongan Province, in which no Japanese troops entered, went to pot and could not feed the population just before the commencement of the war and the population decreased drastically.

Common people attacked the troops of Korea, Ming and Japan disorderly looking for food and the latter, which suffered short supply of food, conducted local procurement from common people of Korea. As food was preferentially supplied to the Ming troops, Korean troops ability to wage battle was quite degraded. In the last stage of the war and, after the war, despoliation by the Ming troops, stationed for assuring security even after the war, was widespread. Therefore, later, there were certain persons among Korean common people who, while naming Japan as the top invader, criticized the Ming army as the second invader.

During confusion in wartime, various powers destroyed and despoiled palaces, tombs of kings, governmental offices and cultural properties. It is known from materials in Korea that Korean common people who suffered from class discrimination set fire to governmental offices and documents on discriminated classes. Furthermore, as Japanese troops had a hard time with the resistance that disturbed the peace and conducted guerrilla attacks, it often slaughtered inhabitants and burned villages in order to ensure security. This is known from the mutilation of a person's nose done as evidence of their military exploits, there were many persons in Korea who lost their noses for certain period after that. However, this was conducted only after the Keicho war began when disruptive people were recognized as members of the insurgency. At the beginning, it was understood that Korea was a territory that should be included in the territories under control of Japan and, same as a war in Japan, common people who were noncombatants should be the object of protection and it was prohibited to kill them. Mutilation of a person's nose was conducted mainly during the time of the Keicho War in 1597, but it has been said that it was act of barbarism conducted throughout the war. On Hokkantaishohi, which is a monument raised in Hangyong Province after the war to commemorate repulsion of the Japanese army, it is recorded that 825 left ears were cut from Japanese soldiers killed by the sword in the battle in Kaba for the King of Korea. Furthermore, as a prize was offered for the heads of Japanese soldiers, it is reported there were situations in which a large number of bodies without heads of Korean people taken by the Korean and Ming troops in urban districts.

After the war in general, among Korean people, hostility against Japan was generated and the So clan which wished a peaceful trade relationship took strong precautions, the visit of a Japanese diplomat to the capital was prohibited and Japanese people visited for the purpose of trading were also restricted in their activities and were forced to stay in Wakan (consular office) established in Busan. Many Japanese captives (kowa - literally, surrendered Japanese) were put in iron rings to prevent them from escaping and this made their status as a humble person.

On the other hand, among yangban (traditional ruling class or nobles of dynastic Korea) (ruling class) of Korea, understanding that Korea could narrowly avoid ruin thanks to reinforcements from Ming ("再造之恩") was underscored and the thought to attach importance to gratitude towards Ming spread widely. During the later period in the shift from Ming to Quin, this made an important impact on the track of foreign diplomacy between the Quin Dynasty and Ming.

From the cultural aspects, a great impact was given to the Koreans. Red pepper, brought to Japan through trade with Spain and Portugal, was introduced to the Korean Peninsula by the troops of Japan in the Bunroku-Keicho War and established the basis of Korean cuisine such as kimchi.

Impact on domestic situations in Japan

Taiko kenchi (Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's nationwide land survey) was conducted for territories of daimyo who were absent and the governing power and bureaucratic group of the Toyotomi government were strengthened. After the war, however, Saigoku Daimyo (Japanese territorial lord in western Japan), having suffered from too heavy a military service for the war, was impoverished. For certain daimyo, vassals were disunited, or internal insurrection occurred resulting in weakening the foundation of the Toyotomi government.

On the other hand, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, who had the largest Kokudaka (assessed yield; tax system based on rice, measured by reference to the rated annual yield of the domain) among daimyo, but as he had been moved to Kanto just before, he only headed troops to Kyushu, but was exempt from going to Korea to fight in order to consolidate new territory, came to have latent powers. The fact that Ieyasu TOKUGAWA was exempted from sending troops to Korea was one of factors allowing Ieyasu to conquer the whole country.

Ieyasu, who became the top of Gotairo, gained the control of the peace talks after Hideyoshi's death and pushed his way up to the virtual operator of the government. Such rapid growth of the bureaucratic group and Ieyasu developed to confrontation between the bureaucratic group that tried to maintain the Toyotomi government and Ieyasu who had been looking to the next government resulting in the Battle of Sekigahara (1600). Having achieved overwhelming victory, Ieyasu secured an impregnable position in Japan and he was appointed in 1603 to seii taishogun. Thus, peaceful Edo period commenced.

New aspects were added to Japanese culture by intercommunion in scholarship and calligraphy and painting as well as creative writing with Korean Confucians who were brought to Japan by daimyo who took part in dispatch to Korea and transmission by potters of manufacturing process of continental ceramics and the decoration of roof tiles. On the other hand, many Korean captives were roped into working as replacements of lost domestic labor for the war and some were sold overseas as slaves.

Impact of the advance into the continent after opening of Japan

When involvement in situations in the continent became inevitable as a result of the establishment of diplomatic relationships by opening Japan in the last days of the Edo and the Meiji periods, same as commanders at the time of war were reminded of sankan-seibatsu (the conquest of three countries in old Korea), dispatch of troops by Hideyoshi came to be closed up and many came to consider advancing into the continent was conduct following Hideyoshi's wishes. When annexation of Korea was completed, Masatake TERAUCHI who was the first Governor-General of Korea, composed a waka, "If Kobayakawa, Kato, and Konishi were alive, how would they look the moon of tonight" (If Kobayakawa, Kato, and Konishi, who were commanders took part in the war by Hideyoshi to conquer Korea were still alive, how would they look at the moon of tonight after obtaining Korea for Japan) and Midori KOMATSU who was the secretary of foreign affairs, composed in reply to it "I would like to awake Taiko (Hideyoshi) from the underground and make him look at Hinomaru (national flag of Japan) above the mountains of Korea" (I would like to revive Taiko and show him Hinomaru flaunting above mountains of Korea) and they were delighted at success to annex of Korea which Hideyoshi could not achieve.

Impact on Ming

Reinforcement troops for Korea were called 'Three Expeditions in the Banreki Period' together with suppressing two other concurrent uprisings by local ethnic chiefs, Bobai in Ningxia and You Ouryu in Banshu (Sichuan Province).

Such military expenditure and extravagance by the emperor, Banreki, worsened the financial conditions of Ming and it is considered to be a serious cause of rapid weakening of Ming that could not bear growth of Jurchen during the first half of the seventeenth century.

Important battles (Date according to old lunar calendar)


April 28: Battle of Chungju

Yukinaga KONISHI versus Shin Ritsu

May 18: Battle of Imjin River

Kiyomasa KATO versus Yi Yanwon

June 5: Battle of Yongin

Yasuharu WAKISAKA versus Yi Gwang

July 8: Naval Battle of Hansan Island

Yasuharu WAKISAKA versus Yi Sun-sin

July 8: Battle of 梨峙

Takakage KOBAYAKAWA versus Gwon Yul

July 9: (First) Battle of Kumsan

Takakage KOBAYAKAWA versus Ko Gyonmin

July 17: (First) Battle of Pyeongyang Castle

Yukinaga KONISHI versus Zu Chengxun

August 18: (Second) Battle of Kumsan

Takakage KOBAYAKAWA, Muneshige TACHIBANA and Ekei ANKOKUJI versus 趙憲

October 5: First Battle of the Siege of Jinju

Tadaoki HOSOKAWA and Hidekazu HASEGAWA versus Kim Si-min and Kwoak Che-u


January 6: (Second) Battle of Pyeongyang Castle

Yukinaga KONISHI versus Li Ru-song

January 26: Battle of Byeokjegwan

Takakage KOBAYAKAWA, Muneshige TACHIBANA and Hideie UKITA versus Li Ru-song, Cha Da Sho and 高彦伯

February 12: Battle of Henju-Sanson (the Battle of Haengju)

Hideie UKITA, Mitsunari ISHIDA versus Gwon Yul

June 19: Second Battle of the Siege of Jinju

Hideie UKITA, Nagamasa KURODA and Kiyomasa KATO versus 崔慶会 and 金千鎰


July 15: Naval Battle of Chilcheollyang

Takatora TODO versus Won Gyun

August 13: Battle of Namwon Castle

Hideie UKITA versus 楊元

September 7: Battle of Jiksan

Nagamasa KURODA versus 解生

September 17: Naval Battle of Meiryo

Takatora TODO versus Yi Sun-sin

December 21 (until January 4, next year): Battle of Ulsan Castle

Kiyomasa KATO, Hidemoto MORI, Nagamasa KURODA and Hideaki KOBAYAKAWA versus Yang Hao, Ma Gui and Gwon Yul


September 18: Battle of Suncheon

Yukinaga KONISHI versus Ryu Tei and Chin Rin

September 22: (Second) Battle of Ulsan Castle

Kiyomasa KATO versus Ma Gui

October 1: Battle of Sacheon

Yoshihiro SHIMAZU versus Ton Yi Yuan

November 18: Naval Battle of Noryang

Yoshihiro SHIMAZU, Muneshige TACHIBANA and Yoshitomo SO versus Chin Rin and Yi Sun-sin

[Original Japanese]