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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Scars of Imjin Invasion, Part I: Jukseong-ri Castle, Busan Gijang-gun

The Japanese Invasions of Korea or Imjin Invasion comprised two separate yet linked operations: an initial invasion in 1592, a brief ceasefire in 1596, and a second invasion in 1597. The conflict ended by 1598 in a military stalemate and the withdrawal of Japanese forces from the Korean peninsula.

The invasions were launched by Toyotomi Hideyoshi with the intent of conquering Joseon Dynasty Korea and Ming Dynasty China. The Japanese forces experienced success during both initial phases of the invasion, capturing both Seoul and Pyongyang, but continuous defeats at sea, logistical difficulties, and the numerical superiority of the combined Ming and Joseon armies eventually resulted in a withdrawal towards coastal areas and a military stalemate. With Hideyoshi's death in September 1598, occupying Japanese forces restricted to garrisons in coastal fortresses in the south, and a continued lack of security at sea, the Japanese forces in Korea were ordered to withdraw back to Japan. Final peace negotiations between the parties followed afterwards and continued for several years, ultimately resulting in the normalization of relations.

In Korean, the first invasion (1592–1596) is literally called the "Japanese (倭 |wae|) Disturbance (亂 |ran|) of Imjin" (1592 being an Imjin year in the sexagenary cycle). In Chinese, the wars are referred to as the "Wanli Korean Campaign", after then reigning Chinese emperor, or the "Renchen War to Defend the Nation" (壬辰衛國戰爭), where renchen (壬辰) is the Chinese reading of Imjin. In Japanese, the war is called Bunroku no eki (Bunroku referring to the Japanese era under the Emperor Go-Yōzei, spanning the period from 1592 to 1596). The second invasion (1597–1598) is called the "Second War of Jeong-yu Year" and "Keichō no eki", respectively. In Japanese, the war was also called "Kara iri" (唐入り, literally "entry to China") in Edo period (17–19C) because Japan's ultimate purpose at the commencement of the invasion was the conquest of Ming China, although the armies of Toyotomi Hideyoshi would ultimately change their objectives and be confined to the Korean Peninsula for the duration of the war. 

The first topic for this blog is the Japanese Castle in Jukseong-ri (Hanja: 機張竹城里倭城). This castle is located in Jukseong-ri, Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan Metropole, the Republic of Korea. This is a stone fortress built by the Japanese general, Kuroda Nagamasa who was defending this area against the Korean Joseon army, in about June, 1593, the second year of the Japanese Invasions.

This wall-fortress built on the stronghold in the rear coast of the village of Jukseong-ri, was 11,176 pyeong (SI Unit/USCS: 36,945.45 sq m/397,677.55 sq ft) in area, about 300 m in circumference, 4 m in height. and three-storied. It has been called the Gijang fortress in Japan. It was placed at the strategically important point linking together the Seosaengpo Japanese Fortress in Ulsan, the Hakseong fortress and the Busanjinjiseong Fortress. Originally, it was built with the stones which had once constituted the Dumopo Fortress, so there still remain the footstones of it in a row around the villages in Dumopo.

Today, the surrounding areas of the fortress are used as farming fields, but the stone wall still remains maintaining its original state relatively well.