Imjin War

Nov 2017
137
US
Given the impotence of the Choson court to support the war effort, where did the money or resources to support the the troops come from? You don't build cannon out of straw, or ships out of rice. Troops have to eat, broken weapons replaced, worn uniforms and footwear manufactured. This takes money, raw materials, and some bureaucracy to co-ordinate efforts.

I guess I would like to find answers to what goes into making things for the war effort.

-Did local commanders collect taxes, and in what form?
-How much does a soldier eat, and how much land does it take to supply one man for one year?
-How many men does it take to build a warship, and how long does it take?
-where does the metal for weapons come from.?

These aren't "sexy" details, but are fundamental to having an effective fighting force. It was the failure of the Japanese to solve such questions that accelerated their ejection from the north.
Actually, there are such details available through various records during the war. The Silok, Correction Book, War Diaries. Having red the latter 2, and basically eveyr documentary, drama, movie about the period, I could probably shed some insight.

Ordinarily, the central government funded the military bases by sending them rice, which was used as the medium of value.
Joseon was a very centralized nation compared to previous dynasties, and especially compared to other countries in the era, including Japan, China, and Europe. There were no warlords, and everyone was centrally appointed and serviced through exams. This was a progressive system, but it faced hurdles during wartime. For example, when the central government, the King, was on the run or far away, then the regional officers were less able to act autonomously. Luckily, the sea was open to Koreans, since their navy controlled the seas, so while messengers couldnt get through land, the King received and sent messages freely by sea, and war goods transported by sea.

During peacetime, the King sent special funding (in form of rice) to Yi Soon Shin's naval base to make Turtle ships. This was normal. The government collected one tenth of everything the people in the country produced, except by Yangban or Nobi class. Then the issued some of the resources to whoever needed it. To go into detail, each region in the nation had a "local good", be it pollack, squid, rice, beef, etc, and then they were required to pay a certain amount of that good each year. But problems arose when some region no longer produced the specific good (certain fish becoming endangered, migrating, etc) but they still had to pay the same good, so they had to buy it expensively from the market to pay taxes, which the merchants profited from. That caused stress to the people, so Ryu Seung ryong during wartime pushed the court to change the law to unifying the payment to coins or rice. Anyways, back to the turtle ship. What happened was, Yi proposed the Turtleship to the court, and Ryu Seong Ryong, Yi's friend, spoke well of Yi and persuaded the King to help Yi. So Yi was able to use the funding to make the ships. But when war broke out, the King abandoned the court and fled to Pyeongyang, then Uiju. This time it was Yi that was sending stuff to the King. Yi created an industry of his own to become self-sufficient, which was normally frowned upon during peacetime, but this was war, so rules were bent. Normally coastal islands were forbidden from being settled (because of pirate raids), but Yi controlled the seas so he took in war refugees and had them farm on the islands to create rice. He also created salt farms to trade with the populace and get other things he needed , from timber, iron, clothing ,etc. Yi even supplied the King with paper for official documents, since the court lost the ability to make paper. Ironically, Yi's commercial industrial base was so extensive his ships even traded with Japanese merchants, to get materials to fight the Japanese. Yi's base also produced its own matchlock guns, deeloped during wartime by reverse engineering the Japanese arabesque. During peacetime, the naval base was already equipped to produce its own cannon and ships. It would not be difficult to quickly adapt to new products.

In addition, Yi created his own military officer exam so he can promote from his own ranks, teh offficers he needed, which was technically illegal in Joseon, and so his enemies in politics attacked him for it. However the King let it pass during the hard times, though this added to his list of "crimes" for when he received judgment later on.

What the Court did. The court wasn't completely incompetent. In fact, the military scientists of the court travelled with the king when he fled the palace, and invented the new weapon, bigeukjincheonre, the flying thunderbolt lighting bomb, or the first internal fuse time bomb in the world. This was started to be researched during peacetime then finished during the war, when King was on the run. The King sent a good supply of these bombs to the band of righteous army, and government troops the crown prince was leading ,and they were used in good effect during the retaking of Kyungju. One bomb was recorded to kill 30 people, as iron shrapnel inside flew everywhere. They were slugged using slings or fired from cannon.

Also, during battle of Haengju when 3000 koreans fought off 30,000 Japanese, the court sent a supply of arrows via ship. So again, the sea proved vital to many victories.

If you read the Correction book, you can see many interesting situations where Ryu Seong Ryong, the prime minister, travels with a ragtag group of maybe a dozen soliders and comes across empty towns where people have fled for the mountains. He was able to return activity to the towns by giving out some rice and then the people would return from the safety of the mountains and officials will resume work at the office, and volunteers would be taken to become trained to fight. Ryu talks about making makeshift hwachas using only a dozen seungja gun barrels mounted on a civilian cart, which proved useful enough as the real thing, especially considering the cost and quickness they can be deployed. Also using the matchlocks made by Yi, Ryu was able to arm large numbers of peasant refugees into formidable armies in a short time.

Many of these "resistance fighters" were ironically very highly technologically armed, since there was often a small mix of government troops and engineers sent to help them out. Even the battle of haengju where the 3000 korean troops were mostly civilian militia, including women, were using those mangam and chongtong hwachas that we posted above, firing 1500 bullets in a single blow. This is because the central government supplied some crucial components, like bombs and ammunition, while the locals had engineers to do things on their end. Byeonijung was the nobleman who invented the Mangam hwacha (aka Byeunijung hwacha).

During seige of Jinju, the nobleman Jeongpyeong Gu invented the world's first attack glider, the Bigeo, which dropped paper bombs on the enemy. Trade and communcation between the pockets of reisstance was always linked by sea, and Japanese had nothing on the bases that had to be reached by sea.
 
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Apr 2018
281
USA
On the subject of guns that shoot arrows, I did find a 17th century illustration and description for fire-arrows designed to be shot out of muskets. Unfortunately i've forgotten exactly which book it was from now so I'll have to go back and re-find it at some point:

fetchimage109.gif
Anyways yeah, it does recommend that when shooting a heavier projectile like a double bullet or an arrow you should charge the weapon with far less powder than you do for a normal musket ball in order to avoid excessive recoil like that.

A couple other features are that the gun-arrow's fletching is made out of horn instead of feathers, and there is a long string attached to the end of the arrow which is supposed to help keep it stable in flight.
 
Nov 2017
137
US
The Seungja Gun Barrel, which is what the gun barrel in the video is called, is actually supposed to be fired from a wooden shaft. In the video, the barrel flies out of the infantryman's hands, but in 16th century, that's not how it was fired. There is a hole at the rear end of the barrel which allows the gun to be fixed on a wooden stick, and the gun is fired from the stick, which gives more stability. The same barrel is used en masse on the chongtong hwachas, especially after Korean matchlocks replaced the seungja barrels as standard infantry firearm, and the surplus seungja barrels were used to make more hwachas.


Here is a cute animated video on the evolution of and the pros and cons if the seungja chongtong. It reloaded faster than the matchlock, but was less accurate than the matchlock because it lacked a trigger mechanism. This was compensated for by using it like a blunderbuss with 15 bullets instead of 1.

The seunga barrel required hipfire, while matchlock allowed for snipe mode.
But perhaps for certain close quarters situation, the seungja is a better melee support weapon (before the invention of bayonette), while the matchlock is the all around more advanced ranged infantry weapon. In the end the seungja barrels were repurposed for used by Hwachas because it was more effective as fixed firearm


In this video it explains the loading process of the seungja chongtong. Interestingly, soldiers sometimes carried multiple seungja barrels, and simply fixed loaded barrels on the stick after firing for rapid firepower, since the gun barrels were relatively small and compact (like over-sized metal jacket cartridges)
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,798
United States
You guys forgot the chongtong hwacha. probably the first machine gun in existence.


50 seungja gun barrels fired in succession. each could be loaded with 15 steel bullets or 4 small arrows.
As far as I know we aren't even sure exactly what the sungja gun arrows were like since no specific details have survived today. It's quite possible that arrow is too large. Also he should be gripping a wooden staff at the back of the gun which would further reduce recoil.
 
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Jul 2015
286
Japari Park
Keep in mind that during the 1st Japanese invasion, Korea wasn't even the main Japanese target, it was China. Hideyoshi's main goal was subduing the Ming. Why? Well, it seems Hideyoshi inherited this plan from his former master, Oda Nobunaga who himself expressed desire to conquer China shortly before his death in 1582. It is likely that Hideyoshi, after unifying Japan, wanted to solidify his legacy. It's not only China that Hideyoshi planned to subjugate, he also sent a Shimazu to the Ryukyu in 1590 basically to confirm Hideyoshi's dominion over the Ryukyu Kingdom and in 1591 he even threatened the Spanish in the Philippines saying that they should come and submit to him or risk a Japanese attacks. He also demanded submission from the Taiwanese.
I know this is a old reply but I still want to respond to this. Hideyoshi's target had always been Korea, and all Japanese preparation for the invasion was aimed at Korea.
If he won Imjin War, his next target would be China, but that's for another day.

The Ming troops eventually became a problem for the Joseon. They were stationed in Korea and basically lived off the land which further devastated Korea. This was one of the reasons Joseon decided to finally normalize relations with Japan starting in 1601.
Up until the point of Battle of Jiksan, there were only roughly 17,000 Ming troops in Korea (and quite a few of them only just arrived in Korea due to the fall of Namwon). The so-called "drain" was negligible in the grand scheme and greatly exaggerated.

You guys forgot the chongtong hwacha. probably the first machine gun in existence.


50 seungja gun barrels fired in succession. each could be loaded with 15 steel bullets or 4 small arrows.
49bfaa1e89604d3b92b6f94717c31242.jpg
Depending on its date of invention, this Da Vinci's "mortar" could have predate it.


The Seungja Gun Barrel, which is what the gun barrel in the video is called, is actually supposed to be fired from a wooden shaft. In the video, the barrel flies out of the infantryman's hands, but in 16th century, that's not how it was fired. There is a hole at the rear end of the barrel which allows the gun to be fixed on a wooden stick, and the gun is fired from the stick, which gives more stability. The same barrel is used en masse on the chongtong hwachas, especially after Korean matchlocks replaced the seungja barrels as standard infantry firearm, and the surplus seungja barrels were used to make more hwachas.


Here is a cute animated video on the evolution of and the pros and cons if the seungja chongtong. It reloaded faster than the matchlock, but was less accurate than the matchlock because it lacked a trigger mechanism. This was compensated for by using it like a blunderbuss with 15 bullets instead of 1.

The seunga barrel required hipfire, while matchlock allowed for snipe mode.
But perhaps for certain close quarters situation, the seungja is a better melee support weapon (before the invention of bayonette), while the matchlock is the all around more advanced ranged infantry weapon. In the end the seungja barrels were repurposed for used by Hwachas because it was more effective as fixed firearm


In this video it explains the loading process of the seungja chongtong. Interestingly, soldiers sometimes carried multiple seungja barrels, and simply fixed loaded barrels on the stick after firing for rapid firepower, since the gun barrels were relatively small and compact (like over-sized metal jacket cartridges)
The music of that YouTube video is from War of Genesis 3...how nostalgic. I still remember that video game fondly. Also the NES music.

That aside, the video demonstrates that the chongtong has a nearly identical loading procedure as a matchlock, except with an additional step of loading what I think is a sabot. It doesn't have a flash pan so it can skip some steps, but I doubt it will be any faster than a matchlock.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,660
Republika Srpska
Korea was Hideyoshi's immediate target because they refused to let the Japanese simply march through Korea to China, but Hideyoshi's main goal was subduing China. Korea only had the misfortune that it got in the way and suffered as a result.
 
Jul 2015
286
Japari Park
Korea was Hideyoshi's immediate target because they refused to let the Japanese simply march through Korea to China, but Hideyoshi's main goal was subduing China. Korea only had the misfortune that it got in the way and suffered as a result.
That was what Hideyoshi told the Koreans, i.e. it was an excuse to launch the invasion. He knew the Koreans would never agree on his request (actually even if the Koreans agreed, Hideyoshi would have launch the invasion anyway).

Korea was not some kind of roadblock that somehow protected China by being in the way and bearing the brunt of Hideyoshi's rampage. No. Korea as a country was large and rich enough that Hideyoshi wanted to conquer it, regardless of what he planned to do with other places.
 

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,798
United States
I know this is a old reply but I still want to respond to this. Hideyoshi's target had always been Korea, and all Japanese preparation for the invasion was aimed at Korea.
If he won Imjin War, his next target would be China, but that's for another day.


Up until the point of Battle of Jiksan, there were only roughly 17,000 Ming troops in Korea (and quite a few of them only just arrived in Korea due to the fall of Namwon). The so-called "drain" was negligible in the grand scheme and greatly exaggerated.


View attachment 15801
Depending on its date of invention, this Da Vinci's "mortar" could have predate it.



The music of that YouTube video is from War of Genesis 3...how nostalgic. I still remember that video game fondly. Also the NES music.

That aside, the video demonstrates that the chongtong has a nearly identical loading procedure as a matchlock, except with an additional step of loading what I think is a sabot. It doesn't have a flash pan so it can skip some steps, but I doubt it will be any faster than a matchlock.
The organ gun hwacha was developed in 1409, but I'm not sure it would be a true machine gun.

My understanding is that Hideyoshi mistakenly believed Korea had submitted in 1590 (due to the deception by the Sou clan of Tsushima) and treated them like a rebellious province when they wouldn't let the Japanese armies pass through. Once they realized Korea was not going to comply they tried to subdue this rebellious region before moving on to China. Their plan was to annex most of East Asia and even India.
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
A
Korea was Hideyoshi's immediate target because they refused to let the Japanese simply march through Korea to China, but Hideyoshi's main goal was subduing China. Korea only had the misfortune that it got in the way and suffered as a result.

If China was Japan's ultimate goal, the only way Japan could ensure its linez.of communication in the rear was by conquering and controlling Korea. Even if Korea initially allowed Japanese armies to pass through, Korea could always later change its mind, which would leave Japanese armies in a very bad position.

For Japanese invasion of China to work, Japan would need to control Korea, And I don't think just the goodwill of the Korean would be a good enough guarantee. Japan's conquest of Korea was always part of the plan I would think.