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|Revised Romanization||Won Gyun|
Won Gyun (Korean: 원균, hanja:元均 ; 12 February 1540 – 27 August 1597) was a Korean general and admiral during the Joseon Dynasty. He is best known for his campaigns against Japanese during Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea. Won was a member of Wonju Won family, which was well known for its members' military accomplishments. He was born in 1540 near Pyeongtaek and demonstrated his skill as warrior at a young age. He was qualified as a military officer and was first assigned to the northern border to defend against the Jurchens, who frequently raided Korean villages. Won led many successful campaigns with Yi Il and Yi Sun-sin against the Jurchens. After considerable accomplishments on the northern frontier, he was promoted to admiral in 1592 and sent to the southern coast of Gyeongsang Province to command the province's Western Fleet, along with Yi Sun-sin, who became admiral before Won and took command of Jeolla Province's Eastern Fleet. At the time, Won and Yi were cavalry leaders who had no experience with naval warfare.
The Korean language is an East Asian language spoken by about 80 million people. It is a member of the Koreanic language family and is the official and national language of both Koreas: North Korea and South Korea, with different standardized official forms used in each territory. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and Changbai Korean Autonomous County of Jilin province, China. Historical and modern linguists classify Korean as a language isolate; however, it does have a few extinct relatives, which together with Korean itself and the Jeju language form the Koreanic language family. This implies that Korean is not an isolate, but a member of a micro-family. The idea that Korean belongs to the controversial Altaic language family is discredited in academic research. Korean is agglutinative in its morphology and SOV in its syntax.
Hanja is the Korean name for Chinese characters. More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation. Hanja-mal or Hanja-eo refers to words that can be written with Hanja, and hanmun refers to Classical Chinese writing, although "Hanja" is sometimes used loosely to encompass these other concepts. Because Hanja never underwent major reform, they are almost entirely identical to traditional Chinese and kyūjitai characters, though the stroke orders for some characters are slightly different. For example, the characters 教 and 研 are written as 敎 and 硏. Only a small number of Hanja characters are modified or unique to Korean. By contrast, many of the Chinese characters currently in use in Japan and Mainland China have been simplified, and contain fewer strokes than the corresponding Hanja characters.
Wonju is the most populous city in Gangwon province, South Korea.
Upon passing the qualification exam, he was assigned to the northern border to defend against the Jurchens, who frequently raided Korean villages. Won led successful campaigns along with Yi Il and Yi Sun-sin against the Jurchens. He was promoted to admiral in 1592 and sent to the southern coast of Gyeongsang Province to command the province's Eastern Fleet, with Yi Sun-sin, who became admiral before Won and took command of Jeolla Province's Western Fleet. At the time, Won and Yi were cavalry leaders who had no experience with naval warfare.
The Jurchen, also known by many variant names, were a tribal confederation of Tungusic and affiliated peoples, subdivided into three major groups: Jianzhou Jurchens ; Wild Jurchens, often known as the Yeren ; and Haixi Jurchens, who traditionally inhabited the region of Manchuria. The Jurchen established the Jin dynasty, whose empire conquered the Northern Song in 1127, gaining control of most of North China. Jin control over China lasted until their 1234 conquest by the Mongols.
Yi Il was a distinguished Korean general who lived from 1538 to 1601.
Admiral Yi Sun-Shin was a Korean naval commander famed for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Imjin war in the Joseon Dynasty, who became an exemplar of conduct for both the Koreans and Japanese. Despite the fact that he had no prior naval training, Admiral Yi was never defeated at sea nor lost a single ship under his command to enemy action, and military historians have placed him on par with Admiral Horatio Nelson as one of the greatest naval commanders in history. His title of Samdo Sugun Tongjesa, literally meaning "Naval Commander of the Three Provinces", was the title used for the commander of the Korean navy until 1896.
At this time, Japan was united after a long period of internal warfare by a new leader, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi had become supreme ruler over most of Japan by killing many rivals to rise to power. He decided to begin an expansionist war against Japan's neighbors. Some Koreans realized that the threat from Japan was great: They argued that the Joseon dynasty needed to prepare for invasion from Japan as well as the existing Jurchen menace. However, the government was divided along factional lines and the officials could not reach a decision. Hideyoshi saw the chance to take Korea unprepared.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a preeminent daimyō, warrior, general, samurai, and politician of the Sengoku period who is regarded as Japan's second "great unifier". He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and brought an end to the Warring Lords period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle. After his death, his young son Hideyori was displaced by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
On April 13, 1592, the Japanese fleet under Katō Kiyomasa launched a sudden strike on the Eastern Fleet of Gyeongsang province and disabled every ship under its control. The main army under Kato and Konishi Yukinaga landed on the Korean Peninsula the next day and marched northward. Won, who was commander of the Eastern Fleet of Gyeongsang province, was also routed by the invading Japanese. (Won's predecessor was able to pass a fleet combat readiness inspection just one year before the war.) With this able force, Admiral Won may have had an opportunity to intercept and engage Japanese invading forces at sea, thus perhaps preventing or delaying the Japanese incursion on Korean soil. However, he decided not to act upon the naval intelligence regarding the Japanese incursion until the Japanese landing party established a beachhead and successfully laid siege upon the city of Busan.
Katō Kiyomasa was a Japanese daimyō of the Azuchi–Momoyama and Edo periods. His court title was Higo-no-kami. His child name was Yashamaru, and first name was Toranosuke.
Konishi Yukinaga was a Kirishitan daimyō under Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
At this point, Won sank many of his ships in retreat to ensure they would not be captured by invading Japanese forces. With four ships left under his command, Won called for help from Yi Sun-sin, who had prepared for war and raised a smaller and battle ready fleet. King Seonjo finally ordered both admirals to fight against the Japanese forces on May 2, 1592. Won and Yi began their campaign two days later, with Admiral Yi Eok Ki, the commander of the Eastern Fleet of Jeolla Province who later became the commander of the Western Fleet of the same Province following Admiral Yi Sun-sin's promotion.
Seonjo of Joseon was the fourteenth king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea from 1567 to 1608. Known for encouraging Confucianism and renovating state affairs at the beginning of his reign, political chaos and his incompetent leadership during the Japanese invasions of Korea marred his later years.
On May 7, the Korean navy under Yi destroyed a Japanese fleet in the Battle of Okpo. Later Won was promoted to an army general, while Yi Sun-sin became naval chief of staff.
The Battle of Okpo was a battle which took place during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98). Yi Sun-sin and Won Gyun's fleet engaged an anchored Japanese transport fleet and destroyed them. A day later, Yi Sun-sin and Won Gyun parted ways and returned home after receiving news of the fall of Hanseong.
In 1597, Japanese decided to stop all negotiations with the Koreans and Chinese Ming Dynasty and planned a re-invasion of Korea. To do so, they plotted to remove Admiral Yi Sun-sin from his position. Japanese spies directed by Konishi Yukinaga spread word that Katō Kiyomasa was urging other Japanese to continue fighting and would soon be crossing the sea. King Seonjo ordered Admiral Yi to capture Kato, but Yi refused to do so, as he knew that the words were the fabrications of Japanese agents.
Seonjo was in fear of a possible coup d'état attempt by Yi or by his supporters, which was never plotted, but Seonjo convinced himself it could happen any day: Yi refused to carry out his orders several times and his fleet was the strongest combat force on both sides. Yi refused to carry out the orders purely due to tactical reasons, but the act of insubordination itself, no matter how justifiable, frightened the King beyond his breaking point. King Seonjo finally ordered the execution of Yi, but the royal court reluctantly yet successfully resisted the order and was able to lower the punishment to imprisonment and demotion. Yi was placed under the command of Gwon Yul to recover from his wounds from the torture administered during the investigation of the charges against him. Seonjo then replaced Yi with Won Gyun as the naval chief of staff.
Won also knew the information was false and did not advance toward Busan for the same tactical reasons Yi reported to the royal court before his removal from the post. Yi was removed for refusing orders to engage the Japanese. The government continued to trust the information and ordered Won to attack Japanese ships at Ungchŏn. Won attacked the Japanese — who were mostly unarmed and protected under the cease-fire treaty to support the negotiation process which was about to be terminated — and defeated them. He lost one of his battleships and its captain during the attack. He did not advance after receiving a letter of protest from the Japanese commander. Then Field Marshal Gwon Yul, who was also under heavy pressure from the king, recalled Won to his headquarters and once again ordered him to attack Busan. Won finally led the navy towards Busan, along with the famous admiral Yi Eok Ki, following orders despite tactical considerations.
The Japanese at first seemed to retreat, but it was a trap. The Japanese were prepared to devastate the Joseon navy before land invasion. The number of Japanese ships was so great that most Koreans were already frightened, including Admiral Bae Seol. The Japanese fleet, commanded by Todo Takatora, advanced toward Won Gyun's fleets. Won knew that he would lose the battle but had no choice but to engage.
At the Battle of Chilchonryang, most of Joseon Navy's ships were destroyed. Won was killed in action. Only the small detachment of twelve warships under the command of admiral Bae Sŏl — who refused to participate and fled even before the battle began — survived. Every other ship in the combat was destroyed or disabled, along with almost all of Joseon navy line officers and many capable mid-level commanders.
The battle opened the route for Japanese to advance to Yellow Sea, and Todo set up the plan to attack Hanyang from land and sea with Katō Kiyomasa and Konishi Yukinaga. However, Japan's hopes were crushed again by Yi Sun-sin's return at the Battle of Myeongnyang, which would decide the winner of the devastating war. Despite any historical controversy, Won Gyun and Yi Sun-sin received commendations following their deaths.
Next to his military career, Won Gyun is perhaps best known for his personal faults, which included excessive alcohol consumption and attempts at adultery. In his War Diaries, Yi Sun-Sin recalls reports and rumors about "cruel deeds" committed by Won and even mentions an incident in which Won had unsuccessfully attempted to seduce one of his subordinates's wife, calling him a "wicked man" and (at least partially) blaming him for his degradation ("Won employs all means to entrap me").
Much controversy lingers in regard to Won Gyun as a military leader. Widely panned by scholars and historians, there is recent research to suggest that Won Gyun may have been excessively vilified during the Park Chung-Hee administration to elevate Yi Sun-sin by juxtaposition. In particular, Won Gyun's earlier successes against the Jurchens have been buried and there is an interest in providing a more objective view of Won Gyun's military career.
While fault exists for Won Gyun's mistakes as a naval officer, much of the blame of the troubles during that period lies in the factionalized incompetence of the royal court. However, it is still hard to ignore his actions and lack of competency as a naval commander, and blame the political instability and indecision of the royal court for the result of the battle of Chilcheonryang. The battle led to the near-complete annihilation of the Korean navy in a single engagement against the Japanese, who were heretofore unable to prevail against the Koreans in a naval engagement.
In the Admiral Yi campaign of the video game Empires: Dawn of the Modern World , Won Gyun is portrayed as a traitor to Korea, allying first with Manchu raiders harassing Korea's north and later with the Japanese invaders. In this portrayal, Won Gyun appears to be responsible for masterminding both attacks on Korea, with the eventual aim of becoming King of a reduced Korea, allied to Japan and tributary to Ming China. His treachery is discovered by Ryu Seong-ryong, and he is arrested.
The Japanese invasions of Korea comprised two separate yet linked operations: an initial invasion in 1592, a brief truce in 1596, and a second invasion in 1597. The conflict ended in 1598 with the withdrawal of the Japanese forces from the Korean Peninsula after a military stalemate in Korea's southern coastal provinces.
In the Battle of Myeongnyang, on October 26, 1597, the Korean Joseon kingdom's navy, led by Admiral Yi Sun-sin, fought the Japanese navy in the Myeongnyang Strait, near Jindo Island, off the southwest corner of the Korean peninsula.
The Battle of Noryang, the last major battle of the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598), was fought between the Japanese navy and the combined fleets of the Joseon Kingdom and the Ming dynasty. It took place in the early morning of 16 December 1598 and ended past dawn.
The Joseon Navy was the navy of the Korean dynasty of Joseon. While originally commissioned to protect merchant vessels and coastal towns from Japanese pirate raids, the Joseon navy is best known for defeating the Japanese naval forces during the Imjin War and is often credited with halting the Japanese invasion campaign and saving the dynasty from conquest.
The Joseon naval campaigns of 1592 were naval campaigns conducted by Korean admiral Yi Sun-sin during Japanese invasions of Korea (1592-1598) against the Japanese forces of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. These campaigns made Yi a legendary figure in Korean History on par, if not surpassing the great general Eulji Mundeok. The campaigns of Yi were vital in halting the Japanese invasion, which had the ultimate aim of conquering not just Korea, but Ming China as well. Yi was able to severely impair Japanese logistics and reinforcements for the land forces in Korea.
The Hamgyong Campaign, also known as Katō Kiyomasa's Northern Campaign, was Katō Kiyomasa's invasion of the northeastern Korean province of Hamgyeong during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598). The campaign was largely due to the help of Korean defectors who also handed over to the Japanese their princes Sunhwa and Imhae. The Japanese reached the northeastern edge of Hamgyeong, crossed the Duman River, and attacked the Orangai Jurchens, but met with heavy resistance. Katō returned south and took up residence in Anbyeon while Nabeshima Naoshige headquartered in Gilju. By winter local resistance began pushing back at Japanese occupation and laid siege to Gilju.
The Siege of Busanjin was a battle fought at Busan on 24 May 1592, between Japanese and Korean forces. The attacks on Busan and the neighboring fort of Dadaejin were the first battles of the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98).
The Battle of Hansan Island and following engagement at Angolpo took place from 14 to 15 August 1592. In two naval encounters, Korean Admiral I Sunsin's fleet managed to destroy roughly 100 Japanese ships and halted Japanese naval operations along the southern coast.
Hansan Island, also known as Hansando, is in South Gyeongsang Province across a relatively narrow strait from Chungmu on the Tongyeong Peninsula.
Gwon Yul (1537–1599) was a Korean Army General and the Commander-in-chief of Korea, who successfully led the Korean forces against Japan during the Japanese invasions of Korea (임진왜란). He is best known for the Battle of Haengju where he defeated an attacking force of about 30,000 Japanese with 2,800 troops.
Yi Eok-gi was the commander of the Eastern Jeolla Fleet and later came to be the commander of the Western Jeolla Fleet. At age 32, despite being 15 years younger than Supreme Naval Commander Yi Sun-sin, Yi Eok-gi became his most trusted commander and companion during the Seven Year War. Yi Eok-gi was eventually killed in the devastating Battle of Chilcheollyang Strait while assisting Won Gyun, the Naval Commander of the entire Korean navy at that time.
The Battle of Imjin River was a battle during the 1592 Japanese invasion of Korea. Gim Myeongweon's northern defense was defeated and the Japanese were able to cross over and invade northern Korea.
Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-sin is a South Korean television series based on the life of Yi Sun-sin, starring Kim Myung-min in the title role. It aired on KBS1 from September 4, 2004 to August 28, 2005 on Saturdays and Sundays at 21:45 for 104 episodes.
The Siege of Dongnae was a siege that occurred on 25 May 1592 during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98). It resulted in the capture of Dongnae, a mountain castle on the way to Hanseong, by the Japanese.
The Admiral: Roaring Currents, or simply The Admiral, is a 2014 South Korean naval war film directed and co-written by Kim Han-min. Based on the historical Battle of Myeongnyang, it stars an ensemble cast led by Choi Min-sik as the Korean naval commander Yi Sun-sin. The film was released theatrically in South Korea on July 30, 2014.