(Translation) 陳時務箚

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Introduction

Original Script

Classical Chinese English

1. [豊原府院君臣, 伏以]今日事勢。已到十分危迫。無復着手處。惟日望唐兵。而遷延不來。已迫歲暮。夫我國爲中國致忠。亦已至矣。今此受禍。亦惟中國之故。而中國不急相救。以階天下之亂。使中國有人。謀事必不如此矣。


2. 今自順安至龍川。竭公私之儲積。聚糧料幾數萬餘石。惟恐一朝倭兵猝下而更爲餌賊。况我軍之坐食者。日費甚廣。男負女戴。連絡道路。而一道事力。無復有毫髮之餘。若此之勢。其可遷延乎。

3. 臣故願以此等事情。明白說與唐將。得其決語。而指揮羣帥。以一軍情。使無遷延等待之意。爲死中求生之計可也。

4. 且臣又有所達。國事危急至此。所賴而有萬一之望者。人心也。人心若解。則益無可爲。

5. 凡軍功爵賞及免賤免役等事。皆爲畫一之規。有司卽日施行。以應古人賞不踰時之義。又軍民之捕賊所獲者。勿論多少。雖金玉錦繡牛馬。卽與捕賊之人。官不得推。人不得奪。愚民知一身之利在於殺賊。爭起射賊。則賊勢庶幾少衰矣。


6. 竊聞方伯之臣。或有捕賊所得者。如常時賊贓之例。必令上使。若不滿元報之數。則囚次知督徵。民或以己物代之。故傳相戒勑。不復捕賊云。臣願速爲下諭諸邑如向所陳。定爲恒式可也。


7. 江原一道。介於慶尙,咸鏡二道之間。山林險澁。而道中軍丁雖不甚多。山峒之間。射獵爲生。名爲山尺者。其數不少。若能以重賞購集。優恤其妻屬。而散處伏兵。或晝或夜。出沒勦捕。則賊兵之往來北路者。首尾斷絶。而東南形勢。可以相通矣。


8. 京城收復之勢。臣意亦當分爲三道。楊州,抱川,積城,永平,加平等邑之軍。則屬於一將。如高彦伯者。遮蔽東方。

9. 喬桐,江華,高陽,交河等邑之軍。又屬於一將。遮蔽西方。漢江以南廣州,果川,水原等諸邑之軍。又屬於一將。遮蔽南面。

10. 三面合勢。迭爲掎角。賊少則分兵設伏。賊多則合兵攻勦。又使重臣通行節制。義兵官軍不相渙散。進退遲速。不爲異同。然後形勢壯盛而賊始可圖也。

11. 仍使江原道軍。與東面之軍合。江華義兵與西面之軍合。忠淸全羅之軍與南面之軍合。或引其前。或推其後。相機乘便。齊心一力。四方雲合。賊如罝中之兔。

12.而京城之中。亦必有內應相屠者矣。今聞諸處義兵。各戀鄕里。各自屯聚。惟日捕數三零賊。

13. 騰書告捷。而未嘗一犯大賊。且官軍與義兵。判爲二物。進不同進。敗不相救。以此聲勢孤弱。日就散亡。終無滅賊之期。


2-1. 昔唐時起義之人如巡,遠之類。固將聽其節制於李,郭無疑。豈義兵自爲義兵。官軍自爲官軍乎。今時患無李,郭耳。然其渙散難合之勢。不可以不爲之區處也。自生變以來。無一死難之臣。皆以奔竄爲得計。甚者聚道內精兵。


2-2. 自衛其身。纔聞賊報。遠遠逃避。[勁兵猛士, 召集牙下, 閒坐無事之地, 扼腕歎息]. 此亦急急戒勅, 而賞罰加焉。然後人心庶可肅厲也。慶尙道爲賊兵淵藪。聞"其處人心。頗奮厲討賊。而只年穀大無。軍糧民食。蕩然無餘。"


2-3. 若慶尙左道潰。則右道不可保。右道潰則湖南不可保。湖南潰則忠淸道次第受兵。而八方無一寸乾淨地矣。今年全羅道頗稔。願令湖南之粟。次次輸賑於嶺南右道。且與左道相資。又別設募粟之官。急急區處。以救塡壑之急。然後南方庶可保矣。


2-4. 四方邊報應酬之事。一刻急於一刻。昔秦時。報事之人留司馬門三日。而識者知秦之亡。臣願今日邊報。亦劃卽施行。不出一二日。日不足則繼之以夜可也。且賊剽悍輕生。善於突鬪。鐵丸槍劍。皆爲利器。我軍不能當。而四方主兵之人。


2-5. 不能因勢利導。每聚烏合之卒。以多爲貴。約日徐趨。而瞭望不審。斥候不遠。賊之間諜甚多。耳目四布。我之動靜。彼皆先知。故我軍每戰每敗。 臣之愚意。當精抄銳軍。混其服色。自相誌別。散布遠近。潛相約束。或晝或夜。出沒無定。隨其所遇而輒爲攻勦。又不定處所。


2-6. 使賊莫測多少。如京城四面數十里之內。無不如此。至於城內。亦設計焚刦。使賊騷然。晝夜不得休息。則不過十餘日而賊氣大挫矣。計不出此。如江華義兵官軍。入處海中。虛費糧餉。而已成老師。以至歲暮。曾不得出一步與之廝殺。


2-7. 此乃避亂之兵。非恢復之計。且崔遠之軍。身負藁草。面無人色。累月飢凍。僵屍相望。如遠庸劣。固不可望其有爲。而朝廷亦不區處。使無辜之兵。自至澌盡而莫之顧恤。四方傳聞。豈有更以勤王爲心。


2-8. 且京城之賊。亦必有聞而笑侮者。臣竊痛焉。前聞全羅監司權慄亦屯兵牙山已久。聞水原有賊。不能前進。近聞移師向西。監司以主道之官。離任遠來。固亦非計。然旣爲上來。亦當如臣所陳先抄精兵。分配猛將。勦殺京城之賊。以壯軍聲。則亦勤王之一助也。而似與前日擧措。無大相遠。此不知形勢與兵事之過也。


2-9. 臣觀諸將中惟高彦伯頗有爲國之心。且有心計。而權任不重。所掌只楊州一邑之軍。故終無所成矣。今武將中已在高位者。多惜身占便。不肯爲國任事。惟當勿拘常規。如古人所謂拔卒爲將。若洪季男者。旣爲堂上。亦借助防將之號。使之合力擊賊。恐無不可也。賊與我民雜處城中。幾與相忘。


2-10. 此勢可乘。若能設計。乘夜勦擊。內外相應。數郡俱發。則如咸興巢穴所在。可以蕩覆。而枝葉次第可平。今不能然。先捕零賊。使賊知而預爲之備。而各處官軍。相環坐視。不爲力戰。殊可痛也。


2-11.且臣聞宋言愼自入南道。民聞巡察使之至。遠近俱集。其數甚多。不久以罪遞免。道內民心。無所係屬。相與號呼涕泣。至於旬日然後乃散云。言愼處事能否。臣不能知。但北路之民。久淪賊中。一聞朝廷之官在境。其勢將合。而遽卽遞罷。又無代之者。雖有防禦等官。名位不重。不足以鎭壓民心。臣竊歎焉。


2-12. 言愼前在熙川。遲徊累月。固不無其罪。然其遞免。當在於遲留熙川之時。不當在於已在其道之後。時難得而易失。事易去而難追。得失之幾。相去日遠。此等處置。朝廷十分量察。毋失機會。此又臣之所望也。


2-13. 臣以無狀。曾忝大臣。使國事至此。萬死無惜。今之所陳瞽說。俱不合宜。朝廷必已施行。而臣未及聞知。但觀時事。一日危於一日。摧心切骨。日夜流涕。零碎者不及盡。陳謹撮其大槩。仰備採擇。區區之忱。伏希少加憐察。取進止(則如咸興。一本作如咸興則。)

1. [The Great Lord of Pungwuen, your Minister humbly considers] Todays state of affairs has already reached extreme danger and urgency. There is nothing we can do anymore. Daily we look towards the Ming Army [lit. Tang soldiers], but they retreat and do not come. The end of the year is already pressing closer. Our country has shown allegiance towards China to the farthest degree. If today we are befallen by disaster, this is also due to China. However, China does not rush towards our rescue, leaving the world in chaos. If there are [talented] people in China dealing with the affairs it would surely not be like this.


2. Now from Sunan to Yongcheon the accumulated grains of both the official and private collections amount to tens of thousands seok. I am afraid that in one day the Japanese invaders will suddenly come down and our food collection will end up in their stomach. Not to mention our own troops are just sitting idle and eating [at the moment]--the daily consumption of food is enormous. Men carrying things on their backs and women on their heads. The roads are filled with lines of people carrying all the resources to be utilized for the military provision to the point that there is not even a single thread left in the province. In this situation how could it [the Chinese aid] be delayed any further?


3. Therefore, I wish I could explain this situation clearly to the Ming general and obtain his decisive remark so that he could direct the multiple of his high-ranking commanders to centralize the control of military; to desist from any intention of delay/retreat. Like this, we could carry out a strategy to save lives from the threat of death.


4. Moreover, there are some other words Your Minister wants to say: “The status of the state affairs is so risky and urgent. What can be relied on, if any, is that we can hope for the minds of people. If people's minds, then there is nothing to be done further.


5. Make standardized rules for any of these things -- a meritorious service in war, giving government positions as reward, exempting the base status and military service. It is better to implement this immediately in accordance with the ancients' saying "when giving a prize, do not miss time.” If the troop or the people caught bandits, regardless of the amount, reward them with gold, jade, silk, cow, horse. Any official is not allowed to shuffle and any people are not allowed to take the reward away. Like this, if the uncultivated people knew the benefits, they will strive to fight. Then the bandits will almost decline and collapse.


6. I have heard that local magistrates sometimes catch bandits. In ordinary time, they should sent them the capital. if the amount of the booty could not match the report, the official will imprison the slaves so as to press for the payment. Sometimes people will pay the rest from their private property. People spread the hearsay and exhort each other, resulting in they do not catch bandits any more. Your Minister would like to ask you as quickly as possible to implement an official decree and spread it across the country.


7. Gangwon Province links Gyeongsang and Hamgyeong Provinces. The mountains and forests there are rough and steep. Although there are not much soldiers in the province, but within the mountains and caves, those who live by hunting and make name for themselves as mountain men, are not small in number. If we rewarded them handsomely to summon them, gave good treatment to their wives and family, and dispatched them as ambush for day or night to come out and catch the bandits off-guard, then the bandits' northern route will be severed from its head to tail, and our eastern and southern forces could be connected.


8. Your Minister thinks that the military forces for retrieval of the capital should be separated into three lines. The troops of Yangju, Pocheon, Jeokseon, Yongpyeong, Gapyeong and other counties would belong to one Commanding General. Like what [General] Go Eonbaek did they will block the eastern frontier.

9. The military garrisons in Gyodong, Ganghwa, Goyang, Gyoha, and others [1] should also belong to one commanding general so that they can surround and guard [the capital] from four different directions. The military garrisons in the south of the Han River such as Gwangju, Gwachoen, Suwoen and others [2] should also belong to one commanding general so that they can block [the road] from the south.


10. We should merge the three troops. First, they should work on shifts, and fight tirelessly against the enemies. When the bandits are small in numbers, we should divide them, so they can lurk in ambush. When they are in large numbers, on the other hand, we should bring them together, so they can fight relentlessly. Also, have high-ranking officials be on patrol constantly [to see what is going on], and put forward timely [and pertinent] policies, so that private [lit.righteous] armies and official troops are not to be separate from each other. Advance and retreat should be slow and speedy respectively, and hence not be treated equally. In so doing, their robust and stout energies can be enhanced, and thereby be integrated into the whole [military] system.


11. Thereafter, merge the Gangwon troops with the eastern troops, join the forces of the Ganghwa troops with the western troops, and unite the Chungcheong troops with the southern troops. Thereby, [our troops can] look for [good] opportunity [to launch offensive attack], by luring the bandits to the front or pushing them back. [As thus] every troop unifies the mind and converges in crowds from several directions, and eventually the bandits [will be put to rout as easy as capturing] a rabbit trapped in a net.


12. And inside the capital, there must also have people who respond from within and butcher [the bandits]. Now, I heard that the private [voluntary] soldiers of various places, each loves their hometown, and each gathered in separate garrison. But on each day they only capture several scattered bandits.


13. They galloped to report their victory. But they have never confronted the bandits in large numbers. In addition, the government army and private army are distinguished from each other. The marching [of the two armies] are not coordinated. [If one side was defeated], they would not come to the other’s rescue. For this reason, the militaristic momentum is isolated and inept. Every day [the army is] dissolving and deserting. There will never be a day that the bandits could be eradicated.


2-1. In old Tang-times there were men that rose up righteously, men like Xun [3] and Yuan [4] Firmly the generals obeyed the control of Li [5] and Guo [6]without one doubt. How could the righteous army alone be the righteous army, and how the official military by itself be the official military? Today’s woe is that we don’t have Li and Guo, Yet with the forces dispersed and difficult to merge, we cannot but not take care of this. Since the outbreak of the war, not one minister died a martyr, all think of running as a good strategy, worse even they assemble the elite forces of the provinces.


2-2. Such person cares for none but himself and runs far away as soon as he hears the news of enemy approaching. [Those strong and courageous soldiers are convened under the general's command, sitting around with nothing on earth to do but to grasp their own arms and moan.] This is another vice to be urgently dealt with. Not until the awards and punishments are regulated, will people's mind not possibly move to become serious and encouraged. The region of Gyongsang Province is swarming with enemies. I have heard that "the people of the region have quite remarkable morale with which to subjugate enemies. Deplorably however, due to the bad harvest of the year the storage for military provision and for people is so empty as hardly any grain is left."


2-3. If the left side of Gyeongsang Province collapses, then the right side of Gyeongsang Province cannot sustain itself. If the right side of Geongsang Province tumbles down, then the Honam region cannot survive. If Honam collapses, then Chungcheong Province is subsequently be invaded and there will be no single inch of intact land in the eight provinces. This year, there has been a pretty good harvest in Jeolla Province. [Your Minister] wishes [Your Majesty] may make a decree that the crops of Homan be delivered in a sequential manner to the right side of Yeongnam for relief; and the left and right sides help each other. In addition, please appoint special officials to collect grains. There is no time to waste in handling the famine to relieve the famine and deliver [the people] from the rather urgent crisis. Only then, can the Southern area be protected.


2-4. Reports from the front lines are getting more urgent than ever. In the Qin Dynasty, there was a reporter hovering outside of the Sima Gate [7] for three days, then some knowledgeable people had [already] known the Qin Dynasty would collapse. Your Minister wishes it could be possible to make a decree with regards to receiving the reports from the front lines, and implement it immediately. The reporting should reach the court within one day or two, If the daytime is not enough deliver the news overnight. Moreover, the bandits are extraordinary fierce and aggressive, and even good at surprise attacks. Any lance and sword can be used as weapons by them. Our troops are not comparable.


2-5. Our troop commanders in different regions are not capable to guide or channel strategies according to circumstances. The commanders assemble disorderly mobs all the time, as they merely put weight on the amount of the soldiers. When the appointed day approaches, the troops march slowly. The sentries neither search for the enemy in the watchtower nor move far away to scout. There are plenty of spies from the bandits and their ears and eyes have been set throughout our country. Thereby, the enemies could always know about our movement. As a result, whenever our troops fight with the bandits, we always lose. In my humble opinion, we should recruit crack armies. Mix our clothes colour with the enemies' so that the bandits could not distinguish the sides well. Lurk our ambushes far and near but secretly connect with each other. Never set a regular marching time -- elusively shift between day and night. Attack the bandits wherever we meet them, and do not station troops in any fixed place.


2-6. In so doing, the bandits wold fail to estimate how many [fighters we have]. As what I have mentioned above, [given that] our soldiers could lurk surrounding outside the capital in a scale of ten li [500 metres], and set up strategies to burn or loot enemies's provision inside the capital, we will eventually throw the bandits into chaos and unsettle them. In this way, the bandit moral will be destroied soon within ten days. Generally, our strategy should set up like this. [On the contrary,] given that the private troop of Ganghwa entered the sea, the provisions and funds would turn out to be in vain. They have been trained to fight as a sophisticated troop, while they could not cross the sea to fight with the bandits.


2-7. This was eventually an army that hid from danger, it was not a strategy for restoration. Moreover, in Choi Won's army, the soldiers carried stacks of straw on their bodies [to feed the horses]. [8] Their faces turned pale with fright, and for several months they suffered hunger and cold. Like zombies they looked at each other. Since Choi Won was useless and untalented, so the soldiers could not hope for him to make things work. But the court also did not take measures, causing the innocent soldiers to wear out, and yet no one took pity on them. Everywhere people have heard about this. So how could people all the more have the heart to diligently serve the king?


2-8. Moreover, the bandits at the capital, likewise, have definitely heard that and laughed and made fun of it. Your Minister's heart was deeply hurt because of that. Before I have heard that Jeolla Inspector Kwon Yul[9] likewise had already stationed troops at Asan [10] for a long time. I heard that there were bandits in Suwon, [11] and they could not advance forward. Lately I have heard that they moved army westward. The inspector is the official-in-charge of the province. Leaving the post and departing far away is undoubtedly an ill-conceived strategy. We should still follow what Your Minister has explained. First, recruit the crack troops and divide and assign them to valiant generals to exterminate the bandits at the capital. Because of strong troops' reputation, it would likewise be one of the contributions in serving the king with loyalty. But it seems like that there is no big difference with the previous measures. This is a mistake of not knowing/neglecting the situation and military affairs.


2-9. In Your Minister's view, among all the generals, only Go Eonbaek has a strong mind of serving the country. Even though he has [good] strategies in his mind, the roles and responsibility that he holds are insignificant. He is in charge of the military of only one county, Yangju. He, thereupon, has not yet achieved anything. Now, among the military generals who have already held the high posts, many [only] value themselves and occupy the easy posts. They are not willing to undertake tasks for serving the country. [Your Majesty] should not stick to the regulations of ordinary days. [Rather, Your Majesty] should follow what people of the past said: “select a man among common soldiers and appoint him as a general.” A man like Hong Kyenam (1564∼1597) has already become a high-level official [tangsang]. [Your Majesty] should confer the temporally title of the auxiliary defence officer [chobangjang] on him [Go Eonbaek] and have him unite military forces and make an assert on the bandits. Then, there will be nothing that cannot be done. The bandits and our people are mixed and reside together inside the walled city [Seoul] so [the enemy] almost lost sense of who us are and who others are.


2-10. Hence, we can take advantage of this situation. Likewise, we can design proper strategies accordingly. In this regard, the best scenario is to attack [enemies] in the nighttime. To this end, inner and outer soldiers [local residents] should collaborate with each other, and the prefectures should rise up [against Japanese invaders] simultaneously. Indeed, there are several nests and caves [enemies' hideouts] in Hamhung, and we should subdue them. In this way, minor agendas can also be put into order. Currently, however, this is not the case. [In principle,] our priority is to capture the Japanese soldiers. And we should have bandits be aware of this, always be prepared accordingly [combat readiness], and thereby integrate each of them into the official military system. Nonetheless, they are merely sitting in a circle, looking askance at each other, and further not willing to fight desperately [against the enemies]. How pathetic!


2-11. Moreover, Your Minister has heard that when Song Eonsin [12] was assigned to the south [Hamgyeong] province at first, countless people gathered from far and near when they heard about the inspector's arrival. But before long, Song Eonsin was cashiered for conviction. As the local people lost their dependence, they bawled and wailed in lamentation, and dissolved soon after ten days. Your Minister is not capable to judge whether Eonsin had dealt with the affairs appropriately. However, the people in the north [Hamgyeong] province have been invaded by the bandits for a long time. [Assumedly] their forces would be united as long as the court appoints an official to the province. But now the inspector was ousted not long after his appointment, and there is no alternate to repalce him. Even though there are defender officiers [in the frontier], their lowness and insignificance [of the position] is not able to pacify the people. Your Minister could not help but deplore.


2-12. Eonsin was previously in Huicheon [13]. He was late, hesitating for several months. Certainly, he was not without guilt. But regarding his dismissal and replacement, they should happen when he was delaying at Huicheon, not after when he was in the province [14]. A [good] moment is hard to come by, yet easy to lose. An opportunity is easy to slip through, yet difficult to seize. The timing between success and failure is separated apart day by day. As for the handling of such matters, the court should wholeheartedly investigate and calculate, and should not miss [any] opportunity. This is also what Your Minister is looking forward to.


2-13. I am an insolent person, and ashamed to once hold the important post of minster. Making the national matters into this circumstance, I would not regret even if die ten thousand times. What I have blindly stated above are all inappropriate. The court must have already acted on [the matters that I proposed on], but I have not become aware of [the court’s action]. Observing the current matters, the crisis is more urgent day by day. [The sorrow] punctures my heart and carves on my bone, I shed tears day and night. The trivial matters are not touched on, I prudently gathered the principal matters, prepared in case you would want to select from it. I hope you would scrutinize my humble sincerity with some sympathy.

Discussion Questions

  1. As a civil official Ryu Seong-ryong is providing detailed knowledge of military and organizational matters, from where does his insight originate? In an utmost national crisis, what kind of roles did Neo-Confucian scholars like Ryu Seong-ryong play in Imjin war? Furthermore, how the conventional distinctions between 문 and 무 changed in the Joseon society?
  2. It sounds the Joseon people that time are so extremely demoralized. What are the causes which led their attitude to be such a way? Or is this the author's personal expression of despair?
  3. Throughout Ryu Seong-ryong's memorial, the question of administering the righteous / private army seems to be a matter of critical concern. What are Ryu Seongryong's suggestions for using the righteous army to the maximum effect? How are we to fully understand the rise and role of the righteous army during the Imjin War?
  4. In his memorial, Ryu Seong-ryong recommends some capable officials to the king and criticizes inept ones. What are the criteria for his judgment on officials, and what rhetoric does he use to promote capable officials to the king?
  5. Ryu Seong-ryong gives different roles to people of each province to help with the war effort. What does his instructions tell us about the nature of this war and the role of common people in it? From reading this memorial, what can we gather about the characteristics of each province (ex. Gangwon, Jeolla, Pyeong'an, etc.) as they were understood at the time?
  6. Ryu Seong-ryong's memorial is deeply concerned about food supply for the troops. What does it tell us about the nature of pre-modern warfare? Would it be possible to imagine that for every troop of soldiers, a significant number of people were drafted solely to carry the food supply for that troop?
  7. How does the memorial reflect on the personalities and strategies of the generals and military leaders at the time? What is Ryu Seong-ryong's criticism? Judging from the memorial's content would the military leaders had had access to it?
  8. Scholars often attribute Joseon's failure of preventing/defending itself from the Japanese invasions to its long-lasting factional stripe. Is there any part in this document that reflects the influence of factionalism?
  9. Some argue that nationalism (or proto-nationalism) in Korea was shaped during the Hideyoshi Invasion in its collective process of fending off Japanese. Is there any part in this document that evidences the existence of (proto-)nationalism in Korea?
  10. Scholars like JaHyun Kim Haboush have argued that the spontaneous resistance organized by the righteous army marked the beginning of a prototype Korean nationalism. How is Ryu Seong-ryong’s assessment of the righteous army compare to this view?

Further Readings


References

  1. These towns were located in the west of the capital. Currently, they belong to Ganghwa County and Goyang City.
  2. Gwangju was located in the southeast of the capital. Gwachoen and Suwoen were located in the south of the capital.
  3. Zhang Xun 張巡 (709-757), A Tang-Dynasty general during the An Lu Shan Rebellion. Involved in the defense of Suiyang, was eventually killed by Yan-Forces.
  4. Xu Yuan 許遠 (709-757) a Tang-Dynasty general, commander of Suiyang Commandery, was captured during the siege of Suiyang and later killed.
  5. Li Guangbi 李光弼 (708-764), a Tang-Dynasty general involved in the suppression of the An Lu Shan Rebellion. Served as military commander of Hedong, (modern day Shanxi) at the outbreak of the Rebellion.
  6. Guo Ziyi 郭子儀 (697-781), a Tang-Dynasty general credited with the successful suppression of the An Lu Shan Rebellion.
  7. Generally, Sima Gate refers to the outer gate of the palace.
  8. Choi Won (崔遠, active 1580-1600) was a military officer of the mid-Joseon period. In 1592, he led a troop of 1,000 to fight against the Japanese invaders in Yeosan (modern day Iksan in Jeollabuk-do).
  9. Kwon Yul 權慄 (1537-1599), Korean Army General and Commander-in-chief. He is known for the Battle of Haengju 幸州大捷, one of the greatest Korean victories during the Imjin war, where with army of approximately 3,000 soldiers he defeated more than 10,000 Japanese soldiers.
  10. A city in South Chungcheong Province, 90 km south of Seoul.
  11. A city in Gyeonggi Province, 30 km south of Seoul.
  12. 宋言愼 (1542∼1612) was the border inspector of Hamkyeong Province and Pyeongan Province during the Japanese invasion.
  13. in modern day southern part of Jagang Province 慈江道, North Korea
  14. Hamgyeong Province

Translation

Student 1 : Martin


[豊原府院君臣, 伏以]今日事勢。已到十分危迫。無復着手處。惟日望唐兵。而遷延不來。已迫歲暮。夫我國爲中國致忠。亦已至矣。今此受禍。亦惟中國之故。而中國不急相救。以階天下之亂。使中國有人。謀事必不如此矣。

[The Great Lord of P'ungwŏn, your minister humbly considers] Todays state of affairs has already reached extreme danger and urgency. There is nothing we can do anymore. Daily we look towards the Ming Army,#1 but they retreat and do not come. The end of the year is already pressing closer. Our country has shown allegiance towards China#2 to the farthest degree. If today we are befallen by disaster; this is also due to China.#3 However China does not rush towards our rescue, letting the world come to chaos. If there are [talented] people in China dealing with the affairs it would surely not be like this.

1. lit. Tang-Soldiers, ...

2. lit. China...

3.

2/1 - 昔唐時起義之人如巡,遠之類。固將聽其節制於李,郭無疑。豈義兵自爲義兵。官軍自爲官軍乎。今時患無李,郭耳。然其渙散難合之勢。不可以不爲之區處也。自生變以來。無一死難之臣。皆以奔竄爲得計。甚者聚道內精兵。

In Old Tang-times there were men that rose up righteously, men like Xun#1 and Yuan#2. Firmly the generals obeyed the control of Li#3 and Guo#4 without one doubt. How could the righteous army alone be the righteous army, and how the official military by itself be the official military? Today’s woe is that we don’t have Li and Guo, Yet with the forces dispersed and difficult to merge, we cannot but not take care of this. Since the outbreak of the war, not one minister died a martyr, all think of running as a good strategy, worse even they assemble the elite forces of the provinces,

1 Zhang Xun 張巡 (709-757), A Tang-Dynasty general during the An Lu Shan Rebellion. Involved in the defense of Suiyang, was eventually killed by Yan-Forces

2 Xu Yuan 許遠 (709-757) a Tang-Dynasty general, commander of Suiyang Commandery, was captured during the siege of Suiyang and later killed.

3 Li Guangbi 李光弼 (708-764), a Tang-Dynasty general involved in the suppression of the An Lu Shan Rebellion. Served as military commander of Hedong, (modern day Shanxi) at the outbreak of the Rebellion.

4 Guo Ziyi 郭子儀 (697-781), a Tang-Dynasty general credited with the successful suppression of the An Lu Shan Rebellion.


  • Discussion Questions:

1. As a civil official Ryu Sŏng-ryong is providing detailed knowledge of military and organizational matters, from where does his insight originate?

2. Ryu Sŏng-ryong is writing this memorial from Chongju 定州, how do you think this affects this memorial?

Student 2 : YoungSuk


今自順安至龍川。竭公私之儲積。聚糧料幾數萬餘石。惟恐一朝倭兵猝下而更爲餌賊。况我軍之坐食者。日費甚廣。男負女戴。連絡道路。而一道事力。無復有毫髮之餘。若此之勢。其可遷延乎。

Now from Sunan to Yongch'ŏn the accumulated grains of both the official and private collections amount to several tens of thousand sŏk. I am afraid that one morning suddenly the Japanese soldiers will come down and our food collection will end up in their stomach. Not to mention our own troops just sitting and eating, daily consumption of food will be enormous. Men carrying things on their backs and women on their heads, the roads are filled with lines of people carrying all the resources to be utilized for the military provision to the point that there is not even a single thread left in the province. In this situation how could it [the Chinese aid] be delayed any further?

2-2. 自衛其身。纔聞賊報。遠遠逃避。[勁兵猛士, 召集牙下, 閒坐無事之地, 扼腕歎息]. 此亦急急戒勅, 而賞罰加焉。然後人心庶可肅厲也。慶尙道爲賊兵淵藪。聞 "其處人心。頗奮厲討賊。而只年穀大無。軍糧民食。蕩然無餘。"

Such person cares for none but himself and runs far away as soon as he hears the news of enemy approaching. [Those strong soldiers and courageous scholars convened under the general command are sitting around with nothing on earth to do but to grasp their own arms and moan] This is another vice to be urgently dealt with. Not until the awards and punishments are regulated, people's mind will not possibly move to become serious and encouraged. The region of Kyŏngsang Province is swarming with enemies. I have heard that "the people of the region have quite remarkable morale with which to subjugate enemies. Deplorably however, due to the bad harvest of the year the storage for military provision and for people is so empty as hardly any grain is left."


  • Discussion Questions:

1. What is Yu's main idea facing the urgent situdation as this in order to come up with some realistic measures?

2. How well did the King and his close associates received Yu's memorial? How realistic is Yu's ideas to be implemented to the situation of the time?

3. It sounds the Chosŏn people that time are so extremely demoralized. What are the causes which led their attitude to be such a way? Or is this the author's personal expression of despair?

4. The author mentions that there is not a single soul who would die to save the country from such the dire situation. However, historical records contain a number of patriots including Confucian scholars and Buddhist monks who were willing to sacrifice their lives to save the country. So, what does the author's statement regarding this issue mean to be more precise?

Student 3 : (Jinsook)


臣故願以此等事情。明白說與唐將。得其決語。而指揮羣帥。以一軍情。使無遷延等待之意。爲死中求生之計可也。

Therefore, I wish I could explain this situation clearly to the Ming General and obtain his decisive remark so that he could direct the multiple of his high-ranking military generals to centralize the control of military; to remove any intention of delay/retreat; and to carry out a strategy to save lives from the threat of death.

[2-3] 若慶尙左道潰。則右道不可保。右道潰則湖南不可保。湖南潰則忠淸道次第受兵。而八方無一寸乾淨地矣。今年全羅道頗稔。願令湖南之粟。次次輸賑於嶺南右道。且與左道相資。又別設募粟之官。急急區處。以救塡壑之急。然後南方庶可保矣。

If the left side of Gyeongsang- province collapses, then the right side of Gyeongsang-province cannot sustain itself. If the right side of Geongsang-province tumbles down, then Honam cannot survive. If Honam collapses, then Chungcheong-province is subsequently be invaded and there will be no single inch of intact land in the eight provinces. This year, there has been a pretty good harvest in Jeolla-do. [Your subject] wishes [your Highness] may make a decree that the crops of Homan be delivered in a sequential manner to the right side of Yeongnam for relief; and the left and right sides help each other. In addition, please appoint special officials to collect grains. There is no time to waste in handling the famine to relieve the famine and deliver [the people] from the rather urgent crisis. Only then, can the Southern area be protected.


  • Discussion Questions:

What roles did Neo-Confucian scholars play in mobilizing the righteous army in Imjin war?

Student 4 : (Soyun Lee)


4-1.且臣又有所達。國事危急至此。所賴而有萬一之望者。人心也。人心若解。則益無可爲。 Also, your minister has this to say: The state of affairs is so risky and urgent as this. What can be relied on, if any, is that we can hope for the minds of people. If people's minds are divided, then there is nothing to be done further.

4-2. 四方邊報應酬之事。一刻急於一刻。昔秦時。報事之人留司馬門三日。而識者知秦之亡。臣願今日邊報。亦劃卽施行。不出一二日。日不足則繼之以夜可也。且賊剽悍輕生。善於突鬪。鐵丸槍劍。皆爲利器。 我軍不能當。而四方主兵之人。 In four directions, the front lines are reporting on the engagements and counter attacks. With every moment, it is getting more urgent than ever. During Qin Dynasty, the man who would report the situation had stayed oustside of the gate of the court for three days, and the knowledgeable people knew the Qin Dynasty would collapse. It is your minister's wish if it could be possible from today to make a strategy upon receiving the reports from the front lines and immediately implement it. If the strategy is not formulated for one day or two, and days are not enough, then extending it through the night would be proper. In general, the bandits are fierce and aggressive, lowly born, and good at surprise attacks. The lances, swords all become sharp weapons. Our military cannot match [them]. In all areas, your majesty's military soldiers...


  • Discussion Questions:

How were the conditions of the war when he wrote this memorials? What effect did Ryu expect his memorials to have in practical terms? As a prime minister, what capacity did he have to handle the state affairs in the war time? What did the Ming troops do in response to the Japanese campaign in 1572? How do you think the strategy that he suggested? Do you think it is a great strategy?

Student 5 : (Dohee jeong)


1-5 凡軍功爵賞及免賤免役等事。皆爲畫一之規。 Any these things, a meritorious service in war, to give government post for prize, to be exempt from base status, to be exempted from military service, all makes standardized rule.

有司卽日施行。 It should be started immediately.

以應古人1)賞不踰時之義。 It should respond that the ancients said “when give the prize, do not exceed the time.”

又軍民之捕賊所獲者。勿論多少。 And what the troops and the people won by catching the enemy, don’t talk about more or less.

雖金玉錦繡牛馬。卽與捕賊之人。 no matter which gold, jade, silk, cow, horse give to the person who won by catching the enemy.

官不得推。人不得奪。 don't should push away his job and rob by another person.

愚民知一身之利在於殺賊。爭起射賊。 If so ignorant people will know benefit oneself, they strive be to kill the enemy first and shooting to the enemy

則賊勢庶幾少衰矣。 Then the strength of the enemy will become to decrease and to decline


2-5 四方主兵之人 不能因勢利導。 The man who control the troops everywhere is unable to guide or channel action according to circumstances.

每聚烏合之卒。以多爲貴。 they all the time assemble disorderly mob, in order to important a large troops

約日徐趨。 On the appointed day, they go to there very slowly.

而瞭望不審。 And they not search the enemy in watchtower.

斥候不遠。 the enemy scout is not far from.

賊之間諜甚多。 the number of the enemy spy is very much.

耳目四布。我之動靜。彼皆先知。 because the enemy ears and eyes are everywhere. They all know our movements first.

故我軍每戰每敗。 Therefore, whenever our fight the enemy, we always lose

臣之愚意。 In my humble opinion,

當精抄銳軍。 we should hire seasoned troops.

混其服色。自相誌別。 as their clothes mix color so they know each other only

散布遠近。潛相約束。 let spread them from far to near, secretly control each other.

或晝或夜。出沒無定。 At the daytime or at the night, don’t set an appearing and a disappearing,

隨其所遇而輒爲攻勦。 if they meet the enemy, immediately they must attack the enemy.

又不定處所。 And do not set the their dwelling place.

1) 漢書(Han Shu) - 翟方進傳[Biography of Jeok Bang-Jin who prime minister of han dynasty(B.C.202~A,D.8)]

  • Discussion Questions:

I wonder that the ryu seoung-ryong knew professional war tactics?

Student 6 : (Irina)

Questions:

1. In this memorial, Minister Ryu offers several strategies and changes in state policy. Have some of these been implemented in the course of the war?


2. (not related to the text) Ryu Seong-ryong was the founder of the Ryu lineage of Hahoe village, Andong. Once the village was a center of Confucian culture and elite, and nowadays it became a symbol of the folk culture. Try to explain this transformation considering South Korean policy of popularizing Korean "traditional" culture.

1. 竊聞方伯之臣。

I have heard that local magistrates

或有捕賊所得者。

sometimes catch bandits.

如常時賊贓之例。必令上使。

And every time when it happens, they have to sent them the capital.

若不滿元報之數。

And If the booty is not big enough

則囚次知督徵。民或以己物代之。

they know that after catch the bandit, people will have to pay the rest.

故傳相戒勑。 ???

不復捕賊云。

And they no longer will catch bandits.

臣願速爲下諭諸邑如向所陳。定爲恒式可也。

Your humble minister would like to ask you as quickly as possible to descent an official decree and spread it across the country.

2. 使賊莫測多少。

Let bandits fall into ignorance how many [fighters we have].

如京城四面數十里之內。

[Let them thing] that [our soldiers] are surrounding the capital in tens of lee

無不如此。至於城內。亦設計焚刦。

So if they come to the capital with plan to burn and loot

使賊騷然。晝夜不得休息。

let’s disturb them, day and night not allow them to rest.

則不過十餘日而賊氣大挫矣。計不出此。

In less than ten days the [fighting] spirit of the bandits will be subdued and they will decide to don’t fight.

如江華義兵官軍。入處海中。

As like volunteer units and the army of Ganghwa province entered the field afloat.

虛費糧餉。而已成老師。以至歲暮。曾不得出一步與之廝殺。

Your humble minister things that in this way the wasting of provisions will stop and in the end of the year we will avoid to come out in a fierce battle.

Student 7 : (Kim Young)


7. 江原一道。介於慶尙,咸鏡二道之間。山林險澁。而道中軍丁雖不甚多。山峒之間。射獵爲生。名爲山尺者。其數不少。若能以重賞購集。優恤其妻屬。而散處伏兵。或晝或夜。出沒勦捕。則賊兵之往來北路者。首尾斷絶。而東南形勢。可以相通矣。

Gangwon Province links Gyeongsang and Hamgyeong Provinces. The mountains and forests there are rough and steep. Although there are not many soldiers in the province, but within the mountains and caves, those who live by hunting and make name for themselves as mountain men, are not small in number. If we rewarded them handsomely to summon them, gave good treatment to their wives and family, and dispatched them as ambush for day or night to come out and catch the bandits off-guard, then the bandits' northern route will be severed from its head to tail, and our eastern and southern forces could be connected.


2-7. 此乃避亂之兵。非恢復之計。且崔遠之軍。身負藁草。面無人色。累月飢凍。僵屍相望。如遠庸劣。固不可望其有爲。而朝廷亦不區處。使無辜之兵。自至澌盡而莫之顧恤。四方傳聞。豈有更以勤王爲心。

This was eventually an army that hid from danger, it was not a strategy for restoration. Moreover, in Choi Won's army, the soldiers carried stacks of straw on their bodies [to feed the horses].[1] Their faces turned pale with fright, and for several months they suffered hunger and cold. Like zombies they looked at each other. Since Choi Won was useless and untalented, so the soldiers could not hope for him to make things work. But the court also did not take measures, causing the innocent soldiers to wear out, and yet no one took pity on them. Everywhere people have heard about this. So how could people all the more have the heart to diligently serve the king?

[1] Choi Won (崔遠, active 1580-1600) was a military officer of the mid-Joseon period. In 1592, he led a troop of 1,000 to fight against the Japanese invaders in Yeosan (modern day Iksan in Jeollabuk-do).


  • Discussion Questions:

1. Throughout Ryu Seongryong's memorial, the question of administering the righteous / private army seems to be a matter of critical concern. What are Ryu Seongryong's suggestions for using the righteous army to the maximum effect? How are we to fully understand the rise and role of the righteous army during the Imjin War?

2. In his memorial, Ryu Seongryong recommends some capable officials to the king and criticizes inept ones. What are the criteria for his judgment on officials, and what rhetoric does he use to promote capable officials to the king?

3. Ryu Seongryong gives different roles to people of each province to help with the war effort. What does his instructions tell us about the nature of this war and the role of common people in it? From reading this memorial, what can we gather about the characteristics of each province (ex. Gangwon, Jeolla, Pyeong'an, etc.) as they were understood at the time?

4. Ryu Seongryong's memorial is deeply concerned about food supply for the troops. What does it tell us about the nature of pre-modern warfare? Would it be possible to imagine that for every troop of soldiers, a significant number of people were drafted solely to carry the food supply for that troop?

Student 8 : (Masha)


8. 京城收復之勢。臣意亦當分爲三道。楊州,抱川,積城,永平,加平等邑之軍。則屬於一將。如高彦伯者。遮蔽東方。

Your Subject thinks that the military forces for retrieval of the capital should be separated into three lines. The troops of Yangju, Pocheon, Jeokseon, Yongpyeong, Gapyeong and other counties would belong to one Commanding General. Like what [General] Ko Ŏnbaek did they will block the eastern frontier.

8.2 且京城之賊。亦必有聞而笑侮者。臣竊痛焉。前聞全羅監司權慄亦屯兵牙山已久。聞水原有賊。不能前進。近聞移師向西。監司以主道之官。離任遠來。固亦非計。然旣爲上來。亦當如臣所陳先抄精兵。分配猛將。勦殺京城之賊。以壯軍聲。則亦勤王之一助也。而似與前日擧措。無大相遠。此不知形勢與兵事之過也。

Moreover, the bandits at the capital, likewise, have definitely heard that and laughed and made fun of it. Your Subject's heart was deeply hurt because of that. Before I have heard that Jeolla Inspector Kwon Yul1 likewise had already stationed troops at Asan2 for a long time. I heard that there were bandits in Suwon3, and they could not advance forward. Lately I have heard that they moved army westward. The inspector is the official-in-charge of the province. Leaving the post and departing far away is undoubtedly an ill-conceived strategy. But this is what I presented.(?) We should still follow what Your Subject has explained. First, recruit the crack troops and divide and assign them to valiant generals to exterminate the bandits at the capital. Because of strong troops' reputation, it would likewise be one of the contributions in serving the king with loyalty. But it seems like that there is no big difference with the previous measures. This is a mistake of not knowing/neglecting the situation and military affairs.

1 Kwon Yul 權慄 (1537-1599), Korean Army General and Commander-in-chief. He is known for the Battle of Haengju 幸州大捷, one of the greatest Korean victories during the Imjin war, where with army of approximately 3,000 soldiers he defeated more than 10,000 Japanese soldiers.

2 A city in South Chungcheong province, 90 km south of Seoul.

3 Gyeonggi province, 30 km south of Seoul.


  • Discussion Questions:

1. How does the memorial reflect the state of Korean military preparation and organization at the time from geographical and tactical perspectives? How can this document (what particular details) be helpful in learning about the first year of Imjin war and its causes?
2. By what means does Ryu Seong-ryong obtain detailed information about each region, the people who lived there and the current situation? How did information channels work?
3. How does the memorial reflect on the personalities and strategies of the generals and military leaders at the time? What is Ryu Seong-ryong's criticism? Judging from the memorial's content would the military leaders had had access to it?

Student 9 : (Jong Woo Park)


9. 喬桐,江華,高陽,交河等邑之軍。又屬於一將。遮蔽西方。漢江以南廣州,果川,水原等諸邑之軍。又屬於一將。遮蔽南面。

The military garrisons in Kyŏdong, Kanghwa, Koyang, Kyoha, and others[1] should also belong to one commanding general so that they can surround and guard [the capital] from four different directions. The military garrisons in the south of the Han River such as Kwangju, Kwach’ŏn, Suwŏn and others[2] should also belong to one commanding general so that they can block [the road] from the south.


[1] These towns were located in the west of the capital. Currently, they belong to Kanghwa County and Koyang City. [2] Kwangju was located in the southeast of the capital. Kwach’ŏn and Suwŏn were located in the south of the capital.


2-9. 臣觀諸將中惟高彦伯頗有爲國之心。且有心計。而權任不重。所掌只楊州一邑之軍。故終無所成矣。今武將中已在高位者。多惜身占便。不肯爲國任事。惟當勿拘常規。如古人所謂拔卒爲將。若洪季男者。旣爲堂上。亦借助防將之號。使之合力擊賊。恐無不可也。賊與我民雜處城中。幾與相忘。

In your minister’s view, among all the generals, only Ko Ŏnbaek (? - 1609) has the strong mind of serving the country. Even though he has [good] strategies in his mind, the roles and responsibility that he holds are insignificant. He is in charge of the military of only one county, Yangju. He, thereupon, has not yet achieved anything. Now, among the military generals who have already held the high posts, many [only] value themselves and occupy the easy posts. They are not willing to undertake tasks for serving the country. [Your Majesty] should not stick to the regulations of ordinary days. [Rather, Your Majesty] should follow what people of the past said: “select a man among common soldiers and appoint him as a general.” A man like Hong Kyenam (1564∼1597) has already become a high-level official (tangsang). [Your Majesty] should confer the temporally title of the auxiliary defense officer (chobangjang) on him (Ko Ŏnbaek) and have him unite military forces and make an assert on the bandits. Then, there will be nothing that cannot be done. The bandits and our people are mixed and reside together inside the walled city (Seould) so [the enemy] almost lost sense of who us are and who others are.

[3] Tangsang refers to ministers of senior third rank (chŏng-sam-p’um) or above who eligible to participate in discussions with the king at the palace hall.

  • Discussion Questions:

1. Scholars often attribute Chosŏn's failure of preventing/defending itself from the Japanese invasions to its long-lasting factional stripe. Is there any part in this document that reflects the influence of factionalism?

2. Some argue that nationalism (or proto-nationalism) in Korea was shaped during the Hideyoshi Invasion in its collective process of fending off Japanese. Is there any part in this document that evidences the existence of (proto-)nationalism in Korea?

Student 10 : (Kanghun Ahn)


10. 三面合勢。迭爲掎角。賊少則分兵設伏。賊多則合兵攻勦。又使重臣通行節制。義兵官軍不相渙散。進退遲速。不爲異同。然後形勢壯盛而賊始可圖也。

We should merge the three teams. First, they should work on shifts, and fight tirelessly against the enemies. When the bandits are small in numbers, we should divide them, so they can lurk in ambush. When they are in large numbers, on the other hand, we should bring them together, so they can fight relentlessly. Also, have high-ranking officials be on patrol constantly [to see what is going on], and put forward timely (and pertinent) policies, so that voluntary (lit.righteous) armies and official troops are not to be separate from each other. Advance and retreat should be slow and speedy respectively, and hence not be treated equally. In so doing, their robust and stout energies can be enhanced, and thereby be integrated into the whole (military) system.


2-10. 此勢可乘。若能設計。乘夜勦擊。內外相應。數郡俱發。則如咸興巢穴所在。可以蕩覆。而枝葉次第可平。今不能然。先捕零賊。使賊知而預爲之備。而各處官軍。相環坐視。不爲力戰。殊可痛也。

Hence, we can take advantage of this situation. Likewise, we can design proper strategies accordingly. In this regard, the best scenario is to attack [enemies] in the nighttime. To this end, inner and outer soldiers (local residents/bandits) should collaborate with each other, and the prefectures should rise up [against Japanese soldiers] simultaneously. Indeed, there are several nests and caves (enemies' hideouts) in Hamhung, and we should subdue them. In this way, minor agendas can also be put into order. Currently, however, this is not the case. [In principle], our priority is to capture Japanese soldiers. And we should have bandits be aware of this, always be prepared accordingly (combat readiness), and thereby integrate each of them into the official military system. Nonetheless, they are merely sitting in a circle, looking askance at each other, and further not willing to fight desperately [against the enemies]. How pathetic!


Discussion questions: In this passage, Ryu Song-ryong attempts to mobilize a group of bandits from various regions into Choson's regular military system. This represents that the Choson dynasty army was extremely weak and debilitating at the time. What was the most serious problem inherent in Choson's military system in the 16th century? Further, why was the Choson government so unprepared for the Japanese invasion as such?

Student 11 : (Hu Jing)


11. 仍使江原道軍。與東面之軍合。江華義兵與西面之軍合。忠淸全羅之軍與南面之軍合。或引其前。或推其後。相機乘便。齊心一力。四方雲合。賊如罝中之兔。

Thereafter, merge the Gangwon troops with the eastern troops, join the forces of the Ganghwa troops with the western troops, and unite the Chungcheong troops with the southern troops. In this way, (our troops can) look for (good) opportunity (to launch offensive attack), by luring the bandits to the front or pushing them back. (As thus) every troop unifies the mind and converges in crowds from several directions, and eventually the bandits (will be put to rout as easy as capturing) a rabbit trapped in a net.

2-11 且臣聞宋言愼自入南道。民聞巡察使之至。遠近俱集。其數甚多。不久以罪遞免。道內民心。無所係屬。相與號呼涕泣。至於旬日然後乃散云。言愼處事能否。臣不能知。但北路之民。久淪賊中。一聞朝廷之官在境。其勢將合。而遽卽遞罷。又無代之者。雖有防禦等官。名位不重。不足以鎭壓民心。臣竊歎焉。

Moreover, your minister has heard that when Song Eonsin *1 was assigned to the south [Hamgyeong] province at first, countless people gathered from far and near when they heard about the inspector’s arrival. But before long, Song Eonsin was dismissed for the conviction. As the local people lost their dependent, they bawled and wailed in lamentation, and dissolved soon after ten days. Your minister is not capable to judge whether Eonsin had dealt with the affairs appropriately. However, the people in the north [Hamgyeong] province have been invaded by the bandits for a long time. [Assumedly] their forces would be united as long as the court appoints an official to the province. But now the inspector was ousted not long after the appointment, and there is no alternate to repalce him. Even though there are defender officiers[in the frontier], their lowness of the position is not able to pacify the people. Your minister could not help but deplore.

  • 1 宋言愼 (1542∼1612) was the border inspector of Hamkyeong Province and Pyeongan Province during the Japanese invasion.
  • Discussion Questions:

1. There were two military forces during the war, namely private amies (義兵) and official troops (官軍). How was the relationship between these two forces and how did they associate with each other?

2. From the perspective of geography, how should we evaluate the importance of Honam area during the Japanese invasion?

Student 12 : King Kwong Wong


12. 而京城之中。亦必有內應相屠者矣。今聞諸處義兵。各戀鄕里。各自屯聚。惟日捕數三零賊。

And inside the capital, there must also have people who respond from within and butcher [the Japanese]. Now, I heard that the voluntary soldiers of various places, each loves their hometown, and each gathered in separate garrison. But on each day they only capture several scattered bandits.

2-12. 言愼前在熙川。遲徊累月。固不無其罪。然其遞免。當在於遲留熙川之時。不當在於已在其道之後。時難得而易失。事易去而難追。得失之幾。相去日遠。此等處置。朝廷十分量察。毋失機會。此又臣之所望也。

Ŏnsin[1] was previously in Hŭich'ŏn[2]. He was late, hesitating for several months. Certainly, he was not without guilt. But regarding his dismissal and replacement, they should happen when he was delaying at Hŭich'ŏn, not after when he was in the province[3]. A [good] moment is hard to come by, yet easy to lose. An opportunity is easy to slip through, yet difficult to seize. The timing between success and failure is separated apart day by day. As for the handling of such matters, the court should wholeheartedly investigate and calculate, and should not miss [any] opportunity. This is also what your minister looking forward to.

  1. Song Ŏnsin 宋言愼 (1542-1612) was concurrently the sunch’alsa 巡察使 (Mobile Inspector) of both P'yŏng'an 平安道 and Hamgyŏng 咸鏡道 Provinces when the Imjin War broke out.
  2. in modern day southern part of Chagang Province 慈江道, North Korea
  3. Hamgyŏng Province
  • Discussion Questions:
  1. What were the weaknesses of the Chosŏn government in dealing with this national crisis? Considering what Yu Sŏng-nyong writes in his memorial, why did the Chosŏn army fail to defend its country?
  2. What did Yu Sŏng-nyong propose in the memorial? Did it fundamentally change the Chosŏn military system or it was just a temporary measurement?

Student 13 : (Zhijun Ren)


騰書告捷。而未嘗一犯大賊。且官軍與義兵。判爲二物。進不同進。敗不相救。以此聲勢孤弱。日就散亡。終無滅賊之期

They galloped to report their victory. But they have never confronted the bandits in large numbers.in addition, the government army and righteous/private army are distinguished from each other. The marching (of the two armies) are not coordinated. (If one side was defeated), they would not come to the other’s rescue. For this reason, the militaristic momentum is isolated and inept. Every day (the army is) dissolving and deserting. There will never be a day that the bandits could be eradicated.


discussion question:

1. Being a prominent Confucian literato, how practical are Ryu Seong-ryong’s proposed strategies to defend Korea against the Japanese?

2. In an utmost national crisis like the Imjin Waeran, how the conventional distinctions between 문and 무 changed in Chosŏn society?

3. Scholars like JaHyun Kim Haboush have argued that the spontaneous resistance organized by the righteous army marked the beginning of a prototype Korean nationalism. How is Ryu Seong-ryong’s assessment of the righteous army compare to this view?

2-13 臣以無狀。曾忝大臣。使國事至此。萬死無惜。今之所陳瞽說。俱不合宜。朝廷必已施行。而臣未及聞知。但觀時事。一日危於一日。摧心切骨。日夜流涕。零碎者不及盡陳。謹撮其大槩。仰備採擇。區區之忱。伏希少加憐察。取進止(則如咸興。一本作如咸興則。) I am an insolent person, and ashamed to once hold the important post of minster. Making the national matters into this circumstance, I would not regret even if die ten thousand times. What I have blindly stated above are all inappropriate. The court must have already acted on (the matters that I proposed on), but I have not become aware of (the court’s action). Observing the current matters, the crisis is more urgent day by day. (The sorrow) punctures my heart and carves on my bone, I shed tears day and night. The trivial matters are not touched on, I prudently gathered the principal matters, prepared in case you would want select from it. I hope you would scrutinize my humble sincerity with some sympathy.

Student 14 : (Write your name)


  • Discussion Questions:

Further Readings