Battle of Salsu

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Battle of Salsu
Part of the Goguryeo-Sui Wars
Date AD 612
Location Salsu River, present-day Chongchon River
Result Decisive Goguryeo victory
Sui Dynasty China Goguryeo Korea
Commanders and leaders
Yu Zhongwen
Yuwen Shu
Eulji Mundeok
350,000 (nominal)[1] About 10,000 cavalry
Casualties and losses
302,300 casualties.[2] Unknown, but few
Korean name
Hangul 살수대첩
Hanja 薩水大捷
Revised Romanization Salsu Daecheop
McCune–Reischauer Salsu Taech'ŏp

The Battle of Salsu was an enormous battle that occurred in the year AD 612, during the second Goguryeo-Sui War, between the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo and the Chinese Sui Dynasty. Goguryeo cavalry forces, pursuing the Sui army, attacked and defeated it at the Salsu River.


In AD 612 the Sui Emperor Yangdi invaded Goguryeo with over one million men.[3] However, Goguryeo defiantly resisted its enemy. Emperor Yangdi dispatched 305,000 troops to Pyongyang, capital of Goguryeo.

Goguryeo Gen. Eulji Mundeok defended fortresses against the Sui army and navy for several months and destroyed the Sui troops while retreating into Goguryeo territory. An ambush at Salsu (Chongchon River) inflicted massive casualties on the Sui forces. When the Sui army had reached Salsu the water level was shallow, as Eulji Mundeok had already cut off the flow of water with a dam. When the Sui troops were halfway across the river, Eulji opened the dam and the onslaught of water drowned thousands of Sui soldiers. The Goguryeo cavalry then charged the remaining Sui forces.

The surviving Sui troops were forced to retreat at a breakneck pace to the Liaodong Peninsula to avoid being killed. This led to an overall campaign loss of all but 2,800 Sui troops out of 350,000 men,[2][4] The Battle of Salsu is listed among the most lethal "classical formation" battles in world history.

With victory over the Sui dynasty at the Salsu, Goguryeo eventually won the war itself, while the Sui Dynasty, crippled by the enormous loss of manpower and resources as a result of its Korean campaigns, started to crumble from within and was finally brought down by internal strife, to be replaced soon thereafter by the Tang.


  1. ^ "The Three Kingdoms". National Assembly of South Korea. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  2. ^ a b (Korean) "Battle of Salsu", Encyclopædia Britannica Korean Edition
  3. ^ KBS World
  4. ^ Association for Asia Research- The forgotten glory of Koguryo