Li Jun (Water Margin)
|Water Margin character|
|Rank||26th, Longevity Star (天壽星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Navy leader of Liangshan|
|Origin||Ferryman from Jieyang, Guangdong|
|Hometown||Luzhou (in present-day Hunan)|
|First appearance||Chapter 36|
Li Jun is a fictional character in the Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 26th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "River Dragon".
The Water Margin describes Li Jun as eight chi tall, with thick eyebrows, large eyes, a reddish face, wire-like whiskers and a loud booming voice. He is a native of Luzhou (in present-day Hunan) and settles in Jieyang, Guangdong, together with his younger brother Li Li. Li Jun is not only versed in martial arts, but is also a powerful swimmer and capable of performing many feats in the water, and is hence nicknamed "River Dragon".
Li Jun works as a ferryman on the Yangtze River while his brother runs an inn on land. Both of them rob unsuspecting travellers for a living. Li Jun engages in piracy on the river while Li Li uses drugs to knock out unsuspecting travellers and rob them when they are unconscious. They are close friends of the Tong brothers (Tong Wei and Tong Meng) and run their illegal "business" together in Jieyang.
Becoming an outlaw
When Song Jiang is exiled to Jiangzhou (present-day Jiangxi), he passes by Jieyang and takes a rest in Li Li's inn. Li Li uses drugged wine to knock Song Jiang out and wants to rob him when Li Jun appears and stops him. Li Jun recognises Song Jiang as the famous philanthropist and apologises to him. Song Jiang befriends the Li brothers. Later, Song Jiang offends the Mu brothers (Mu Hong and Mu Chun) in town for paying Xue Yong for his performance. The Mu brothers pursue him all the way to the riverbank and Song boards the pirate Zhang Heng's boat by mistake. Zhang Heng wants to rob and kill Song Jiang when the boat reaches the middle of the river but luckily Li Jun arrives in time and stops Zhang. Li Jun introduces Song Jiang to the Mu brothers and Zhang Heng and they are stunned when they recognise him. They apologise to Song Jiang and become friends with him.
Song Jiang runs into some trouble in Jiangzhou for writing a poem advocating rebellion against the government and is arrested. The governor Cai Jiu sentences Song Jiang to death but the Liangshan outlaws storm the execution ground and rescue him. Li Jun and his friends fetch the heroes on the riverbank and ferry them all the way back to Liangshan Marsh. Li Jun and his brother then join the Liangshan cause and become outlaws.
Contributions to Liangshan
Li Jun becomes one of the leaders of the Liangshan navy and contributes significantly to Liangshan during their battles with the imperial army and other enemies of Liangshan. He follows the heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by the emperor. He proves himself to be not only an expert in combat and naval warfare, but also a good strategist as well.
During the Tian Hu campaign, he suggests flooding the enemy city of Taiyuan to trap Tian Hu's forces and his proposal becomes instrumental in the eventual defeat of Tian. He joins the heroes on their campaign against Fang La later and makes even greater contributions. He goes behind enemy lines by diving into Lake Tai and infiltrating Fang La's battleships from underwater. He befriends some local heroes (Fei Bao, Ni Yun, Bo Qing and Di Cheng) and becomes sworn brothers with them.
Subsequently, Li Jun infiltrates the enemy city of Suzhou and acts as a spy for Liangshan, aiding friendly forces in capturing the city by disrupting the enemy's activities. He pretends to defect to Fang La later during the battle of Qingxi County and plays an important role in crippling the enemy, paving the way for the victory over Fang.
The surviving heroes make their journey back to the capital city to report their victory over Fang La to the emperor and are individually appointed as officials in recognition of their contributions. Li does not want to serve the corrupt government and feigns illness on the return journey. He stays behind in Suzhou together with the Tong brothers, who said they will take care of him. They are never seen again since then. It is said that Li Jun and his companions later set sail from Taicang into the open ocean. They arrive in Siam (present-day Thailand), where Li Jun becomes the king while his friends become his advisors and subjects.
- List of Water Margin minor characters#Li Jun's story for a list of supporting minor characters from Li Jun's story.
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- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.