Battle of Busan (1592)

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Battle of Busan
Part of Imjin War
Date September 1, 1592
Location Off coast of Busan, Korea
Result Tactical Korean victory[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]
Belligerents
Korea Navy Japanese navy
Commanders and leaders
Yi Sun-shin
Won Gyun
Yi Eok-gi
Jeong Un (ko)  [12]
Gwon Jun
Song Hui-rip
Yi Sun-shin (Mu-ui)
Kim Wan
Yi Yeong-nam
Eo Yeong-dam
Yi Eon-ryang
Wakisaka Yasuharu
Kuki Yoshitaka
Tōdō Takatora
Kato Yoshiaki
Strength
166 vessels (74 Panokseon and 92 hyeopseon)

470 vessels (Modern estimates)[13][14]

[15][16]
8,000 soldiers(Diary of Yi Sun Shin)
Casualties and losses

No ships lost [17]

General Jeong Un and 6 soldiers dead
25 soldiers wounded
few Panokseon damaged

Countless soldiers dead (Yi's Military report published by the Japanese Governor-General of Korea)[18][19][20]

100 ships destroyed(Modern estimates)[21][22] [23][24]

400 empty ships destroyed (Annals of the Joseon Dynasty)[25]

100 ships destroyed (Yi's Military report published by the Japanese Governor-General of Korea(壬辰狀草))[26][27][28]

The Battle of Busan of 1592, or the Battle of Busanpo (Battle of Busan Bay) (釜山浦 海戰) was a naval engagement that took place on 1 September 1592 during the first phase of the Japanese invasions of Korea. It was a Korean surprise attack on the fleet of Toyotomi Hideyoshi stationed at Busan. In this battle, Japanese forces lost 100 ships while no Korean ships were lost. Officer Woon (ko) and six Korean soldiers died while countless Japanese soldiers were killed by arrows.[29][30][31] However, ultimately, the Korean fleet retreated from Busan.[32] After the battle, the Japanese continued to control Busan.[citation needed] In a primary historical source, Annals of the Joseon Dynasty (Korean official history, written by bureaucrat of the Korean government located in Hanyang District), it is recorded as the Korean navy failed to defeat Japanese at Busan.[33][34] However, in other primary historical sources, like Joseon's official compendium (李忠武公全書) written by the bureaucrats of the Korean government, and the War Diary of Yi Sun-sin and his military reports, it is recorded as the Korean navy decisively defeating the Japanese navy. Modern western historians also summarized the battle as a Korean decisive victory.[35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44] Some Korean historians believe the War Diary of Yi Sun-sin more than Annals of the Joseon Dynasty when they study Imjin war because he is the on-scene commander.[45][46]

After this battle, the Korean government promoted Yi to Samdo Sugun Tongjesa (삼도 수군 통제사 ; 三道水軍統制使), literally "Naval Commander of the Three Provinces", which was the title for the commander of the Korean navy until 1896.[47]

Background[edit]

The Japanese needed to secure war supply routes. The alternate plan was to advance troops and supplies by roads, but this route was disturbed by the Uibyeong ("Righteous Army"). Many Korean civilians and Buddhist monks formed a voluntary army and attacked Japanese troops.[48]

Formation of united Joseon fleet[edit]

After the Battle of Hansan Island, in which commander Yi Sun-sin's navy won against the Japanese navy around mid-July, they remained silent for nearly a month. During that time in Busan, there were 8,000 soldiers and 430 vessels protecting the coast. Commander Yi, however, sent spy ships to Busan port and found out there were about 470 warships there.[49] Commander Yi believed that the Japanese were retreating to their country, so Gyeongsang Province Governor (慶尙右水營) Kim Soo requested that Commander Yi block their sea route. Therefore, Commander Yi with Commanders Won Gyun and Yi Eok Ki united their fleets, for a total of 166 vessels. On their way to Busan, Commander Yi defeated 24 Japanese ships at Seopyeongpo (西平浦), at the Battle of Dadaejin (多大浦), and at Jeolyoungdo (絶影島). The combined Joseon fleet defeated the Japanese navy repeatedly, largely as a result of their well-trained sailors and the Joseon ships' medium and long range cannons.[50]

Battle of Busanpo[edit]

Off the coast of Busan, the united Joseon fleet realized that the Japanese navy had readied their ships for battle and the Japanese army had stationed themselves around the shoreline. The united Joseon fleet assembled in the Jangsajin or "Long Snake" formation, with many ships advancing in a line, and attacked straight into the Japanese fleet. Overwhelmed by the Joseon fleet, the Japanese navy abandoned their ships and fled to the coast where their army was stationed.[51] The Japanese army and navy joined their forces and attacked the Joseon fleet from the nearby hills in desperation.[52] The Joseon fleet shot arrows from their ships to defend and restrict their attacks, and in the meantime concentrated their cannon fire on destroying Japanese vessels.[53] Joseon's navy had destroyed fully a quarter of the Japanese fleet at a cost of just five men killed, twenty-five wounded, and no ships lost.[54][55] However, Ultimately, the Korean fleet retreated from Busan[56]

Comparisons[edit]

In terms of size, the Joseon ships were one-third that of Japanese ships. Although commander Yi destroyed over 100 ships, he did not order his soldiers to pursue the Japanese on shore, probably because he recognized that close hand-to-hand combat skills of the Joseon were significantly weaker than those of the samurai. In addition, the Joseon soldiers were exhausted from long sea travel and battle, and would have been heavily outnumbered on land. Up to that point, Commander Yi had not fought with numbers of soldiers, but rather with ships and cannons. Yi reinforced disadvantages in number of soldiers with heavy use of firearms. The Japanese also had a well-trained cavalry, which was another aspect the Joseon army lacked. In this battle, however, Yi lost one of his cherished officers, by the name of Woon.[57]

Impact[edit]

After this battle, the Joseon naval activity substantially subsided. Before then, there were 9 naval battles during the 3 months since May, 1592, which were led by Yi, but the next naval battle took place 6 months later in February, 1593.

The Japanese forces succeeded to protect their position in Busan bay.[58]

After this battle, the Joseon government promoted Yi to Samdo Sugun Tongjesa (삼도 수군 통제사 ; 三道水軍統制使), literally meaning "Naval Commander of the Three Provinces" which was the title for the commander of the Joseon navy until 1896.[59]

It had extinguished any lingering hopes the Japanese may have had of somehow gaining access to the Yellow sea and ferrying reinforcements to their comardes in Pyongyang. From this point onward the prospect of amassing an army in the north large enough to march on Beijing was well and truly dead.[60][61]

Differences of action's significance[edit]

In Japan, with referencing the official history of the Joseon, it is found that the result was strategic victory of Japan..[62][63] The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, which is one the official history record summarized this battle as a strategic failure:

"李舜臣等攻釜山賊屯, 不克。 倭兵屢敗於水戰, 聚據釜山、東萊, 列艦守港。 舜臣與元均悉舟師進攻, 賊斂兵不戰, 登高放丸, 水兵不能下陸, 乃燒空船四百餘艘而退。 鹿島萬戶鄭運居前力戰, 中丸死, 舜臣痛惜之。."[12]

This can be translated as follows:

"Yi Sun Shin and his fleet attacked Busan where the enemy forces stationed, but failed to defeat them. Since Japanese soldiers were often defeated in sea fights, they gathered in the fortress in Busan and Dongnae, which guarded the naval ships. Yi Sun Shin and Won Gyun attacked the Busan bay in vast numbers of ships, but the Japanese soldiers did not fight, and climbed to higher position and shot an arquebus. Thus Josen marines were unable to land then after burning 400 empty ships, Yi's fleet retreated. 鹿島萬戶 Chong Woon(ko) was shot and died during the hard fighting, and Yi Sun deeply regret the lost."

British historian, American historian, Koreans and Yi sun shin who is on-scene commander claimed that, the Joseon navy won this battle because none of the Joseon's ships were lost while the Japanese naval forces lost 100 ships or 400 enpty ships with referencing Joseon's official compendium(李忠武公全書) which was published by King Jeongjo, Nanjung Ilgi which is the personal diary of Yi Sun shin and the military report(壬辰狀草) which was sent by Yi Sun Shin to the government. Also, the Joseon government promoted Yi to Samdo Sugun Tongjesa (삼도 수군 통제사 ; 三道水軍統制使), literally meaning "Naval Commander of the Three Provinces" after this battle.[64]

The Nanjung Ilgi, which is the diary of Yi Sun Shin summarized this battle as a deceive victory:

"There were 470 Japanese naval ships... They were frightened by us so that they did not come out from the port... We bombarded the port all day... We destroyed 100 ships and there were Japanese soldiers who were killed by our arrows[65]"

Even, the military report(壬辰狀草) which was sent by Yi Sun Shin to the government and published by the Japanese Governor-General of Korea in modern times also summarized this battle as a deceive victory:

"무릇 전후 4차출전하고 열 번 접전하여 모두 다 승리하였다 하여도 장수와 군졸들의 공로를 논한다면 이번 부산 싸움보다 더할 것이 없습니다。

전일 싸울 때에는 적선의 수가 많아도 70여척을 넘지 않았는데 이번은 큰 적의 소굴에 늘어서 470여척 속으로 군사의 위세를 갖추어 승리한 기세로 돌진하였습니다。 그래서 조금도 두려워 하지 않고 하루종일 분한 마음으로 공격하여 적선 100여척을 깨뜨렸습니다。

적들로 하여금 마음이 꺾여 가슴이 무너지고 머리를 움추리며 두려워서 떨게 하였는바, 비록 머리를 벤 것은 없으나 힘써 싸운 공로는 먼저번 보다 훨씬 더 하므로 전례를 참작하여 공로의 등급을 결정하고 별지에 기록하였습니다。"[66][67][68]

This can be translated as follows:

"During 4th campaign, we fought 10 times and won all the battles. Our soldiers distinguished themselves on the field of this battle. There were less than 70 Japanese naval ships in the previous battles. However, in this battle, we charged toward the 470 Japanese naval ships with a triumphant note. And we had been destroying 100 naval ships all days without fear. The Japanese soldiers shook with fear. We did not lop off the heads of enemies, but the military merits of this battle are much more great than before, so I recorded the military merits of each soldiers in the accompanying document."

James B. Lewis who is the University Lecturer at the University of Oxford described the battle like this :

"It is important in the history of Joseon's naval warfare, since it was the only sea battle, out of the ten fought during the year, in which Joseon attacked the Japanese naval base with relatively inferior fire power. In spite of the loss of Chong Woon, one of Yi's staff who was shot during the battle, Yi achieved an enormous victory in sinking over 100 ships in this one battle alone. As winter crept in, the two parties found naval operations impossible and rode at anchor for the duration of the season."

[69][70]

Samuel Hawely who is an American historian trained at Queen's University, earning BA and MA degrees described the battle like this :

"The Korean navy's attack on Busan had been astonishingly successful. It had destroyed fully a quarter of the Japanese fleet at a cost of just five men killed, twenty-five wounded, and no ships lost."

[71][72]

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See also[edit]