Gwak Jae-u

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Gwak Jae-u
Hangul 곽재우
Hanja 郭再祐
Revised Romanization Gwak Jae-u
McCune–Reischauer Kwak Chae'u
Courtesy name
Hangul 계수
Hanja 季綬
Revised Romanization Gyesu
McCune–Reischauer Kyesu
Posthumous name
Hangul 충익
Hanja 忠翼
Revised Romanization Chung-ik
McCune–Reischauer Ch'ung'ik

Gwak Jae-u (Hangul곽재우; 1552–1617) was a Korean military general and patriot from Uiryeong. He was called the "Red Robe General" (천강홍의장군, 天降紅衣將軍) after his habit of wearing red costumes and riding a white horse in battle.[1] In 1592, nine days into the Imjin war, he formed a Righteous army to fight against the Japanese army. He was originally a commoner, but King Seonjo of Joseon granted him a government position.


Gwak was a Yangban. He had passed the examination to enter the civil service when he was thirty-four, but was denied a post as his essay portion was harshly critical of the government.[2]

Raising an army[edit]

In 1592, Japanese regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded Korea. Gwak began raising a militia to defend the free parts of Kyongsang province from the invaders.[2]

Gwak Jae-u disrupted Japanese supply lines around the Nakdong River in many guerrilla actions. Gwak also had the distinction of winning Korea's first land victory of the war in the Battle of Uiryeong. In part of a two-pronged offensive into Jeolla, Ankokuji Ekei led 6th division men from the south. Ankokuji needed to cross the Nam River to reach Uiryeong, an objective. He had his men find the shallowest parts of the river and mark them with stakes. While Ankokuji's army slept, Gwak's men moved the stakes to deeper sections of the river. When the crossing began, the Japanese soldiers foundered in the deep water, and Gwak's army attacked them. In multiple attempts to cross the river, Ankokuji suffered many losses, and was forced to abandon his attack on Uiryeong. The battle gave the Korean government respect for Gwak's abilities, and he was placed in command of the Korean forces in and around Uiryeong and the nearby Samga.


There is a statue of Gwak Jae-u in Mangu Park in Daegu.[1] Also, In Uiryeoung, 'Chungik-sa' enshrine Gwak Jae-u and his 17 subordinate.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mangu Park" (PDF). Your Guide to a Successful Campus Life at Yeungnam University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-04-08. Retrieved 2006-08-09. 
  2. ^ a b Hawley, Samuel. The Imjin War (Seoul 2005), Royal Asiatic Society

External links[edit]