Hamgyong campaign

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Kato Kiyomasa in Korea.

The Hamgyong Campaign also known as Kato Kiyomasa's Northern Campaign, is Kato Kiyomasa's invasion of the North-Eastern part of Korea, during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598), which occurred mainly in the former Hamgyong Province but included his fight with the Jurchen in the South-eastern part of Manchuria in the actual Jilin Province. The campaign was largely successful for the Japanese, however after the campaign, the Japanese army eventually retreated because of supply problems (largely due to Admiral Yi's logistical attacks), uprisings of irregular Korean forces, and the help of the allied Ming China.


After crushing small Korean armies, Katō's first real resistance was at Haejungchang. Katō met northern Korean contingents, who were renowned as elites among the Korean army. Korean cavalry charged the field and inflicted much damage upon the Japanese army.

Katō fell back to Haejungchang, a rice storage point, built cover from rice bags and kept the Koreans at bay with arquebus fire. Feeling confident about the first victory, the Korean commander ordered the cavalry to charge and harass the enemy under cover. Katō replied by heavy arquebus fire behind a "rice wall" and forced the Koreans back to a nearby hill. After nightfall, Katō silently led his troops to the foot of the hill. He then ordered an attack from three sides and destroyed the Korean army.

Katō then marched north, leaving the coast, and after the Battle of Songjin, captured two Korean princes, Prince Imhae and Prince Sunhwa, who were sent down south with an escort of 1,000 Japanese soldiers as a negotiation condition. After crossing the Tumen River, Katō arrived in southeastern Manchuria, which was outside the reach of Chinese authorities and where the Jurchens ruled. Here Katō attacked a Jurchen fortress and took it by heavy arquebus fire. The next day the Jurchens retaliated against the Japanese with 10,000 troops. The Japanese were practically surrounded by the Jurchen cavalry and after managing to pull out of the Jurchen attacks, Katō quickly retreated back across the Tumen River. This would be the first and last time Katō and the Japanese stepped outside Korea during the war.

The Japanese won victories in the early battles. However, Korean generals Jeong Mun-bu, Yi Bong-su and Choe Bae-cheon formed the Righteous army and won eight victories between 1592 and 1594 against an army of 20,000 Japanese troops in Hamgyeong Province. After the Japanese withdrawal, General Jeong erected the Bukgwan Victory Monument.

Captured castles[edit]

Below is a list of the Korean castles captured by Kato.

  1. Battle of Haejeongchang (Hangul : 해정창) (18th day, 7th month, 1592*), or Kuradokoro (now Kimch'aek)
  2. Capture of Kilchu (Hangul : 길주, Hanja : 吉州)
  3. Capture of Myŏngch'ŏn, Hanja : 明川)
  4. Capture of Puryŏng (Hangul : 부령, Hanja : 富寧)
  5. Capture of Hoeryŏng (Hangul : 회령, Hanja : 會寧) (23rd day, 7th month 1592*)
  6. Kato Kiyomasa's fight with the Jurchen : The "Battle of Yanji" (24th day, 7th month 1592*).
  7. Capture of Onsong

Righteous army activities[edit]

Below is a list of the recaptured by Jeong Mun-bu.

  1. Capture of Kyŏngsŏng (Hangul : 경성, Hanja : 鏡城) (16th day, 9th month, 1592*)
  2. Battle of Kilchu (Hangul : 길주, Hanja :吉州) (30th day, 10th month, 1592*)
  3. Battle of Hamhung (Hangul : 함흥) (10th day, 11th month, 1592*)
  4. Capture of Riwon (Hangul : 이원) (12th day, 11th month, 1592*)
  5. Battle of Ssangpo (Hangul : 길주 쌍포) (10th day, 12th month, 1592*)
  6. Battle of Kilchu (Hangul : 길주 남문밖) (19th day, 1st month, 1593*)
  7. Capture of Tanch'ŏn (Hangul : 단천, Hanja : 端川) (23rd day, 1st month, 1593*)
  8. Battle of Baektap Bridge (Hangul : 백탑교) (28th day, 1st month, 1593*)


(*) According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar.