Korean–Jurchen border conflicts

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Korean-Jurchen conflicts
Date 10th century - 17th century
Location Northern Korean Peninsula
Result Goryeo: Stalemate
Joseon: Jurchen/Manchu victory
Hamgyong and the entire Korean peninsula annexed and assimilated to Korea
Jin dynasty (1115–1234)
Jianzhou Jurchens
Qing dynasty
Commanders and leaders
Yun Gwan
Kim Jong-seo
Hong Taiji

The Korean-Jurchen conflicts were a series conflicts from the 10th century to the 17th century between the Korean states of Goryeo and Joseon and the Jurchen people. The ancestors of the Jurchen were the Mohe and their descendants were the Manchu people.


After the fall of Balhae, parts of the northern Korean peninsula fell into the hands of the Tungusic Mohe people and their descendants the Jurchen people. During the Liao dynasty, Jin dynasty (1115–1234) and Yuan dynasty the area was under the control of Jurchen chieftains.

The Korean Kingdoms of Goryeo and its successor Joseon fought their way up the Korean peninsula and annexed land from the Jurchen, culminating in Joseon taking total control of the Korean peninsula after seizing control of Hamgyong (鹹鏡道/함경도) from the Jurchens.

According to the Goryeosa, in 918, the ancient capital of Pyongyang had been in ruins for a long time and foreign barbarians were using the surrounding lands as hunting grounds and occasionally raiding the borders of Goryeo; therefore, Wang Geon ordered his subjects to repopulate the ancient capital,[2] and soon thereafter sent his cousin Wang Sik-ryeom to defend it.

In 993, the land between the border of Liao and Goryeo was occupied by troublesome Jurchen tribes, but the Goryeo diplomat Seo Hui was able to negotiate with Liao and obtain that land up to the Yalu River, citing that in the past it belonged to Goguryeo, the predecessor to Goryeo.[3][4]

Both Bohai and miscellaneous tribals like Jurchens lived in the area between the Yalu and Taedong which was targeted for annexation by Guryeo.[5]

Timeline of the Korean–Jurchen wars[edit]

Under Goryeo period[edit]

The Jurchens in the Yalu River region were tributaries of Goryeo since the reign of Wang Geon, who called upon them during the wars of the Later Three Kingdoms period, but the Jurchens switched allegiance between Liao and Goryeo multiple times, taking advantage of the tension between the two nations; posing a potential threat to Goryeo's border security, the Jurchens offered tribute to the Goryeo court, expecting lavish gifts in return.[6]

  • In 984 Goryeo began to build a fortress on the banks of the Yalu river but were hindered by the Jurchen, who caused the work to be suspended.
  • 1010 : Ha Gong-jin and Yu Chung attacked the eastern Jurchens tribes. The Jurchen ravaged the northeast boundary of Goryeo kingdom in 1012. Joined with the Khitan, the Jurchen crossed the Yalu border but were driven back by Kim Sang wi.
  • To defend against the Jurchens and Khitans, a Long Wall was built by Goryeo in 1033-1034 along with many border forts.[7][8][9][10][11]
  • Under Wanyan Wuyashu's order, Shi Shihuan (石適歡) led Jurchen army of the Tumen River basin, subdued Jurchen in Helandian and advanced southward to chase about 1,800 remnants who defected to Goryeo. Goryeo did not hand them over but sent Im Gan (林幹) to intercept the Wanyan army. However, Shi Shihuan defeated Im Gan north of the Chŏngp'yŏng wall and invaded northeastern frontier of Goryeo. Goryeo dispatched Yoon Gwan (尹瓘) but lost a battle again. As a result, Wuyashu subjugated the Jurchen in Helandian.

In 1107 Goryeo dispatched five large armies led by Yoon Gwan to Helandian. They destroyed a hundred Jurchen villages and built nine fortresses there. After a one-year battle, the Wanyan army won two fortresses and eliminated Goryeo reinforcements. Goryeo and the Jurchen achieved settlement and, as a result, Goryeo withdrew from the occupied areas.

During the reign of Jurchen leader Wuyashu in 1103-1113, the border between the two nations was stabilized and Korean forces withdrew from Jurchen territories, acknowledging Jurchen dominance over the contested region.[12][13]

  • Ca. 1364 삼선(三善, Three Mountains) & 삼개(三介, Three Rivers)
  • around 1383 : 호발도(胡拔都)

Under Joseon period[edit]

There were two kind of Jurchens: the Enemy/Treacherous Jurchens 적호(賊胡) and the defensive/boundary Jurchens 번호(藩胡) considered as Jianzhou Jurchens living in Korean borders.

The modern day northeastern part of the Korean peninsula in Hamgyong used to belong to the Jurchens and was inhabited by Jurchen tribes, during the Liao, Jin, and Yuan dynasties, it was put under Jurchen tribal jurisdiction.

After the collapse of Yuan dynasty power Goryeo and then Joseon made the Jurchens in the area around Hamhung on the northern Korean peninsula submit as vassals However the Ming dynasty sought to take control of the Jurchen tribes and claimed all of the land which belonged to the Jin and Liao dynaties "north of Xianzhou", but the Koreans utilized mistakes in the texts of the Jinshi and Liaoshi in their Dilizhi chapters to say that the area belonged to Korea, and the Ming conceded the area since there was no proof available to the Ming for Jin and Liao control of those places, even though in reality the land were indeed under Jin rule as evidenced by epigraphs carved in stone by the Jurchen.[14]

The Joseon Koreans tried to deal with the military threat posed by the Jurchen by using both forceful means and incentives, and by launching military attacks while at the same time they tried to appease them with titles and degrees, traded with them, and sought to acculturate them by having Korean women marry Jurchens and integrating them into Korean culture. Despite these measures, fighting continued between the Jurchen and the Koreans.[15][16] The Ming Yongle Emperor was determined to wrest the Jurchens out of Korean influence and have China dominate them instead.[17][18] Korea tried to persuade Jurchen leader Mentemu (Möngke Temür) to reject the Ming overtures, but were unsuccessful since Möngke Temür folded and submitted to the Ming.[19][20][21][22]

Joseon under Sejong the Great then engaged in military campaigns against the Jurchen and after defeating the Odoli, Maolian and Udige clans, Joseon managed to take control of Hamgyong.

The modern borders of Korea were finalized when the northeast region was conquered by the Yi (Joseon) and around 1450 several border forts were established in the conquered northeast.[23]

In 1467 Ming China and Joseon defeated the Huligai clan and killed their leader Li Manzhu 李滿住.

  • 1409 : Invasion of Kyungwon (경원;慶源)
  • 1432–1433 : Li-Man-chu (李滿住) (b.1407 – †1467), the chief of the Huligai (胡里改) was beaten by a Joseon's expedition led by general Choe Yun-deok (Hangul : 최윤덕 Hanja :崔潤德).
  • 1436 : Two powerful Jurchens tribes (Olyangtap and Holjaon (홀라온;忽剌溫)) crossed the Tuman river and invaded the Hamgildo Province (Hangul : 함길도 Hanja :咸吉道), present-day Hamgyong Province, which have been recently repopulated by Korean settlers.
  • 1460 : The Invasion of the Hamgildo Province by the Orangai (Hangul : 오랑캐 Hanja :兀良哈) forces led by (Hangul : 모련위 Hanja :毛憐衛). Joseon army led a counter-offensive.
  • 1467 :Li-Man-chu (李滿住) was killed after a joint Korean-Ming attack (under Sejo of Joseon's reign).
  • Ca.1480 : Wars between Joseon army and the Jurchens on the on northeast china
  • 1482 : Two forts on the Yalu were built near the town of Kanggye.
  • 1491 : Gen. Heo Jong 허종(許琮) led several military campaigns against the Jurchens on the northern border. There were successful and repulsed the defeated Jurchens (Udige,兀狄哈) to the north of the Tuman river.
  • Ca. 1520 : The Jurchens of the north ravaged the Korean borders the Joseon king sent troops against them.
  • Ca. 1555 : The Jurchens tribe of Kol-gan-bul (or Kolgan Udige) (Hangul: 골간 올적합 Hanja:骨看兀狄哈) crossed the northern border and harried the border town.
  • Ca. 1570 : the Jurchens across the Yalu were crossing that river and taking possessions of fields in Korea proper, near the town of Kanggye. The King sent a force, under Kim Tong-yung to dislodge them. The intruders were chased across the river and into a narrow defile where they turned on their pursuers. Taken thus by surprise, the Korean forces were thrown into confusion and were put to flight after their general was killed. A second expedition chased the intruders to their villages, and burned them out.
  • 1583 : A fierce invasion, led by Pon-ho chieftains (번호;藩胡) 아산보(阿山堡)or 니탕개(尼蕩介), occurred on the northern part of Hamgyeong Province. The prefecture of Kyungwon was taken, but Shin Rip, the prefect of Onsung, went to its succour and after a desperate fight before the town, he broke back of the invasion and drove the invaders back across the Tuman and burned their villages.

Two chieftains, Yul Po-ri and Yi T’ang-ga advanced by separate roads upon Kyongsung with 10,000 mounted followers, but the little garrison of 100 men fought so stubbornly that the siege was raised and the two chieftains marched on to attack Pang-weun. The Joseon troops arrived just in time to drive the invaders back.

  • 1588 : Outbreaks of the far northern border and Gen. Yi Il along with (우후/虞侯 and 김우추/金遇秋) took a small force of 400 men, crossed the Tuman River on the ice and attacked the Chudo Jurchens tribe (Hangul :추도 반호 Hanja :楸島 叛胡), killing 33 peoples among them on 1588 1m 14d.

Being successful in this he took 2500 men along with the prefects of Hoeryong, Onsong and Puryong, crossed the same river at four different points simultaneously and attacked the Sijun Jurchens (Hangul : 시전번호/반호 Hanja :時錢藩胡/叛胡) tribe by night, burning 200 houses and killing 380 peoples. (제승방략(制勝方略)) on 1588 1m 15d.

  • 1592 : During the Imjin War, Kato Kiyomasa and renegades Koreans from Hoeryong invaded the Orangai.
  • 1605 : a fierce conflict between the Jurchen tribe of Hol-cha-on (Hangul : 홀자온 Hanja :忽刺溫), north of the Tuman River and the Joseon troops under Gen. Song U-gil (Hangul : 성우길 Hanja :成祐吉). The latter crossed the river by night and attacked the main settlement of the tribe and utterly destroyed it, and effectually broke up the tribe. Great quantities of goods which had been stolen from the border settlements were also recovered.

Timeline of the Korean-Manchu wars[edit]

The Jurchens of the Later Jin, who later became the Manchus, inflicted a crushing defeat upon Joseon Korea in their 1627 invasion.

The Manchus inflicted a decisive defeat upon the Koreans and forced the Korean King to perform a humiliating ritual of submission along with erecting the Samjeondo Monument.


  1. ^ Hyŏn-hŭi Yi; Sŏng-su Pak; Nae-hyŏn Yun (2005). New history of Korea. Jimoondang. p. 288. ISBN 978-89-88095-85-0. 
  2. ^ "丙申谕群臣曰:“平壤古都荒废虽久,基址尙存,而荆棘滋茂,蕃人游猎於其间,因而侵掠边邑,为害 大矣。 宜徙民实之以固藩屏为百世之利"(高丽史)
  3. ^ Yun 1998, p.64: "By the end of the negotiation, Sô Hûi had ... ostensibly for the purpose of securing safe diplomatic passage, obtained an explicit Khitan consent to incorporate the land between the Ch’ôngch’ôn and Amnok Rivers into Koryô territory."
  4. ^ “自契丹东京至我安北府数百里之地,皆为生女真所据。光宗取之,筑嘉州、松城等城,今契丹之来,其志不过取 北二城,其声言取高勾丽旧地者,实恐我也”(高丽史)
  5. ^ Denis C. Twitchett; Herbert Franke; John King Fairbank (25 November 1994). The Cambridge History of China: Volume 6, Alien Regimes and Border States, 907-1368. Cambridge University Press. pp. 100–. ISBN 978-0-521-24331-5. 
  6. ^ Breuker 2010, pp. 220-221. "The Jurchen settlements in the Amnok River region had been tributaries of Koryŏ since the establishment of the dynasty, when T'aejo Wang Kŏn heavily relied on a large segment of Jurchen cavalry to defeat the armies of Later Paekche. The position and status of these Jurchen is hard to determine using the framework of the Koryŏ and Liao states as reference, since the Jurchen leaders generally took care to steer a middle course between Koryŏ and Liao, changing sides or absconding whenever that was deemed the best course. As mentioned above, Koryŏ and Liao competed quite fiercely to obtain the allegiance of the Jurchen settlers who in the absence of large armies effectively controlled much of the frontier area outside the Koryŏ and Liao fortifications. These Jurchen communities were expert in handling the tension between Liao and Koryŏ, playing out divide-and-rule policies backed up by threats of border violence. It seems that the relationship between the semi-nomadic Jurchen and their peninsular neighbours bore much resemblance to the relationship between Chinese states and their nomad neighbours, as described by Thomas Barfield."
  7. ^ Michael J. Seth (16 October 2010). A History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 86–. ISBN 978-0-7425-6717-7. 
  8. ^ Michael J. Seth (1 January 2006). A Concise History of Korea: From the Neolithic Period Through the Nineteenth Century. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 84–. ISBN 978-0-7425-4005-7. 
  9. ^ Matthew Bennett (January 1998). The Hutchinson Dictionary of Ancient & Medieval Warfare. Taylor & Francis. pp. 182–. ISBN 978-1-57958-116-9. 
  10. ^ Haywood, John; Jotischky, Andrew; McGlynn, Sean (1998). Historical Atlas of the Medieval World, AD 600-1492. Barnes & Noble. p. 3.24. ISBN 978-0-7607-1976-3. 
  11. ^ Carlos Kenneth Quiñones; Joseph Tragert (26 January 2004). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding North Korea. Alpha Books. pp. 71–. ISBN 978-1-59257-169-7. 
  12. ^ China Under Jurchen Rule. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  13. ^ The Cambridge History of China: Volume 6, Alien Regimes and Border States ... Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  14. ^ Aisin Gioro & Jin, pp. 20-21.
  15. ^ Seth 2006, p. 138.
  16. ^ Seth 2010, p. 144.
  17. ^ Zhang 2008, p. 29.
  18. ^ John W. Dardess (2012). Ming China, 1368-1644: A Concise History of a Resilient Empire. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 18–. ISBN 978-1-4422-0490-4. 
  19. ^ Goodrich 1976, p. 1066.
  20. ^ Peterson 2002, p. 13.
  21. ^ Twitchett 1998, pp. 286-287.
  22. ^ Zhang 2008, p. 30.
  23. ^ Haywood, John; Jotischky, Andrew; McGlynn, Sean (1998). Historical Atlas of the Medieval World, AD 600-1492. Barnes & Noble. p. 3.24. ISBN 978-0-7607-1976-3. 
  • Robinson, Kenneth R.. 1992. “From Raiders to Traders: Border Security and Border Control in Early Chosŏn, 1392—1450”. Korean Studies 16. University of Hawai'i Press: 94–115. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23720024.