Li Jun (Water Margin)

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Li Jun
Water Margin character
First appearance Chapter 36
Nickname "River Dragon"
Rank 26th, Longevity Star (天壽星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits
Navy leader of Liangshan
Origin Pirate
Ancestral home / Place of origin Luzhou (present-day Hefei, Anhui)
Weapon Sword
Simplified Chinese 李俊
Traditional Chinese 李俊
Pinyin Lǐ Jùn
Wade–Giles Li Chün

Li Jun is a fictional character in 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 novel describes Li Jun as a man eight chi tall, with thick eyebrows, large eyes, a reddish face, wire-like whiskers and a loud booming voice. He is from Luzhou (蘆州; present-day Hefei, Anhui), but lives in Jieyang Ridge (揭陽嶺; believed to be in present-day Jiujiang, Jiangxi), near the Xunyang River, with his younger brother, Li Li. He is not only well versed in martial arts, but is also a powerful swimmer capable of performing many feats in the water. He is thus nicknamed "River Dragon".

The Li brothers rob unsuspecting travellers for a living: Li Jun pretends to be a boatman who ferries people across the Xunyang River and robs them when they are far away from the riverbank; Li Li runs an inn at the riverbank, serves his guests food and drinks spiked with drugs, and robs them when they are unconscious. They are close friends of the Tong brothers (Tong Wei and Tong Meng) and run their illegal "business" together at Jieyang Ridge.

Joining Liangshan[edit]

When Song Jiang is exiled to Jiangzhou (江州; east of present-day Chongzuo, Guangxi), he passes by Jieyang and takes a rest in Li Li's inn. Li Li uses drugged wine to knock Song Jiang out and is about to rob him when Li Jun appears and stops his brother. Li Jun recognises Song Jiang as the generous and chivalrous hero they have long heard about and have been wanting to meet, so he tells his brother to revive Song. The Li brothers apologise to Song Jiang when he regains consciousness and befriend him.

After leaving Li Li's inn, Song Jiang runs into trouble with the Mu brothers (Mu Hong and Mu Chun) in the nearby Jieyang Town, he flees from the town and boards Zhang Heng's boat in desperation. Zhang Heng, like Li Jun, is also a pirate in disguise as a ferryman and he wants to kill and rob Song Jiang when his boat reaches the middle of the river. Luckily, Li Jun shows up in time, stops Zhang Heng, and introduces Song Jiang to Zhang and the Mu brothers. Zhang Heng and the Mu brothers are stunned when they learn of Song Jiang's true identity, and they apologise to him and treat him like an honoured guest. Later, they see him off on his journey to Jiangzhou.

In Jiangzhou, Song Jiang gets into trouble again after writing a seditious poem while he was drunk, and ends up being arrested and sentenced to death. However, the outlaws from Liangshan Marsh show up in Jiangzhou, storm the execution ground, and rescue Song Jiang. Li Jun and the others meet Song Jiang and the outlaws at the riverbank and ferry them back to the safety of Liangshan Marsh, after which they join the outlaw band at Liangshan.

Contributions to Liangshan[edit]

Li Jun becomes one of the leaders of the Liangshan navy and makes significant contributions during their battles between Liangshan and 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 Emperor Huizong.

During the campaign against the rebel leader Tian Hu, Li Jun suggests flooding Tian Hu's city Taiyuan to trap the enemy. His plan is instrumental to the Liangshan forces' eventual victory over Tian Hu.

During the final campaign against the rebel leader Fang La, he goes behind enemy lines by diving into Lake Tai and infiltrating Fang's battleships from underwater. He meets some local jianghu figures, such as Fei Bao, Ni Yun, Bo Qing and Di Cheng, in the area around Lake Tai and becomes sworn brothers with them. He also infiltrates Fang La's city Suzhou on an espionage mission and succeeds in helping the Liangshan forces capture the city. During the battle of Qingxi County (清溪縣; present-day Anxi County, Quanzhou, Fujian), he pretends to defect to Fang La's side and plays an important role in crippling enemy forces and paving the road to victory for the Liangshan forces. Li Jun's brother, Li Li, is severely injured during the battle and dies from his wounds later.

Later life[edit]

The surviving heroes make their journey back to the capital to report their victory over Fang La and are individually awarded official positions by Emperor Huizong in recognition of their contributions. Li Jun, however, does not wish to serve in the government, which he perceives to be corrupt, so he feigns illness on the way back. He remains in Suzhou under the pretext of recovering from a serious illness, while the Tong brothers stay with him to "take care of" him. They are never seen again.

It is said that Li Jun, the Tong brothers, and his other companions travel to the port-city of Taicang and sail into the open sea. They eventually arrive in Siam (Thailand), where Li Jun becomes the king while his companions become his subjects.

See also[edit]