|Water Margin character|
|Rank||24th, Investigative Star (天究星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Tiger Cub Vanguard General of Liangshan|
|Ancestral home / Place of origin||Jieyang Town (believed to be in present-day Jiujiang, Jiangxi)|
|First appearance||Chapter 37|
Mu Hong is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 24th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Unrestrained".
The novel describes Mu Hong as a handsome and talented looking man with an impressive appearance and eyebrows that resemble silkworms. He has a younger brother, "Little Unrestrained" Mu Chun. The brothers are from a wealthy and influential family in Jieyang Town (揭陽鎮; believed to be in present-day Jiujiang, Jiangxi), near the Xunyang River. Mu Hong is famous for his bravery and prowess in martial arts.
Meeting Song Jiang
When Song Jiang is exiled to Jiangzhou (江州; east of present-day Chongzuo, Guangxi), he passes by Jieyang Town along the way and meets the street performer Xue Yong. Xue Yong's failure to acknowledge the Mu brothers' presence angers them. Mu Chun forbids the townsfolk to pay Xue Yong for his performance. Song Jiang ignores Mu Chun and gives Xue Yong five silver taels. Mu Chun is furious with Song Jiang for disregarding him and wants to beat up Song, but Xue Yong comes to Song's aid and defeats Mu in a fight.
Mu Chun feels humiliated after his defeat and is determined to take revenge on Song Jiang and Xue Yong. He forbids the townsfolk from extending their hospitality to the two men, and then secretly discusses his plans for revenge with his brother. Song Jiang overhears their conversation by chance and flees from the town. The Mu brothers capture Xue Yong, beat him up, and then lead their followers to pursue Song Jiang. In desperation, Song Jiang boards Zhang Heng's boat, without knowing that Zhang is actually a pirate who robs unsuspecting travellers. When the boat reaches the middle of the river, Zhang Heng wants to kill Song Jiang and rob him, but is stopped by Li Jun. Zhang Heng and the Mu brothers are shocked when they learn of Song Jiang's true identity from Li Jun, because they have heard of his reputation as a generous and chivalrous hero who helps those in need, and have been wanting to meet him. They apologise to him and treat him like an honoured guest before seeing him off on his journey to Jiangzhou.
Song Jiang runs into trouble in Jiangzhou later and is sentenced to death. However, the outlaws from Liangshan Marsh show up Jiangzhou, storm the execution ground, and save Song Jiang. After escaping from Jiangzhou, they head towards the riverbank, where Li Jun, the Mu brothers and others are waiting for them in boats. They ferry the outlaws back to Liangshan Marsh. The Mu brothers join the outlaw band at Liangshan.
After the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny, Mu Hong becomes one of the Eight Tiger Cub Vanguard Generals of the Liangshan calvary. He follows the Liangshan heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong. Mu Hong makes great contributions during the campaigns and plays an important role in the capture of the enemy-controlled city of Runzhou (潤州; present-day Runzhou District, Zhenjiang, Jiangsu) during the campaign against the rebel leader Fang La. He dies of illness in Hangzhou before the campaign ends, and is posthumously awarded an honorific title by the emperor in recognition of his contributions during the campaigns.
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 49. EPB Publishers Pte Ltd, 1992. ISBN 9971-0-0252-3.
- Buck, Pearl. All Men are Brothers. Moyer Bell Ltd, 2006. ISBN 9781559213035.
- Zhang, Lin Ching. Biographies of Characters in Water Margin. Writers Publishing House, 2009. ISBN 978-7506344784.
- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.
- Miyamotois, Yoko. Water Margin: Chinese Robin Hood and His Bandits.
- (Japanese) Ichisada, Miyazaki. Suikoden: Kyoko no naka no Shijitsu. Chuo Koronsha, 1993. ISBN 978-4122020559.
- Shibusawa, Kou. Bandit Kings of Ancient China. KOEI, 1989.