Red Turban invasions of Goryeo
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The Red Turban invasions of Goryeo occurred in the 14th century, when the Red Turban Rebellion spread during 1351-1368 to Goryeo (918–1392). The Red Turban rebels, originating in the Zhejiang area, were opposed to the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) of China and the Mongolian plateau. Goryeo on the Korean Peninsula, which had been a vassal state of Yuan until 1356, became a target of the Red Turbans in 1359 and 1360.
Goryeo had been a dependency of the Mongol-founded Yuan dynasty since the Mongol invasions of Korea from 1231–1259. However, by the mid-14th century, Gongmin of Goryeo began efforts to reform his government and remove Mongolian influence. At that time the Yuan dynasty was beginning to crumble because of the Red Turban Rebellion.
First Red Turban invasion
In December 1359, part of the Red Turban army moved their base to the Liaodong Peninsula. However, they were experiencing a shortage of war materiels and lost their withdrawal route to Chinese mainland. The Red Turban army led by Mao Ju-jing invaded Goryeo and took the city of Pyongyang. In January 1360, the Goryeo army led by An U and Yi Bang-sil retook Pyongyang and the northern region which had been captured by the enemy. Of the Red Turban army that had crossed the Yalu River, only 300 troops returned to Liaoning after the war.
Second Red Turban invasion
In November 1360, the Red Turban troops invaded again Goryeo's northwest border with 200,000 troops and they occupied Gaegyeong, the capital of Goryeo, for a short period, King Gongmin escaped to Andong. However, Generals Choe Yeong, Yi Seonggye (later Taejo of Joseon), Jeong Seun and Yi Bang-sil repulsed the Red Turban army. Sha Liu and Guan Xiansheng, who were Red Turban generals, were killed in the battles. The Goryeo army continually chased their enemy and cleared them from the Korean Peninsula.
Although Goryeo had repulsed the Red Turbans, both the population and the economy had been severely damaged. Wokou pirates had been troubling the southern peninsula for some time. Generals Choe Yeong and Yi Seong-gye were called upon by King Gongmin to combat them, thereby giving the successful generals much influence and a power base in the country. General Yi Seonggye especially identified himself with the reformist Sinjin faction.
In 1388, unwilling to lead the invasion of Liaodong and fight the Ming dynasty, General Yi Seonggye decided to revolt against U of Goryeo and his fellow general, Choe Yeong, and swept back to the capital, Gaegyeong, to secure control of the government. In 1392, General Yi founded Joseon dynasty.