Qing invasion of Joseon

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Qing invasion of Joseon
Part of Korean–Jurchen conflicts, Qing conquest of the Ming
Date 9 December, 1636 – 30 January, 1637
Location Northern Korean Peninsula
Result Qing victory
Ming dynasty
Qing dynasty
Commanders and leaders
Im Gyeong-eop
Shin Gyeong-won
Hong Myeong-gu 
Kim Jun-yong
Min Yeong 
Shen Shikui 
Hong Taiji
Dodo (prince)
Hooge (prince)
Kong Youde
Geng Zhongming
Shang Kexi
Tatara Inggūldai
80,000~90,000 140,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown
Qing invasion of Joseon
Revised Romanization Byeongja horan
McCune–Reischauer Pyŏngcha horan

The Qing invasion of Joseon occurred in the winter of 1636 when the newly established Manchu Qing dynasty invaded Korea's Joseon kingdom, establishing its status as the center of the Imperial Chinese tributary system and formally severing Joseon's relationship with the Ming dynasty. The invasion was preceded by the Later Jin invasion of Joseon in 1627.


The kingdom of Joseon continued to show ambivalence toward the Manchus after the Later Jin invasion of Joseon. Later Jin accused Joseon of harboring fugitives and supplying the Ming army with rations. In addition, Joseon did not recognize Hong Taiji's newly declared Qing dynasty. The Manchu delegates Inggūldai and Mafuta received a cold reception in Hanseong (Seoul, and King Injo of Joseon refused to meet with them or even send a letter, which shocked the delegates. A warlike message to Pyongan-do was also carelessly allowed to be seized by Inggūldai.

The beile (princes) were furious with Joseon's response to Qing overtures and proposed an immediate invasion of Joseon, but the Qing emperor Hong Taiji chose to conduct a raid against Ming first. After the successful operation against Ming, Hong Taiji turned towards Joseon and launched an attack in December 1636.

Prior to the invasion, Hong Taiji sent Abatai, Jirgalang, and Ajige to secure the coastal approaches to Korea, so that Ming could not send reinforcements.


On 9 December 1636, Hong Taiji led Manchu, Mongol, and Chinese Banners against Joseon.

Instead of engaging the forces of Im Gyeong Eop at the Baegma fortress in Uiju, Dodo, Dorgon and Hooge led a vanguard Mongol force straight to Hanseong to prevent King Injo from evacuating to Ganghwa Island as was the case in the previous war. Hanseong's garrisons were defeated and the city was taken. Fifteen thousand troops were mobilized from the south to relieve the city, but they were defeated by Dorgon's army.

Chinese firearm units and naval forces were deployed by the Qing army in smashing Joseon's defenses. Kong Youde, who had been ennobled as Prince Gongshun, accompanied the Qing army in capturing the islands of Ganghwa and Pi. Geng Zhongming and Shang Kexi were also ennobled by the Qing and brought to Korea to assist in the invasion. Pi Island held out the longest and its garrison blasted away at Qing forces with heavy cannons until 70 boats commanded by Ming and Joseon defectors arrived on the east side of the island. The garrisons rushed their strength over as fast as they could, but were unable to stop the Qing from gaining a foothold, after which the island was taken. Pidao's commander Shen Shikui was beheaded by Ajige. The defense of Pi Island saw the loss of 10,000 Ming soldiers. Those who had escaped were ordered to retreat to Denglai.

Failing to escape, the king took refuge at the Namhan Mountain Fortress, which was immediately besieged by the Qing army. While Joseon officials were debating on a course of action, Dorgon occupied Ganghwa Island in a day and captured the second son and consorts of King Injo.

Several attempts by Joseon forces from other regions to break the siege were foiled by Dodo, and sorties from the fortress yielded no success. Meanwhile, Hong Taiji's units advanced to the Imjin River and waited for it to freeze so they could cross over.

The Ming dynasty sent a small group of reinforcements but they were wiped out at sea during a storm.

A message was sent to Injo stating that to protect his family and his ancestral shrines, he needed to surrender. As the fortress was about to capitulate, Injo surrendered. The surrendering delegation was received at the Han River, where Injo turned over his Ming seals of investiture and three pro-war officers to Qing, as well as agreeing to the following terms of peace:[1][2]

  1. Joseon stops using the Ming era name as well as abandon using the Ming seal, imperial patent, and jade books.
  2. Joseon offers the first and second sons of King Injo as well as the sons or brothers of ministers as hostages.
  3. Joseon accepts the Qing calendar.
  4. Joseon treats Qing as sovereign tributary overlord.
  5. Joseon sends troops and supplies to assist Qing in the war against Ming.
  6. Joseon offers warships for transporting Qing soldiers.
  7. The ministers of both Joseon and Qing become related in marriages.
  8. Joseon denies refugees from Qing territory.
  9. Joseon is not allowed to build castles.

Hong Taiji set up a platform in Samjeondo in the upper reach of the Han River.[3] At the top of the platform he accepted King Injo's submission. King Injo kowtowed to Hong Taiji, who allegedly forced Injo to repeat the humiliating ritual many times.[4] A monument in honor of the so-called excellent virtues of the Manchu Emperor was erected at Samjeondo, where the ceremony of submission had been conducted. In accordance with the terms of surrender, Joseon sent troops to attack Pi Island at the mouth of the Yalu River.


Injo of Joseon kowtowing to Hong Taiji

Joseon general Im Gyeong Eop, who was in charge of defending the Baegma fortress on the Qing-Joseon border, made his way down to Hanseong and ambushed a group of Qing soldiers making their return home, beheading its general Yaochui (要槌, nephew of Hong Taiji) in the process. As he was not aware of the surrender at the time, he was let go without any punishment by Hong Taiji who was greatly impressed by Im's courageous efforts on behalf of his kingdom. Im had actually requested military support from Hanseong at the beginning of the war (which never came) and planned to invade Mukden himself.

Many Korean women were kidnapped and were raped at the hand of the Qing forces, and as a result were unwelcomed by their families even if they were released by the Qing after being ransomed.[5] In 1648 Joseon was forced to provide several of their royal princesses as concubines to the Qing regent Prince Dorgon.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] In 1650 Dorgon married the Joseon Princess Yishun (義順公主).[14] The Princess' name in Korean was Uisun and she was Prince Yi Kaeyoon's (Kumrimgoon) daughter.[15] Dorgon married two Joseon princesses at Lianshan.[16]

Koreans continued to harbor a defiant attitude towards the Qing dynasty in private while they officially yielded obedience and sentiments of Manchu barbarity continued to pervade Korean discourse. Joseon scholars secretly used Ming era names even after that dynasty's collapse and many thought that Joseon should have been the legitimate successor of the Ming dynasty and Chinese civilization instead of the "barbaric" Qing. Despite the peace treaty forbidding construction of castles, castles were erected around Seoul and northern region. Hyojong of Joseon lived as a hostage for seven years in Mukden until he succeeded Injo. Hyojong planned an invasion of Qing called Bukbeol (북벌, 北伐, Northern expedition) during his ten years on the Joseon throne, though the plan died with his death on the eve of the expedition.

From 1639 until 1894, the Joseon court trained corps of professional Korean-Manchu translators. These replaced earlier interpreters of Jurchen, who had been trained using the Jurchen script. The official designation was changed from "Jurchen" to "Manchu" in 1667. The first textbooks for this purpose were drawn up by Shin Gye-am, who had also been an interpreter of Jurchen and transliterated old Jurchen textbooks for this purpose.

Until 1894, Joseon remained a tributary state of the Qing dynasty, even though Manchu influence in Korea decreased from the late 18th century as Joseon began to prosper once again. The Empire of Japan forced the Qing dynasty to acknowledge the end of China's tributary relationship with Korea after the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), and opened up Japanese influence in Korean affairs. Japan would later invade and annex Korea in the early 20th century.

An interesting historical note that historian Ji-Young Lee has brought up is that for much of Joseon's historical discourse following the invasion, the Manchu invasion was seen as a more important event than the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–98), which while devastating, had not ended in complete defeat for Joseon. The defeat at the hands of 'barbarian' Manchus and the humiliation of the Joseon king as well as severance with their neighbor, the Ming dynasty, had a profound psychological impact on contemporary Korean society. The Japanese invasions, in contrast, had not created a fundamental change in the Ming world order which Joseon had been a part of. It was only after the rise of Japan during the 19th century and the following invasion and annexation of Korea that the 16th century Japanese invasions by Hideyoshi Toyotomi superseded the Qing invasion in significance.

Popular culture[edit]

  • Novel: Namhan sanseong by South Korean novelist Kim Hoon. It is based on the second invasion.[17]
  • 2009: musical, Namhansanseong, based on the novel of the same name, but focuses on the lives of common people and their spirit of survival during harsh situations. It stars Yesung of boy band Super Junior as villain "Jung Myung-soo", a servant-turned-interpreter. It was shown from 9 October to 14 November at Seongnam Arts Center Opera House.[18]
  • 2011 South Korean movie War of the Arrows is based on event which Choi Nam yi risked his life to save his sister.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Korean language http://sillok.history.go.kr/inspection/insp_king.jsp?id=kpa_11501028_004&tabid=k&mTree=0&inResult=0&indextype=1
  2. ^ Chinese language http://sillok.history.go.kr/inspection/insp_king.jsp?id=wpa_11501028_004&tabid=w&mTree=0&inResult=0&indextype=1
  3. ^ Hong-s?k O (2009). Traditional Korean Villages. Ewha Womans University Press. pp. 109–. ISBN 978-89-7300-784-4. 
  4. ^ Jae-eun Kang (2006). The Land of Scholars: Two Thousand Years of Korean Confucianism. Homa & Sekey Books. pp. 328–. ISBN 978-1-931907-30-9. 
  5. ^ Pae-yong Yi (2008). Women in Korean History 한국 역사 속의 여성들. Ewha Womans University Press. pp. 114–. ISBN 978-89-7300-772-1. 
  6. ^ Thackeray, Frank W.; editors, John E. Findling, (2012). Events that formed the modern world : from the European Renaissance through the War on Terror. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. p. 200. ISBN 1598849018. 
  7. ^ Hummel, edited by Arthur W. (1991). Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing period : (1644 - 1912) (Repr. ed.). Taipei: SMC Publ. p. 217. ISBN 9789576380662. 
  8. ^ Hummel, edited by Arthur W. (1991). Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing period : (1644 - 1912) (Repr. ed.). Taipei: SMC Publ. p. 217. ISBN 9789576380662. 
  9. ^ Library of Congress. Orientalia Division (1943). Hummel, Arthur William, ed. 清代名人傳略: 1644-1912 (reprint ed.). 經文書局. p. 217. 
  10. ^ Jr, Frederic Wakeman, (1985). The great enterprise : the Manchu reconstruction of imperial order in seventeenth-century China (Book on demand. ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 892. ISBN 9780520048041. 
  11. ^ Dawson, Raymond Stanley (1972). Imperial China (illustrated ed.). Hutchinson. p. 275. 
  12. ^ Dawson, Raymond Stanley (1976). Imperial China (illustrated ed.). Penguin. p. 306. 
  13. ^ DORGON
  14. ^ 梨大史學會 (Korea) (1968). 梨大史苑, Volume 7. 梨大史學會. p. 105. 
  15. ^ The annals of the Joseon princesses.
  16. ^ Kwan, Ling Li. Transl. by David (1995). Son of Heaven (1. ed.). Beijing: Chinese Literature Press. p. 217. ISBN 9787507102888. 
  17. ^ Koh Young-aah "Musicals hope for seasonal bounce" Korea Herald. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-30
  18. ^ "2 Super Junior members cast for musical" Asiae. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 2012-04-17