Wu Yong

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Wu Yong
Water Margin character
Nickname "Resourceful Star"
Also known as Xuejiu
Rank 3rd, Knowledge Star (天機星) of 36 Heavenly Spirits
Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Portrait of Chicasei Goyô (Wu Yong) (1827–1830).jpg
Wu Yong in a Japanese painting
Chief strategist of Liangshan
Origin Professor
Ancestral home / Place of origin Yuncheng County, Heze, Shandong
First appearance Chapter 14
Weapon Bronze hammer
Simplified Chinese 吴用
Traditional Chinese 吳用
Pinyin Wú Yòng
Wade–Giles Wu Yung
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Wu.

Wu Yong is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 3rd of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Resourceful Star".


The novel describes Wu Yong as a man with a fair and handsome face and a long beard, which are characteristics of a sophisticated ancient Chinese scholar. Wu Yong is one of the seven men who initiated the founding of the Liangshan cause and one of the earliest to join the outlaw band.

Despite his humble origin as a professor of literary arts, Wu Yong is actually a brilliant military strategist and advisor. He is nicknamed "Resourceful Star" for his wits, and is said to be comparable to Zhuge Liang and Chen Ping. His expertise is vital in the battle for Liangshan's cause of "delivering justice on Heaven's behalf". The Liangshan heroes rely heavily on him for battle plans.

Robbing the convoy of birthday gifts[edit]

Wu Yong plots with Chao Gai, Gongsun Sheng, Liu Tang and the Ruan brothers to rob a convoy of birthday gifts for Cai Jing, the Imperial Tutor. The seven men disguise themselves as date traders and succeed in tricking the soldiers escorting the convoy into drinking drugged wine. Once the escorts are knocked out, the seven men make off with the gifts, which are worth a large sum of money. Grand Secretary Liang Shijie, who prepared the gifts for his father-in-law Cai Jing, is furious and he orders the local government to investigate the incident and arrest the robbers.

Becoming an outlaw[edit]

The authorities send He Tao to lead a group of soldiers to arrest Chao Gai and his companions. With help from Zhu Tong, Lei Heng and Song Jiang, Chao Gai and company succeed in escaping and make their way to Liangshan Marsh. Wu Yong devises a strategy to lure He Tao and his men into an ambush in the marsh. In the ensuing battle, the seven men score a major victory by defeating He Tao's troops, who number at least 100. At Liangshan, Wu Yong instigates Lin Chong into killing the incompetent and selfish chief Wang Lun. Chao Gai is then nominated to be the new chief of Liangshan. Wu Yong takes the second position of leadership.

While in exile in Jiangzhou (江州; east of present-day Chongzuo, Guangxi), Song Jiang runs into some trouble with the governor Cai Jiu after writing a seditious poem while he was drunk. Wu Yong invites Xiao Rang and Jin Dajian to forge a letter from Cai Jing, ordering Cai Jiu to have Song Jiang escorted to the capital for further action. Unfortunately, Jin Dajian used a wrong seal on the letter and the fraud is later exposed by Huang Wenbing. Cai Jiu is furious and he orders that Song Jiang be executed immediately. Luckily, Wu Yong realised the mistake in time and alerts the Liangshan outlaws, who storm the execution ground and succeed in rescuing Song Jiang.

Wu Yong's strategies and plans are instrumental in the outlaws' victories over their enemies. He makes great contributions to Liangshan and is thus highly respected by the heroes as their military strategist. Wu Yong has some conflicting views with Song Jiang on the future of Liangshan: Song is persistent in the pursuit of his dream that the outlaws be granted amnesty by the emperor and be provided with opportunities to serve the nation, as opposed to being outlaws for the rest of their lives. Wu Yong, on the other hand, believes that the government is corrupt and incompetent and opposes Song Jiang's idea for amnesty.


Nevertheless, Song Jiang realises his dream and the outlaws are granted amnesty eventually. Wu Yong respects Song Jiang's decision and follows the heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and the rebel forces of Fang La, Tian Hu and Wang Qing. He is one of the few survivors after the campaigns and is offered an official post for his achievements. He holds office for quite some time. One night, Song Jiang and Li Kui appear in his dream, telling him that they have been poisoned to death by the corrupt officials. Overwhelmed by grief, Wu Yong travels to Chuzhou (楚州; in present-day Huai'an, Jiangsu), where he is later joined by Hua Rong, who had the same dream as him. Both of them commit suicide by hanging themselves from a tree near Song Jiang and Li Kui's graves.