||The basic line of foreign policy that the
Joseon Dynasty adhered to was to maintain
relations with the Ming Dynasty as a tributary
state and maintain friendly relationships
with Japan and Yeojin. During the King Taejong¡¯s
reign, the 3rd King from 1397 to 1450, the
Joseon Dynasty opened the Ungcheon port. During
the King Sejong¡¯s reign, three ports were
opened. They were Busanpo, Naeipo and Yeompo.
In 1510, there was commotion in these three
ports caused by the Japanese, who resided
there, rioting. The government justly cracked
down the commotion. The Japanese were exiled
from three ports and the relations between
Korea and Japan were terminated. .
Japan continued to request amity.
The Joseon Dynasty opened only the Naeipo port
to the Japanese resulting in maintaining friendly
According to the political changes in Korea and
abroad, the Japanese invasion that had run rampant,
since the end of the Goryeo Dynasty, seemed to
be slightly relieved during the early period of
the Joseon Dynasty. The Japanese invasion was
continued intermittently in roughly ten-year cycles.
These cycles includes: the invasions of 1523,
the 17th and 18th year of King Jungjong¡¯s reign,
the Japanese invasion at Saryang in 1544, the
39th year of King Jungjong¡¯s reign and the Japanese
invasion of 1555, the 10th year of King Myeongjong¡¯s
reign. Since the Japanese invasion of 1555, the
diplomatic relations between the Joseon Dynasty
and Japan were basically non-existent up until
the Japanese invasion of 159.2 The Joseon Dynasty
put never any attention into the domestic situations
The royal court of the Joseon Dynasty made a new
battleship called The Panokseon. It was made in
order to handle the Japanese invaders. It played
a significant role during the Japanese invasion
in 1592. The government accelerated the development
of firearms, including large guns in addition
to The Panokseon, during that period.
Oda Nobunaga set the foundation for unification
through the war amongst rival warlords during
the age of civil war, in Japan. In 1590, his follower
Akechi Mitsuhide assassinated Nobunaga. right
after Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified Japan.
|Hideyoshi became Kanpagu in
1585. He pursued the unification project of
Japan and exerted power that was equivalent
to the emperor, taking the seat of the grand
minister in 1586. While he held the power
in the central government, he considered the
independent powers in local areas to be a
serious barrier. He strived to devise a way
to diminish the powers of The Daimyo, which
were the feudal lords.
He needed a good cause to avoid an exhaustive
armed conflict amongst the domestic powers.
He planned an expedition army to attach the
Ming Dynasty and tried to mobilize and concentrate
the military forces of the Daimyo.
| Japan exchanged western cultures
by opening the Dongjin Port to western forces such
as, Portugal and Spain. The Portuguese delivered
the iron firelock gun and the infantry, armed with
firelocks, were recognized as more important elements
than the previous army, which was comprised of Samurai,
who were clever in battle using short arms. The
Society of Jesus also incurred substantial changes
in Japan¡¯s society. Devoted believers, such as Konishi
Yukinaga, were brought up. About 2,000 soldiers
that invaded the Joseon Dynasty were baptized.
Hideyoshi continued his plan to attack other countries.
In Jan. 1591, he assigned a number of provisions,
battleships and soldiers all over the country. He
installed the headquarters at Nagoya, a fishing
village in Kyushu, and built a castle as the cornerstone
for the invasion of the Joseon Dynasty.
The following January, he completed the compilation
of an amphibious attack unit and in March he reorganized
it. The land forces totalled 158,300 from the first
attack squadron to the 9th attach squadron. The
remaining squadrons in Japan included: the Nagoya,
which was the first squadron led by Konishi Yukinaga,
the second squadron led by Kato Kiyomasa and the
third attach squadron led by Kuroda Nagamasa. Guki
Yositaka, Wakizaka Yasuharu, Kato Yoshiaki and Todo
Takadora were organized as the naval forces. The
attack unit, of the Joseon Dynasty, arrived in Tsushima
in a quick succession under a careful attack plan.
Hideyoshi gave strict orders that ¡°there must not
be any damages, even one horse, while crossing the
sea¡±. The Japanese attack unit waited for the day
of the invasion in Tsushima.
Hideyoshi requested several times prior to the invasion
that the Joseon Dynasty send envoys through the
governor of Tsushima. In September 1589, the Joseon
Dynasty then sent envoy that included: Hwang Yun-Gil,
Kim Seong-Il and Heo Seong , which was the 22nd
year of King Seonjo¡¯s reign. The envoys met Hideyoshi
and returned in Jan. 1591, which was the 24th year
of King Seonjo¡¯s reign.
The reports of the envoys also illustrated the conflict
between the westerners and the easterners. Hwang
Yun-Gil, the westerner and the senior envoy, reported
this. It is described below.
¡°Japan has been preparing the battleships. There
must be a war.¡±
Kim Seong-Il, an easterner and a vice envoy, reported
this in a totally different manner. He reported
that there was no indication that Japan intended
to invade the Joseon Dynasty and Hideyoshi was not
the type of person who we worried about. Heo Seong,
Seojanggwan, agreed with Hwang Yun-Gil, eventhough
he was the easterner, at that time. Hwang Jin, who
accompanied Kim Seong-Il, also reported the same
The reports from the envoys accelerated the disputes
in the Joseon Dynasty. Countermeasures were planned
far after that. The Joseon Dynasty built citadels
in each province and maintained the armories. They
singled out those who had distinguished abilities
amongst the military officers, irrespective of governmental
The royal court ordered to concentrate on the construction
of the citadel at Gyeongsang-Do and Jeolla-Do, under
the assumption that the Japanese forces were better
in naval battles than they were in land battles
Some high officials stubbornly opposed the plan
insisting that the Japanese forces would never invade.
Ordinary people mobilized for the maintenance of
citadels, or military drills. They had a grudge
against the local governors or soldiers who commanded
them. The citadel maintenance was carried out in
a perfunctory manner. People who hadn¡¯t had any
invasions from the outside for around 200 years
made the war preparation. Some of the preparations
were very loosely made. Nevertheless, according
to the selection of prominent personnel irrespective
of official ranks, the greatest benefits were the
selection of Yi Sun-Shin, Gwon Ryul and Won Gyun.
Since its foundation, The Joseon Dynasty lived in
a peaceful ear for about 200 years. It never thought
that Japan would invade by crossing the sea with
all its forces. As a result the Joseon Dynasty neglected
the Japanese invasion.