History of Korea

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1592 May 23 - 1598 Dec 16

Japanese Invasions of Korea

Korean Peninsula

The Imjin War, spanning from 1592 to 1598, was initiated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi of Japan who aimed to conquer the Korean Peninsula and then China, ruled by the Joseon and Ming dynasties, respectively. The first invasion in 1592 saw the Japanese forces quickly occupy large areas of Korea but they faced staunch resistance from Ming reinforcements[62] and attacks by the Joseon navy on their supply fleets,[63] which forced a Japanese withdrawal from the northern provinces. Guerrilla warfare by Joseon civilian militias[64] and supply issues led to a stalemate and an end to the first phase of the conflict in 1596, with unsuccessful peace talks ensuing.

The conflict resumed with Japan's second invasion in 1597, replicating the patterns of rapid initial territorial gains followed by a stalemate. Despite capturing several cities and fortresses, the Japanese were pushed back to the southern coasts of Korea by Ming and Joseon forces, who were then unable to dislodge the Japanese, leading to a ten-month-long deadlock.[65] The war reached a stalemate, with neither side able to make significant progress.

The war concluded following Toyotomi Hideyoshi's death in 1598, which along with the limited territorial gains and the continued disruption of Japanese supply lines by Korean naval forces, prompted the Japanese withdrawal to Japan as ordered by the Council of Five Elders. Final peace negotiations, which took several years, ultimately resulted in normalized relations between the involved parties.[66] The scale of the Japanese invasions, involving over 300,000 men, marked them as the largest seaborne invasions until the Normandy landings in 1944.

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Last Updated: Thu Nov 02 2023