AHC: Korean-based nation conquering Japan (and vice versa)

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by TimTurner, Oct 10, 2019 at 3:55 AM.

  1. TimTurner Cartoon Phanatic

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    It is well known Toyotomi Hideyoshi tried and failed to conquer Korea. I'm yet to hear any evidence that the Joseon (or any of their predecessors) tried the same, or if any Japanese rulers before or after Toyotomi Hideyoshi tried to do so prior to the late 1800s.
    Regardless, what would be needed for either to be successful? Bonus points if the union actually holds long-term.
     
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  2. Remitonov Yousoro~! :3

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    Not for a lack of trying, to be honest. Joseon did invade Tsushima to clear out Wokou pirates and left once they're satisfied with their treaty with the ruling Sou clan. I feel the Koreans would have better luck and expertise in invading Japan. As a naval-inclined nation, Korea would be able to build a proper fleet, and have proper knowledge of the typhoon season, much unlike the epic fails that were the Mongol invasions. Although, holding it might be a bit of an issue. How much can they rely on the local Japanese population not to resist them? Perhaps a little more compared to the Japanese forces' trust in Korean peasants not to stab them with bamboo spears, but I'm honestly not too sure. The decentralized nature of Warring States Period Japan probably meant that loyalty is somewhat more fickle. And then there's manpower. Korea just doesn't have that many people, so I'd put holding parts of Kyushu at best. Really, OTL was probably the greatest extent Korea could pull without seriously overextending. They can theoretically wrest the loyalties of local daimyo to their side, but with what?
     
  3. TimTurner Cartoon Phanatic

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  4. BBadolato Fifth Picturewraith

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    In an Either or situation assuming Hideyoshi wants Korea only, outside of conquest itself the biggest problem is reconciling two vastly different forms of government. Feudal Japan is basically a bunch of local lords be they, long-established governors, nobles related to the Shogun by extension Imperial house and other such warrior aristocrats, or the upstart vassals of said and aristocrats who gained their own powerbases as lords in their own right. In theory, these clans answered to the Shogun who safeguarded the emperor as a figurehead, in practice the Shoguns were nearly powerless figureheads and controlled by rival families. Joseon Korea was basically a state based on the Chinese model, most of the government was run by scholar-bureaucrats in a vast bureaucracy who had to gain the ear of the emperor, which usually meant feuding with each other.

    In terms of opportunity Joseon only cared for stopping pirates, and Hideyoshi may have invaded to support his legitimacy at home.
     
  5. BellaGerant Well-Known Member

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    Seconding differing government forms as a major obstacle to a trans-strait entity in East Asia. I remember reading that part of Japan's logistical difficulties in the Imjin War stemmed from the daimyos' experience with feudal warfare (where peasants handed over food and supplies to the local power in exchange for not being molested) didn't translate over to the Korean peninsula (where peasants fled into forests, mountains, and northward to avoid the ravages of war), which -- in conjunction with the speed at which the Japanese forces were breaking through the Joseon armies, the guerilla fighters throughout the Japanese occupation zones, and the Joseon navy's harassment -- meant the Japanese forces overstretched their supply lines to the point that a Ming force 1/5th the size of the Japanese invasion force caused a stalemate and negotiations. There's no reason for the Japanese to have had to account for that previously and no easy way to ease a power transition over from landed gentry to military lords (the landed gentry tended to lead the guerilla warfare in the Imjin War), so that would be a quagmire, at least for a while.

    Prior to the 1500s, the last time Japan was actively involved on the Korean peninsula (besides piracy) and Korea regarded Japan as a major military factor was during the Three Kingdoms period of Korea, during the fall of the Kingdom of Baekje in the 660s. Baekje was actively involved with the Japanese and the royal family married into the Japanese imperial family, so a PoD regarding that kingdom and its ultimate fate could lead to some entity spanning the strait. Japanese forces tried to assist in the restoration of Baekje, so the creation of a Baekje puppet kingdom of Japan isn't out of the question. Likewise, Baekje intervening in later chaos in Japan to restore order.

    Afterwards, though, Korean kingdoms tended to focus on their northern border (since that was the main existential threat) while Japan focused on internal affairs. It's a bit hard to have the Korean kingdoms pay attention to Japan (since any attention across the strait is attention taken away from the Jurchen, Mongols, Khitan, Chinese, etc.).
     
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  6. Admiral Fischer Well-Known Member

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    Motivating the Korean side to pull such an adventure would be the primary problem, and without the willingness to go through the trouble, any invasion might just end in a peace treaty without outright conquest. One important factor that limited Korea's option was the typhoon season in late summer which is sometimes extended to autumn, and this danger was decisive in ending the aforementioned 1419 invasion - Korean troops had to withdraw before typhoons could hit the island, lest they would be stranded facing the wrath of sea and hostile local people. Ultimately, Korea came to adapt the diplomatic approach over the militarist approach, and this posture continued even after the bloody Imjin war.

    As noted by other posters, this is contrast to what was happening in north. Korea in against its northern neighbors was very proactive, and particularly the Joseon dynasty was willing to assert its influence over the Jurchens, regularly sent out expeditions over the Tumen to raid disobedient tribes, and fought off Jurchen (counter-)raiders, repeating for hundreds of years before the rise of the Qing dynasty. Even after the Manchu subjugation, the ambition lingered on in the form of the Gando dispute, only ending in 1909 by a treaty between Japan and Qing. Korea was a protectorate of Japan, by then.

    Perhaps some external factors could be introduced to redirect Korea's attention. An early, permanent Chinese subjugation of the Jurchens probably would deter Korea from its northward ambition, or maybe have a Korea-friendly Jurchen tribe to gain an upper hand over the others so that Korean interest is secured. Supposing the northern border to be settled and stabilized by the late 15th century, if the Japanese piracy not only continue to flourish but actually grow up out into an independent force that is out of reach from Kyoto while posing as a threat to the Korean state, which it wasn't during the historical 15th century, now then maybe Korea could see permanent occupation as a solution to the never-ending struggle against the Wokou.

    If the landing in Kyushu succeeds, presumably after the conquest of the Tsushima islands I would imagine the occupation to be limited to ports and adjacent coastal areas, with administrative autonomy given to the local lords, in a similar way to how the Three Ports (Sampo) were administrated during its existence. If Korean troops march off further to east, given the complete collapse of Japan's central authority during this time (the late 15th century) Korean troops would be fighting local Daimyos on the way not a centrally organized defense, and seizing Kyoto would not have been completely impossible, but how would Japanese Daimyos would react to the news of the Korean invasion I have no idea, and former pirates in Kyushu certainly aren't going to stay low forever...
     
  7. Anawrahta Well-Known Member

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    Isn't this basically OTL, I mean don't the Yayoi originate in South korea?
     
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  8. TimTurner Cartoon Phanatic

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    I think, but they didn't form a cross-strait political entity.
     
  9. kholieken Well-Known Member

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    We don't know about that. Mimana might be original homeland of Yayoi people before conquest of Japan. and Baekje had very close relationship with Japan. It might be at some point Mimana/Baekje royal control part of Japan.
     
  10. Anawrahta Well-Known Member

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    I would assume vassalage at a very, very early period.
     
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