WI: No Yi Sun Shin?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Tripledot, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. Tripledot Well-Known Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    Inspired by the WI: No Nelson thread, what if Admiral Yi had died before or during the Imjin War? Considering what happened when he was not admiral in OTL (the fleet got destroyed), what effect would this have on Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea/China? I'm assuming he'll eventually get repulsed, but after how long, and at what cost?
  2. Tripledot Well-Known Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    No comments?
  3. La Rouge Beret Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2010
    Near Chalunka Village
    I would expect that Korea is conquered by Japan under the assumption that Ming China doesn't intervene.

    As without Yi Sun Shin the Koreans are unable to attain sea control and thereby sea denial. This allows the Japanese to supply their forces via sea avoiding the mountain passes where the Korean insurgents are able to attack their supply convoys and also gives them greater strategic manoeuvrability.

    In saying that I would still expect Ming China to intervene at some stage, the question of course is when.
  4. Don Well-Known Member

    Mar 27, 2013
    Beneath Lake Baikal
    The Ming is much larger and powerful than the recently unified shogunates. Even should Korea fall under the Japanese, it is unlikely that the Ming will just let it slide idely by. Most likely just a larger Ming intervention force, perhaps more resources put towards building and manning a stronger navy. This in turn would have an effect on the impending Manchu invasion.
  5. BBadolato Fifth Picturewraith

    Jul 5, 2012
    I don't think Japan wins by default, as long as Korea still has a stronger navy. the Japanese ships at the time where largely suited to boarding actions, essentially they were mainly floating castles baring some new ships.

    The question is if Japan can have supplied forces how would their military forces fair against the Ming. Even if we are talking about largely experienced soldiers and commanders I think they could only last for so long.
  6. HanEmpire Delicious

    Oct 2, 2011
    The Land of Eh
    Actually Ming will likely just allow Japan to take over Korea, as long as Hideyoshi drops his claims to the throne of China. IOTL Ming tried to make diplomatic agreements with Japan to do just that without telling Joseon Korea, which only fell through because of cultural misunderstandings between China and Japan.
  7. cifobrien New Member

    Jul 28, 2014
    With a POD after Battle of Chilchonryang ,and Admiral Yi Sun-sin executed shortly after or before the batle(he was at that time imprisoned for treason),we have no Joseon navy to spoke of,the remaining 10 ships will be wiped out by the japanese navy.
  8. democracy101 Better than communism

    I've discussed this extensively beforehand, albeit from different angles. In short, it really wouldn't have made a difference.

    In particular, while Admiral Yi was by far the most skilled general, Joseon had plenty of other capable admirals (including Won Gyun, Yi Eok-gi, Gwon Jun, Jeong Un, and, strangely enough, Yi Sun-sin, which was written as "李純信" in Chinese characters, as opposed to the well-known "李舜臣") who could have replaced him, although several would have probably been required to take his place. In fact, Won Gyun's disaster at Chilchollyang occurred precisely because the court simply refused to listen to his plans (although he was also less confident), not to mention that the aristocrats refused to provide enough resources, resulting in severe losses in several skirmishes even before the eventual battle.

    The slightly weaker naval position might have affected stiff resistance on land by various guerrillas, as they would have been further deprived of resources. However, the Japanese position was also extremely weak in Jeolla during the first invasion, allowing guerrillas and the navy to successfully operate from there (along with the northernmost regions), while the second invasion was limited to Jeolla and Gyeongsang due to better Korean planning, indicating the invaders' extremely unstable position for most of the war.

    It's also worth noting that Hideyoshi was a megalomaniac who essentially planned to conquer East Asia, India, and Southeast Asia in order to consolidate his position. In addition, he originally sent missives through Tsushima demanding that Joseon make way for an invasion of China, suggesting that declaring war on Korea had not even been on the table in the first place. The Korean court decided to ignore the "request" because it was largely unaware of Japanese military developments, ultimately resulting in the widespread destruction of the peninsula, several million deaths, and the capture of tens of thousands of hostages, who were either resettled in Japan or were sold as slaves in Southeast Asia.

    In other words, had Hideyoshi improbably managed to conquer most of the peninsula within a year or so, he would have launched a full-scale invasion of China immediately afterward in order to claim "All Under Heaven" for himself. This would not have gone well, given that China might have even contemplated a counter-invasion of the archipelago.

    However, it's interesting to note that both Goryeo and Joseon had severe disputes with the Ming over Liaodong, as it had been indirectly subject to Korean influence under the Yuan, and had been temporarily conquered by Goryeo in the mid-late 14th century. The dispute was severe enough that Yi Seong-gye (Taejo) planned to raise an army for the conquest in 1398 despite seizing control in a coup only ten years earlier against Goryeo for the very same reason. Later, Joseon planned to raise hundreds of thousands of troops in order to attack Liaodong in the aftermath of the Tumu Crisis (1449). Ultimately, though, neither was carried out because of internal turmoil in the former, along with China's relatively quick recovery in the latter. As a result, had Korea decided to ally with Japan in order to invade China's coastal regions, they might have temporarily succeeded with significant consequences. However, this would essentially have been ASB, given that the Ming army was fresh from successful border conflicts, Joseon would have been loath to attack the Ming while it had been a loyal tributary for more than two centuries, and the Korean court had severely underestimated Japan's military capabilities before the war.

    Also see below.

    Not really. See above.

    Basically this (I've also covered some of this in the links above), and the resulting devastation might have accelerated the Qing's later advance into China.

    Given that Japanese forces had an extremely difficult time in the peninsula IOTL, it's implied that a relatively quick sweep through the peninsula (within a year or so) would have been required to even temporarily control it, essentially boosting Japanese morale to directly invade China, which had been part of the original plan. The resulting Chinese response (the Ming had threatened to mobilize at least 400,000 troops at one point if hostilities had continued to flare, in comparison with Japan's ~150,000 at its height) would have forced Japan to immediately pull its troops back from the peninsula in order to defend the archipelago, as the invasion of China would eventually have been repulsed.

    Korean innovations also certainly helped (the arquebus was rapidly developed and natively produced in less than a year), while long-ranged bows and various gunpowder weapons, as well as the hwacha, had also widely been in use for centuries beforehand, allowing outnumbered forces to withstand countless sieges from invading forces.

    Not at all. See above.

    Highly doubtful. As I've stated earlier, while it's unlikely that any one admiral could have replaced Admiral Yi, the disaster would have quickly convinced Seonjo that it would have been best for the navy to make its own decisions. In other words, while the war might have been more costly after the sudden loss of talent, as various similar ranked-generals would have to coordinate their efforts, the extended stubborn resistance both on land and sea would have forced Japan to eventually withdraw soon after Hideyoshi's death.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2015