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Kim Si-min (1554-1592) was a prominent Koreanmarker general during the Joseon Dynastymarker. He is most famous for having defended Jinju Castle against the Japanese invaders during the Seven Year’s War.

Background

He was born in Chungcheong Province in 1554, as the son of Kim Chung-gap. Historically, he is the 12th generation descendant of the Goryeo Dynastymarker general Kim Bang-gyeong.

Government

In 1578, he passed the government military examination and was positioned as a training official. But when he examined the weaponry and soldiers, he found that none were satisfactory for proper training. Thus he headed to see the Minister of War concerning the fact that the nation would be under peril if a sudden crisis occurred and the national soldiers were not ready. However, the Minister replied that no such crisis can occur in such a peaceful time and that a strong military could frighten the peasants and therefore rejected Kim’s proposition of a well-prepared military.

Kim continued to plead to the Minister, but as he was constantly rejected, he immediately took off his military uniform in front of the minister, stepped on them and left the room. In 1583, when Nitangjie (니탕개, 尼湯介), the Jurchen defect rebelled against the Joseon government in Hoeryeong, Kim rejoined the armed forces under General Jeong Eon-sin. As the second-in-command, he earned great merit in defeating the Jurchens.

Japanese Invasions and Siege of Jinju

He was made an official in Jinju Castle in 1591, and with the sudden death of the castle’s guardian Yi Gyeong, and the beginning of the Imjin Wars he came to be the commander of the fortress. From there, he acted decisively to fortify the castle.

During the Wars, he defeated Japanese forces at Sacheonmarker and Goseong and captured the Japanese commander Pyeongsotae at Jinhaemarker. With this merit he was appointed Right Gyeongsang provincial army district Commander (경상우도병마절도사) and once again defeated the Japanese at Geumsanmarker.

The Japanese general Ukita Hideie and Hosokawa Tadaoki agreed on taking Jinju castle because if the Japanese captured it, it would open up a new road to Jeolla, and they would be able to attack Gwak Jae-u's guerilla forces hiding in the area. Jeolla was also place for plenty of loot. Ukita also agreed to recapture Changwonmarker, a small fortress that led to Jinju castle. Therefore, an army of 20,000 men to recapture Changwonmarker and Jinju set out.

The Japanese heartily approached Jinju castle. They expected another easy victory at Jinju but the general Kim Si-min defied the Japanese and stood firm with his 3,800 men. Again, the Koreans were outnumbered. Kim Si-min had recently acquired around 170 arquebuses, equivalent to what the Japanese used. Kim Si-min had them trained and believed he could defend Jinju.

The Japanese charged and began to bring ladders to scale the wall. They also brought a siege tower to try to gain the higher ground. As a counter, the Koreans unleashed massive volleys of cannons, arrows, and bullets. Surprised, Hosokawa tried another angle of approach by using his arquebuses to cover the soldiers scaling the wall. This still had no success because the Koreans ignored the bullets and smashed ladders with rocks and axes. When the Koreans began to lob mortars down at the Japanese, the Japanese began to lose even more men.

After three days of fighting, Kim Si-min was hit by a bullet on the side of his head and fell, unable to command his forces. The Japanese commanders then pressed even harder on the Koreans to dishearten them. But the Koreans fought on. The Japanese soldiers were still unable to scale the walls even with heavy fire from arquebuses. The Koreans were not in a good position since Kim Si-min was wounded and the garrison was now running low on ammunition.

However, Gwak Jae-u one of the main leaders of the irregular armies of Korea arrived at night with an extremely small band, not enough to relieve the Koreans at Jinju. Gwak ordered his men to grab attention by blowing on horns and making noises. About 3,000 guerrillas and irregular forces arrived at the scene. At this time, the Japanese commanders realized their danger and were forced to abandon the siege and retreated. The irregular army was too small to relieve Jinju. But, the retreat of Japanese soldiers heartened the Koreans and the biggest thing earned from the siege was that the Korean morale was boosted greatly.

Death

The Japanese general Ukita Hideie and Hosokawa Tadaoki commanding twenty-thousand troops, surrounded and besieged Jinju Castle. For seven days and nights, the 3800 Koreans defending the castle repeatedly repelled and defeated the Japanese, but Kim was killed in action from an arquebus round to the head.

In 1604, he was awarded the posthumous title Sangrakgun (상락군, 上洛君).

External links

  • 차석찬의 역사창고: http://mtcha.com.ne.kr/koreaman/sosun/man42-gimsimin.htm


See also




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