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Xenophon's Ghost covers military history and wargaming from the ancient period to modern times.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chosun Dynasty Army Logistics

Standard of Yi Dynasty

The Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo ran an interesting article on the history of the Chosun (Yi) Dynasty's emergency rations on 8 March 2013 (pg. C5). The description and images from a famous set of eight images that cover the military history from the Koryo dynasty to the early Chosun period. The images should be inspirational for any DBA painters working on List IV/78, Yi Dynasty, which is the other name used for the Chosun kingdom.

The main image from the article depicts Chosun government forces fighting a rebel army.  The clothing colors, banners, and weaponry should serve as a useful guide for painting.

The article explained why the soldiers' uniforms bulge around the stomach.

Soldiers wrapped a food bag carrying emergency rations around their torsos.  The Chosun army was quite organized in terms of support.  Soldiers known literally as "Fire Soldiers" served as the logisticians responsible for foodstuffs.  The term is often mistranslated as a type of shooting unit, but the term refers to the fires used for cooking.  In addition to preparing food when the army was not in an emergency situation, the cooks made rice cakes from a mix of boiled rice and wheat flour for each foot soldier to carry.

The article went on to explain that soldiers were punished severly for eating the emergency rations without orders: the punishment was the same as losing a weapon.

I hope that my meager translation effort and sharing of these images prove useful to wargamers interested in Korean armies.

The images from the 북관유적도첩(北關遺蹟圖帖)-출기파적도(出奇破賊圖) were provided for the news article by the Koryo University Museum. The Korean National Museum's website also offers more information at the link http://www.emuseum.go.kr/index.do.  I couldn't find the same information in English, but clicking on the English tab at the top of the webpage will provide you with access to other information on Korean history.

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