Based on a close analysis of Chinese and Korean primary source materials, this article explores the social ramifications of war mobilization in the Sino-Korean borderland during the late sixteenth-century Japanese invasion of Korea (1592–98). In this transnational war involving Japan, Chosŏn Korea, and Ming China, the cross-border region astride the Yalu River escaped the direct destruction wrought by the Japanese armies. Nevertheless, the deployment of Ming troops and the effects of their mobilization, the transport of provisions in particular, severely disrupted the lives and livelihood of local residents on both sides of the border. While decisions of strategic importance were made by the Wanli emperor (r. 1572–1620) and his officials in Beijing throughout the war, logistical decisions concerning the provisioning of Ming soldiers essentially rested with officials dispatched to the border region, and their choices and concerns closely reflected the region’s terrain, weather, and social conditions. This case study of Ming military logistics in the middle of the Wanli reign demonstrates the capacity of the Ming state in a region away from the central court in Beijing. It also underscores the importance of a cross-border perspective in examining the Ming war in Korea at the end of the sixteenth century.


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pp. 109-152
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