August 26, 2021

Conference paper: War and Resources

Ms Baihui Duan will give a paper, “War and Resources: conflicts over timber on Kǒje Island during the Imjin War” at the European Association of Japanese Studies Conference, as part of the panel “Economic relations between Japan and Korea before and during the East Asian War of 1592-1598”. The presentation will take place online at 10:15 am CEST on Saturday 28th August 2021, and may be viewed live or as a recording afterwards via the conference website by registered delegates.

War and Resources: conflicts over timber on Kǒje Island during the Imjin War

Paper short abstract:

Though the war shattered the peacetime trade regime, Hideyoshi’s daimyos still needed high-quality timber for the war. They used violence and negotiations to acquire this significant military resource, leaving environmental damage on Kǒje island.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the harvesting of timber for shipbuilding and fortress construction by Japanese soldiers on the Korean island of Kǒje during the Imjin War. The period of focus is from the third month of 1597, soon after Hideyoshi’s second invasion of Chosǒn was launched, until the sixth month of the same year, when further Japanese troops were sent to the area. Timber was a significant military resource, while Kǒje was known for its high-quality wood for ship-building and for its strategically important position. Despite promises by Hideyoshi’s daimyos not to breach agreements to respect the boundaries of Kǒje, their armies nonetheless went in to acquire timber and were killed by Chosǒn military forces under the command of Kyǒngsang Province’s Right Military Commander (慶尙道右兵使). Seeking recompense, Japanese envoys bearing letters visited Korean officials three times but to no effect. These negotiations ended in the sixth month of 1597, when eight contingents of Japanese troops landed in the southern coastal areas of Chosǒn Korea, including Kǒje Island. This paper will explore wartime ways to acquire significant natural resources along with the environmental effects.