Yoon Gwan (unknown - 1111) was a general of Goryeo who was known for training a seventeen-thousand man army and leading it to victory against the Jurchen tribes.
Yoon Gwan is from the Papyeong Yun
clan. His military career began when he passed the state civil examination.
The Jurchen Invasion
tribes lived to the north of Goryeo
. the Jurchens tribes always rendered tribute to the kings of Goryeo, but the Jurchens tribes grew strong, and were soon united under Wanyan
. They began to violate the Goryeo-Jurchens borders, and eventually invaded Goryeo. Goryeo, however, did not have a powerful army at that time, due in part to a century of peaceful existence. With the invasion of the Jurchen, Emperor Sukjong
ordered all available soldiers into battle, but this ended in defeat. General Yoon Gwan convinced the Jurchen leaders to pull their troops back, and this ended the invasion of the Jurchen.
Victory over the Jurchen
After experiencing the invasion by the Jurchen, Yoon Gwan realized that Goryeo lacked efficient cavalry units, and requested permission from Emperor Sukjong
to train and reorganize the current Goryeo military into a professional army that would contain decent and well-trained cavalry units. Finally, in 1107
, General Yoon led the newly-formed Goryeo army, a force of approximately 17 thousand men, and attacked the Jurchens tribes. Though the war laster for several years, the Jurchen were ultimately defeated, and surrendered to Yoon Gwan. To mark the victory, General Yoon built nine fortresses to the northeast of the Goryeo-Jurchen borders (Hangul
:동북 9성, Hanja
:東北 九城). In 1108
, however, General Yoon was given orders to withdraw his troops by Goryeo's new ruler, Emperor Yejong
. Due to manipulation and court-intrigue from opposing factions, he was discharged from his post. Along with this, the opposing factions fought to make sure that the new nine fortresses were returned to the Jurchens. Soon after, Yoon Gwan was released from his prison in 1110, and was offered a chance to return to his duties as general, but he gently refused and returned to his hometown. A year later, in 1111, Yoon Gwan died.
After the death of Yoon Gwan, the Jurchen destroyed the Liao dynasty
, and established the Jin Dynasty
. With the rise of the Jin, Goryeo was no longer able to trade with the Song
or any of the other neighboring nations, and became isolated, which contributed to the weakening of the kingdom.
The extent of Yoon Gwan's military campaigns has been in dispute for centuries. While the general belief is that his nine fortresses were built in present-day Hamheung
in North Korea
, a number of historical sources seem to indicate that Yoon took parts of Manchuria
for Goryeo, temporarily claiming the land of Goryeo's ancestors, Goguryeo
Because of Korea's tragic history of wars and invasions, the location of Yoon Gwan's Tomb was lost until the 18th century. Yoon Gwan's tomb was located near another tomb belonging to the Shim clan. Because of this a family feud erupted between the Yoons and Shims lasting 300 years.