It was exceptionally cold in the winter of 1636 when the Qing invasion of Joseon occurred. This cold spell worked mostly in favor of the Qing military, freezing the rivers including River Yalu and Chongchon that formed the main defense line of the Joseon kingdom. Frozen waters meant that Qing’s army was able to cross the river easily breaking down Joseon’s defense line and launch an attack earlier than planned. The vanguard of Qing quickly advanced and occupied the area that connected Seoul and Ganghwa, leaving King Injo and his officials no choice but to retreat to the Namhansanseong fortress.
The navy was not exactly a strong suit of the Qing military. Knowing this, the plan of Joseon’s army was to play a defensive battle utilizing the waters and water ways to control its network. However, this plan proved to be pointless as they were trapped in the fortress, although it was possible to communicate through liaison officers. To make things worse, their routes became exposed to Qing’s military with all the units in eight provinces trying to protect the fortress. They were fighting against Qing’s army that had abundant experiences and great mobility. Joseon might have won some battles, but that only meant that they were saved from annihilation. They could not open the path to the fortress.
Meanwhile, an unexpected issue rose in the fortress. Officials suggested various ideas to protect the fortress, one of which was to make scarecrows and put them on the wall so that soldiers can get a rest. However, military officials did not put this idea into action. Outraged, officials went up to the wall to reprimand commanders and told on them to the king. The king asked the head of the military why he was not making scarecrows, and he answered, “If we make scarecrows, we will also need uniforms and weapons to don. How are we going to clothe them when we do not have clothes for real soldiers?”
The importance of expertise is often belittled these days. Some people seem to believe that an ideal equal society does not respect expertise. However, a society that is disrespectful to experts is one where ignorance prevails. In order to bring happiness to as many people as possible, we need to find, employ and protect true experts and their expertise.