This set of Korean infantry is dated for the 16th and 17th centuries, a period that is dominated militarily by twin invasions of that country by Japan in 1592 and 1597 - the Imjin War. The war, which was originally intended to be a conquest of China, never got out of Korea, but the Japanese, with a long history of violence and a highly militaristic society, were too strong for the less aggressive Koreans and in the end were only defeated with substantial help from China (and a heroic performance from their navy). The Koreans chose the honourable route of resisting the invader rather than allowing passage to China, despite the odds being so heavily stacked against them, and once they were finally free in 1598 their country had been devastated.
Korea did not possess large standing armies, so much of the fighting was done by conscripts called up in a hurry to defend their land. Later the centre of resistance was the guerrilla armies, which will form the subject of another set, but this one contains the 'regulars'. Such men wore their everyday clothing with a heavy leather jacket over the top, and a brimmed felt hat which sometimes sported a tassel. All these figures fit that picture, although it is impossible to know now whether such uniformity was actually always achieved at the time. Still the basic appearance here is authentic.
These figures carry swords, spears, tridents, a polearm and bows, all of which were common weaponry in Korea. Most of these weapons came in various forms - particularly the swords and polearms - but all those shown here look good, with the tridents being particularly eye-catching. Unlike Japan Korea was not enamoured of the arquebus and made almost no use of it until late in the war, so its absence here is quite correct.
Redbox figures when this set was produced usually had quite indistinct detail and a lot of flash, and this set continued that unhappy tradition. The pictured figures have been cleaned up to some extent but most seams display some flash. Detail is shallow and fairly vague, and in places almost disappears, as for example some faces which are bisected by the mould seam.
The poses are fairly flat and for the most part not very interesting but all are fairly realistic. As usual we find no officers in the set, which would have given some variety as they would have worn some armour. Still we can have no particular complaints about the chosen poses.
The word 'adequate' seems rather mean but pretty much sums up this set. It has no wow factor and does nothing to impress, but it does deliver a basic set of figures which are historically accurate and in useful poses. What is more it delivers a subject never previously done in plastic, allowing a conflict which has soured relations between Japan and her neighbours for centuries to finally be recreated in miniature. Another boost for those interested in medieval Asian history.