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    It took ten days to prepare for the demonstration of cannons (hwapo) and muskets (chongtong) in the military training ground.

    The reason it took so long was that the initial plan for a small-scale demonstration with cannons and muskets had transformed into a formal firepower demonstration involving both cavalry and infantry, which required more time and preparation.

    “Ever since I ascended the throne, I have yet to witness our Joseon Army’s appearance since the last conquest of Tsushima Island. In addition to the artillery demonstration that will be held this time, I will also watch the demonstration of cavalry and infantry.”

    “We humbly accept!”

    According to King Sejong’s command, the number of units increased from 10 companies to 12 companies immediately after the coronation and then decreased back to 10 companies. Captains and soldiers were selected, and artillery troops and musketeers were chosen.

    While preparing the soldiers, the location for the demonstration was also decided.

    “Wouldn’t it be best to hold it in front of Yongsan by the riverside?”

    “That place seems to be the most suitable.”

    Following the decision of the officials, a venue for the demonstration was arranged in Yongsan. The firm ground facing the riverside was chosen for the demonstrations of infantry and cavalry, while the sandy beach by the river was designated for the demonstration of cannons and muskets.

    Even after the location was determined, everything wasn’t finished. They continued working overnight, creating straw men as targets for the soldiers and painting wooden boards to serve as targets for arrows, cannons, and muskets.

    And after ten days, the long-awaited demonstration was held. It was a busy time for farming activities, but when the rest of the people heard that the king was coming, all peasants and nobles alike gathered on the road from the south gate to Yongsan.

    “Halt~. Kneel! His Majesty is passing by!”

    As the majestic music from the royal band and the sound of court officials’ carriages reached the street, the people who had gathered there kneeled on the ground.

    “To see His Majesty’s countenance is a lifelong honor!”

    “Long live His Majesty!”

    “Long live!”

    “May you have ten thousand years of prosperity!”

    Since the implementation of the smallpox vaccination, the support of the people for King Sejong was almost absolute. Although life was still tough, the fact that they had prevented the deadly epidemic called cowpox was enough for the people to show their loyalty to King Sejong, even to the point of pretending to die for him.

    When King Sejong climbed up the temporary stage set up at the demonstration site, the general in charge of commanding the soldiers shouted loudly.

    “Present arms!”

    “Attention!”

    King Sejong responded to the soldiers’ salute and sat down on the chair, giving the order.

    “Begin.”

    “Yes!”

    Following King Sejong’s order, the demonstration of the Joseon Army began.

    The demonstration started with the cavalry.

    Cavalry soldiers wearing iron plates, leather plates, chainmail, mirror armor, and helmet armor lined up and started moving slowly in formation.

    “A combination of spear cavalry and bow cavalry, is it?”

    As the demonstration began, Hyang, with an excited expression, unfolded a signboard. The paper attached to the signboard had characters written in Hanja, such as spear, sword, bow, cannon, and musket, and the items to be checked were listed beneath them.

    These signs were prepared by Hyang in advance to prevent any accidents. The possible accident referred to inadvertently using Hangul instead of Hanja due to being distracted during the demonstration.

    “Hmm….”

    Hyang carefully observed the spear infantry preparing for a charge. The spears used by the cavalry appeared similar to the ones used by the soldiers defending the palace.

    “If I recall the spears I saw at the palace…”

    Hyang remembered that the specifications of the spear he saw were a length of 10 cheok (210 cm) for the shaft and a blade length of 1 cheok 5 chon (31.5 cm).

    As Hyang observed the spear infantry, he murmured softly, “They seem quite short, don’t they?” Hyang raised his head and marked a note with an arrow symbol on the pre-prepared document.

    While Hyang was making a negative evaluation, the cavalry began their demonstration.

    “Fire!”

    Upon the order of the cavalry commander, the palace guards at the rear row simultaneously released their arrows.

    Swish!

    With a fierce sound of flight, the arrows flew in an arc towards the distant scarecrows.

    “Charge!”

    “Yah-ah!”

    “Woo-ah!”

    As soon as the commander’s charge command was given, the spear infantry struck the sides of their horses.

    *Clatter! Clatter!*

    Amidst the sound of galloping horses, the spear infantry charged forward and skillfully adjusted the speed and direction of their horses, thrusting their spears at the scarecrows in front of them.

    “Stab and withdraw? Slow down the speed?”

    Hyang continued to raise his head quizzically. It was because, based on the knowledge he acquired from movies and the internet in the 21st century, he couldn’t quite understand the meaning behind the soldiers’ actions..

    According to the knowledge from the 21st century, the role of cavalry was to break through the enemy’s front line like tanks. The cavalry would collapse the enemy’s front line with their spears and then penetrate the enemy’s formation with their swords. Once the cavalry stopped, they became easy targets for the infantry.

    “Why are they deliberately reducing their acquired speed?” Hyang continued to tilt his head in confusion.

    However, this was a misunderstanding on Hyang’s part. In order for the spear infantry to be effective, they needed to be protected on the flanks. Furthermore, the attack route of the spear infantry was limited to a straight line. If the opponent in a cavalry versus cavalry battle was a skilled rider, they could slightly twist or tilt their body to dodge the attack. It was basic to thrust into the inside of the opponent’s spear and counterattack.

    And the Jurchens had skilled riders.

    Therefore, the test method for the horse-mounted spear technique in the Joseon Military Exam was as follows:

    • The examinee had to thrust twice at five scarecrows placed at regular intervals. Each time they stabbed the scarecrow’s face, they would receive 7 points, and an additional 7 points for each additional hit.

    Upon learning this fact later, Hyang sighed, “Sigh~ Nothing is easy.”

    After the demonstration of the cavalry, it was followed by the demonstration of the infantry. The spearmen and shieldbearers constructed a defensive formation under the protection of archers.

    “The enemy is retreating! Charge!”

    “Woo-ah!”

    At the commander’s order, some of the soldiers who were forming the defensive formation shouted and rushed forward.

    However, the unit that had formed the defensive line maintained their formation and protected the main unit. After the charging unit hypothetically struck down the scarecrows, the demonstration of the cavalry and infantry came to an end with the victory cheer.

    “Now, we will have a demonstration of cannons and muskets.”

    When the demonstration of the cannons was mentioned, Hyang’s eyes began to sparkle even more.

    After a while, large and small cannons were brought out on wheeled carriages to the demonstration ground.

    “Starting now.”

    Upon Sejong’s command, the commander ordered the artillerymen in a loud voice.

    “Fire the cannons!”

    Bang! Bang!

    According to the commander’s orders, the artillerymen fired their cannons. Each time the cannons spewed fire, large arrows soared into the sky, creating pillars of water in the Han River.

    “Wow!”

    Whenever the water pillars formed in the Han River, the attendants exclaimed in admiration. Their admiration reached its peak as they fired the last shot at the general’s target.

    The arrows flew diagonally across the Han River towards Dongjak district (across from Yongsan) from the demonstration site, reaching the vicinity of the opposite riverbank.

    “Amazing! How far is that?”

    King Sejong asked in astonishment, and the commander proudly replied, “It’s approximately 1300 bo (about 1.6km).”

    “Truly impressive! Prince, what do you think?”

    Prince Hyang, lost in thought, couldn’t answer right away when asked by King Sejong.

    “Prince?”

    Only after King Sejong called him again did Hyang regain his composure and hastily responded, “Yes? Yes?”

    “What do you think of the power of the general’s artillery?”

    “It would be excellent to have them on our warships. Since the enemy tends to approach us and engage in close combat, wouldn’t it be best to annihilate them before they get close?”

    “I see.”

    While King Sejong nodded, the commander looked at Hyang with an admiring expression.

    “To possess such knowledge of military tactics at such a young age, this is the revival of Joseon!”

    “Now, let the chief’s demonstration begin.”

    “I receive your orders!”

    Following the commander’s orders, soldiers handling the chief’s artillery stepped forward, holding their weapons.

    “The one loaded on that cart is the one-barrel musket.”

    “I see. Proceed.”

    “Fire!”

    Bang! Pang! Pang!

    Following the commander’s orders, starting with the musket, various types of artillery spewed fire. Only the musket, with the longest range, fired towards the Han River, while the others aimed at targets about 100 bo (about 120m) away.

    After the demonstration ended, King Sejong praised the commander, “It was truly remarkable. Well done.”

    “I am humbled!”

    “Crown Prince, what do you think?”

    “With a commander and soldiers so elite, I feel truly secure.”

    “I am humbled!”

    When even the crown prince praised him, the commander smiled and respectfully bowed his head. After finishing his words, Hyang turned to King Sejong. “Your Majesty, may I take a moment to examine the targets and speak with the soldiers?”

    “Why are you like this?”

    “I have something to confirm.”

    Sejong narrowed his eyes at Hyang’s response. ‘This rascal? Does he have another scheme?’ Sejong pondered for a moment and nodded his head, “Permission granted.”

    “Thank you! General, let’s go with me together!”

    Following the commanding general who directed the demonstration, Hyang headed towards the place where the soldiers and weapons were. Upon seeing Hyang, the soldiers all saluted in unison.

    “We greet the Crown Prince!”

    “Good job. I am truly grateful to have soldiers like you, who allow me to sleep peacefully!”

    “We are honored!”

    The soldiers’ morale was boosted by Hyang’s praise. Observing them closely, Hyang confirmed the situation.

    “The armor you all are wearing, did you acquire them yourselves?”

    “Yes, we did!”

    “I see….”

    “No wonder. I heard there is a wide variety of armor available.”

    In the Joseon Dynasty, conscripted soldiers had to procure their own weapons and armor. Especially in the case of cavalry, they had to provide their own horses as well, which meant that the majority of them came from wealthy families.

    ‘That’s why, as the number of cavalry soldiers increased, all sorts of unreliable people joined, and the true cavalrymen who devoted themselves to their studies were neglected. As a result, our defense has become a mess… Damn it! We’ve gone astray again!’

    Having a brief moment of self-criticism, Hyang diligently inspected the equipment. What interested Hyang the most were the cannons and artillery pieces. After scrutinizing the inside of the cannons, Hyang nodded, “As expected…”

    The main cannons of the Joseon army had the gunpowder compacted by a solid piece of wood[1]. The elongated shape combined with a cylindrical structure made it impossible to use clay-based material as a compactor. This was because the diameter of the barrel was wider than the narrowest part of the muzzle. In such cases, only large pieces of clay could be used.

    Nodding his head, Hyang carefully examined the artillery, which belonged to the celestial and terrestrial rankings.

    “So they are the solid-wood barrier cannon type… Is that correct?”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    “Hmm…”

    Hyang looked at the cannons with a contemplative expression.

    ‘How should I handle this? Should I start with upgrading the cannons?’ Deep in thought, Hyang turned to the general. “I would like to see the cannons.”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    Hyang headed towards the location where the artillery soldiers were stationed. He meticulously inspected the cannons and examined the arrows and windage they used, then headed towards the target range.

    “As expected.” Arriving at the target range, Hyang nodded.

    The number of arrows stuck in the target was noticeably low compared to the number fired.

    “Using a single shot multiple-rounds-method for target shooting, it seems that only area suppression[2] is hit.”

    While examining the target range, Hyang turned to the commander who had followed behind. “What about its penetration power?”

    “When you say penetration power…”

    “The Jurchen tribe people must be wearing armor too, right?”

    “Yes.”

    “How does our Joseon compare to them?”

    “We can consider them to be similar. For smaller tribes, they mainly wear leather armor, and for relatively powerful tribes, they wear iron or chainmail.”

    “What would happen if we shot them with these artillery pieces?”

    Hyang’s question left the commander in a perplexed expression. “We haven’t conducted any experiments… However, there have been reports that even at a distance of 40 bo (about 50 meters), that shots from these artillery pieces have pierced and killed Jurchen tribe people.”

    Hyang stroked his chin in response to the commander’s answer. ‘I think I’ve seen videos on the internet where arrows were even deflected at close range, right? I should start from here, as expected.’

    “I understand. Let’s return now.”

    “Yes, Your Highness.”

    As Hyang walked towards where Sejong was, he muttered softly.

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    1. Gunpowder is compacted to maximize the buildup of combustion gas inside the barrel[]
    2. Firing a high volume amount of rounds or projectile towards a target area as a means of suppressing the enemy in a designated area[]

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