Pigyokjinchonroe, First Time Bomb in the World

Pigyokjinchonroe was made by Ri Jang Son. a weapons technician, during the feudal Joson dynasty (1392-1910).

When the Imjin Patriotic War (1592-1598) broke out with the invasion of Korea by Japan Ri put his heart and soul into inventing a new powder weapon.

Thus he succeeded in making the weapon pigyokjinchonroe in several months.

The weapon was first used in the battle to retake Kyongju Fortress in September 1592. The following is a record of the battle.

“On the evening of September 7 the Korean troops secretly approached the fortress wall and fired pigyokjinchonroe into the middle of the yard of an inn where the enemy troops were stationed. With no idea of what it was, the enemy gathered round the cannon-ball touching or rolling it, and at that moment it suddenly exploded killing many of them. The survivors trembled thinking it was a work of demon. Then the Korean troops began to charge into the fortress all at once. Seized with panic, the enemy hastily began to flee with no courage to face them. In the battle the Korean troops wiped out the enemy's manpower a lot, retook the fortress and captured lots of weapons and combat equipment and 10 000 som of military provisions (A som is equivalent to 5. 12 US bushels). The weapon played an important role in attacking the foreign aggressors during the war."

The explosion of the cannon-ball was like thunder and shook the earth, so it was called pijinchonroe or jichonroe.

Cast in iron, the cannon-ball had a small hole through which black powder was put inside. A fuse was installed round the ball and it was filled with caltrops. Then the hole was covered with an iron lid, and a screw box was connected to the lid. The screw box was to be fixed with two screw holders with ten and 15 grooves respectively. A fuse was stuffed in each of the grooves. So the cannon-ball was to be fixed with the screw holder with ten grooves for the bomb to explode soon after being fired or the one with 15 grooves for it to explode a while after being fired.

The cannon-ball was fired by means of different cannons. And its distance of flight was 750-900m.

No cannon-ball with a fuse like pigyokjinchonroe could be seen in other countries at that time.

Commenting on pigyokjinchonroe a Japanese ordnance scientist said: What is ingenious about this bomb is its fuse. It must be something startling at that time (the Imjin Patriotic War).

As the first kind of time bomb pigyokjinchonroe left a remarkable page in the world history of guns.


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