Wu Yong is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the four great classical novels in Chinese literature. Nicknamed "Knowledgeable Star", he ranks 3rd among the 36 Heavenly Spirits, the first third of the 108 Stars of Destiny.

Wu Yong
Water Margin character
Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Portrait of Chicasei Goyô (Wu Yong) (1827–1830).jpg
Wu Yong in a painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi
First appearanceChapter 14
Nickname"Knowledgeable Star"
Also known asXuejiu
Rank3rd, Knowledge Star (天機星) of 36 Heavenly Spirits
Chief strategist of Liangshan
Ancestral home / Place of originYuncheng County, Shandong
WeaponBronze hammer
Simplified Chinese吴用
Traditional Chinese吳用
PinyinWú Yòng
Wade–GilesWu Yung


The novel portrays Wu Yong as having a fair and handsome face and a long beard – features of learned and sophisticated men in Chinese history. When Wu Yong is still a school teacher in a village in Yuncheng County of Shandong province, he is already famous among scofflaws for being resourceful and shrewd like Zhuge Liang and Chen Ping. He is hence nicknamed "Knowledgeable Star".

Robbing the convoy of birthday giftsEdit

Wu Yong first appears in the book when he watches from his village school a fight between the constable Lei Heng and the vagabond Liu Tang. Liu has come to ask Chao Gai, the headman of Dongxi village, to lead in a hijack of birthday gifts meant for the Imperial Tutor Cai Jing. Wu Yong, who is a friend of Chao, steps forth to stop the fight. Taking Wu to his house, Chao discloses Liu's proposal. With the help of Wu, Chao recruits the three Yuan brothers. They are then joined by Gongsun Sheng. Wu devises the robbery plan. Bai Sheng, a loafer whom Chao Gai has once helped, poses as a wine seller and stops by at the Yellow Mud Ridge just when the convoy escorting the gifts as well as Chao's group, who pretend to be date sellers, are having a rest there. Bai first sells a bucket of wine to Chao's group. Liu Tang pretends to want a scoop from the second bucket. After he had a sip, Bai snatches the scoop from him and dumps the remaining wine, which is now laced with drug, back into the bucket. Believing that the second bucket is not spiked, the soldiers buys it from Bai. Once they are numb all over, the seven men cart away the valuables.

Becoming an outlawEdit

Furious over the robbery, Grand Secretary Liang Shijie of Daming Prefecture, who has prepared the birthday gifts for his father-in-law Cai Jing, orders the magistrate of Yuncheng County to quickly track down the robbers. The authorities determine that Chao Gai is one of the culprits and send constable He Tao to arrest the group. However, with the help of Zhu Tong, Lei Heng and Song Jiang, the seven men escape and flee to the Ruan brothers' village. There Wu Yong sets an ambush that defeats the soldiers who come for them. They then seek refuge in the Liangshan Marsh.

Sensing that Wang Lun, the leader of the Liangshan outlaws, is unwilling to take them in, Wu Yong instigates Lin Chong, who has joined earlier but has been cold-shouldered by Wang, to kill Wang. Chao Gai is then elected the new chief of Liangshan, with Wu Yong taking the second position. Wu Yong then lays a trap that wipes out the soldiers sent to arrest them.

All his time in Liangshan Wu Yong is the outlaw band's chief strategist. He is behind the recruitment of many members as well as several military victories against Liangshan's enemies. He plans the rescue of Song Jiang and Dai Zong in Jiangzhou (江州; present-day Jiujiang, Jiangxi) and the sabotage on the Zhu Family Village. He sets the stage for Lu Junyi to join Liangshan.


Although Wu Yong is sceptical about Song Jiang's quest for imperial amnesty for Liangshan, he casts his lot with him. He assists Song to become Liangshan's chief following Chai Gai's death. He also helps him to persuade the rest to seek amnesty. After winning pardon from Emperor Huizong, the Liangshan outlaws are sent on military campaigns against invaders from the Liao Empire and rebel forces within the Song Empire.

Wu Yong is one of the few Liangshan heroes who survives the campaigns. In recognition of his contributions, the Song imperial court awards him a local appointment. One night, Song Jiang and Li Kui appear in his dream, telling him that they have been poisoned by corrupt officials. Stricken with grief, Wu Yong travels to Song Jiang's grave in Chuzhou (楚州; present-day Huai'an, Jiangsu), where he meets Hua Rong, who has had a similar dream. They hang themselves from a tree near Song Jiang's grave.


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