Originally Posted by wikipedia
Yi Sun-sin (March 8, 1545 – November 19, 1598), was a famous Korean naval leader. He is also respected as one of the greatest admirals and military leaders ever in world history. His Battle of Hansando ranks as one of the top four naval battles ever fought. The Admiral, who never lost as single battle or ship, is also respected for his character and leadership abilities. His brilliant tactical mind led the Korean navy to crushing victories over the Japanese navy. As the Lord High Admiral of the Korean fleet under the Joseon Dynasty, Yi Sun-Sin led the fight against the Japanese during their invasion of Korea during April 1592 in the Seven-Year War. He turned back the enemy fleet of Japanese invaders with his innovative turtle ships, and is considered the premier Korean national hero of all time. He was shot by a stray bullet in the Battle of Noryang in November 1598, and died. He was posthumously given the titles Chungmugong (The Lord of Loyalty and the Arts of War) and Deokpo'ong Buwongun (Prince Deokpo'ong).
Yi Sun-sin was born in Geoncheon (Korean: 건천동; 乾川洞), Seoul, and is posthumously known as Chungmu or Chung Mu (충무; 忠武). His ancestral seat (본관; 本貫) was Deoksu (덕수; 德水). In 1552, after his father had been falsely accused of a crime, imprisoned, and tortured by the government, the family moved from Seoul to Ahsan. King Seonjo later cleared Yi Sun-sin’s father’s name after coming to power in 1567. In 1576, Yi Sun-sin passed the military civil service examination and was posted to the northern border region for the next 10 years. In 1583, he lured the Manchurian chief Mu Pai-Nai to battle, defeated his army, and captured him. According to a contemporary tradition, however, Yi Sun-sin then had to spend three years out of the army after hearing of his father’s death. After his return to the front line, Yi Sun-sin led a string of successful campaigns against Jurchen nomads. However, his brilliance, despite his short career, made his superiors jealous, and they falsely accused him of desertion during battle. Yi Sun-sin was arrested and imprisoned; after his release, Yi was allowed to fight as a common soldier. Upon his release, he had to climb through the ranks again. After a short period of time, he was appointed as the Magistrate of a small county. His efforts there were rewarded in 1591 when the Korean Court assigned Yi Sun-sin to command the naval forces in Jeolla Province (전라도; 全羅道). Here he was able to undertake a buildup of the regional navy, which was later used to confront a Japanese invasion force. He subsequently began to strengthen the nation’s navy with a series of reforms, including the construction of the turtle ship, which was one of the first, if not the first, ironclad warships in history.
The Seven-Year War and the Japanese invasions
This Korean admiral played the most decisive role in fighting off the Japanese invaders in 1592 and 1597. In 1592, Toyotomi Hideyoshi gave the order to invade Korea, planning to sweep through the peninsula and use it as a forward base to conquer China. (See Seven-Year War.) Hideyoshi was fully aware of the need to control the seas during the invasion. Having failed to hire two Portuguese galleons to help him, he increased the size of his own fleet to 700 vessels, assuming that the Koreans would fight hand-to-hand and be easily overwhelmed.
The Four Campaigns of Admiral Yi during the Imjin Year (1592)
The invasion force landed at Busan, a port city on the southern tip of Korea, without meeting any Korean ships, and the Japanese forces began a lightning march north, reaching Seoul within nineteen days on May 2, 1592. But the Korean navy was not idle. In May and June, in a series of actions, a small Korean fleet commanded by Yi Sun-sin destroyed several Japanese flotillas—in all, about 72 vessels were sunk by the end of June.
Yi Sun-sin and the Turtle Ships
Main article: Turtle ship
With his creative mind and the support of his subordinates, Yi was able to devise the geobukseon (거북선), or “turtle ship”; the turtle ships were pivotal in many battles with the Japanese fleet.
The Japanese response and demotion
But Hideyoshi and his commanders soon adjusted. At Busan, the surviving Japanese warships took aboard some heavier guns and iron plates, and clustered beneath the harbour's defences of heavy shore-mounted cannon. But above all, the Japanese knew that for a successful invasion of Korea, Yi Sun-sin had to be eliminated. No Japanese fleet would be safe as long as his presence was commanding the sea.
Seeing how the internal court rivalries of the Koreans worked, the Japanese devised a plan. A Japanese soldier named Yoshira was sent to the camp of the Korean general Kim Eung-Su, and convinced the general that he would spy on the Japanese for the Koreans. Yoshira spent a long time acting as a spy and giving the Koreans what appeared to be valuable information. One day he told General Kim that the Japanese General Kato Kiyomasa would be coming on a certain date with the great Japanese fleet, and insisted that Admiral Yi be sent to lie in wait and sink it. General Kim agreed and requested King Seonjo for permission to send Admiral Yi. The general was given permission. When he gave Admiral Yi his orders, the admiral accepted although he knew that the location given by the spy was studded with sunken rocks and was very dangerous. Finally Yi failed to capture Kato and when General Kim informed the king of Admiral Yi Sun-sin’s failure, Admiral Yi’s enemies at court insisted on his replacement by Won Kyun and his arrest. As a result, in 1597 Admiral Yi Sun-sin was relieved of command, placed under arrest, taken to Seoul in chains, beaten, tortured, and imprisoned. The king wanted to have Admiral Yi killed but the admiral’s supporters at court convinced the king to spare him due to his past service record. Spared the death penalty, Admiral Yi was again demoted to the rank of a common infantry soldier. Yi Sun-sin responded to this humiliation as a most obedient subject, going quietly about his work as if his rank and orders were totally appropriate.
With Admiral Yi stripped of any influence, when negotiations broke down in 1596, Hideyoshi again ordered his army to attack Korea. The invasion came in the first month of 1597 with a Japanese force of 140,000 men transported to Korea in thousands of ships. Had Admiral Yi been in command of the Korean Navy at that time, the Japanese would most likely never have landed on any shore again. Instead, the Japanese fleet landed safely at Sosang Harbour.
Yi's successor, Won Kyun fought against Japanese Fleet with 133 battleships and 30,000 crews at Chilchon Straits in Aug. 28, 1597 and in the battle, the Joseon Navy was completely destructed except 12 battleship under control of an officer named Bae Sol. Bae Sol ran away before the battle to save his life, and Won Kyun also ran away during the battle and after that he never showed up. King Seonjo who tried to execute Admiral Yi reassigned him as the commander of Joseon Navy. He found the abandoned 12 battleships and rallied the 200 remnants and survivors. At that time, King Seonjo who judged Joseon Navy lost their power and would never restore again, sent a letter to abolish the Navy and fight with General Kwon Yul on the land. Admiral Yi responded with a letter written "...I still have twelve battleship... As long as I live, the enemies would never look down on us.". Japanese Navy made up their mind to eliminate the remnant 12 battleship under command of Yi on their way to the capital city of Joseon. In Sep. 15. 1597, Yi decoyed those Japanese fleet consisted of 133 battleship and 100,000 crews within Myongryang Straits and defeated them with his 13 battleships (The boat came from the king's ambassador to send the letter to demolish the navy). During this battle, the Japanese Navy lost about 120 battleships (31 battleships completely destroyed and more than 90 half-destroyed that lost their functions as battleships).
After this battle, Yi made devotion for the recovery of the Joseon Navy and increased the number of battleships and crews. In Nov. 19. 1598, Admiral Yi ambushed and destroyed the Japanese fleet trying to make a full retreat to Japan at Noryang Strait. At dawn, Admiral Yi who was encouraging the crews in the fore part of the ship, was unfortunately shot to death leaving the order not to let his death go out to the crews. In this battle, about 450 battleships wer destroyed and only the remaining 50 could get back to Japan safely and the 7 Year-War between Joseon and Japan came to an end.
Yi Sun-Sin was considered a master naval tactician and and his sea campaigns were decisive in hampering Japanese land operations in 1592 and 1598. He has often been compared to Lord Nelson of England. During the war, Admiral Yi won every one of at least 22 naval battles. Reputedly, he never lost a single ship under his command yet he destroyed around a thousand ships of the enemy, a remarkable testment to his tactical skills.
Admiral Ballard considered Yi Sun-sin a great naval commander, and compared him to Lord Nelson of England:
It is always difficult for Englishmen to admit that Nelson ever had an equal in his profession, but if any man is entitled to be so regarded, it should be this great naval commander of Asiatic race who never knew defeat and died in the presence of the enemy; of whose movements a track-chart might be compiled from the wrecks of hundreds of Japanese ships lying with their valiant crews at the bottom of the sea, off the coasts of the Korean peninsula… and it seems, in truth, no exaggeration to assert that from first to last he never made a mistake, for his work was so complete under each variety of circumstances as to defy criticism… His whole career might be summarized by saying that, although he had no lessons from past history to serve as a guide, he waged war on the sea as it should be waged if it is to produce definite results, and ended by making the supreme sacrifice of a defender of his country. (The Influence of the Sea on The Political History of Japan, pp. 66–67.)
In order to fully understand Admiral Yi’s legacy, one must first understand how the navy operated in Korea at the time. During the time of the invasion, it was up to the admiral to find the supply for his fleet. Admiral Yi’s navy was cut off from any helping hand from the king’s court and had to fend for itself. Admiral Yi often wrote in his war diary how concerned he was about the food supply during winters. His enemy was fully supplied, and always outnumbered him, yet Admiral Yi never lost a battle.
Admiral Yi himself had never been trained as an admiral. Korea, called Joseon at the time, did not have any naval training facility. Admiral Yi used to be a general, fighting foreign Jurchen tribes invading from Manchuria. In fact, Okpo Battle, his first victory against the Japanese fleet, was also his first sea battle ever. None of his subordinates, including his own staff, had ever fought at sea before.
One of the biggest factors in Admiral Yi’s success was his foresight to develop new weapons, even before the war. His cannons and guns had longer range than the enemy. His turtle ship, which actually had first set sail the day before the invasion, was very effective in leading the attack and breaking the enemy’s formation.
However, Admiral Yi’s real legacy lies in the fact that he was a brilliant strategist. The more advanced weapons might have given him the edge, but it was his strategy that made him invincible. He used many different formations according to the situation, and capitalized on tides and ocean currents. Many times he lured the enemy to a place where his fleet would have advantage. And through these manipulations, he instilled a fear in the Japanese commanders whenever they patrolled their seas. At the Battle of Hansando, Admiral Yi had instilled so much fear in the Japanese that their commander broke ranks and routed his fleet - the first and only time any Japanese commander lost courage to a foreign opponent. Admiral Yi’s expertise on naval strategy is apparent in the fact that his successor Won Kyun, even with all of Admiral Yi’s ships and trained crew, could not defeat a enemy fleet of similar might. In fact, Won lost all but 12 of 300 ships that Admiral Yi left him, and was killed himself in the battle.
One of the greatest legacies of the Admiral was the utter destruction of the Japanese fleet. Through his calculated attacks, he successfully burdened the Japanese navy and the supplies trying to reach their lines near the Chinese border. If Admiral Yi had not commanded the Korean fleet, it is safe to assume that Japan might have continued her conquest into Ming China, and the overall history of Asian history might be completely different. Although perhaps minor to the new Tokugawa leaders, seeing their shameful defeat against Korea encouraged the new leadership to abandon Hideyoshi's dreams of a continental empire. For more than 300 years, Japan never attempted to invade Korea or China. Through the rest of the years until the Meiji Restoration, Japan favored peaceful communications with Korea, and both nations relatively prospered from this mutual association.
Unfortunately for Admiral Yi and perhaps the Yi Dynasty Joseon, his reformations on the navy didn't persist and soon disappeared after his death, due to court swindling and corruption. The Gobukson, the world's first ironclad warship, faded in the annals of Korean history as a great thing of the past. Despite their experiences in the Seven Years War, the Joseon court decided on a reduced military, especially after the Manchu invasions in the 1630's. Had Korea maintained her fleet and her army, modern Korea might have a different story to tell.
Yi Sun-Sin kept a careful record of daily events in a diary, and it is from these entries, along with the reports he sent to the throne during the war, that much about the man has been learned. These works have been published in English as Nanjung Ilgi: War Diary of Admiral Yi Soon Shin, and Imjin Jangcho: Admiral Yi Soon Shin’s Memorials to Court.
Yi's posthumous title, Lord of Loyalty and Chivalry (Chungmu-gong, 충무공; 忠武公) is used in Korea’s third highest military honor, the Cordon of Chungmu of the Order of Military Merit and Valour. He was posthumously granted the title of Prince of Deokpoong. Chungmuro (충무로; 忠武路)—a street in downtown Seoul—is also named after him. The city Chungmu, later renamed to Tongyeong, on the southern coast of Korea is named in honour of his posthumous title and the site of his headquarters respectively. There is a prominent statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin in the middle of Sejongno in central Seoul.
Choi Hong Hi of the International Taekwondo Federation named an advanced form “Choong-Moo” in his honor; the pattern ends with a left-hand punch to symbolize his unfortunate early death. Two motion pictures have been made based on his life, both entitled Seong-ung Yi Soon Shin (“The Saintly Hero Yi Soon Shin”), the first a 1962 black & white movie, and the second, based upon his war diaries, in color in 1971. There is also a drama series airing on Korean television called “Bulmyul Ui Yi Soon Shin” (“The Immortal Yi Soon Shin”), which shows the events of his life. It premiered on September 4, 2004 in Korea and has become popular in China and the USA as well.