Lord High Admiral Lee Soon Shin


Active member
Well I guess his not well known but he is the hero of a small country called Korea.
In 1592-1598 Japanese attacked Korea where Japanese got to the capital of Korea in 4 days and the king fled, making korea in ruins. He knew that fighting on the soil = no chance of survival because of the weapon difference (Japanese were well equipped with muskets and 2 katanas + armors while the korean army were equipped without armor and had bows or a spear.. the usual soldier for the two armies)


If you thrive to die you will live, If you wish to live you will die." He said this quote before He defeated 133 japanese ships with 13 of his ships with non of his boat sinked.

well the picture is NOT him but there was a historical drama on him and this is how he kind of looked like with his armor. The drama is called Bul Myul Ei Lee Soon Shin. (104 episodes consisting of around 50 minutes each. I have watched it all)

Copied from Wiki :

wikipedia said:
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).

Contents [hide]

Early Life
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.



His portrait from back then.

If it wasnt for him.. Korea would be extinguished and the continent of Korea would be part of Japan. To learn more about him, I suggest to read a book about him or watch the TV show..
Yes he's quite famous.He's was the patron god for the Japanese Imperial Navy,quite ironic don't you think?

Although the Koreans controlled the the high seas they were being massacred by Japanese troops on land.
a rather interesting man indeed...I know about him and his campaign against the invading troops of Daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi of Japan during the 1590's. And i was quite amazed at his achievements..and because of that, I started liking and respecting this great man..admiral Yi Sun Sin...indeed...

Nice armour by the way, wish I had it..
MightyMacbeth said:
a rather interesting man indeed...I know about him and his campaign against the invading troops of Daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi of Japan during the 1590's. And i was quite amazed at his achievements..and because of that, I started liking and respecting this great man..admiral Yi Sun Sin...indeed...

Nice armour by the way, wish I had it..

same I want it too..
man his such a great man.. I wish you can read about him / watch the 104 episode(each lasting 1 hour) drama they made about him (real good wish america would make one of those

the armor the actor is wearing is said to cost $9000 O__O!
yes indeed.

I got fascinated by his comitment as well as his achievements. This is s great man, with that I agree.

And then offcourse, I like his armour, cant imagine how I would look wearing it 8) hehe
Lee Soon Shin IS considered as the great hero to Koreans like me.
At that time, Korea did not have any strong ships to actually attack and fight in the war. The ships were all the same.
But there is something unique about the turtle ship that Lee Soon Shin had invented.
There is the head of the dragon in front of the ship and the mouth of the dragon was used as the porthole so you can shoot the cannon.
There are a lot of iron nails outside the turtle ship so that from the inside of the ship people can see outside but people cannot see the inside from the outside.
There were very small space for the people to walk on the ship and over places on the ships were filled with knives and nails.
At the end of the ship, there was the turtle's tail, used as the hole for cannon.
And because the structure of the ship was like a turtle, that is why Lee Soon Shin named the ship as Turtle Ship.
At that time, I think that that ship was the great invention ever made in Korea to actually fight with the enemies in the sea.
Joules had mentioned the famous quote that Lee Soon Shin had said, but the other famous quote said by Lee Soon Shin is this: "Do not tell others that I have died after I die in this war."
During the war between Japan, Lee Soon Shin was shot with the arrow.
He thought that if the other soldiers of Korea were in chaos because of his death, Japan will attack very easily.
So when he was shot by the arrow, he told the other generals to tell the soldiers to still fight and that try to not let the Japanese soldiers know that he had died.
Like the Joules said, Lee Soon Shin never lost a single war fought with the enemies.
So what do you say? Lee Soon Shin is a GREAT man of Korea, the HERO!
Last edited:
Well, I'm quite proud of him and he is very famous in Korean history. You know there is a statue of him in Seoul. And as I look at the staute of Lee Sun Shin, I'm very proud of 1000 year memorable Korean history.

It was really amazing that he won against Japanese troops who were armoured with guns and new weapons with only "Turtle ship", spears and passion and enthusiastic for a triumph. He really saved Korea. The government was stupidly separated and arguing to each other until the moment when Japanese came to defeat us. I'm very disappointed that the people in the government only argued and didn't really care about military and safety of their nation. My parents and elders always say that Korea cannot be a huge and powerful country because of stupid governers and people who are involved in a political issues of Korea. They get black money from businesses and do something disbeneficial and wrong for Korea. They are always divided by two differnet critical sides and fighitng and arguing each other in a such small country. THEY DIDN'T EVEN THINK TO ATTACK OTHER COUNTRY!!@!!@ I believe Lord High Admiral Lee Soon Shin did save Korea during the times of those chaotic, stupid governers were fighting to eachother.
From what they told me he would be best described as the Korean of equivalent of George Washington to the Americans. You could say he's famous. ;)
He was killed by a Japanese Sniper.. not by an arrow (Japanese uses musketts) :( He was brutally tortured by the King because of Kings doubt about his general..

There were very few turtle ships and it was used for a little bit. Its beta stage was a failure and the ship sinked because of the weight of metal and they found thinner lighter metal.
Turtle ship was used when the Japanese didnt have cannons in their ships and was used to break enemy formation by charging in but became total usuless when the Japanese got their hands on the cannons. Basically Japan used muskets during the first few years, which was real good in land battles but wasnt as good as in Sea battles. When Won Gun took over the Korean Navy when Lee Soon Shin was getting tortured by the King,WonGun attacked the Japanese naval base in Busan, losing some of ships on the way and being surrounded and losing 20,000 men. After this battle there was only 13 ships left with around 1000 men and LeeSoonShin came back and defeated 133 out of 333 ships with 13 ships. Which is his greatest battle of all time. Norang HaeJun I think it was.

there are some pictures of how it looked like(Turtle ship)
true.. but still, the people teaching history, should really start mentioning some other heroes and other countries important histories.. As for me, I knew this good man from a pc game :p

who said games werent good?
I agree that people should teach more about the different countries' heroes in history too!
In my world history text book,
there is no information at all telling who the hero was for Korea.
That makes the Korean to feel bad for being left out!!!:-(
yeah.. its shame really..

But at least he got his name into the world of Pc games :) thats where I knew of this man..
And also, to each country there is its hero which should be honored and recongnized by the generations that come after them... That hero might not make it to be known worldwide, but at least he is known by the country which he served, loved, and defended, and that I think, was what LeeSunShin wanted :)
And I am sure some people out there know him, because if they dont, they need a history lesson
World history textbooks suck all around. Only in private research can you find credit where it is due, most of the time.

Also take note of how Admiral Yi was a victim of the politicians. He had already saved his country once when they stripped him of his rank, and were forced to bail him out later. Just as we forced our hero of the 20th Century Korean War, Chesty Puller, into retirement before he needed to be.
Admiral Yi Soon-shin and the Turtle Ship


19 November 19, 1998 is a historic day marking the 400th anniversary of the loyal Admiral Yi Soon-shin's martyrdom in the Battle of Noryang at the age of 54. Cadets in Naval Academies around the world are taught historic naval battles. Among those, the following four battles are recognized to be the greatest battle fought in history- The Salamis Naval Battle of Greek Admiral Themistocles in B.C. 480 - The Calais Naval Battle of England's Admiral Howard in 1588 - The Hansan battle of where Admiral Yi Soon-shin in 1592 achieved a continuous triumph with the Turtle Ship - The Trafalgar Battle of England's Admiral Nelson in 1805 .

To see the pictures of the ship and original message, go to: http://www.papermagic.co.kr/html/english/culture1_lee.htm

Among these, Admiral Yi Soon-shin's victory is evaluated to be the most valuable. It is said that Admiral Yamato, who overwhelmed the world when he defeated Russia's mighty Far Eastern Fleet in 1905, replied the following when he was praised to be as great as Admiral Yi Soon-shin: "I am willing to accept comparison with England's Admiral Nelson, however I fall short to the great achievements of Admiral Yi Soon-shin."

Admiral Yi Soon-shin is recognized as a great figure who saved his country during crisis, and the Turtle Ship which has led each battle to a great victory is displayed in various museums including the
War Memorial Museum in Washington, the Maritime Museum in England and other historic museums in China, Germany, France and Canada.

(To see the modern Korean ship building, go to:


The History of Naval Forces
Korea's naval forces have developed over a long period of time. For instance, the three kingdom (Kokuryo, Paekche and Shilla) competitively extended their influence to sea trade routes in A.D. 372. By the mid 9C, they installed a trade center in china, while sweeping the pirates in South East Asia.
In 1011, spear ships that prevented enemy ships from approaching were in use and warships equipped with gun powder and firearms appeared by the year 1150. In 1377, they operated a special bureau manufacturing cannons and gun powder and produced eighteen types of firearms. Along with the invention of fire arrows (arrows tied with gun powder bag) fire battle tactics were completed by the year 1383. In 1555, a new type of warship covered with wooden boards was developed to protect the oarsmen during battle.

Turtle Ship - Tank of the Sea
Korea's shipbuilding technology has greatly developed over time. Moreover, iron rods strengthened the structure of the ships while charging tactics became quite common during battles. The Turtle Ship is a newly created sea tank originated from spear ships and firearms and wood board covered warship. The main measurements and combat strength of the Turtle ship as the right table.

Dragon head
Length of Dragon head
Length of body
Width of upper deck
Length of lower deck
Combat Strength
Combat soldiers
Number of oars

The traditional naval battles have been mainly fought by jumping onto and capturing enemy ships, however since the Turtle Ship is entirely covered with planks and sharp spears, the opposing enemy could not jump aboard. The Turtle Ship is built by sturdy red pine trees with a thickness of 12 cm.

The specific gravity of the red pine trees is 0.73 which is greater than the average lumber (0.41-0.47) commonly used in ship building. Moreover, the ship has been constructed with water swelling wooden pegs permitting stronger structure in water. With these advantages the Turtle Ship is able to use charging tactics to crash and sink enemy warships.

Mobility-The oars are located in the inner side of the upper deck (figure).If the oars are located outside of the side-wall, they are likely to be damaged during crash into an opposing ship, However since the oars are located inside, the oarsmen can continue rowing regardless of crashes during battles.

There are eight oars on each side with a total of sixteen; and 80 oarsmen are in charge of the rowing. One leader and four oarsmen are assigned to each oar. Normally two men would take turns in rowing whereas all four would row vigorously during battle. The leader would give timely instructions throughout the battle, and the Turtle Ship is capable of various maneuvering such as advancement and retreat, circle and halt, acceleration and deceleration.

Extensive Fire Power- There are 45 combat soldiers in the Turtle Ship including the gun officer who is in charge of transmitting gun powder and cannons, the artillerist, and the archer who shoots fire arrows. The combatants used fire arrows as well as firearms during battle (figure).

Thus they were able to attack continuously with cannons and fire arrows. The combatants shot through many gunports which are located around the ship. Thus the Turtle Ship was able to shoot cannons and fire arrows from any given direction.

Admiral Yi Soon-shin explained the arrangement of the thirty-six gunports in his reports to the king. The Turtle Ship is equipped with long ranging cannons such as Chon(Heaven), Ji(Earth), Hyun(Black), Hwang(Brown), Seung(Victory) etc. (figure) Chon fires a round iron cannon ball with a 11.7 cm diameter that ranges up to 600m. Ji is slightly smaller in size and ranges over 350m. Using Chon and Ji, the Turtle Ship was able to attack ships in locations beyond enemy's firing range.

Hyun and Hwang shot big fire arrows and are estimated to have a shooting range of 300m. Seung shoots fire arrows dipped in gun powder and was used to attack nearby ships. Seung is light in weight and ranges up to 200m. Enemy ships that have been attacked by these cannons were badly damaged or burnt and sunk during naval battles.