Lord High Admiral Lee Soon Shin

Glad you gave it the bump Del Boy.
One of the greatest military leaders in history, yet not well known outside of Korea. Often falsely considered equivalent to Admiral Nelson. Nelson took on the Spanish Armada which had been rotting for a few decades and was problem ridden. Lee had to fight a fresh Japanese navy which boasted faster ships. His finest hour came when completely outnumbered... over a hundred Japanese ships against his fleet of twelve.
Whether he was killed by a sniper or a stray round is debated but most likely it was a stray round. Had the Japanese known they had killed Admiral Lee, they would have probably turned right around and finished off the Korean navy while it was in confusion.
Hence the Admiral's famous final words, "Hide my body behind a line of shields," so that the enemy - and most of his own - would never know that he had died.
There was an old movie which inaccurately featured him dying from a stray arrow, which explains the source of the wrong information.
Yes, I did a little reading on him and he seems to be a good candidate for promotion to glory on this forum I reckon.
If you got 12 ships and you beat a fleet of over 100, then you should be on the list somewhere. And remember at this time, the Korean military was a pile of sh*t. It was ruled by Generals who didn't know the first thing about warfare, only about hanging out with the scholar class who also knew nothing but political power and execution and imprisonment of anyone who was useful.
Admiral Lee gained his commission VERY late in his life (for the standards of his day) so he was never really seen as some kind of threat worth beheading. When his quality showed, the scholar class needed him so bad that they didn't execute him, but the King and the scholars found excuses to torture him instead. Yet, he still did his bit and defeated the Japanese at sea.
I am for one, glad he was able to die an officer's death. Had he survived the war, he would have been tortured and executed by scholars suffering from the small dick syndrome.
Also, the other hero of the war was General Gwak Jae-woo who was one of the very few ground commanders who was successful. He was able to keep the Japanese from taking Admiral Lee's fleet from the land. Of course he was not a part of the real military. He was a guerrilla leader.
There is more to that, though there is no doubt at all that Admiral Yi was an awesome commander and probably the single most important factor in the Japanese defeat in the Imjin war (which is the conflict between 1592-1598, though it's actually seperated into two stage, mostly the first stage was 92-93, second stage 97-98, though Japanese held souther coast of Korea throughout )

From what I have learned, the Japanese weren't actually that advanced in terms of navy at that point, their ships were almost entirely flat bottomed, and their most combat worthy ships (the Atakebune) were entirely oar going vassals that could only operate near the coast. which made crossing from Kyushu to Korea very very difficult. Thus they generally relied on lighter smaller ships.

The war doesn't get much recognition also because it was a page in history that all 3 major particapants had reasons to forget (yes , 3 , the Ming dynasty of China soon entered the war in late 92 after it realize that Korea had been overran, their army succeeded in retaking a large portion of Korea , which combined with Yi's naval domination forced the Japanese into talks, which eventually collapsed and a second war was fought again with pretty similar results.)

For Korea, even though they won the war, it was certainly a humuliating history that their court would like to forget, since they were completely helpless in the early stage (the Japanese army manage to take every major city in Korea... in 2 months, 2!! that's about the time it took to just march!), they treated the hero of the war poorly, their sitting king was vastly criticised both at home and by Chinese officials involved in the war effort, and his son was captured at the begining of the war.. before later being returned during negotiation, he was actually well regarded but eventually fell to internal coup later in his reign (and obviously the guys that took the throne would like nothing more than to muddy the history before him )

For Japan, obviously they lost a ton of soldiers in the war, and more importantly soon the Toytomi regime was toppled, and the winning side in the insuing struggles was mostly made up of the guys that DIDN'T go to Korea. so it's not hard to see how the history interpetation there would go.

For China, the Ming was already at the begining of it's final decline when they joined the war, and after the war their problems really begin to spin out of control and some 40 years later they would completely collapse, the succeding Qing dynasty had plenty of reason to try and depict ther late Ming as incompetent and corrupt (Which they obviously were, to various degree) and to play down any of it's accomplisment or success, thus to secure their legitimacy, a good part of the first hand source material were even included in the Qing's liberary of banned books and only revealed early last century (though it was banned mostly due to the title of the book and not the content).
Here's a brief rundown on the series of events in the first war.

1587 - Toyotomi Hideyoshi began sending envoys to Korea, one such envoy demanded the Korean cooperate with the Japanese in a plan to attack Ming dynasty China, a rather unfathomable plan at the time to the Korean court, so the vaguely decline the "invitation"

May-July: the Japanese landed around late May, within the span of 2 whole month they managed to take almost every major city from Bushan to PyongYang with only minimal resistence. as the Chosen dynasty forces were long at peace and their defensive setup was focused on the north, the Chosen court was effectively in exile, though individual general / offficials began to organize local people to fight unconventional warfare, the only real conventioal military force left operating in Korea were their navies (mostly under Yi)

August - Sept : as it became apparent that Korea had been overran, the Ming dynasty started to send help, at first they were confused by the information and send only small parties from the local level, which obviously ran into much more than they could handle. by late August and Early September, the situation became more clear and they came ot the conclusion that a full army must be send in.

At this time though, the Japanese forces began to run to trouble, as their navy were getting smacked around by the Koreans, which caused a logistical nightmare as many shipping from Kyushu ended up at the bottom of the sea, meanwhile, their extrodinary expansion also began to turn into a curse, as their forces were widly spread and mostly concentrated in individual cities (hmmm, sounds familiar), where as local milita forces (called the righteous armies) made it tough for them both to gain local supplies and the supplies that did manage to make it to shore from Japan. they did manage to make one small scouting incursion into the Chinese border.

Oct-Dec= Japanese forces come to a halt as the logistical situation become grave , they did manage to capture the crown prince of Korea , the Ming began to gather their forces and make preparation to enter Korea, they eventually set out late in December with a force of (according to the letters written by the administrator in charge for the Ming) 36,000 . composed mostly from Northern garrisons and some forces from the South (who were most experieinced in dealing with Japanese)

Janury : the Ming forces set out directly for Pyong Yang, the northern most of the 3 major cities of Chosen at that time (other two is Kaesung and Seoul ) , they reached in the first week of the month, after some intial bartering they attacked on the 8th and was able to beat out the Japanese forces within the day. the retook Kaesung in the next couple of weeks.

By late January they were ready to march on Seoul, however while on their way confusing report lead the Ming general to believe that Seoul had been abandoned by the Japanese forces (which was similar to what happened at Kaesung, which was in a state of disrepair so the Japanese forces only made some attempt at resisting before a full retreat), so he decided to set out with only his elite cavalries of some 2000-3000 strong, along with their advance scouting forces, to try and secure the city quickly, however they ended up running into a large Japanese force and a confusing battle ensued (as the Japanese had no idea that it was the main generals of the Ming comming without his main body of soldiers). eventually the Ming forces arrived and both side pulled back (casualty in this battle is wildly different, though that both side didn't press the battle further probably suggested a pretty bloody draw)

Feb-March: after the setback on their inital attempt at Seoul, the Ming began to take their time and observe the situation, they realize that a very large host had gathered in the Seoul area (possibly 80k-100k), which was too much for their own army to handle in direct confrontation, so they only pressed on again after about a month's preparation, though they did not directly try to besiege Seoul, instead they manuvered in the outskirts area, eventually they found a break and located the chief grainary stash of the Japanese forces and was able to destroy it. which made the already bad supply situation of the Japanese army that much worse.

At this point, the Japanese decided to pull out of Seoul all the way back to Bushan, they had went from holding at least part of all 8 province in Korea to left with only serious control over 1 in the span of 4 months. negotiation began to start at this point, as the Japanese forces were disheartened and still faced dire supply situation, the Ming however, were beginng to run into similar issues, as they find a Korea completely ravaged, a government that had effectively dissolved, and a supply path in horrific condition, thus even with a smaller force and much higher level of local cooperation they were strained, and they realize that now the entire Japanese forces is concintrated down south, making it very risky for their smaller army to push even further.

By April, the Prince was returned as part of the deal to start negotiation, though due to various reasons (including serious misunderstanding on both side) it fell apart some 3 years later and the second war began. this time the Koreans were much more prepared, and the Ming brought a even larger (though probably not as experienced or well prepared) forces, so the Japanese made little headways on land, while they continue to get trashed by Yi at sea (after he was released anyway, which became the most legendary aspect of his command, as his navy was given to another officer when political rivals sacked him, only to see that navy get completely crushed by the Japanese due to incompetent generalship, and he was reinstated with a very small fleet but managed to whoop his enemies anyway)
That's actually a very good report, though it fails to mention that the Japanese did have some advantages of having lighter and faster ships.
Yes, the performance overall on land for Korea was absolutely dismal.
It's how things get when you get a bunch of scholars running the country.
Ehh, China was also ran by scholars, but it's army was quiet effective against the Japanese (though it was certainly aided more by strategical elements than tactical, still, they did manage to retake Pyong Yang in a direct assault, and the forces in Pyong Yang was only somewhat smaller than the Ming army. so that's pretty impressive). it's a prespective thing, the Chosen dynasty, for all it's fault, ended up surviving another wooping 400 years after this, it's basically the longest surviving dynasty in Asia after the birth of Christ, I'd call that success... at least on what it wishes to accomplish.

If a dynasty's design is to survive as long as they're able (which i think most dynasty are designed with that intention:pirate: ) then the Yi dynasty of Korean was a great success.
In Korea, the control of the scholar class was extreme. China wasn't as bad as Korea. Korea, for centuries, was ruled under an extreme form of Confucianism which pretty much made just about everything backward since progress was considered blasphemy.
A Can Of A Mam......Wrote..........Often falsely considered equivalent to Admiral Nelson. Nelson took on the Spanish Armada which had been rotting for a few decades and was problem ridden.

Sorry but when did Nelson Fight the Armada, now I always thought that it was Drake that did that, still I must missed that Hollywood film that had Nelson fighting the Armada.
A Can Of A Mam......Wrote..........Often falsely considered equivalent to Admiral Nelson. Nelson took on the Spanish Armada which had been rotting for a few decades and was problem ridden.

Sorry but when did Nelson Fight the Armada, now I always thought that it was Drake that did that, still I must missed that Hollywood film that had Nelson fighting the Armada.

TOTALLY my bad.
What Li did that Drake / Nelson didn't though, was that he had his success while his country was virtually crushed , last I check in both the armada and Napoleon case England was still standing when they were fighting ;)
Actually, the situation on the land was NOT entirely dismal. Some generals like Jo-Hun, Kim-Si-Min, and Kwak-Jae-Woo won some impressive victories..... However, overall, the situation was bad enought, but NOT entirely dismal
An impressive CV, he truly does bear further investigation. As with many truly great military leaders he seems to have accomplished much with little, his campaigns would make an excellent story, film, book and game tie up.
Actually, the situation on the land was NOT entirely dismal. Some generals like Jo-Hun, Kim-Si-Min, and Kwak-Jae-Woo won some impressive victories..... However, overall, the situation was bad enought, but NOT entirely dismal

Ehhh, come on, within 2 months of landing the Japanese held the 3 largest cities in Korea at that time. ( Seoul , PyongYang , Kaesung) within 4 months they had significant prescense in all 8 province and basically took every relavent city except for Uiju (which was literally next to the Yalu river) . Yes there were still groups operating in Korea but the King was basically hiding in Uiji and this two eldest son was captured by the Japanese, the Chosen court had effectively cease to function.

Yi was operating out of Hansando (Hansan island) during most of this time, which was the reason that he could do his operation, since to get to him they had to cross the sea, and the Japanese simply couldn't beat him on the sea, his original landbase in Jeolla had already been overran.
Kwak Jae-woo and the like did manage to keep the port open for Admiral Yi.
It's pretty much the only way the Admiral could keep operations up.
But those were the few exceptions. Across the board the situation on land was dismal. I hate it when people try to change that part of history. The country was run by a bunch of Confucian scholars and no one held the military as a profession of any regard. Getting our asses kicked was both predictable and deserved. Too bad we didn't learn from it.

Might want to keep the bashing under control Rolling Wave.
I seem to recall this one country that got its ass handed to it by a band of peasants and got chased out to an island. Then lost their place in the UN to the said peasants. Now what was that place called...
Korea got its ass handed to it pretty hard but at least it was at the hands of professionals.
Yes yes, those said peasants also went on in a short while to beat back a UN (mostly US) army (mostly with the surrendered KMT troops no less) in Korea. so that's hardly the best comparason either is it ? not to meantion the nature of civil war is often more complex .

I am not bashing Koreans at all, I thought Yi was the biggest hero in the war, as were many other leaders of the Righteous army, that doesn't override the incompetence of the Choson court though, there were competent and less competent men on all sides. I'm simply trying to point out the facts.

The Ming system was also ran by Scholars, their expedition was put together by scholars. was nominally lead by scholars, that didn't mean they weren't effective.

Of course, to be fair to the Choson court, their dynasty survived a wooping 500 years, so they had to have done something right.
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Like I said, the ones running Korea were extremists.
The Chinese were also ineffective in their own right, closing contact with the world, failing to realize they were falling behind and eventually getting their best real estate carved out by several foreign powers. At this point in time (of the conflict), the West had not only caught up, they had exceeded China's capabilites and they had no clue.
As for the Choson Dynasty, they did survive 500 years. That was 500 solid years of non progress, tyranny, oppression and stupidity. No, to be fair I suppose they were pretty effective at the very beginning. That's how they would have come to power. Backwardness, intimidation, murder... That's how they clung to power. Bastards.

When it comes to the whole Choson Dynasty, you will find no bigger hater than myself.
The Chosun dynasty had some great points, but overall was weak. When it was the weakest, it was the perfect example of modern politics