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The Awesome Admiral: Yi Soon Shin: 1545-1598

Admiral Yi Soon Shin was one of the greatest Naval Admirals of all time. Yi was born on April 28, 1545 on in what is now Seoul, South Korea. As a child, he and the other boys his age played war games in which he showed great leadership. As he grew he developed a strong longing to join the military. Joining the military wasn't a very popular job choice at the time, most men of his rank joined the Confucian court because of the power that could be gained from it.

In 1576, he took the military examination, and though impressive, a broken leg led to his failure. Later that year he took the examination again and passed. Yi was assigned to the Bukbyeong military district in Hamgyeong province. He was the oldest junior officer at the age of thirty-two. There, Yi experienced battle for the first time, fighting the Jurchens. He soon became known for his strategic skills and leadership. However, his superiors got jealous of his brilliance and accomplishment in battle so they falsely accused him of deserting during a battle. Yi was then stripped of his rank, tortured, and imprisoned.

After he had gone back up in the ranks, the Japanese lead by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, started invading Korea. Yi was made leader of the Navel section of the war. One of the things Yi is most well-known for is the creation of the turtle ship. His turtle ships were equipped with at least five different types of cannons! Their most distinguishable feature was a dragon-shaped head at the bow, which could shoot cannon fire or flames from the mouth. Each ship was also equipped with a fully covered deck to protect against arrows, musket-shots, and incendiary weapons. The deck was also covered with iron spikes to stop enemy men from attempting to board the ships. One of his most famous victories was fought off Hansan Island in August, 1592; here, Admiral Yi defeated a superior Japanese fleet by luring the Japanese into a trap with a handful of ships. Once entrapped the startled Japanese were attack from three directions a destroyed.

In 1598, Admiral Yi would fight his last battle at Noryang, and again achieve a great success against the stronger Japanese fleets. He was mortally wounded by a bullet, though in his last moments he ordered that the drums continue to beat to victory. So died one of the greatest admiral in history; at the very moment of victory.


(8) Gilbert, Marc J. “Admiral Yi Sun-Shin, the Turtle Ships, and Modern Asian History.” Asia in World History: 1450- 1770, 32. Accessed April 8, 2019. (9) Gilbert. “Admiral Yi.” 33 (10) Gilbert. “Admiral Yi.” 33-34.

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