Yi Sun-shin (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Admiral Yi led the Korean navy to numerous victories and ultimate repulsion of Japanese invaders.
Much of Yi Sun-shin’s early career is unknown; however, he was made admiral of Korean forces in 1591, about a year before the Japanese invasion under the leadership of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In May, 1592, a vastly superior Japanese army of 500,000 landed in Korea with the intent of conquering it and using it as a springboard for attacking China. Caught by surprise, the Korean capital fell in less than a month, and the king fled.
Yi attacked, surprising and destroying twenty-six Japanese ships off Okp’o, then sank sixteen more off Jokjinpo. He retreated to Yosoo (Yoso), leaving in late May with twenty-six ships, including two ironclad galleys, or “tortoise ships.” The hulls of the oar-propelled boats were broad and strong, and their bows were reinforced for ramming. Each ship was covered by arched wooden canopy to which were nailed squares of copper, studded with spikes to discourage boarding. Yi won battle upon battle. In only six weeks he destroyed the enemy’s battle fleets, cut their lines of communication, imperiled the conquering armies in the field, and ruined their strategy.
Yi’s decisive defeat of the Japanese took place in the Yellow Sea, July 8-10, 1592. The Japanese fleet of eight hundred junks was ordered out to sea for reinforcements and supplies as the...
(The entire section is 664 words.)
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