Never Say Never, the Korean Version

I just read an amazing story about Yi Sun Sin, the Korean admiral who defeated the Japanese invaders of his country in the 1590s.  Of course this will be added to my Korean history paper.  Here’s how it will look:


Yi Sun Sin’s greatest victory, the battle of Myeongnyang (1597), used more conventional wooden ships.  A badly planned attack on the Japanese naval base at Pusan resulted in the battle of Chilchonryang, where most of the Korean navy was wiped out; its commander was killed and only twelve ships and a hundred sailors escaped.  Admiral Yi persuaded King Seonjo to put him in charge of those ships.  Then he managed to scrounge up one more ship and a hundred sailors, and decided to make his stand against the Japanese armada at Myeongnyang, a narrow strait with cliffs on each side and a strong tidal current.  It must have looked hopeless; the Koreans had only thirteen warships, with 200 men between them, while the Japanese had 333 warships and 200 support vessels.  Still, the Japanese had to pass that point to sail from Pusan to Seoul.  When the Japanese entered the strait, the current slowed them down so badly that they could make almost no headway at all, giving the Koreans plenty of time to fire their guns at barely moving targets.  What’s more, the Korean ships were flat-bottomed, making them more stable in the choppy water than the keeled Japanese ships, so the Korean cannon fire was more accurate.  Finally, when the Japnese tried to send the whole fleet into the strait, it only resulted in confusion and collisions between ships, like what happened to the Persian navy at Salamis.  In the middle of the battle the body of the Japanese admiral was found floating in the water; Admiral Yi had the head cut off and posted on his flagship, a real de-motivator for the Japanese.  By the time the Japanese withdrew, 31 of their ships had been sunk, 91 more were damaged beyond repair, and at least 8,000 sailors were killed.  On the Korean side, only two men were killed and three were wounded.

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