Question: How is the famous Korean Admiral Yi Sun-shin (이순신) like David, the shepherd boy who defeated Goliath?
Answer: Like David, Admiral Yi Sun-shin confronted and defeated a giant.
The story about the defeat of the giant, Goliath, by David is well-known. In South Korea, this summer, the blockbuster movie ‘The Admiral: Roaring Currents’ has reminded people of a similar story about the Korean national hero, Admiral Yi Sun-shin. In 1597, in the famous Battle of Myeongnyang (명량), Admiral Yi, with only 13 warships, defeated the Japanese naval force of over 300 vessels (over 130 warships and 200 logistic support ships) by taking advantage of the flow of currents in the Myeongnyang Strait.
The movie has become the most-viewed film in South Korea and has won 4 trophies (including the Best Film Award) in the Daejong (Grand Bell) Film Awards. You can watch the trailers of the movie through the following links:
Because of his naval victories against the Japanese forces with his fleet of turtle ships (designed by Admiral Yi), Admiral Yi is a well-respected national hero in South Korea. You can find Admiral Yi’s statue erected at the Gwanghwamun Square where there is also an exhibition hall called “The Story of Admiral Yi Sun-shin (충무공이야기)”. In the exhibition hall, you can find information and historical documents relating to Admiral Yi, a couple of combat simulation games for you to play, and a large replica of the turtle ship (which you can go inside to have a look). There is also a 4D animated film about the Korean-Japanese naval battle fought by Admiral Yi, which I found interesting – I have watched it twice!
When you visit Seoul next time, please don’t forget to visit Admiral Yi at the Gwanghwamun Square!
Reminder: The next blog post will be published on 3 December 2014. Watch this space!
Baek Byung-yeul, ” ‘Roaring Currents’ takes 4 trophies at Daejong Awards“, The Korea Times, 2014-11-24
Arirang TV, “The Turtle Ship“, 100 Icons of Korean Culture, 2014-10-27 – this video explains the structure of the turtle ship and why it was so effective against the Japanese naval forces
Arirang TV, “Yi Sun-shin“, 100 Icons of Korean Culture, 2014-10-21 – this video includes shots of “The Story of Admiral Yi Sun-shin” exhibition hall and information on the famous battles fought by Admiral Yi Sun-shin (including the Battle of Myeongnyang)
Jeyup Kwaak, ” ‘Roaring Currents’ become South Korea’s most-watched movie“, The Wall Street Journal Asia, 2014-08-16
Cody Thiel, “Yi Sun-shin: Admiral and Savior of Choson Kingdom (1545-1598)“, Choson Korea – this article is about the life of Admiral Yi Sun-shin
Wikipedia, Battle of Myeongnyang
Website of “The Story of King Sejong (세종이야기)” and “The Story of Admiral Yi Sun-shin (충무공이야기)” exhibition halls – more detail on “The Story of Admiral Yi Sun-shin” exhibition hall