TIL of 16th century Korean Admiral Yi Sun-Sin. Although having no prior naval experience, he was undefeated at sea and never lost a single ship. In his most famous battle he commanded 13 ships against the Japanese’s 330 and won, all whilst recovering from having been recently tortured.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yi_Sun-sin

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  1. >His last words were: “The battle is at its height. Beat my war drums. Do not announce my death”.

    Cool.

    Where’s the torture part though and the story leading up to it?

  2. His entire career is crazy. He originally started as a fort garrison commander in the army and never even officially studied naval warfare. In the army, he quickly rose up through the ranks but was then falsely put on trial for desertion by a corrupt army commander. He was promptly imprisoned, tortured, and stripped of his rank. After his release he still sought to serve Korea and enlisted as a common soldier before being rapidly promoted again.

    He was officially given command of a naval garrison shortly before Japan’s invasion of Korea, and from there he oversaw the buildup of a regional navy. His won his first battle (The Battle of Okpo) without any naval experience and would teach himself tactics and strategy throughout the war. He won a series of victories before the Japanese tried laying a trap by having one of their naval commanders pretend to rat out their allies’ positions. Yi was ordered to send his fleet to the specified location but he refused, correctly guessing that it was a trap. However, due to corruption in the Korean court and because the King himself feared Yi’s popularity would result in a revolt, he was imprisoned for insubordination, tortured, and almost sentenced to death.

    His replacement promptly ordered the Korean navy into the trap which resulted in the lost of 157 Korean ships, with only 13 escaping. Following the failure, the Korean court reinstated Yi, who at the time had re-enlisted as a common foot soldier. Yi would then go on to defeat a 330 strong Japanese fleet with those 13 ships, as mentioned in the post. Yi died in a later battle by a stray bullet. He is regarded as the national hero of Korea and the “Martial Lord of Loyalty” due to the fact that, although being tortured and stripped of rank numerous times, he never deserted his nation.

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