87 miles later and we arrive in Jindo to celebrate the most famous victory of Yi Soon-Sin’s career in the Battle of Myeongnyang.
At our stop in Sachon Bay we discussed Yi Soon-Sin‘s career and how he was stripped of his rank for refusing to follow King Seonjo‘s orders. Yi didn’t trust the information provided to them by a Japanese agent claiming to be spying on Japanese operations for the Koreans, but the King did, and replaced him with Won Gyun.
Following the Battle of Chilchonryang where Won Gyun lost all but 12 ships of the Korean Navy; Yi Soon-Sin was quickly reinstated. He rallied the remaining crew, believed to be as little as 200 sailors, and wrote a letter to King Seonjo who wanted to disband the navy saying “I still have twelve battle ships… and I am still alive, the enemy shall never be safe in the Western Sea.”
In October 1597, Yi and his tiny fleet took what was considered a last stand against the massive fleet of 333 Japanese ships. He chose a narrow straight where he could protect his flank and used the tides to his advantage, sending a solitary ship in to draw out the Japanese fleet. It was a foggy day and the Japanese took the bait, chasing the ship into the straight, not seeing the rest of the fleet hidden in the fog. The Koreans opened fire, and tightened the steel wire they had fitted across the straight to restrict the movement of the Japanese ships.
As the battle waged, the body of Michifusa Kurushima, the Japanese Commander, was pulled from the water. Yi ordered his head be cut off and placed on the mast of his flagship. The tides turned and the Japanese ships smashed into one another causing more damage. Yi attacked again, and with 30 destroyed and many more damaged, the Japanese fleet retreated. Although not mentioned in any of Choi Hong Hi’s books, it is possible that the 30 moves of pattern Choong Moo represent these 30 ships that were destroyed in the Battle of Myeongnyang.
This victory put the Korean Navy in charge of the Yellow Sea, the main supply route to Korea, at a vital stage of the Imjin War. Realising victory was impossible without supplies and reinforcements, Japan began a full retreat.
We will be marking our arrival here with 87 flutter kicks before continuing 68 miles south off the coast of South Korea to Jeju Island for our final destination in Tour Through Time.