Truths and Falses

Yi Sun-sin and the Imjin War in foreign textbooks and websites

■ Errors in the descriptions of Yi Sun-sin and the Imjin War in foreign textbooks, websites and corrections of those descriptions based on accurate information

History of World Civilizations (Ongot Khevel et al., 2005):
Mongolian textbook
Error: Toyotomi Hideyoshi sent troops to Korea, a vassal of China, and invaded several towns on the coast in 1592 … Japan’s attack on Seoul caused the conflict between China and Japan. In 1597, Japan again sent large forces to China to strike a blow to the Chinese Army. Correction: Korea was not a vasssal state of China in 1592. The Imjin War (1592~1598) consisted of Japanese invasions of Korea as an independent state, not a part of China. Japanese forces landed on the shore in the southern port city of Busan in April, 1592, and successfully advanced through Korea’s northernmost area of the Tumen River. However, Yi’s successive naval victories, the resistance movements of Korean militias throughout the country, and Ming China’s intervention turned the tide of the war against Japan. Eventually in 1598, Japanese forces completely withdrew from Korea, due to their continuous defeats in naval battles and the death of Hideyoshi, the Japanese warlord who had waged the Imjin War.
Holt World History: The Human Journey (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2003):
American textbook
Error:In 1598, the Korean Navy invented the iron-clad battleship called the Geoubukseon. Correction: It was in 1592 when Admiral Yi Sun-sin built the Geobukseon battleship in preparation for Japanese invasion. Its name was given because its shape was similar to a turtle (Geobuk in Korean). Yi developed this battleship by reforming the Panokseon battleship, then Korea’s primary battleship. The Geobukseon was a mighty battleship that could fire cannons in any direction for offense and was covered with iron spikes for effective defense. In battle, it struck fatal blows to enemy ships by disturbing the formation of their fleet.
 The History of Asia (Serafin D.Quiason, Fe B.Mangahas, et al., 1998):
Philippine textbook
Error:Factional strife worsened in the Yi-Dynasty … Hideyoshi’s invasion dealt a more serious blow to Korea in 1590. Correction: Hideyoshi invaded Korea in 1592, not in 1590.
The Cassell Atlas of World History (John Haywood et al., 2001):
British textbook
Error :Kato Kiyomasa and Konishi Yukinaga led the invasion of Korea under the command of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Although Konishi successfully occupied Busan in 1592, the Japanese Army became isolated after the Ming Navy forces nearly wiped out the Japanese fleet. Correction: It was Admiral Yi Sun-sin’s Korean Navy that nearly annihilated the Japanese fleet. Kato Kiyomasa and Konishi Yukinaga were the spearhead of Japanese invasion forces. They arrived at Busan in April, 1592, and advanced northward. The Japanese Army had victory after victory and marched through Korea’s northernmost area of the Tumen River. However, the Japanese Army became isolated after they were cut off from their communication and supply lines by Yi’s Korean Navy. The Ming Chinese Navy did intervene in the war, but it didn’t take the leading role in naval battles.
Global Studies: Civilization of the Past and Present (Henry Brun, 1998):
American textbook
Error: China also gave Korea military aid. With this help, Koreans resisted the Japanese forces that had invaded their country from 1592 to 1598. Correction: The intervention of Ming China assisted Korea in repelling the Japanese invasion forces. However, Chinese aid was not the primary factor of Korea’s victory. Rather, the Korean Navy under Yi’s leadership and Korean militias raised throughout the country both played a crucial role from the beginning of the war to the end.
Knowledge Rush Encyclopedia
Error: On November 19, 1598, Admiral Yi was shot during the final battle of the war when he broke an armistice agreement and attacked Japanese remnants at Noryang. Analysis: The battle of Noryang is incorrectly described as an illegitimate attack on Japanese retreating forces because Yi Sun-sin broke an armistice agreement. Korea did not have an armistice agreement with Japan, and so this description gives readers the wrong impression that Yi won the battle by resorting to foul play. The dissemination of such misinformation gives cover to the Japanese forces that invaded Korea, and downgrades Yi’s accomplishments during the Imjin War.

Correction: In the Noryang Strait, Admiral Yi Sun-sin defeated the Japanese forces that invaded Korea and had inflicted immense suffering on a number of innocent civilians. During this operation, he was shot and died. At the time, he said his famous words; “We are at the height of battle. Don’t let anybody know about my death!” He faithfully stuck to his role of protecting the country even on the verge of his death.

Jade Dragon Online
Error: On September 16, 1597, he led 12 turtle ships against 133 Japanese ships in the Myongnyang Strait. The Koreans sank 31 enemy ships and sent the others fleeing in this victory. Analysis: At the Battle of Myeongnyang, there was no turtle ship among the 12 battleships.

Correction: Admiral Yi Sun-sin defeated 31 Japanese ships with 13 battleships and patriotic soldiers at the battle of Myeongnyang.  Through this victory, Korea took control over the Korean seas.

American Airlines,256325/81/record.html

Error: A Korean fleet of only twelve kobuksan was able to defeat 133 Japanese ships in 1597, preventing enemy troops from occupying Korea at that time.

Correction: Admiral Yi Sun-sin’s Korean Navy faced a Japanese fleet of 133 ships with only their 13 battleships in the Myongnyang Strait. Despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered, they desperately fought to protect their country and triumphed by sinking 31 enemy ships.
Free Dictionary by Farlex,+Sun-sin
Error: He was killed in one of the final battles of the war, at Kogum-do. Correction: Admiral Yi Sun-sin was killed on a ship during his last battle off Noryang, and his corpse was temporarily moved to the Gogeumdo Island where his naval base was located.