Admiral Yi Sun-sin of the 21st century

Do you know the story about how 50 cents made possible the world’s No.1 shipbuilding yard? In the early 1970s, the late founder of Hyundai, Jung Ju-young, visited the U.K. to gain investment for starting a Korean shipbuilding industry. 

“The poor country of Korea is incapable of developing a shipbuilding industry.”

Due to such pessimistic views of Korea, Jung had a tough time attracting investment. He made one last try at A&P Appledore International, a British shipbuilding company. Its chairman, Longbottom, also rejected Jung’s proposal without a second thought.

In the face of rejection, Jung pulled a 500 won bill from his pocket.

“Korea is the country that built an iron-clad battleship in the 1500s. General Yi Sun-sin invented this ship and defeated the Japanese attacks against the odds.”

“Korea’s shipbuilding technology is over 300 years ahead of Britain’s.”

Impressed with Jung’s ambition, Longbottom decided to make investments. This eventually led Korea to become the global leader in the shipbuilding industry. At first, the international community scoffed at Korea’s attempts to build ships. 

It was an understandable doubt because at the time Korea had neither capital nor technology to develop a shipbuilding industry. Despite all the skepticism, Jung showed the confidence and ambition that he learned from General Yi’s life.  

As a result, he rewrote the history of Korea’s shipbuilding industry. The most respected historical figure in Korea, The inventor of Geobukseon, the turtle ship,

Admiral Yi Sun-sin  

Have you ever heard Yi’s brave life story?
In the late 16th century, Korea faced a series of Japanese invasions, which is known as the Imjin War (Imjin Waeran in Korean). 

The Imjin War (1592-1598) was then the biggest war in East Asia. The Japanese army was armed with cutting-edge weaponry. They were certain they would quickly advance to Joseon’s capital and win a sweeping victory. 

However, the situation was dramatically reversed during the ocean battles.   

23 Battles, 23 Wins by Joseon!

Joseon had an absolute disadvantage in the scale of ships, troops, and weaponry. Despite unfavorable conditions, General Yi exhibited bravery, and led Joseon forces to a victory in every single battle.

Yi Sun-sin (1545~1598) 

Trained elite naval forces. Constructed a high-tech battleship, Geobukseon (turtle ship)
Developed exceptional war tactics to defeat the Japanese army 

He confronted the fear of his country’s fall. However, he encouraged the Joseon army to overcome their fear and eventually defeated Japan. 

Pilsajuksaeng (必死則生), Pilsaengjuksa (必生則死)

If you risk your life, you shall survive. If you try to save your life, you shall die.
General Yi risked his life to save his country in jeopardy.  

Have you heard about his hope? In 1597 during the Imjin War, the Joseon navy under the command of Won Gyun was devastatingly defeated.

Only 12 remained of over 160 battleships. In this time of crisis, Yi Sun-sin was appointed commander of the Joseon navy. Upon his appointment, he was given a royal edict.

“There seems to be no chance of winning on the ocean, so fight on land.”

 However, Yi raised an objection.

“Your Highness, I still have twelve battleships.” 
Even during the crisis of the country’s fall, his resolute will to win was unbroken.   

“With twelve ships, we still have hope.”
His desperate hope changed the fate of Joseon. 

The battle of Myeongryang (1597)
Ended in victory for the Joseon fleet of 12 ships against 133 Japanese ships
The last hope of General Yi saved the endangered Joseon from its fall.

His victory led to the eventual end of the war and the recovery of peace in Asia.

Have you heard about his patriotism?
He made the greatest contribution to the country during the Imjin War.
Due to vicious slanders, however, Yi was demoted from commander to private.
He unfairly lost his position and even his mother. 

Despite his anguish, he never stopped searching for ways to defeat the Japanese army. His position as naval commander was taken away. However, his patriotism remained strong to protect the country and the people.  With the loss of Yi’s command, the Joseon navy went into decline.   

Finally, Yi regained control of the navy. The betrayal of the king and the kingdom
Despite the ordeal, his patriotism never changed. 
His patriotism saved the country and the people from a national crisis. 

General Yi Sun-sin is and will forever be remembered as an immortal hero, who taught the value of bravery and hope to the descendents of Korea.

Seventy thousand General Yis appeared in the 21st century?
Do you know about today’s General Yis, who protected the East Sea?

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is the main entity that decides the names of the seas of the world. In 1929, the IHO published the first edition of the Limits of Oceans and Seas. It adopted the name of the Sea of Japan, instead of the East Sea. The name of the Sea of Japan remained in the second edition (1937) and the third edition (1953).

‘The Sea of Japan’
During the Japanese Occupation Period (1910-1945), Korea was unable to represent itself.
Using its colonial power, Japan managed to spread the name of the Sea of Japan over the East Sea. In 1991, Korea finally raised an objection about the name to the international community.

However, Korea failed to gain support due to the influence of Japan’s nearly 100 years of lobbying. Among all the world maps in the 1990s,
Around 97% adopted the name of the Sea of Japan
Only 3% adopted the name of the East Sea

The name of the East Sea was in great danger!!!

In the face of crisis, young Koreans stood up as the General Yis of the 21st century. They began the counterattack. Against the 97%, Koreans found hope from the 3%.

International textbooks
International map publishers
Elementary, middle, and high schools of the world

Young Koreans have been reaching out to the people of the world, who are misinformed about the truth of the East Sea. For over 10 years since 1999, they have promoted the legitimacy of the name of ‘the East Sea.’

Consequently, major institutions like National Geographic and World Atlas started accepting the name of the East Sea. As of 2012, 29% of world maps use the name of the East Sea, along with the Sea of Japan.  

Their [VANK’s] claim that the East Sea has some historical precedent worked, as some major book and map publishers, educational web sites and other reference materials now include the East Sea name along with the Sea of Japan. – 

In March of 2012, Joongang Daily New York reported a surprising change.
Since 2005, 89% of world maps use the East Sea along with the Sea of Japan.

The world’s most renowned geographic magazine publisher, National Geographic
The U.K.’s popular publishing company, Dorling Kindersley 

These are the results of our steady efforts to promote the adoption of the name, the East Sea. General Yi defeated the Japanese fleet of 133 ships with only 12 ships.
What made this possible was his bravery and unyielding hope!

His spirit was passed down to today’s young Koreans.
Against the 97%, they found hope from the 3%.
With bravery and hope, these young Koreans are protecting the East Sea.
Admiral Yi Sun-sin saved our land and oceans from Japan.

His spirit has been inherited by 70 thousand VANK members!
They recognized that Takeshima might replace Dokdo in the minds of the people of the world.

To protect their territory, they began promoting the name of the East Sea.
Thanks to their efforts, more and more people came to know the truth of the East Sea.

Do you know why Koreans consider Admiral Yi their most respected historical figure?

The undefeated record in all his battles
The greatest naval admiral of the world’s military history 

Yi Sun-sin 

After hundreds of years, many people still remember and respect him. It is not because he is a hero who created miracles. It is because of the impact his words, sprit and life decisions have made on people.

He showed unrelenting bravery and unyielding hope against all adversity. Admiral Yi became the compass that guides the life of Koreans. 

Yi Sun-sin (1545~1598)

He was and still is the national hero of Korea.
For all Koreans, he will continue to be the immortal hero. 

VANK is looking for Admiral Yis of the 21st century.
Project, Admiral Yi Sun-sin is organized on this website at

Inheriting the spirit of General Yi, they should protect the culture and history of Korea.General Yis of the 21st century will bring Korea to the center of the world in the emerging era of the Pacific. 

Who controls the seas shall control the world!
Like General Yi, young Koreans will protect their sea and change the world! 

Our hero is YOU!

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