Domestic Reputation of Yi Sun-sin



■ In our history, there have been many generals who defeated small enemies in ordinary times and gained a reputation, but nobody among them can match Yi Sun-sin. While the country was weakened and trying to avoid war, Yi Sun-sin defeated formidable enemies in all his battles and cut off ways of passing the western sea of Korea, and thereby prevented enemies who were trying to attack from the sea and land. His victories ware the foundation for recovering our country. Additionally, there is nobody, even among the renowned generals of the past who have been celebrated as the few great heroes to appear in a century, that can excel Yi in his aspects of unyielding integrity, loyalty to willingly lay down his own life in national crisis, ability in managing soldiers, and wisdom for dealing with complex affairs.
- Yi Sik (1584-1647, renowned scholar under King Injo, served as a high-ranked academician [Daejehak], inspector-general [Daesaheon] and minister [Panseo in Korean])


■ I turned my back on you, but you didn’t turn your back on me. Although I finally awarded you as the first-rank meritorious subject, this reward is not enough for your contributions.
- King Seonjo (1552-1608; reigned 1567-1608)


■ I’ve heard of the phrase ‘dying for loyalty’, but the first person I learned of who actually sacrificed his own life and saved a country was Yi Sun-sin.
- King Sukjong (1661-1720; reigned 1674-1720)


■ The foundation stone for my ancestors to recover our country was only the power of Chungmugong (Yi’s posthumous title), that was it. Who else would I compose an epitaph for, besides a special one for Chungmugong? He is the combination of Li Sheng, who stabilized the nation during the Tang Dynasty, and Zhuge Liang, who recovered the royal family during the Han Dynasty.
- King Jeongjo (1752-1800; reigned 1776-1800)


■ Yi Sun-sin was strict, serious and dignified. But he also loved others and behaved modestly to scholars, had gratitude, faith and generosity, and always tried not to show his happiness or anger. He had said, “If born as a man and given a chance to serve a country, he should be loyal until death. Otherwise, it will be enough to live in the fields as a farmer. If I pursue honor by flattering people in power, it will be a tremendous shame.”
- Choe Yu-hae (1587-1641, royal secretary [Seungji in Korean] under King Injo, also the author of Haengjang, biography of Yi Sun-sin)


■Yi Sun-sin was like a solemn scholar, who didn’t speak or smile much. He had many abilities and the potential contribution of his abilities was limited only by his short life
- Yu Seong-ryong (1542-1607, Younguijeong, prime minister during the Imjin war period)