Timeline of Admiral Yi Sun-sin’s Life and the Imjin War

 

* All dates listed here are using the lunar calendar.
Year Age Yi Sun-sin's Life Imjin war
1545
1
■ Born in Geoncheon-dong (present-day Inhyeon-dong), Seoul on March 8  
1572
28
■ Applied for a military officer examination (Byeolgwa) in August hosted by the military training command (Hullyeonwon), but failed to pass the examination.

*Byeolgwa: Examinations held on special occasions, besides the regular state examinations to hire officials.

*Hullyeonwon: Office in charge of selecting, educating and training soldiers during the Joseon Dynasty.

 
1576
32
■ Passed a military officer examination (Singnyeonmugwa) in February and placed in the third rank group (Byeonggwa)

*Singnyeonmugwa: Examination held every three years to hire military officers. Successful candidates were divided into three groups, Gapgwa, Eulgwa, and Byeonggwa, depending on their rank in the examination.

 
1580
36
■ Appointed naval officer titled Manho in Balpo in July; the beginning of his career in the navy

*Manho: Government post as a military naval officer that belonged to the 8th ranking (‘Jong 4-pum’) out of a total of 18 in the government hierarchy during the Joseon Dynasty, which is similar to the rank of commander in the present military ranking system.

 
1582
38
■ Dismissed from the post of Manho in January, trapped in the false accusation of inspector Seo Ik  
1587
43
■ Appointed officer titled Manho in the border town Josanbo in January
■ Concurrently appointed officer titled Dunjeongwan in charge of managing reserved land called Dunjeonin Nokdundo near Josanbo in August; this experience managing Dunjeon helped him manage the navy later
■ Demoted to and served as a commoner (Baegui Jonggun) in August, trapped in the false accusation of his superior Yi Il

*Dunjeon: Government-reserved land to secure provisions for the army during the Joseon Dynasty. Soldiers, petty officials (Seori), commoners, and slaves were made to cultivate virgin land and produce crops to fund the local government or military provisions.

*Baegui Jonggun: Punishment of depriving a solider of his rank and forcing him to go to battle as a commoner in a commoner’s white clothes.

 
1589
45
■ Appointed officer titled Hyeongam in Jeongeup, Jeollado province, in December

*Hyeongam: Head of Hyeon, the smallest administrative division of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. It belonged to the 10th ranking (‘Jong 5-pum’) out of a total of 18 in the government hierarchy.

 
1591
47
■ Promoted to naval commander, titled Sugun Jeoldosa of the western part of Jeollado province on February 13

*Sugun Jeoldosa: Government post as a naval military officer that belonged to the 5th ranking (‘Jeong 3-pum’) out of a total of 18 in the government hierarchy during the Joseon Dynasty, which is similar to the rank of real admiral in the present military ranking system.

 
1592
48
■ Completed building the Geobukseonon April 12
■ Defeated the Japanese at the battles of Okpo and Happo on May 7, as well as at the battle of Jeokjinpo on May 8
■ Defeated the Japanese at the battle of Sacheon on May 29; the Geobukseon was first used. Yi Sun-sin was shot in the left shoulder, and his Lieutenant Na Dae-yong was also wounded
■ Defeated the Japanese at the battle of Dangpo on June 2, at the first battle of Danghangpo on June 5, and at the battle of Yulpo on June 7
■ Triumphed over the Japanese at the battle of Hansando on July 8; Yi’s tactic of the crane-wing formation (Hagikjin) was adopted
■ Defeated the Japanese at the battle of Angolpo on July 10 and at the battle of Jangrimpo on August 29
■ Defeated the Japanese at the battle of Hwajungumi, Dadaepo, Seopyeongpo, Jeoryeong and Busan on September 1; Yi’s Lieutenant Jeong Un (Manho in the Nokdo Island) died in battle.

*Geobukseon: Geobukseon literally means turtle ship, derived from its shape of a turtle. These warships were built by Lieutenant Na Dae-yong under the command of General Yi Sun-sin, and primarily employed as the spearhead of Korean Navy ships during the Imjin War.

*Hagikjin: Naval tactic that surrounds the enemy fleet in a semicircle and bombards it all at once. The name was derived from its shape of a crane spreading its wings. It requires perfect order and discipline among soldiers.

■ The Imjin War broke out on April 13
■ General Yi Il was defeated in Sangju on April 24
■ General Sin Rip was defeated in Chungju on April 28
■ King Seonjo retreated to the northwest on April 30
■ Militias (Uibyeong) were formed by General Gwak Jae-u and others in April
■ Japanese troops seized Hanseong (present-day Seoul) on May 2
■ Japanese troops seized Pyongyang on June 14
■ King Seonjo retreated to Uiju in June
■ Go Gyeong-myeong, a militia leader, fought against the Japanese in Geumsan in July and died in battle
■ General Kim Si-min defeated the Japanese at the first battle of Jinju on October 6
■ A large Ming Chinese relief army under General Li Rusong arrived across the Amnokgang River in December

*Imjin War: Japanese invasions of Korea and the subsequent wars (1592-1598)

*Uibyeong: Uibyeong literally means a righteous army. They were formed voluntarily, usually by commoners to protect the country under foreign invasion.

1593
49
■ Commanded at the battle of Ungcheonpo (February 6 to March 8)
■ Blocked the Strait of Gyeonnaeryang to stop Japanese forces from going to the west in May
■ Moved his headquarters from Yeosu to Hansando on July 14
■ Invented an innovative firearm (Jeongcheol Chongtong) on August 10
■ Appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Forces of the South on August 15, and received an official warrant of appointment on October 9

*Jeongcheol Chongtong: Innovative firearms, made out of iron, created by Lieutenant Jeong Sa-jun under the command of Yi Sun-sin. It combined the strengths of both Korean and Japanese firearms of the time.

■ A combined force of Korean and Chinese troops defeated the Japanese at the battle of Pyongyang on January 8
■ General Li Rusong’s Chinese army was defeated at the battle of Byeokjegwan on January 25
■ General Gwon Yul triumphed over the Japanese on February 12
■ Japanese forces retreated from Hanseong in April
■ Korean forces were defeated at the second battle of Jinju on June 22
■ Japanese and Chinese forces began withdrawing from Korea in August
■ King Seonjo returned to Hanseong on October 1
1594
50
■ Defeated the Japanese at the second battle of Danghangpo on March 4
■ Protested against Chinese General Tan Zongren’s order (Geumtopaemun) on March 6
■ Attacked the Japanese at the first battle of Jangmunpo on September 29 and the second battle of Jangmunpo on October 4

*Geumtopaemun: Warrant sent by Chinese General Tan Zongren not to attack the Japanese.

■ Ming China and Japan held a peace talk in Seosaengpo in April
■ Japanese General Konishi Yukinaga asked for amity in August
■ Ming China decided to dispatch an envoy to Japan in December
1595
51
■ Managed Dunjeon, and inspected the headquarters of the naval forces of western Jeolla in February
■ Produced salt to fund the navy in May
■ Ming China and Japan had a peace talk in Ungcheon (January to February)
■ Ming Emperor’s envoy arrived in Hanseong in April
■ Japan asked for Korean emissaries to Japan in December
1596
52
■ Managed Dunjeon in February
■ Performed a sacrificial rite in May for soldiers who had died of infectious disease
■ Japanese forces withdrew from Gimhae, Geoje and Angolpo (January to February)
■ Toyotomi Hideyoshi broke a truce in September, opposing China’s offer to install Hideyoshi as King of Japan
■ Japan declared a resumption of the war against Korea in October
1597
53
■ Arrested and taken to Hanseong on February 26
■ Imprisoned on March 4
■ Released from prison on April 1 and served as a commoner under General Gwon Yul
■ His mother died on April 13
■ Reinstated Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Forces of the South on July 23, and received an official warrant of appointment on August 3
■ Defeated the Japanese at the battle of Eoranjin on August 28 and at the battle of Byeokpajin on September 7
■ Triumphed over the Japanese at the battle of Myeongnyang on September 16
■ Heard the news of his son Myeon’s death in battle on October 14

■ Established a naval base in Gohado Island on October 29
■ Japan initiated its second invasion of Korea with about 200,000 soldiers on January 14
■ General Won Gyun replaced Yi Sun-sin as Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Forces of the South on January 27
■ General Won’s navy was defeated at the battle of Chilcheollyang in July, and he himself died in battle
■ Japanese forces invaded Jeollado province, and seized the Namwon Fortress in August
■ Chinese forces defeated the Japanese at the battle of Jiksan in September
■ Chinese forces were defeated at the battle of the Ulsan Fortress (December 23, 1597~January 3, 1598)
1598
54
■ Moved the naval base from Gohado Island to Gogeumdo Island on February 17
■ Formed a combined force of Korean and Chinese navies on July 16
■ Defeated the Japanese at the battle of Noryang (the final battle of the Imjin War), and killed by a bullet on a ship along with ten other Korean generals on November 19
■ Toyotomi Hideyoshi died on August 18, and after his death, Japanese forces received the order for complete withdrawal from Korea
■ Remaining Japanese forces completely withdrew from Busan on November 25


* References

1. Books
- Nanjungilgi, War diary of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, Song Chan-seop(2007)/Seohaemunjip
- Nanjungilgi, War diary of Admiral Yi Sun-sin , Roh Seung-seok(2005)/The Dong-A Ilbo
- Learn from CEO Yi Sun-sin, Kim Deok-su / Million House(2004)
- Yi Sun-sin and Imjin War(2007)/The society for the research of Yi Sun-sin/Bibong
- EnCyber & EnCyber.com

2.Websites
-The Great Admiral Yi Sun-sin/Hyeonchungsa Shrine in Asan: http://www.e-sunshin.com/