Infinite Stars, Infinite Inspiration
이순신 문학상 Yi Sun-shin USA Competition
By: Rachel Chae (8th Grade)
Standing on the deck of the ship, gazing through the stars in the sky, Admiral Yi Sun-shin listens to the breeze of the wind. In his mind, he reflects over the different war-tactics to use in battle the next morning, against Japan. This battle, Imjin War of 1592, caused great devastation to many citizens of the Chosun dynasty. Luckily, during the war, Admiral Yi Sun-shin developed a creative idea, the Gobuksun ship, in order to beat the Japanese in the war. This Gobuksun ship had at least 27 cannons inside, while the roof was covered on the exterior with iron clad and pointed spikes. The ship had two floors which soon became three, and also had twenty-four rooms inside. Because the Japanese preferred using their “ship-to-ship boarding” combat tactic, Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s ship was ideal for great defense in the Imjin War. Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s creative idea of the Gobuksun ship made the Japanese combat technique to be unavailing.
Building the Gobuksun was a creative idea, especially because Admiral Yi Sun-shin added the spikes on the roof so that it was impossible for enemies to approach the ship as it was great maritime defense. Without Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s contributions and the Gobuksun’s assistance, the land of Korea would have been dominated by Japan, eradicating the previous cultures of language completely. As this war lasted for about seven years, Admiral Yi Sun-shin was an inspirational leader since he did not once, ever give up.
Admiral Yi Sun-shin, born on April 28, 1545, is acknowledged as the most respected leader in Korean history. His confidence stood among his soldiers, and to many of them he may seem only brave and gallant. However, he was much more than that; he was persevering, unbiased, wise, diligent, and humble. Along with these characteristics, he shows an ongoing number of characteristics. Despite his ups and downs during the war, he managed to successfully show his diverse characteristics.
For example, instead of being praised for his hardships, he was despised and punished by his jealous superiors. For quite a long time, he had to serve with no military rank, alongside with common soldiers. Although he could have given up several times during the Imjin War, his great drive led him to overcome his obstacles that hindered his military strategies which made him persevering. Fortunately, Admiral Yi Sun-shin was soon given a new promotion as the position of Cholla Juasusa, the Regional Commanding Admiral of Chosun’s Southwestern Sea in 1591. Right after his inauguration, he repaired the defense facilities and weapons, stocked rations and supplies, built new ships to sail, reformed systems, and trained his soldiers. He did all these tasks to prepare for the Imjin War, and he did not lose track of time. Thanks to his diligence and time management, he and his soldiers were able to battle in best condition.
Additional to his diligence, Admiral Yi Sun-shin also refused to show bias and favoritism to his supervising officers by promoting permission to those who are granted to have personal use of government property. He also did not choose a specific soldier to get the most advantage, which caused a lot of disputes against him. Still, Admiral Yi Sun-shin refused to show bias.
With all the respect and honor given to Admiral Yi Sun-shin, he could have been arrogant, but he stayed modest without being overconfident. Many of his officers were jealous of his honesty and integrity. But not only did he have steadfast integrity, he also had wisdom. Towards the end of the Imjin War, before he died, he said “Cover my body with shields. The battle is in full swing. Do not reveal my death” in order for his soldiers to not get discouraged at his death. His last words have left a great message, as the valiant soldiers of the Chosun dynasty conclusively won the battle against Japan.
Among all of Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s traits, creativity is a trait I want to learn from him. I aspire to learn from his creativity. For example, the creation of the Gobuksun is considered and recognized for being a strong military combat ship. Someone without such substantial creativity would not be able to come up with such an intelligent idea. Additionally, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a Japanese commander, ordered Japan to invade Korea in 1592, a clever strategy Admiral Yi Sun-shin used was the Hakikjin maneuver, crane wing-shaped encircling attacks. This strategy was brilliant and creative as it allowed the Korean ships to surround the Japanese ships.
Admiral Yi Sun-shin also developed the Sea Route Passage System. The soldiers of the Chosun dynasty had no support of the government and Admiral Yi Sun-shin had to figure out a way to reach his military goals. He made the Sea Route Passage System, which was used to provide a source of food for his soldiers. In order to obtain food, whenever someone tried to pass through the waters, a fee was required. For a large boat, 3 bushels of rice, 2 bushels for a medium-sized boat, and only 1 bushel for a small boat were required as the fee. With Admiral Yi Sun-Shin’s creative system, his soldiers could fight the battle against the Japanese with nutrition. In addition, not only were the Chosun people able to obtain food to eat, but they were also able to boat travel around a safe territory. This system served to protect the Chosun dynasty from enemy espionage activities by regulating suspicious boat travel. The Sea Route Passage System is creative since it benefits all of Korea, in an efficient, quick way. His unique “trading” system during the time of busy war, is impressing, for without the money given by the government, many would starve. Admiral Yi Sun-shin had thought “outside the box” by using his Sea Route Passage System.
Another “outside the box” idea Admiral Yi Sun-shin was how he was able to reinforce was his own farming system. Although soldiers usually did not farm back them, for those who sought shelter under his protection, he began a system to ensure food supply on a farm. The plants on the land were cultivated by his soldiers in order to supply their own food source. This idea is very ideal because of how it allowed the soldiers to produce crops to their satisfaction, unlike receiving limited food from abroad of the people on land. Without the energy from nutrition, many soldiers may have died during the war.
Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s creativity shined in other industries as well. For example, along with his clever creations, determination and concentration are shown from his actions as well. His determination and concentration came from the process of building the Gobuksun, which required both perseverance and focus. Also, thanks to his creation of the two food rationing systems, Admiral Yi Sun-shin was able to be unbiased and earned trust to his peers.
I want to understand how Admiral Yi Sun-shin was able to take advantage of his thoughts around him and use it in his ideas in a clever and unique way. For example, a pastime that I personally stand out is in art. To do art, thinking and planning on what to sketch is most important. Many of the times, when adding in objects to draw in a piece, I struggle to quickly find ideas to add to the artwork. I was especially inspired by Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s design of the Gobuksun because he was beyond the level of creative as he thought “outside the box.” By taking the shape of a turtle and using a defense from Japan, the Gobuksun was created which inspired me the most. I wish to learn more about how he constantly thought “outside of the box” when creating new ideas.
Thanks to Admiral Yi Sun-shin, I always try to think outside the box. In 2016, I wanted to enter an artwork to the Reflections PTA Program; the theme was “My Story.” I was stumbling around different ideas since I was thinking too profoundly. For a while, my ideas were uninteresting and plain. After being inspired by Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s “outside the box” method, I was able to draw a locker and decided to make it into my own design including all my hobbies and my own story of my life inside of it, similar to how Admiral Yi Sun-shin recreated the shape of a turtle for the Gobuksun ship. Another part of Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s creativity that I wish to emulate is how he incorporates this trait into different topics. Admiral Yi Sun-shin was able to incorporate his creativity into war-like matters. I want to be able to connect creativity into activities, other than art. With the inspiration of Admiral Yi Sun-shin, I find that there is a possibility to use creativity when doing math. I want to prove that math is not only for using directed formulas and steps, but also new methods that one can create on their own as they go along with a math problem. I wish to imitate him by using math on how Admiral Yi Sun-shin demonstrated that one can win war not only with guns and missiles, but also with more innovative strategies such as designing the Gobuksun.
Every time I gaze upon the sky, I imagine the stars as Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s traits, one by one. I often wonder if I have yet found the star Admiral Yi Sun-shin once looked upon, the one that shined most bright. I count the stars, listing his marvelous characteristics, going on and on. His star he once gazed upon will be the one that shines the brightest, as it shall be Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s star of creativity.
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