In the modern sense, a nation
state is comprised of three factors. These factors
include, the territory, the people and the sovereignty.
The love of a country, or patriotism, means love
for the territory and the people where one resides
as a subject having sovereignty.
The ardent patriotism of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin,
a man that not only loves but also is concerned
about the future of a nation, is easily recognizable
in his private letters as well as his books. These
books include, The Nanjung Ilgi, ¡°The War Diary¡±
and the Janggye, which is a report from a government
official that was dispatched to a local district.
His patriotism was truly recognized through his
thoughts and his behavior rather than just his
writings illustrating he loved a nation.
This was unlike the reference to the military
service at the beginning of the foundation of
Joseon dynasty. This military service was tainted
and treated unfairly in comparison to the civil
service at the times of Admiral Yi. Regardless
of this he sacrificed his own person comfort in
order to protect the territory and the people
from the continuous Barbarian invasions. His determination,
with respect to the territory, is observed in
his diary about the Japanese invasion on Korea
in 1592 and the reports to the central government.
After the naval battle in Danghangpo, Seonwudosa
Dam Jong-In, in March 1594, the commander of the
Ming Dynasty sent an official letter asking Admiral
Yi not to attack the Japanese invaders from Uncheon.
He did this with the hope of entering into friendly
relations with Japan.
Dam Jong-In said in this letter, ¡°several Japanese
commanders changed their minds and want naturalization.
Most Japanese soldiers want to return to their
homeland without continuing the war. Go to your
land with your battleships. Don¡¯t make any trouble
because you are so close to the Japanese camp.¡±
At that time Admiral Yi was suffering from a serious
fever and so couldn¡¯t move for nineteen days.
However, he did send an immediate reply with the
surprise and chagrin.
His response was, ¡°the Japanese stayed in: Geoje,
Ungcheon, Gimhae and Donrae. All these lands belong
to us. Why did you ask us to immediately return
home? What does it mean when you say, ¡°don¡¯t approach
the Japanese camp? I don¡¯t understand where our
land is? We don¡¯t make trouble but the Japanese
The way he emphasized ¡°our land¡± with such strict
determination and determined objectivity illustrates
love for the territory.
By pointing out the meaning of ¡°your land¡± in
Dam¡¯s letter it is also indicated that the territory
of The Joseon Dynasty included not only Yeosu
and Hansanseom, where the naval forces were located,
but includes Busan and Ungcheon as, where the
Japanese soldiers stayed, as well. Furthermore,
all territories of The Joseon Dynasty are sovereign
states. This is based on the independent history
of The Joseon Dynasty. Admiral Yi took a firm
attitude against letting the Japanese soldiers,
who were devastating the territory and the people
of The Joseon Dynasty, retreat in one piece.
During that time, the commanders of the Ming Dynasty,
as a superior state, dismissed the people of The
Joseon Dynasty. They committed backup troops and
caused an outrage under the pretense of the power
of a big state. Admiral Yi demonstrated the spirit
of ownership, as a commander of The Joseon Dynasty
to the Ming commanders, saying that we would never
neglect one piece of territory.
During this period five hundred rice bags were
kept in a shed at Hansando. Someone asked why
the rice was kept there but didn¡¯t mention military
¡°The king took the refuge in Uiju now. As I know,
the ministers recommended that the king should
cross the river if something goes wrong. It can
never be accepted. If such a day comes to us,
I will take the rice on the ship and go up Seohae,
the west sea. I will then greet the king and bring
him on my ship. I will then fight the enemies
to the end. If we have to meet this misfortune,
it is reasonable that the king and his servants
will die together in our territory.¡±
The spirit of ownership is how his awareness
on the territory was based. Reflected in his awareness
is, betraying ourselves because we fail to exercise
sovereignty in our territory as well as protecting
from keeping the state as the owner isn¡¯t better
than a righteous death in our own territory. In
other words, the territory and myself are not
two entities but one spirit.
The love of a nation is the love of territory.
His conclusion, ¡°the king and his servant shall
die together in the territory,¡± illustrates that
the spirit considers that the territory and the
people are one.
Admiral Yi¡¯s patriotism isn¡¯t limited to only
the love of territory. As he carried out his duties
his main priority was worrying about the people
above all else. The concerns of the Admiral Yi,
during the naval battles, are observed in the
reports to the state.
¡°We fought fiercely with the enemy. We planned
to go to the same battlefield the next day and
crack down their hideout and destroy all their
battleships. However, the enemy retreating upward
filled a number of places. If we blocked the way
where they were retreating then all the enemies,
who were driven to the corner, would come to bay.
If the naval forces and the land forces were to
advance together, then we could inevitably sweep
all then enemies as we planned.¡±
On Sep. 1, 1952, Admiral Yi sank 128 ships, amongst
the 470 ships, in the Busanpo naval battles. He
didn¡¯t clear out the remaining ships. It was because
the Japanese soldiers didn¡¯t come out of the land
to fight. If he continued to drive them to the
corner without stopping, then the Japanese soldiers,
who went on the land, would attack the people
of Joseon out of Busanseong (castle). He tended
to protect the people of Joseon by allowing one
route of retreat for the enemy.
The military merit on the battlefield at the time
was to decapitate them emphasizing externally
proved performances. Nevertheless, whenever the
naval battle was ended, Admiral Yi allowed a retreat
route for the enemies, in consideration of the
situation. He then tried to minimize the people¡¯s
damages on the land.
Admiral Yi taught us the love of nation is not
demonstrated by words for ones own comfort and
satisfaction but by the resolute behavior with
a determined view on the nation in order to protect
the territory and cherish the people