Used by Admiral Yi Sun-shin throughout the Hideyoshi intrusions in the 16th century, this innovative warships were instrumental in effectively beating the Japanese invaders.

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Turtle delivery (Geobukseon) – the famous Korean battle ship that Admiral Yi Sun-shin offered in Korea"s Imjin war versus Japan.

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Who do the "turtle ship"?

Admiral Yi Sun-shin is revered in Korean background for his heroic plot in rescuing his nation from near damage during the Hideyoshi Invasions, a two-part worldwide war that began with an assault by Japan in 1592 and also lasted for seven years till a an unified maneuver through the Joseon and also Ming dynasties defeated the Japanese. Throughout this time, Admiral Yi Sun-shin was victorious in every the battles versus the Japanese invaders, an extraordinary feat in civilization naval fight history. Yi"s battle strategies space still famous sufficient to be released in the contemporary naval academy textbooks of the united States, the joined Kingdom, and Japan.

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It is difficult to think that Yi Sun-shin without likewise thinking that the "turtle ship." In former of the statue of Yi Sun-shin in Seoul"s Gwanghwamun Square, over there is likewise a statue the the "turtle ship" (also called "geobukseon" in Korean). The "turtle ship" is widely believed to have been designed by Yi, but this is actually no the case—the "turtle ship" had already been in existence long beforehand. Throughout 9th century in the Silla Dynasty, Jang Bogo arisen a unique battle ship that involved covering the optimal with a protective covering while in ~ Cheonghaejin (a military base in Wando, southern Jeolla Province), which conquered the seas of eastern Asia at the time. The delivery was not only rapid but likewise effectively blocked strikes by sword and spear nearly exactly favor Yi"s "turtle ship." The actual "turtle ship" as we recognize it today was emerged during the late Goryeo empire (918-1392 A.D.). Over there are also records indigenous the reigns the King Taejong and also Sejong of the Joseon Dynasty between the 14 and 15th centuries around the "turtle ship." The annals that King Taejong state that "while cross the Imjin River, the king witnessed a skirmish between a turtle-shaped boat and a wa (Japanese) boat." Technically speaking, Yi Sun-shin was no the inventor the the "turtle ship," however rather the first to build the technology that allowed it come be provided effectively and extensively in yes, really combat. Yi adapted the existing "turtle boat" style by put an stole plate over it and also supplementing numerous other features so the the ship can be equipped through cannons.

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Was the "turtle ship" really the world"s first armored battleship?

The concern of whether the "turtle ship" was really an armored battleship was an initial raised in the 1880s and remains unsolved today. The affirmative debate is greatly asserted by west scholars based upon Japanese records. There are many Japanese documents from the Imjin invasions that keep in mind "the adversary (Joseon) has actually ships that room covered in stole that we cannot break v our cannons." In the June 1899 concern of Harper"s new Monthly Magazine, American missionary Homer Hulbert phone call the "turtle ship" (geobukseon) a "turtle watercraft (geobukbae)," and introduces its structure as being spanned in iron plates, noting Korea as being the very first country in the people to build metal plate modern technology together through the iron-plated ship. The fourteenth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica the 1929 describes the "turtle boat" together the world"s an initial armored battleship.

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However, there is no point out of the hatchet "armored battleship" in Joseon Dynasty records during the Hideyoshi Invasions, in Yi"s personal records or in the works of his associates. In his description of the "turtle ship" to the king, Admiral Yi explains it as having "awls planted ~ above its back" as the watercraft was extended with a board and also then awls were inserted into it. Evaluate from the fact that the awls to be planted right into the board, it appears to have been made the end of wood quite than iron. Since a soaking-wet five-ton mat was placed on peak of the board extended with sharp iron spears, the ship was able to withstand even fire attacks. It to be this cover that the Japanese navy appears to have mistakenly believed was iron.

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According to historic records, the tortoise ship is created by place a wood plate end the panokseon, the delivery traditionally supplied by the Joseon navy, implanting this plate through tightly-planted rows of stole awls, covering it with a huge wet mat, and also drilling feet in both sides for shooting cannons. However, over there is still the opportunity that the roof was partly or completely covered with iron—but us cannot recognize for certain until an actual turtle ship from that time is discovered.

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Why did the turtle ship disappear?

The key ship the the Joseon navy was the panokseon; the "turtle ship" was initially meant to it is in a supplementary battleship provided when strategically necessary. In the beforehand stages of the Hideyoshi Invasions, Yi Sun-shin had actually three "turtle ships." based on a diplomatic record sent to China during the Hideyoshi intrusions stating that there were five "turtle ships," two much more seem to have actually been made during the war. Part estimates set the number of "turtle ships" as seven or eight at the elevation of combat. After ~ the very first and 2nd Hideyoshi Invasions, this number remained the exact same until 1746, once the number readjusted to 14, and then 40 in 1770. Records from 1808 note 30 ships; in 1817, the number decreases come 18.

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After the seven-year Hideyoshi Invasions, the "turtle ship" shed its symbolic value. Because that a time, maintenance of "turtle ships" appears to not have had high priority. With an increase in nationwide defense requirements and also the reorganization of the navy, the have to reestablish "turtle ship" and also warship standards was voiced. However, there is no a matching increase in troops, operation of "turtle ships" ended up being increasingly difficult. Kept only together a formality, knowledge about the functions and the strategic value of the tortoise ship slowly faded in the national consciousness. Over there are records by a international missionary in the late 1880s of having actually seen stays of a tortoise ship, however these room not totally credible. All that is left to us today space recollections that the majesty that the turtle ship and the heroic deeds of Admiral Yi Sun-shin.

Yi Sun-shin described the fight with Geobukseon in his report come the king. "With the initial attack by the turtle ship and also the following assault by the panokseon, we repeatedly shot cannons. As soon as we shooting cannons, arrows and threw stones like hail upon our enemy, their fighting heart was conveniently broken and they reduce dead in the water like flies. This made sea battles an extremely easy."


Turtle delivery (Geobukseon) – the famous Korean battle ship that Admiral Yi Sun-shin used in Korea"s Imjin war against Japan.

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* picture courtesy that Korea Tourism organization and cultural Heritage management of Korea.