Battle of Okpo

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Battle of Okpo
Part of Imjin War
Date May 7, 1592
Location Okpo Bay, Gyeongnam, Korea
Result Decisive Korean Victory
Fleet of Toyotomi Hideyoshi Korean navy
Commanders and leaders
Todo Takatora Yi Sun-sin
Won Kyun
70 ships Panoksons : 27
Yi Sun-sin :24
Won Kyun :3
Smaller fighting ships (Hyeopson)s: 18
Yi Sun-sin :15
Won Kyun :3
and 46 fishing boats (Pojakseon)
Casualties and losses
26 ships One wounded

The Battle of Okpo was a two-day fight around the harbor of Okpo at Geoje Island, Korea, in 1592. It was the first naval battle of the Imjin War and the first victory of Admiral Yi against Japanese naval fleet of Todo Takatora. The Battle of Okpo caused anxiety and nervousness among the Japanese, because afterward Yi began to deploy his navy to attack Japanese supply and carrier vessels.

Yi's headquarters were at Yeosu, which is west of Namhae Island of the southern coast of Korea. The surrounding area of Okpo and Yeosu is dotted with numerous islands and narrow straits. It is in this area where many of the naval battles in which Yi defeated the Japanese took place.

Approach of Geoje Island[edit]

Admiral Yi set sail on May 5, 1592 at 2:00 am from Yeosu with his 24 panokson and sailed for the entire day and slept on the ships. On May 6, 1592, Admiral Yi arrived at Dangpo, which was the rendezvous point with the other commanders. Yi Eok-gi came with his fleet, but Won Kyun showed up extremely late.

Attack at Okpo[edit]

Admiral Yi approached Okpo harbor the next day. He saw around 50 Japanese ships anchored there. The Japanese soldiers were looting and killing Korean civilians. Angered, Yi attacked.

The Japanese panicked and quickly boarded their ships in an attempt to escape. The Koreans encircled the Japanese and commenced firing with their cannons. The Japanese commander Todo Takatora ordered his men to counterattack with arquebuses but unfortunately for them, did not cause much damage. After desperate fighting, the Japanese threw their weapons and armor overboard and jumped into the water to flee. Yi pulled back into the sea and the next day neared a harbor called Jeokjinpo.

Admiral Yi was again saddened by the Japanese harassment of the Koreans and ordered his men to throw a heavy volley of arrows and cannonballs upon the Japanese. They destroyed 11 out of 13 ships. The Koreans then took the treasures from the Japanese wrecks and sailed back to Yeosu.


Yi was promoted to Naval Commander of the Three Provinces (Hangul : 삼도수군통제사, Hanja : 三道水軍統制使) by King Seonjo, a position equivalent to the modern admiral, which gave him authority over the Jeolla Right and Left Navies, the Gyeongsang Right and Left Navies, and the Chungcheong Navy. Yi's view of the Japanese slaughtering and looting local towns made him very determined to protect the Korean people by preventing the Japanese ships from even landing on shore. Later, at the Battle of Sacheon, he first used his "secret weapon", the Turtle Ships and defeated the Japanese again.


See also[edit]

Coordinates: 34°52′04″N 126°59′28″E / 34.8679°N 126.991°E / 34.8679; 126.991