Battle of Sacheon (1592)

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Battle of Sacheon (1592)
Part of Imjin War
Date May 29, 1592
Location Sacheon, Korea
Result Korean victory
Japanese Fleet Korean navy
Commanders and leaders
unknown Yi Sun-sin
Won Gyun
13 ships 25 ships, 1 turtle ship (26 total ships)
Casualties and losses
all 13 ships destroyed 5 wounded, including Admiral Yi

The naval Battle of Sacheon took place on May 29, 1592 and was the first battle of Admiral Yi's 2nd Campaign in the Imjin War, between Japan and Korea, when the Turtle Ship was first used.


Admiral Yi was at Yeosu, his headquarters. Admiral Yi planned to attack the Japanese again when Won Kyun sent a report to him that Japanese ships were in Sacheon and the surrounding area. This alarmed Admiral Yi because he feared the Japanese soldiers were readying to attack Yeosu. Admiral Yi then led his fleet to Sacheon on May 29, 1592.

Situation at Sacheon[edit]

Admiral Yi met Won Kyun at Noryang Strait and discussed battle plans. Admiral Yi scrutinized the surrounding area. A large cliff overlooked the city and Japanese soldiers seemed to move about everywhere in the city. Twelve very large Japanese warships were anchored in the harbor, along with numerous other smaller ships. Admiral Yi knew that he could not attack the Japanese in a spearhead assault as the Japanese could direct arquebus fire down on the Koreans from the top of the cliffs.

Admiral Yi wanted to fight the Japanese in the sea where there was more room to maneuver. Hoping to draw the Japanese into open waters, he turned his battleships around and withdrew. Apparently, the Japanese commander had been observing the Korean movements and quickly ordered his captains to take a portion of the fleet anchored at Sacheon and attack the Koreans when he saw them withdraw. Taking the bait, the Japanese pursued the Koreans.

The Turtle Ship[edit]

The Battle of Sacheon was the first battle during which Admiral Yi deployed the turtle ship. By the time the Koreans and the Japanese were out on the open sea, it was nearly dark. Nonetheless, Admiral Yi had the turtle ship and his other vessels turn around quickly and fire upon the Japanese. Admiral Yi had his men unleash a hail of cannonballs and fire arrows. This had an immediate effect on the enemy warships, and the Japanese ships started taking heavy damage.

The fierce and sudden Korean attack shocked the Japanese. But unlike their previous poor performance at the Battle of Okpo, the Japanese soldiers fought bravely and returned fire with their arquebuses in a timely manner. Unfortunately for the Japanese, they did not have a chance to board the Korean ships because of concentrated Korean cannon fire. Also, the Turtle Ship was impossible to board anyway due to iron spikes on its roof. Then, the Japanese began to panic when the Turtle Ship smashed into Japanese lines, firing in every direction.

It was in the heat of the battle when the course of Korea's history nearly changed; Admiral Yi was shot by a Japanese arquebusier. The Korean captains were shocked. However, the bullet only punctured the skin of his left arm leaving Admiral Yi with a very minor injury.


In a couple of hours, every single Japanese warship that had fought was sunk. A few survivors struggled ashore. The Battle of Sacheon caused the Japanese command at Busan some anxiety, as the supply ships that sailed from Japan might be in danger.

See also[edit]