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Admiral Yi Sun-shin moves nation

2005/08/15 | Permalink | Source

An armada of Japanese warships gather around the Myeongryang Straits in September 1597. Intoxicated with the overwhelming victory a year before over the Joseon fleet commanded by Won Gyun, they expect to wipe out the remnants of Joseon naval forces in the upcoming battle. As warships from both sides engage each other, innumerable arrows, bullets and cannon balls fly boisterously across the sea, blackening the sky.

Led by Admiral Yi Sun-shin, the tiny Joseon fleet with only 13 vessels repels 333 Japanese ships, regaining control of the sea.

The scenes of the memorable triumph boosted the viewers' rating of "Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-shin", a historical drama aired on KBS-1 TV every weekend, which has continued to rise over 10 straight weeks since June 11. According to TNS Media Research and AGB Nielsen Media Research, the rating rose to 27.5 percent and 28.5 percent on July 30 and 31, respectively.

The historical epic enthralls many viewers with its spectacular battle scenes and the touching words by Admiral Yi played by Kim Myung-min. "I have never seen any TV drama like this one, which is so moving that I can't sleep because tears well up whenever I think about it", said a viewer.

Another 28-year-old fan also expressed his impression, saying, "Admiral Yi Sun-shin led the hand-to-hand battle on the front, swinging his sword. That scene, I guess, captured the attention of viewers like me".

Such public favor for the drama seems to derive partly from Koreans' increasing negative sentiment toward Japan. Korea suffered from Japanese colonial rule for 1910-45 and anti-Japanese sentiment still runs deep among Koreans. Moreover, the disputes over Dokdo islands and historical distortions in Japanese textbooks have aggravated the sentiment. Thus, admiral Yi's victory can be taken as a kind of retaliation to relieve historically-entangled rancor.

People generally tend to narrow down the focus of Yi's victory to the fact that he defeated Japanese invaders and won all 23 battles against them, thereby he became an immortal being as a rescuer of the nation. Actually, Yi, with his brilliant strategies and tactics, recorded unprecedented triumphs in world history by sinking about 700 battleships and capturing 23 battleships during the seven-year war in the late 16th century.

But people don't ask how he could be such an immortal great man. He was not a born warrior, but rather an introvert. His life in itself was not smooth-going, but packed with numerous painful incidents. However, he managed to overcome all the ordeals and finally such hardships turned out to inspire him.

"The original aim of this drama was to suggest a new model of leadership by showing how Admiral Yi had coped with all the adversities", said Lee So-yeon, an associate producer of the drama.

The series shows that with adamant volition and endless endeavors, the admiral kept striving to be a master of his fate, which he owes his great success in the battles to. He devoted himself to defeating the enemy and to saving the state with indomitable courage and endurance. He had been trained and reborn to surmount his mortality. His motto, "We will all die if we try to live and we will all live if we try to die", demonstrates his imperishable spirit.

His sublime spirit will reach its climax when an iron-bullet hits him in the Noryang naval battle, in the last show scheduled to be aired on Aug. 28, with his last but immortal words, "The battle is under way. Never let the soldiers know my death. Never frighten the soldiers".

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