Go to contents

Yi Sun-shin’s defeat at the Noktundo battle

Posted April. 14, 2020 08:26,   

Updated April. 14, 2020 13:25


On Noktundo, an island located in the downstream areas of the River Tumen, farming was strictly prohibited by the government of Joseon because it considered it to be too risky because the island could be attacked by the Jurchen and and was prone to flooding. Should it be viewed as a responsible and protective step or as excessive control? The tensions rose even higher after King Sejong took over 10 regions. The government and people came to an agreement that people could live on the island during the growing season but should leave after the harvest. People wanted to stay even after the harvest, but the government did not allow it saying that the island was made up of sand where safe buildings could not be built. The inconvenience of moving as well as potential danger put people off farming on the island. As the number of residents decreased, the defense became weaker, which eventually led to the withdrawal of the troops. As the population grew and there was a land shortage, however, people ended up going back to the island.

During the harvest season in September 1587, the village inside the wooden fence was quiet with only a handful of soldiers guarding it as the rest of the troop went out to the field to protect farmers. But the Jurchen invaded the village. Under Gen. Yi Sun-shin as the commander, the soldiers managed to defend the village. One hundred and sixty people, however, were kidnapped by the Jurchen and 11 soldiers including Oh Hyeong and Lim Gyeong-beon, who were outside the fence, lost their lives trying to save people’s lives. Lee Il, who was in charge of North Hamgyong, took care of their bodies and reported their sacrifices to the king. However, a book that sets out defense strategies says otherwise. Even though it agrees that Lim Gyeong-beon died fighting for the people, it argues that Oh Hyeong was hit by an arrow in the back while running away. Did Lee Il make Oh Hyeong a war hero to reduce the impact of the defeat? Or were other witnesses mistaken?

Sometimes witnesses report different stories even though they were at the same scene. This is currently what is happening in South Korean society. People do not question their values. Many raise concerns over the rise of populism. However, a world driven by bias and blindness is more dangerous. Fake politics have got a tail wind with the help of education and intellectuals.