The Joseon Navy played a defining role in overturning the dismal situation of the Imjin War in 1592. Adm. Lee Sun-shin led two consecutive wins and asked King Seonjo to change the compensation system.
During Joseon Dynasty, the number of beheaded enemies was the criteria for compensation of people who made contributions to the war, a practice descending for centuries from ancient China. This type of compensation was significant where foot soldiers fought. However, wars evolved since then. In particular, the navy required tactics that fired the enemy's vessels and drove out the army rather than killing individuals, which Admiral Lee pointed out. A true and brave admiral knows how to destroy the key vessels, especially the flagship, of the enemy's fleet. The army of the destroyed ship falls in to the sea. Fighting soldiers have no time to count how many they have destroyed. Only those who linger in the back and pick up the corpses are rewarded.
Adm. Lee suggested that the compensation should be based on the key individual making a true contribution in the battlefield, which would be suggested by the commander in charge. The king declined this suggestion immediately, on grounds that it would lack objectivity and evidence. He was suspicious that Lee would take advantage of this authority to use army for his own sake. Such suspicious is naïve, but let's think about why the king considered it unobjective. Many people, surprisingly, agree with King Seonjo, saying that assessment should be more objective. Adm. Lee, however, points out that the traditional method lacked objectivity. Still, people are not convinced. They say that actual evidence is needed.
Humanities studies is needed to train the mind on how to spot and understand the essence of an object or given situation. However, the education we provide in Korea focuses on the meaning and fixated value, rather than the true substance. Perhaps the absurd conflict and division we see in society today is caused by this education.