Joseon Naval’s Appointment & Operations

Korea National Maritime Museum

Since Korea is surrounded by the ocean on three sides, it maintained a large scale of naval forces to protect the nation.


A collected works of Admiral Yi Sun-sin produced by Yu Deuk-gong in 1795 by royal order (Jeongjo year 19). The main part consists of six volumes and eight books, with addenda in two additional volumes of six books, for a total of eight volumes and fourteen books.
Volume 1 contains poems and miscellany; volumes 2 through 4 are official reports; volumes 5 through 8 are Nanjungilgi (war diary); and volumes 9 through 14 are the addenda. It includes an illustrated frontispiece of the armored geobukseon “turtle ship.”


This is a collection of reports sent by Admiral Yi Sun-shin to the government during the Japanese invasion of Korea, referred to as Imjin War. And the book’s reports are copied by an unknown person. It has the reports sent from the date of April 15, 1592 to April 20, 1594, a total of 68 reports. The contents of the reports are the political situation of Japan, news of victorious battles, achievements made by the commanders and the naval forces, and others. Additionally, it also has the articles written by Yi Hang-bok(1556~1618) and Park Seung-jong(1562~1623).

The posthumous title of Admiral Yi Sun-sin is widely known as “Chungmu”. In 1642 (in the 20th year of King Injo’s reign) the opinion that the honorable titles for Admiral Yi Sun-shin and Ko Kyung-myung need to be given was accepted, so the posthumous title, Chungmu, was granted. On the other hand, the volume 32 of the edited version of Sunjo sillok, which describes the 31st year of King Sunjo’s reign, says that the people living around the coastal area voluntarily built the shrine for Admiral Yi after he died and called it Chungminsa temple. And in 1633 (in the 11th year of King Injo’s reign) the mayor of Namhae county erected a memorial stone inside Chungnyeolsa shrine using the honorable title, Chungmin, given by people. Seeing the cases, people voluntarily called Admiral Yi Chungmingong to commemorate him after he died in the naval battle of Noryang.

Yi Hong-eui | 1716

Two volumes of genealogy and miscellany published by Yi Hong-eui, descendant of Yi Sun-sin. The first volume consists of Yi Sun-sin’s writings and poems; the second volume contains a genealogy, records of conduct, posthumous epithets, epigraphic inscriptions for his memorial stone and for the monument commemorating the Battle of Myeongnyang; the third volume contains a chronicle of his life (haengnok); the fourth volume is on royal edicts (gyomyeong (敎命). Volume five and six consist of various addenda.

Hanguel Chungmugonghaengjang
19th Century

An account of the life of the late Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin, written in Korean hangul. Lacking a front cover, the first page starts with the title “Chungmogonghaengjang.” There is no record of the date of transcription or the transcriber, but based on the lexical forms and notations, it presumably dates from between late 18th and early 19th centuries. In general, the content is similar to the life chronicle (haengnok 行錄) written by Yi Bun (李芬), but it also draws on records from other sources. For instance, it contains childhood anecdotes not found in the biographical section of the Yi chungmugongjeonseo published in 1795.

Paintings of Chungmugong's Whole Life

The twelve-fold folding screen depicts the memorable events in Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s lifetime such as his childhood days playing soldiers, the production of the turtle ship, the picture showing his banishment, Imjin War and the like, which allows you to see the events of his lifetime at a glance.

Red Warrants(Hongpae) of the Yeosan Song’s Family

Three red warrants (hongpae) earned by the Yeosan Song clan after a string of successful military examinations.

Song Jeon (宋荃) took first place among 25 examinees in a special military examination held in the year of the Red Rat (Byeongja).

His younger brother Song Du-nam (宋斗南, 1556–?) passed the military examination of the year of the Black Ram (Gyemi), placing 226th among 500 third-tier (pyŏng-kwa) examinees in 1583 (Sunjo year 16).

The son of Song Du-nam, Song Ji-gang (宋之綱, 1587–?) passed the augmented military examination of the year of the Black Ox (Gyaechook), placing 14th among 39 examinees in 1613 (Gwanghaegun year 5).

Royal Edict to Han Bum-seok

A secret royal edict (密符諭書) with 27 secret tallies Gyeongjong sent to Han Bum-Seok (韓範錫, 1672–?), Naval Commander of the left Gyeongsang province, on February 22nd 1724 (Gyeongjong year 4). Han Bum-Seok, who was serving as the assistant to the Governor of Yeongheung, assumed the position of the Naval Commander of the left Gyeongsang province after receiving directions on January 27th 1724 (Gyeongjong 4) and served the position for 14 months until he was appointed Magistrate of Jeju the next year.

Yi Jang-Yeom’s Gosins(Appointment Certificates)

An appointment certificate bestowed on Yi Jang-yeom (李章濂, 1821–?). His family originated from Jeonju (全州), his adult name was Jaegyeong (霽卿). After passing the military examination he served in various official positions, and was appointed Naval Commander of Hwanghae-do Province in 1859 (Cheoljong year 10). The following year, he was appointed ex oficio joint commandant of Ganghwa, and patched up public opinion and the island of Ganghwa at the time of the French Campaign against Korea in 1866 (known in Korea as Byeong-in yangyo, the “Western disturbance of the byeongin year”). In 1868, he was appointed Minister of Justice, and then Third General of the Capital in 1869. This is the certificates of appointment appointing Yi Jang-Yeom as Third General/Naval Commander of Hwanghae-do Province (折衝將軍·黃海道水軍節度使) on December 24, 1859.

Writ of Release(Haeyu Document) of Kim Gyeong-Hyeok, the Commander of Wido Island

A writ of release (haeyu document) written when Kim Gyeong-hyeok (金慶赫) left his position as commander of Wido Island naval base in Jeolla-do Province in 1796 (Jeonjo year 20). A haeyu document was part of the handover between a departing official and his successor, in order to transfer tasks and articles and to be freed from the responsibility of accounting and article management during the period of service.
Kim Gyeong-hyeok was nominated as a naval officer (cheomjeljesa) in Widojin (Wido naval base) on December 27, 1793. He served approximately two years from January 18, 1794 to January 24, 1796. This document consists of two official haeyu writs, one submitted by the succeeding official Yong Deuk-ju (龍得珠) to the Board of Taxation (Hojo) on March 29, 1796 releasing the preceding official Kim Gyeong-hyeok, and another haeyu document submitted by Yi (李), Naval Commander of the right Jeolla-do Province, to the Board of Taxation on April 17 of the same year.

Writ of Release of Min Yeong-Su, the Dohobusa Commissioner of Changseong

A document related to the release of Min Yeong-su (閔泳壽), who was transferred from the position of Dohobusa commissioner of Changseong (昌城), Pyeongan-do Province, in 1893 (Gojong year 30). The document consists of two attached evidential documents, which are transcribed.
This document consists of three parts: an official haeyu writ submitted by the succeeding Deputy Commissioner Yi (李) to his superior (the Governor of Pyeongan-do Province) in order to proceed with the release process of Min Yeong-su, who was transferred on May 26, 1893 (Gojong year 30) after serving as deputy commissioner of Changseong following his appointment on June 21, 1891 (Gojong year 28); an official document submitted by the Governor of Pyeongan-do Province to the national office of the Board of Taxation (Hojo) after receiving the document from Yi; and documentation showing verification from the authorizing body, the Board of Taxation.

Writ of Release of Yi Seung-Bo

A writ of release (haeyu) prepared when Yi Seung-bo (1814–1881) stepped down as Yeongheungdaedobusa in 1860 (Cheoljong year 11). A haeyu document was part of the handover between a departing official and his successor, in order to transfer tasks and articles and to be freed from the responsibility of accounting and article management during the period of service. Yi Seung-bo was appointed Yeongheungdaedobusa in 1858 (Cheoljong year 9), serving from May 21, 1858 to January 2, 1860. This document consists of a haeyucheobjeong (解由牒呈) submitted to the Governor by the succeeding official, Ryu Tae-dong (柳泰東), to release Yi. Prepared on February 21, 1860, it contains a clearance document called haeyuyigwan (解由移關), submitted to the Ministry of Taxation (hojo) by the Governor, as well as the border inspector of Hamgyeong-do Province. On the other side is attached a haeyuyigwan sent by the hojo in March to the Ministry of Interior (ijo).

Document of Yi Uhn-Seop

Reference material containing official documents submitted to with Gamyeong and Tongyeong by Yi Eon-sub (李彦燮, 1692–?) while serving as Naval Commander of the left Gyeongsang-do Province from July 1747 (Yeongjo year 23) to September 1748, as well as reports he submitted to King Yeongjo and Prince Sado.
One phrase that stands out in the report is “a request to build an armored warship (geobukseon) in which combatants can fight while hidden inside the vessel and that can change direction quickly and easily, rather than using a ‘tower ship’ (nuseon, 樓船) [a kind of floating fortress called lou chuan in Chinese], which has a loft, is slow, and is prone to flipping while moored.”
Besides this, one can also learn how he comprehended and solved various problems that took place in the jurisdiction of the naval bases of left Gyeongsang-do Province, such as missing a Japanese vessel that was drifting near Cheonseongjin (天城鎭, current Gadeokdo Island Busan).

Royal Edict for Eo Jae-Yeon

Royal edict for posthumous epithet for Eo Jae-yeon (魚在淵, 1823–1871)
Eo Jae-yeon passed the military exam in 1841 (Heonjong year 7). When the French Campaign against Korea in 1866 occurred, he defended Gwangseongjin (廣城鎭) on Ganghwado Island. With the outbreak of the U.S. Expedition to Korea in 1871 (Sinmiyangyo) (Gojong year 8), he was dispatched to Ganghwado Island as a Sunmu Middle Officer (巡撫中軍). He was killed on the battlefield at Gwangseongjin, fighting against the American invasion. The Royal Court issued a royal edict granting him the posthumous titles of Minister of Military Affairs (Byeongjopanseo) and Three Military Council (Samgunbu) Jisa, and the posthumous epithet “Chungjang (忠壯).”

The Naval Training Procedures
the Late-Joseon Period

A training manual (joryeonholgi) scroll showing the training procedure of the naval forces (year unknown). Since it contains places names like Sado, Balpo, Jangheung, and Nagan are entered under Samsawirye (三司爲例), the scroll appears to come from a naval base in Jeolla-do Province (全羅水營). It first outlines the procedure for the “Individual Watchtower’s Roll Call (各司哨点考 gaksacho jeomgo),” followed by a training manual (操鍊笏 joryeonhol) and a night training (夜操 yajo), as well as procedures for formation expansion (擺隊伍 padaeo). The last section addresses Samsawirye (三司爲例). This document records in order the detailed procedures for training naval forces. It is assumed to be based on methods and materials from the Joseon-era Comprehensive Military Training Manual (Byeonghakjinam 兵學指南) for naval training (sujojeongsik 水操程式) and night training (yajojeongsik 夜操程式). However, this document is more detailed and practical than Byeonghakjinam, providing a more vivid depiction of Late Joseon naval training.

Naval Register of Gyeongsang-do Province

A record of the circumstances of armed forces, containing documentation for the ipbanggun special forces and signal-fire soldiers (bonggun) working in shifts to protect temporary palaces (haenggung) of Gyeongsang-do Province camps like Dongnae, Goseong, Namhae, and Ulsan. Most of the records date from September 1774 (Yeongjo year 50). The records are organized by town (eup) or camp, and the end of each document bears the signature of the competent regional administrator confirming the document’s authorization.

Military Register of Jeolla-do Province

A military register of Jeolla-do Province recording the personal details of individuals subject to military requisition. The personal details include name, affiliations, place of residence, age, face, beard, height, and scars, respectively. The register also lists the armored warships (Geobukseon 二龜船, 龜船, 羅州一龜船), runners (najang), and flag bearers stationed in the coastal regions of Jeolla-do Province, such as Muan, Mokpo, Yeonggwang, Yongam, and Garipo. At the end of the register is the signature of “Commander Kim” (節度使 金).

Work Note of Chungcheong Naval Forces
18th Century

The foldable notes document the term of the commanding officer of Chungcheong naval forces, the number of warships, the service branches of the soldiers, expenditure, formalities for official documents and the like. Seeing that it contains the status que of Chungcheong naval forces of the time and relevant rules, it is estimated that it was drawn up between 1711~1716 (from the 37th to 42nd years of King Sukjong’s reign) to understand the tasks of the naval commanders of Chungcheong naval forces.

Military Register of the Naval Forces

The military register includes the result reports of the military overhaul of the naval forces based in Yongdeungjin, Jorapo, Hadongbu and Cheonseongbo.

Ledger on the Names of each Division

A document showing the names of a military organization affiliated with Gamyeong. The document is an 8-page manuscript in one volume. The front bears the title “Ledger on the Names of Each Division (各班姓名置簿冊),” while the back reads “List of Tongyeong officers (統營校吏目錄).”

Originally a ledger listing the military officers and petty officials of Tongyeong, it later became a list of Tongyeong naval officers in each division. Neither the front or back contains the name of the writer or the period when it was created, but this material nevertheless provides us with information on organizational transitions of the Joseon Navy.

Paintings of the Naval Training
the Late-Joseon Period

A folding screen portraying naval training in the late Joseon period. At the time, Tongyeong’s regional naval headquarter regularly held large-scale trainings in spring and fall, with participation from the naval forces of the Gyeongsang, Jeolla, and Chungcheong Provinces. Notably, at the time of spring training Chunjo (春操), 30,000 forces gathered in Tongyeong, and more than 500 warships were mobilized, including panokseon (board-roofed warships) and geobukseon (armored warships).

Document of Examination of Foreign Vessels
the Late-Joseon Period

A document reporting the investigation of a strange vessel that appeared at Yongdangpo, off the coast of Dongnae-bu (present-day Busan). Since the commoners were prohibited from communicating or trading with foreigners, administrators were dispatched to investigate if a foreign vessel appeared. This document reports the circumstances of the Dongnae commissioner (busa) and the Busan-jin commander (cheomsa) inspecting two alien vessels anchored at Yongdangpo in Busan. The vessels, from the Netherlands, had chanced to drop anchor on the way to Nanjing in China for trade purposes. The document shows detailed descriptions of the vessels and the appearance of the Dutch crew on board, and reports the result of the investigation into their purpose for anchoring.


A report by the Ganghwa yusu (an administrative division) on foreign vessels that approached Ganghwa-do Island in 1866. The Ganghwa yusu tried hard to prevent the foreign vessels from approaching, but because of the suddenness of the incident, there was no alternative but to open the seaway. Eventually, upon hearing that enemies had reached Seoul, the yusu apologized to the King and reported the situation.

This incident marks the beginning of the French Campaign against Korea in 1866 (known in Korea as Byeonginyangyo, the "Western disturbance of the byeongin year"), a punitive expedition by Admiral Roze of the French fleet in response to the persecution of Catholics by the regent Heungseondaewongun. Admiral Roze led seven warships and 600 naval forces, including the frigate Guerrière, and appeared near Mulchido Island (present-day Jagyakdo Island) off Incheon. The fleet landed at Gapgot on Ganghwa-do Island, soon captured the island, and plundered weapons, manuscripts and paintings, and provisions. This booklet consists of an official report and a drawing of the fleet of Admiral Roze, showing white sails, the platform for Lord, and artillery.

the Late-Joseon Period

This public administration book (gwanan 官案) is a general report of Gojong, recording Jongchinbu (Royal Household Minister) / Chunghunbu (Merit Awards Administration) / Uibinbu (Office of the Princesses’ Consort) / Donryeongbu / Uiguembu (Royal Prosecutory Court) / Yukjo (Six Boards) and officials’ jeong or jeongpum, military or public offices/property/ladies in waiting/Confucian shrines (munmyowecha)/annual sacrificial rites of each province (do).

The report also includes the high-ranking officials of Gojong, such as Yi Jae-myeon (李載冕) and Yi Yu-won (李裕元).

The sturdy front cover is made from wood, engraved with the title “Naewaejikgo (內外職攷).”

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