Sunday, April 05, 2009

Korean Navy, New & Old

As the Cherry blossom festival in Jinhae has as much to do with the ROK navy base as it does flowers, it was only fitting that they display one of Korea's beloved "Turtle Ships, or Geobukseon, as the Koreans call them.

Designed by Korean admiral Yi Sun Sin, the innovative design proved so effective they served in various forms into the early 19th century. This particular ship was equipped with small cannons. The Koreans credit the innovative design and the unique vessels for several naval victories against invading Japanese forces in the late 1500's, ultimately thwarting Hideyoshi Toyotomi's failed attempt at conquering the peninsula.The obvious unique feature of the ship is it's armored roof with metal spikes, which existed to prevent Japanese soldiers from boarding the ships. Like a turtle's shell. However, the ships have several other interesting military innovations that I'm going to describe in more detail later on.

I was lucky enough to tour the ship and had a great time looking around. I'd previously seen a large scale model of a similar design in Seoul's Korean War Memorial Museum, although I never had the chance to tour one. Inside the ship, across the bay, I could see a modern, guided missile cruiser, probably entertaining other festival goers. While the cruiser could undoubtedly blast most anything to kingdom come, it didn't have the really cool, scary looking dragon head!

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